Sunday, September 23, 2018

GABF Awards Recap

The 2018 GABF Awards ceremony seems to have been streamlined compared to past years. Not a bad thing, as you can only say the same thing year after year. Trust me.
This year, 2,404 breweries entered beer in the competition. An insane amount, but with a total of over 6,300 breweries in the US as of 2017, there's still room for more entries. Judges only had to try 8,496 beers, so why not bring on more?

The Juicy or Hazy IPA category burst onto the scene with 391 entries. Last year's highest number of entries was the IPA category, with 408. This year, 311 entered in the regular IPA category. Nothing wrong with being old school, but time for people to recognize hazy IPA is a real thing. Should have been its own category two years ago. I think it should go further and hazy and juicy should have their own individual awards. They are distinctly different beers.

And onto the winners!

Six medals awarded in the first two categories and three went to Oregon breweries. Would the trend continue?

Not at that pace, but Oregon was well represented at the awards ceremony with 22 medals. Not quite the 72 medals collected by California breweries, but close to the 30 won by Colorado breweries. Of Texas' 18 medals, 6 were for lagers. Interesting. Having AVGB in their state doesn't hurt. Washington did well with 17 medals, while North Carolina and Ohio were well represented with 13 and 14, respectively.

We here in New Mexico? We did pretty well! We have been spoiled in the past with larger medal counts, but with the number of entries not growing so much as multiplying at an alarming rate, we should be happy with any morsel of metal we can get. 6 medals is pretty darned good, plus a bronze in the collaboration category for Palmer/Quarter Celtic's Mocha Hipster Bomb. It matches the number hit in 2017 and 2016. That's three 6's in a row, for those who keep track of that sort of thing. And it's 3 more medals than New Jersey, who has 7 million more people living there. 5 more medals than Firestone Walker, who only took 1 medal this year. That number was matched by Starr Brothers, who took a Bronze in the Other Strong Beer category for their Lampshade Porter.

Rowley Farmhouse Ales won a Silver in the Berliner-Style Weisse category for Germophile. The Rowley medal count of 1 matched Russian River's.

La Cumbre's Malpais Stout took a Silver in the Robust Porter category. Malpais also took a Silver in La Cumbre's GABF debut in 2011.

Sierra Blanca's Cherry Wheat met the guidelines for the Fruit Wheat category as it contained both fruit (cherry), and wheat (wheat). It earned them a Bronze, the second year in a row they have medaled in that category! At that rate, Rich Weber is going to have to start wearing Jeff Bagby pants.

Bosque (pronounced Bosk in tourist-speak) took Bronze for Pistol Pete's 1888 Ale in the Golden/Blonde Ale category. Their beer is made in Berna-Lill-O, in Chris Swersey-speak.

Turtle Mountain rounded out the NM winners with Gold for Wooden Teeth in the International-Style Pilsner category. That's 2 Gold medals since 2011 for NM in this category.

Other notes:

Medals were awarded in the Juicy or Hazy IPA category to three breweries I've never heard of.

For those of you who live in NM and want to try the Gold medal winner in the Hazy DIPA category, you can make the drive to AZ, where Black Market New England DIPA is available in cans.

It's 2014 all over again, as the Imperial Stout category awarded no medal to a Brewery named Iron Hill or 2SP. Iron Hill had medaled in that category from 2010-13, 2015, and then in 2016 their former Head Brewer medaled with 2SP Brewing and again in 2017 (with Iron Hill medaling in the same category).

Best beer name: how about Cannonball Creek's Netflix and Pils, which won Gold in the German-Style Pilsner category. Colorado wins Gold in this category at GABF and Gold at World Beer Cup as well (Rockyard Primadonna). Look out, Texas!

Worst beer name: Bananenhängematte, FiftyFifty Brewing. For obvious reasons.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Navigating the Thursday Session: GABF 2018

The best gets better, as long as it's just the beer we're talking about. The Great American Beer Festival is by far the largest beer festival in the world by number of breweries represented (800+) and beers served (4000+). Each year, the Brewers Association plays around with the floor plan, ensuring there is no way to find the brewery you are seeking the first time around: "Ok, you're looking for Section 7? Well, you're just outside of 21, so you're only 5 sections away!" Wait, really? Because I don't see how-"Yeah, because it goes 21, 19, 17, 15, and then 11 and 7 run perpendicular to that!" Ok, now is perpendicular the one that runs the same way as-"Got it? Simple, right?? Enjoy the fest!" This blog didn't come with a cartography degree. But, with help, I was able to find my way both in and out of the building.

And now, thoughts on the evening as they come to me:
Some sponsor was giving away bags of potato chips, and that was really popular. As was Buffalo Wild Wings, who was apparently giving two free wings to people who came to their giant setup.
Food choices overall seemed to be above par compared to previous years. I had some pretty good red beans and rice. I'm not the type of person who goes to these things looking for a meal, but I think it is important to have food in you (as well as lots of water) and a hot dog is not food unless you are at a baseball game.
Started the night at Weldwerks before (as I predicted) the line got totally stupid. I think this: Weldwerks became known for Juicy Bits and other hazy IPAs. But their BA Imperial Stouts like Medianoche are what they are doing best right now. QDH Juicy Bits was fine, but the stout variations were outstanding.
How was there no line for Duck Duck Gooze? Has the deomgraphic changed that much in a couple of years that festgoers don't know about that beer? Russian River still had probably the longest line that I saw so I don't see how the same people aren't hip to Lost Abbey rarities.
Speaking of Russian River, Beatification was tasting great.
Good on Brew Kettle for having fact sheets in front of the beers. Bad on them for having them face the people pouring the beers. Their El Lupelo Libre is still a top DIPA.
You know what else was a top DIPA? Alpine Bad Boy! I actually said, "Whoa! This smells like an Alpine beer!" I had forgotten the distinct smell of Alpine's beers when they were "on" and not "Green Flash trash".
Great Notion, my top brewery at the fest last year, has caught on with all the fest kids. Their line was loong.
And welcome back New Glarus, who skipped last year. Welcome back outrageous line.
Avery used to have the most elaborate booth (before Melvin started bringing that actual bus and a DJ), complete with full barrels of beer that they would fill pitchers directly from. This year, they were in a plain old booth in the middle of a row with other booths. Kind of sad to see. Adam Avery was still there, faithfully pouring and talking to everyone.
The king of GABF, Sam Calagione, was also manning his booth, smiling for pictures with everyone. I'm convinced that if Sam told the crowd to go find Charlie Papazian and bring him back for hanging that there would be the biggest mad rush since people found out about the free cheese booth.
Was happy to see Firestone Walker pouring Parabanilla right at the start; no "Pouring at 7 pm!" hassle.
But what is a hassle is Bottle Logic only pouring certain beers on certain nights. Yeah, I got to try all the Lost Colony I wanted. But Fundamental Observation only being poured on Friday night? Didn't the Thursday people pay the same price for a ticket? I asked the BA's Craft Beer Director Julia Herz about this practice two years ago and she wasn't against it then, doesn't seem to be now. But I sure am. I don't care about personally not getting to try that beer; I've got all the bottles I want. But it sucks for the people who are excited to try what is a whale for many, and they see it listed on the beers Bottle Logic is bringing, and they get to the booth and FUCK YOU! NOT TONIGHT!
J Wakefield's Haterade made me realize I could like a beer that smells exactly like fruit punch.
And the "We ran out of all our beer by 7:30 so we went to the strip club" award goes to: Funky Buddha. Again.
Columbus Brewing brought Bodhi DIPA this year, always worth stopping by for, but their Pallet Island BA Imperial Stout with coconut was possibly the best beer at the fest for me.
Maybe second best of the night was the storied Wooden Hell from Floosmoor Station. Also was the only Barleywine I sampled that night.

A note to the Brewers Association: Make dump buckets and water pitchers available at EVERY single booth. Don't put us in the position of going to a booth just to rinse out our glasses and have the poor brewery rep who is just waiting to talk to you about their beer say, "Oh, you just want to use my water? Well, the deal is you have to try my beer as well!!" I dealt with this twice and heard it told to others many times. Each time, the brewery rep was very friendly about it, but just don't put us in that situation. Don't make us force a sample down and pretend to like it since we have to stand there and rinse out our cup again before getting the beer we wanted in the first place.
Another issue: volunteers. I know the people pouring (who aren't there on behalf of the brewery) are volunteering in exchange for admission to the festival, but some of these people are real dopes. I've given up on trying to get any info on beer they're pouring, because most don't care to educate themselves, but I shouldn't have to interrupt a conversation that has been going on between two volunteers for over 30 seconds so I can get a damn sample. I'm standing right in front of you, guys. You're there to do one thing. Talk to your buddy as you pour samples.

Keeping it upbeat and positive, as I'm known to do: the corral system they've utilized to handle the lines coming in seems to work well for everyone. I interviewed a number of people waiting and they were all in good spirits, probably because they were about to enter a beer fest rather than an abattoir. Anything beats the 2008 "Line starts 3 blocks that way, folks!"
Meet the Brewer booths were prevalent and make up for the don't give a damn pourers. I saw a lot of brewery people taking the time to answer many a homebrewer's questions, which can take some patience.
The Heavy Medal section, featuring past medal winners, is also a great feature, especially for those of us too lazy to seek out winners during the Saturday session. We just have to wait a year to try them.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

GABF 2018-Ten Years of Covering the Best Beer Fest in the World

I thought last year would be the year of the hazy IPA, but after looking over the list of beers being poured at GABF today, I was way off. Seems like everyone has some beer with a pun playing off milkshake or hazy. And that would be just fine if I hadn't hit the yearly classic Melvin East Meets West IPA event at Falling Rock Tap House. 21 IPA/DIPAs to choose from. $40. 6 10 oz. pours. So if you break it down, that's $40 for what amounts to less than a six-pack. Of course I paid for it- what else am I gonna do with my time and money? Besides, we have it down to a science: a group of four of us had tickets and just kept going up through the very, very manageable line (sure we're talking about Falling Rock here??) until we had a table filled with 21 of the best IPAs one could ask for. Well, if you leave out #2 (Beachwood DDH Melrose, which was a malt bomb) and #11 (Melvin Bogan, a Nelson and Galaxy DIPA that sounded good but was a mess. It is a coincidence that both of these beers fall into the clear IPA category and both were singled out as subpar? Probably not. I'd have to say that two other traditional IPAs on the list, Alchemist Focal Banger and Three Floyds Lazer Snake, were among my least favorites. Crazy. There was a time when I would have felt privileged just to even try an Alchemist or Three Floyds IPA, you know? Before you call me a"Hazebro", as is the social media trend to lump in the idiots along with people who recognize a great beer, listen: another traditional West Coast style IPA, Cannonball Creek Project Alpha 25, was excellent. I kept going back to that one. Happy now?
Let's see...Kane was the one brewery who sent a Brut IPA. Not good. Funky yeast and spritzy. Finally got to try a Moonraker beer, Electric Lettuce. Great. The other top beers: Revision Reno as Fuck, Great Notion Ripe (which was my standout beer of GABF last year) Fieldwork Blur in Stereo (28 IBUs, HOW IS THIS AN IPA!! Relax, buddy), and Springdale Good and You. This Massachusetts brewery is new to me. Good stuff.

So here we are, with the Thursday session of GABF looming. And me, never wanting to touch a hazy IPA again, though hopefully that feeling is gone by 5:30. I have a lot of sampling to do in the name of journalism. A lot has changed since I first covered the fest in 2009- notably my tolerance. And the fact that there are now 800 breweries and 4,000 beers, compared to just over 200 breweries and 2,000 beers in 2009. There is also 100,000 more square feet of festival space than in 09. My job now is to figure out which brewery will have the honor of hosting my first sample of the fest. In 2009, I went with Ballast Point Dorado. Now you can buy that beer in the supermarket. The smart choice is to start with a palate-opening Pilsner, so Pfreim Pilsner, Sandlot Barman Pils, Troegs Sunshine Pils, or Rockyard Primadonna (World Beer Cup gold medal winner this year) would fit the bill. But I usually end up hitting the places where the lines will be longest later in the evening, which are usually the places with the rare/barrel/aged/ high ABV beers. So that probably means something along the lines of Modern Times Devil's Teeth BA Imperial Stout with NOLA coffee. Or Kane's A Night to End All Dawns. Or Lost Abby Duck Duck Gooze. Or anything J Wakefield. But probably Weldwerks, which I predict will have the longest lines, thanks to a list including Quadruple dry-hopped Juicy Bits, Medianoche, Coconut Medianoche, Mexican yeah, that line will be out of hand. A sleeper will be Flossmoor Station, who is bringing back Wooden Hell, one of the original whale beers from 2008 that people were trading $$$$ or their children for. And there's Bottle Logic, who is pouring Fundamental Observation, Darkstar November, Number Crunch...
It's going to be a long night. To all who are going: stay hydrated. Bring snacks. Though the GABF rules state no outside food is allowed, they mean they don't want you bringing in a pizza or foot-long sandwiches. Pretzel necklaces will always be welcome.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

NM IPA Challenge Final Round

The Bear had a good run, but a strong showing in round 2 and the most votes in the final round sealed the victory for Blue Corn in the 2018 NM IPA Challenge. Their grapefruit bomb of a beer was the fan favorite, somehow even beating out Red River's "liquid yuck". Red River did manage to get 26 votes in the final someone affiliated with their brewery a politician or something? Wait, the answer is yes?? Ahhhh, I'm starting to see the bigger picture now...And ok, maybe I'm being harsh. But do you really think that Red River's IPA is a better beer than La Cumbre's National IPA Championship winning Project Dank, which it placed ahead of? Really? Would you bring a growler of it to friends or brewers in another state and proudly say, "This beer was the best out of 40+ IPAs at the New Mexico IPA Challenge."? Merit-based voting. Honest voting.
Marble and Boxing Bear both got 40 votes in the final round, though Marble's dismal 3 votes in round 1 really hurt and left them in 3rd place.
Biggest surprise this year? Probably that the majority of the breweries went for the dank IPAs rather than juicy or hazy. I thought this year would be much heavier on the haze. Only Boxing Bear and Bow and Arrow really had what I would classify as a true New England style IPA, though Santa Fe's was close and definitely more on the juicy side. And might again have been the one I voted for, had I voted. Either that or Second Street. They know IPAs. How about you guys take over the space Monks' left in Albuquerque?
Bosque had a mediocre showing to kick off the opening-ish of their new digs. I liked the beer on its own at the tasting room but it didn't stand out from the crowd. They finished near the bottom with Bow and Arrow and Taos Mesa, though nowhere near as low as Duel. The mighty have fallen a bit, but not that low. Nice new spot. Definitely has a production brewery feel, but that view of the Sandias from the second floor are killer.
Many IPAs I had noted as "good", which is nice when you're paying to taste a tray of beer. There were plenty of years where you knew that 4 or 5 beers on the tray were a big NO!after one sip, but that was not the case this year. And that's the way it should be. So many locals boast about how great NM IPAs are; let's not have any infected ones in a "best of the best" challenge.
Good job by the Guild this year on not running out of plastic cups like last year. I did note that a Walmart was only a 3 minute drive away...was this the reason Bosque was chosen for the final and busiest round? We'll see if that trend continues next year.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

NM IPA Challenge Round 2: A Return to Normalcy

There. That's more like it. In the second round of the 2018 NM IPA Challenge, Red River, the darlings of round 1, placed in the bottom 25% in round 2, held at Second Street in Santa Fe. The city different didn't buck convention when it comes to choosing their favorite, as Marble gathered the most votes (25). Blue Corn was right behind with 24, and after that strong showing in the first round is now leading the competition with 38 total votes. Red River only got 8 votes this time around, but their dominance in the first round keeps them secure in the second spot with 31. Boxing Bear is right behind with 29, Marble with 28, and La Cumbre rounds out the top five with 25 total votes. The final round is going to draw the biggest IPA Challenge crowd ever, with perhaps the entire town of Red River making the drive to Bernalillo. In an unrelated note, i saw people from a local business buying beers at a brewery for customers if the customers voted for the business in a "Best of the City" competition. My opinion is if you have to ask for votes, or even worse have to pay for them, then you most likely don't deserve to win. Anyway, Bosque's new location is going to draw a huge crowd, and this final is really going to come down to the last votes. Get out there and vote what your taste buds tell you is best!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

NM IPA Challenge Round 1

As the second round of the IPA Challenge begins at Second Street in Santa Fe, it's only fitting that I catch up on Round 1, held in Taos. Now, I know that people in Taos have been conditioned over the years to like mediocre beer, as evidenced by the popularity of Eske's Green Chile beer, but the voting results really raised eyebrows. Is it just the strange tastes of the quinoa kids in Taos, or was there some subterfuge afoot? Red River Brewing, only a scant 36 miles from Taos, somehow managed to get 64% more votes than the closest competitor, Boxing Bear. That's one more vote than Duel, Kaktus, Marble, Quarter Celtic, Bow and Arrow, Bosque, La Cumbre, and Santa Fe COMBINED. Hmmmmmmmm. Now, it's hard to pick out a certain beer in an IPA Challenge (save for maybe Boxing Bear's entry this year). While I can't say for sure that people were stuffing the ballot box, I can SAY FOR SURE that people were stuffing the ballot box!!! Sure, I could be wrong. Happens multiple times a day. But here's my prediction: Red River falls back. Boxing Bear continues to show well. May the merit-based vote accumulator win!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

NM IPA Challenge: The Three Trays

Duel Brewing had their finest tap selection since opening as they hosted the elimination round of the NM IPA Challenge. The format was simple: the 38 IPAs were broken up into three trays to be distributed equally to the participants. Apparently some event-goers didn't get the memo, as there were complaints about not getting a tray with all 38 entries. Don't you have to wait long enough to get your tray of 12-14 samples?? Just do what the pros do and show up with three people and get to try from all three trays. Then come up and yack to me about stupid shit for an hour. I was not a pro, as I have only one friend and so only got to try from 1-27, though did sneak a sample of 29 and 31. I found tray 1 to be superior to the second, with 5 good IPAs, 4 bad, and 3 ok. This may not seem like a great ratio, but five out of 12 will get you in the baseball hall of fame. Tray 2 was a bit closer to the Mendoza line, with 8 bad, 1 good, and 3 ok.
Of interest to me:

I think the hazy beers got some votes based purely on looks: Boxing Bear's 26 votes were second only to Marble's 29, though I didn't think that beer was in the top 5.
Marble's beer stood out as I tried it with a "Huh!" which means good, but I was surprised to see it get the most votes as it wasn't HAZY.
Bow and Arrow's had a great NE IPA look, but it lacked in taste. This is where I think the look helped, as they gathered 16 votes.
Santa Fe Dining had a good showing, with concepts Blue Corn and Kelly's both making the finals. You remember Kelly's: the place where everyone used to go and pack the patio when the beer was bad. Now they have good beer and the place is empty.
Red Door had an interesting beer that finished like a lager. They're going on to the finals as well.
Rio Bravo wasn't one I'd put money on to make the next round, but their beer stood out. Nice job.
La Cumbre surprised me by NOT doing something hazy, and their beer was really good.
Kaktus' 11 votes may have been more than their previous entries combined.
Santa Fe stood out to me above the rest with a variant of Reluctant, their hazy IPA. Not quite in the murky category, more wheaty looking. But what a great beer. Only 12 of us had the good taste to vote for this one.

The way the Guild tallies votes is effective but antiquated. How about grabbing an Ipad and entering the data as you receive the votes. Then, 30 seconds after the last vote is in, boom, you can announce the results and we can get out of that hot and humid atmosphere. Those big windows at the front of Duel combined with the high ceilings make for an overstretched air conditioning system. That charcuterie board might be worth hanging around for though.
Duel, Second Street, Taos Mesa, and Bosque all received a bye as they are all hosts this year. Excited to see what Second Street and Bosque bring to the finals. You know Bosque wants to bring home the trophy to their new billion dollar baby.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

U.S. Open Beer Championship Winners Announced: The Local Slant

Did you all mark your calendars for this one? The U.S. Open Beer Championships was right up there with Arbor Day for me up until a couple of years ago because it just didn't have the publicity afforded to the ones we're familiar with, even though it has been held since 2009. So while it isn't as well known as GABF and World Beer Cup and though its website ( makes mine look modern, it is still a legitimate competition. It has the unique distinction of allowing homebrewers to enter alongside commercial breweries. One guy even took Silver in the DIPA category! There were 6,300 entries from around the world in 117 categories, and looky here: New Mexico brought back some parting gifts. The 377 Brewery took Gold in the Wood/Barrel-Aged Sour Beer category for Belgian Sour Quad. Nice! One of the few non-chain places in the airport area and it's a winner. Will the local sour chasers be searching this one out? Another underdog brewery, Flix Brewhouse, took a Bronze in the Baltic-Style Porter category for Darth Malt. Great name, great beer, apparently. Santa Fe took two Bronze medals, the first for Santa Fe Pale Ale in the ESB category. Who knew all these local Pale Ales were really ESB Ales? La Cumbre Pyramid Rock Pale Ale, Santa Fe Pale Ale, Bosque IPA winning at World Beer Cup a few years back in the Australian Pale Ale category...FAKE NEWS!!! The second Santa Fe Bronze was for their fantastic 7K IPA in the West Coast IPA Category. Yeah, there's a New England IPA category. Will be one at GABF this year too, finally. Anyway, have I told you how much I enjoyed the 7K on tap at Albuquerque Sunport at the place that stays open late in Terminal B? Hint: Terminal B is the one where you turn right. Back to the beer in a second, but first, someone explain why there are so many late flights out of huge airports yet all the restaurant/bars seem to close by 10pm? NY, LAX, Vegas...yet we have one flight out of little ABQ Sunport at 11:45pm and the bar there is open up almost until boarding. I love that. And I got there after a crazy day of work and had myself the best 7K I could imagine. Two, actually, of the large ones. And then I went into the restroom and chugged an Underberg mini, got on the plane, and settled in with my earplugs and sleep mask. And listened to myself think about how important it was that I get some sleep. Listened to that annoying voice all the way up to landing.
Congratulations to our local winners!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Can ABQ Bear Another Hazy IPA?

You don't have to have a magic 8 ball to know that Hazy/ NE style IPAs are all the rage. It's old news for me to even write about it. And you know that, yes, Albuquerque IPA drinkers would love to have another quality hazy IPA to try. Look at La Cumbre, who has seen remarkable success beginning with El Jugo and followed up by Postcards From Hell (collab with Modern Times), In the Money, etc. You know, the beers you had to line up for. And people got so used to lining up there that they even did it for the South Peak Pilsner can release, even though people when it was available previously on tap at the pub, people weren't drinking it at the pub and it got dropped from the regular lineup. Sun Fade, their most recent hazy, should be available throughout the summer and I saw a lot of it in Phoenix recently. Bosque did a few really good ones, and I think they should keep trying them. Seems like (naturally) a lot of focus has gone to opening the new place, and I haven't been blown away by any of their recent releases. Marble has Desert Fog, a hazy IPA that may or may not get canned someday. Quarter Celtic and Canteen have done a few but none hit the mark of a NE style, and I'm using the look/mouthfeel of Monkish, Tired Hands, Other Half as my reference. Not they have to do the beers as well as those named do, they just have to be similar in style. Red Door, Ponderosa, Bombs Away all have done or are still brewing the style.

But what about Boxing Bear? Is Justin Hamilton content with the success of his back-to-back NM IPA Challenge winning IPA? Well, probably. That would be enough for me. But he's been intrigued by the NE style IPA since before it blew up. And he sorta tried his hand at one in the MavBear collab with Josh Trujillo at Marble. He's finally releasing his very own at Boxing Bear, Albumurky. I like the name, though we'll see if San Diego's Pure Project has any objections since they seem to be the original "murk" meisters, with beers named Murklands, Murkwoods, Murk Mobile, Murk of the Beast, UC Murkley...
Hamilton says that while MavBear came across as having higher bitterness than a typical NE IPA, Albumurky is more true to style. It is 6.8% ABV and is hopped with Simcoe, Mosaic, and Citra. Definitely looking forward to this one.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Founders Double Trouble

I remember going into Local Option bar in Chicago in, oh 2012 or 2013 and seeing Bell's Hopslam, Three Floyds Dreadnaught, and Founders Double Trouble on tap. At the time, it couldn't get any better than that as far as DIPAs for me. And Double Trouble surprisingly tasted the best out of the three. So when Founders decided to take Double Trouble out of their release schedule, I was bugged. Up until recently, double trouble for Founders was the amount of CBS (who else stocked up on that "whale"?) and KBS sitting on the shelves and floors of liquor stores. Other Half has a beer called Stacks on Stacks; that name goes for KBS four-packs as well.

Founders seems to have come to their senses, as far as Double Trouble DIPA goes. While they are making a push with All Day IPA and Solid Gold Lager, Double Trouble is back for a short time. The $11.99 are priced within reason for this 9.4% ABV beer. Though bottles just arrived this past week, they were bottled on 5/17. It's a tough game to play when local breweries are offering fresh DIPAs daily...or are they? Who has a DIPA on tap right now? Not Bosque. Not La Cumbre. Not Marble (downtown, at least). So maybe Double Trouble is worth your time. Single bottles are available at Jubilation right now.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Beer Week- Final Round

Psst. Hey awake? C'mon, you got one more day in you, right? There's only a few things going on today. You can go back to sleep after that, I promise.

Hotel Chaco hosts a brunch at Level 5 with a Marble Tap Takeover. Four taps. Brunch stuff. Nice views. Wind may knock you off the roof today, but you've had a good run. Brunch till 2.

"Le Cask Lunatique", a day of cask beer and live performance by Le Chat Lunatique. Another great Beer Week idea, and a fine way to end what has been another fun celebration of our favorite pastime. Look at this lineup:
Cider with Cascade Hops and raw sugar.
Cider with maple syrup and cinnamon sticks.
The Village Wit with pure honey and grapefruit.
Kettle Run - A Solo-Hop Sour with agave and the juice & zest of 12 limes.
Sparkfitter Amber with molasses and ginger.
Brickie American Stout with raspberry purée.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

ABQ Beer Week Saturday, June 3rd

Quarter Celtic and Palmer Brewery have collaborated to make Lawn Ninja, a summer ale made with rice. Palmer Brewery is the ninja brewery of Albuquerque, as I never even know that they're there. Should be an interesting beer to try- not many rice beers out there, unless you count all the Japanese ones. And Great Divide Samurai. And every Budweiser and Bud Light.

A Mini Lager Fest? Ok. What would once have been a ghost town of a fest might actually be a hit, especially as "near-record" highs are forecasted for today. Ponderosa has gathered the best lagers from 8 breweries around the city and brought them together for you. $15 gets you your fill of beer as well as live music. Event goes from 12-4.

Canteen is (I hope) proud to bring you Zafado Groove, a passionfruit Belgian Ale aged in chardonnay barrels with brett. Also, Crafts, Crops, and Hops: an evening beer market happens there today from 5-8. Farmers markets should happen later more often. Just because I sleep till noon doesn't mean I shouldn't be able to get fresh local produce. You can keep the necklaces and Life is Good inspired t-shirts.

Want to re-live those high school days? You can guess my answer. But Tractor Wells Park is hosting 90s Beer Prom: Under the Sea at 8. $50 for couples or (God forbid) $25 for a single. Best dressed are crowned prom King and Queen. Worst dressed gets treated like Carrie at prom.

Friday, June 1, 2018

ABQ Beer Week Friday, June 1

Feeling sour this Friday? You should feel sour if you went to the Battle Of the Beer Geeks at Tractor. No carbonation in any of the beers and they still charged the full $10? It was a rip-off to us as customers and a disservice to the people who entered the competition. I voted for 5, though number 1 won it. I could see either winning. But where was I? Oh yes, feeling sour? Jubilation ups the acid indigestion with a full panel of sour beers from Rowley, Steel Bender, Cascade, and others. It's free!

Firestone Walker has a whole fancy line of beers in their Barrelworks program. Prepare to be wowed by a tap takeover featuring some of these beers at Nob Hill Bar and Grill. Krieky Bones, Agrestic, Bretta Weisse and more. Dance party follows soon after.

A special "beer edition" of the First Fridays Comedy Contest at Tractor Wells Park happens tonight. What does that mean? Craft beer jokes? I tried to tell a joke at Battle of the Beer Geeks but it fell flat.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

2018 ABQ Beer Week, Thursday May 31


This could be the most popular event of Beer Week: Battle of the Beer Geeks once again visits Tractor Wells Park.
The Worthogs, ABQ Craft Beer Drinkers, NM Dark Side Brew Crew, CNM future (hopefully) brewers, and Babes in Brewland vie for beer geek supremacy. No, I'm not bitter that I once again didn't get invited to participate. I'll still be there, trying the recipes that these groups came up with. So $10 gets you a pour of all 5 entries and your vote can help crown the next champ. Event starts at 5.

Green Coyote Tomatillo and Sunny Rain Golden Tart are featured sours from Odell at Nob Hill Bar and Grill today. Coincidentally, Sunny Rain will be dancing from 8-8:15 at Knockouts tonight.

There's still time to get to Flix for their 8 pm showing of Beerfest. A special menu and souvenir glassware as well as the release of a collab between Flix and Steel Bender highlight the night. The movie is second to Beer League, starring Artie Lange, in my opinion. Fun starts at 7.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

ABQ Beer Week Begins- Part 1

Wow. Deciding to take a week or two off from writing turned into me being the poster child for procrastination. But even Rip Van Winkle would agree that this is a good week to wake up and hack away at the Selectronic.

ABQ Beer Week is in its 8th year, and the craft beer scene has seen a lot of changes. Eight years ago, there were a few breweries that could be counted on to make stuff that was growler worthy. People were talking about how they had traveled to exotic places and tries beers like Lagunitas, Dogfish Head, and Founders (ok, Grand Rapids probably doesn't qualify as exotic), and why oh why can't we get those great breweries here?? Well, you got em. Want any more CBS? It's waiting there for you! So many local breweries now are making great beers

Steel Bender is one of those "tweener" breweries that is just far enough away that I rarely get there. I hear good things, though. This Homegrown Pils may have me driving up scenic 2nd St: Wilderness Malt from Colorado Malting is featured for the very first time in the US in this Amarillo-hopped Pilsner. I'm a sucker for a good Pilsner!

Nexus will feature The Notorious BUN (Big Ugly Nasty) IPA at both locations. This beer is part of their 7th Anniversary celebration, which goes from the 24th to the 27th.

Come out and help support Behind the Badge, a group that raises funds for first responders who have faced on the job injuries. Have a first responder help you after overdoing it at the Beer Walk, Run, or Crawl event beginning at 4 at Dialogue. The crawl will then hit Tractor, Bow and Arrow, and finally Rio Bravo for more beer and a concert. The first 35 people to enter get a free t-shirt to go with their ridiculous costumes.

Rowley Farmhouse Ales will be featured at Tractor Wells Park from 5-8. Watch the fun as runners from the Walk, Run, or Crawl event down a couple of sours and run on to the next brewery. That'll sit well in the belly.

The granddaddy of Beer week events, Beer, Cheese, and More, returns to Marble's 111 location from 5-8. $25 for five Marble beers alongside five Whole Foods-selected cheeses. I remember the days when this was just called Beer and Cheese.

The answer: Pink guava, kaffir lime leaves, and Citra hops. The question: what are two things that don't belong in a beer, and one that does? I kid! Canteen's Social Capital is a Kettle Sour that has been released with a variety of ingredients, and guava is a perfect complement to this beer. I'll be interested to see how the lime and Citra play into it.


Nexus continues their Anniversary celebration with the release of Beam Me Up Scotty Scotch Ale. Glad Beer Week coincides with the Nexus Anniversary!

KBS will be flowing at Nob Hill Bar and Grill beginning at 5. Two years worth- 2017 and 2018, to be exact. Another Beer Week, another Friday Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout tapping by NHBG. I can never do Friday nights. How they love to torture me.

Sister will be serving up a great variety of rare to NM kegs at the Over 21 event, where all the breweries are over 21 years old. That's a great idea, and hard to believe some have been around that long! The draft list: Bell’s Brewery: 30th Anniversary Cherry Stout Reserve, Firestone Walker: ’17 Helldorado Blonde Barleywine, Four Peaks: Green Tea Lager, Left Hand: Chai Milk Stout Nitro, New Belgium: Clutch Sour Stout, Odell: ‘16 Meddler, Rogue: Combat Wombat sour NE IPA, Sierra Nevada: Kolsch German-Style Ale. Event starts at 6.

Here's something in the never heard tried and never should have been allowed to be tried category: folk artists covering Radiohead songs. Tractor hosts this mashup at 8. I know, there are a lot of folk music fans out there. I've heard The Doors "Light My Fire" and Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" covered by folk/bluegrass bands here in ABQ. May as well listen to a folk rendition of Jigsaw Falling Into Place.


Marble's successful Brewer's Brunch event heads to their Westside Taproom on Saturday from 11-1. A small setting (only 24 spots) allows you to enjoy brunch and beers while talking shop with Marble brewers. $30 gets you the VIP seating. Don't get on the tour bus with them.

Just when you thought all the beer puns had been taken (maybe that only applies to gose): Canteen releases Oompa Lupulin DIPA. About time Zach and the Canteen crew puts out a DIPA. Canteen has released some under the radar IPAs that have been great. Go over there and give them their due at the Pedals and Pints event happening all day. Show up on your bike and get discounted beer. Show up in your car and get egged.

M'Tucci's Italian Market and Pizzeria will be hosting a beer dinner featuring beers from both Bosque and Upslope. A Colorado brewery and a NM brewery whose packaged beers are brewed in Colorado. Call M'Tucci's for more details. Their website calendar doesn't have the event listed and I'm not playing Hardy Boys.


Sister hosts the La Cumbre gang for a tap takeover brunch at 11. Tacos and tater tots and La Cumbre beers. Simple yet elegant.

Dueling brunches! Nob Hill Bar and Grill ALSO is hosting brunch at 11, this one featuring Goose Island's Madame Rose as well as Sofie beermosas. The ABQ Beer Week site says for more information visit, but they haven't done any work on their events page since 2015. And I thought I was bad.

Gecko's will be hosting an all day tap takeover from Odell Brewing. Did you know Odell just launched in the Utah market? That's how backwards Utah laws are: a brewery that's well over 20 years old took this long to distribute to the state right next to them. Coincidentally, it also took Gecko's a long time to get on the Beer Week bandwagon. I remember trying to get them to participate the very first year and you would have thought we were trying to sell them a vacuum cleaner.

Of course, the highlight event on Sunday is ABQ Blues and Brews. One of the longest-running fests in the city, Blues and Brews takes place at Sandia Resort and Casino. 200 beers from 70+ breweries, four bands, Dukes of Ale homebrews, Imbibe Cocktail Challenge, and, most importantly, unlimited beer sampling for 4 hours! This is a marathon event.


It's still going. Memorial Day has Steel Bender hosting a cookout at 11 with pulled pork, spare ribs, and brisket along with all the favorite sides that go with BBQ. Plus lots of beer, if you can stomach any after Blues and Brews.

Marble downtown hosts their annual Memorial Day Festival at 3 with lots of bands and lots of Goses. Customers who bike to the event get brew club pricing.

Tractor has a Four Hills location? Wow, I should stay up on local beer stuff. Well, if you're up that way (and what is up that way? When I think of that area, I can only picture the Waffle House and motels and shady shady people around there), stop into Tractor for Paint Your Own Stein Night. $35 gets you a night with Kiln It!, who will provide you with ceramic stein and paint. Creativity and skill, well, you're on your own. Don't worry, the $35 gets you a beer you can cry into about your lack of talent. It's not your fault they didn't have left-handed scissors in that art class when you were a kid. It's not your fault.

Brain Gang Trivia brings a special beer edition to Canteen from 7-9 pm. Show off your beer knowledge and win big. Quick: convert 8.7 degrees Plato to ABV! Yeah, me neither. Hopefully, the questions will be along the lines of, "What was the name of the dog in the Bud Light ad campaign in the 80s?" Extra credit if you can name the Stroh's dog.


Barrel-aged Obey the Darkside on cask at Canteen today. The NM Dark Side Brew Crew did this beer awhile back in collaboration with Canteen and now you get to try it after some time in whiskey barrels.

High and Dry hosts a special tapping of...another brewery's beer! Ok! Just like Tractor Nob Hill carrying cans of La Cumbre Elevated IPA, business is business! High and Dry will be tapping Boxing Bear's Sucker Punch DIPA. This way you don't have to cross the river.

The Ultimate Taco Tuesday? We'll see about that! Ponderosa Brewing hosts tacos and beer pairings starting at 3. Take that, Bob's Burgers.

More food. How about grilled cheese? How about 4 different grilled cheese sandwiches paired with a flight of beer for $13*? How about you get to Tractor Nob Hill at 5? *price does not include Elevated IPA.

This could get messy: Two Fools is hosting a whiskey and beer event in which you pay $25 and get 3 whiskies, 3 beers, and 3 food pairings. Remember: it's not technically a shot if you order it "neat". Goes from 6-8 pm.

TFK Smokehouse hosts a $55 beer dinner with Steel Bender and Bell's from 6:30-8:30. Lager of the Lakes, 30th Anniversary Cherry Stout, and more! Call 639-5669 to reserve your spot.

More Tuesday, more beer, more tacos! This time at Canteen on Tramway. I'm gong to need bigger slacks. No wonder the call it Fat Tuesday.

You buy local food? Why not local hops? Red Hat Hops' Tom Brewer and Red Door Brewer Matt Meier hosts a discussion on hops and beer from 7-9. Bring your own tacos.


Rebel Donut and Tractor Four Hills are pairing up for a pairing. Beer and donuts. Four donuts paired with four Tractor beers from 3-7. Insert Homer Simpson joke here.

4 cask beer samples for $5? That's Beer Week 1 pricing! Join Quarter Celtic for their Mini Cask Fest from 4-9, where they'll be pouring award-winning Pedro O' Flannigan on oak chips, Pedro with Mosaic hops, Crimson Lass with Chai, and Mor Buck with Azacca distilled hop cloves. Whatever that is.

Remember Beer and Cheese? How about Beer and Meat? Doesn't sound as classy. No wonder they didn't name it that. Marble's Heights location hosts M'Tucci's for a pairing of 4 Marble beers with 4 M'Tucci's cured meats. $30 gets you stuffed. 5-8 pm.

A Star Wars themed beer crawl comes your way beginning at 7 pm at Bosque and hitting Kelly's, Hops Brewery, and ending at Tractor Nob Hill. Dress as your favorite Star Wars character. There will be trivia along the way, beer discounts, and prizes. I'm going to be Sarlacc in the Great Pit of Carkoon. Look both ways before crossing the street, Darth.

Back with more Beer Week events tomorrow-ish.

Friday, January 26, 2018

My Sophisticated Tastebuds

There was a time when I thought Campbell's Chicken With White and Wild rice soup along with a grilled cheese and onion sandwich was fine dining. Not that I believed the ambiance of my newspaper-strewn apartment was akin to white tablecloths and candlelight; more that I thought, "How could food taste any better than this?"

That time is long gone. Now I eat the same meal, but I do it knowing full well there is better tasting food out there. I just can't afford it. So if my tastebuds have advanced to the point of realizing a can of liquid salt isn't nirvana, does that mean that Bell's Hopslam is bad? Let's see: a beer I loved years ago- check.