Stoutmeister here with another round of clearing out the old mental notebook of beer. Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day, that overly commercial, cheeseball annual event. The good news is it will be over soon, which means 90 percent fewer Kay/Jared jewelry commercials. For that alone, gentlemen of ABQ, raise a pint. The other good news is Tractor’s Ex-orcism Party, which at least one single member of the Crew (me) will be attending tonight, assuming my allergies mellow out and all. For those who don’t follow Tractor on social media, the Ex-orcism Party is just an excuse for people without significant others to gather at Tractor, listen to music, and be thankful they’re not wasting money on silly gifts and are instead spending it on beer. It kicks off at 8:30, and you’re supposed to bring a picture of your most recent ex; no word if it has to be a physical, printed photo, or you can just bring it up on your phone and delete it at night’s end.
Anyway, onto the other important stuff …
New Mexico Cup
The first (hopefully) annual competition for the title of the state’s best beer and wine kicks off Saturday at the Convention Center at 1 p.m. for VIP ticket holders and celebrity judges. In case you missed it, five of the Crew (myself, E-Rock, Shilling, Derek, what’s left of Brandon after a week of illness) will be celebrity judges alongside the likes of Tom Joles and Lauren Poole, who we really, really hope will be in character as Lynette. We will have a lot more on the NM Cup on Friday. This should be a really fun event, so come on down!
Saturday Night Sixer
So Brandon has been sick most of the week, as mentioned above, and with the Cup on Saturday and all, the regular Sixer feature will be taking the week off. Don’t worry, Brandon is taking a ton of (legal) drugs to get better, so he can attend the Cup and resurrect the Sixer next week. So for this weekend, don’t stay in, head out to the Cup or to your favorite brewery and indulge there. Support local, and if you can’t hang out or you just want to stay home and forget Valentine’s Day ever happened, then go out and buy a growler (or two, if it really, really sucked). Speaking of growlers …
The guys up at Bosque Brewing have come up with a wonderful new idea. Just about every brewery in town has either a happy hour pint discount or a single day where pints are discounted. We will not complain about this, but Bosque has gone a step further and is now offering discount days on growlers! Every Wednesday and Sunday all growler refills at Bosque are just $8. The new Graybeard Imperial Stout is going on tap this week and of course there are all the other crowd favorites. The Scotia Scotch should be hitting that perfect note as it ages just a little bit, so this Sunday would be a great time to stop by and fill your growler. And hey, speaking of new seasonals …
Star of the Season, Take Two
The Crew is doing its proper research and already lining up our favorite seasonal beers for the month of February. We already wrote up January’s finest, now it’s time to start getting serious about what is the best of February. The new rule we’re instituting this month is that the beer has to debut in the month in question; sorry, no holdovers from January that you just didn’t get around to trying until recently. Once again, we’ll be accepting fan comments on this site, as well as Facebook and Twitter. We are also hoping to have an end-of-the-month gathering at a brewery in town to hold a sort of roundtable discussion, so any and all are invited. We’ll figure out the when and where, but we’re leaning toward the last Sunday of this month, possibly at Il Vicino. Now, before anyone wonders “how will I know what seasonals debuted in February?” just remember that every Monday (or sometimes Tuesday) E-Rock will have that info for you in his The Week Ahead in Beer. Go back to his first column for February and you can start writing down beers off that. Speaking of seasonals …
Quick Reviews: Stout and Porter-palooza
I have been playing some catch-up on some seasonals from January that I missed, plus at least two new ones that debuted this month. First up, while E-Rock was playing with the Saletta Teixeira Fiasco last Friday at Broken Bottle, I sampled the new Glugg Porter. This is not your traditional porter, but one that is infused with all sorts of spices that give it a unique kick. It might have a little too much spice in it for me; at first it just felt like a smooth, robust porter, but the more I drank the more the flavors swirled and changed, popping in and out of sequence all across the palate. It is certainly another unique beer from Broken Bottle and worth trying, though I don’t know if I would order more than one pint per visit. I would love to hear other people’s reviews.
STF played again Saturday night, this time at Back Alley Draft House, so it gave me the chance to try Addison’s more traditional Back Alley Porter. This was a smooth, flavorful beer. It hits the right notes, though he told me that he wants to up the hops in his next batch and maybe mix in a couple more malts. As it is, this is a very easy-drinking dark beer; it makes for a nice intro or complement to the imperial stout and the Goat Head Java Stout currently on tap at BADH.
Before Brandon was down for the count, we stopped by Chama River to finally get our hands on the Serenity Milk Stout, which came out last month and I somehow missed trying at WinterBrew. Rather than just copy Left Hand’s Milk Stout, Chama makes a different, but still delicious, version of this now-popular style. There are strong vanilla hints, plus a sort of mysterious bitter flavor at the back end. However, it is relatively mild compared to what you get from a lot of stouts, so in the end this is another of those super-smooth beers. It is not too sweet (looking at you, Odell’s Lugene), so more traditional stout drinkers can still enjoy this beer. Stop by Chama soon before this seasonal runs its course.
Finally, while conducting an interview for our NM Cup preview, E-Rock and I snagged pints of the Stout Americano at Marble. This is a hybrid beer, combining coffee beans provided by the folks at Winnings Coffee (up by UNM) with the standard Marble Oatmeal Stout. The result is a very tasty coffee stout, which finds that balance between just enough roast coffee flavor and the regular stout flavors. Is is another good addition to Marble’s seasonal lineup, guaranteed to wake you up a little, regardless of the time of day.
Total (Wine) Recall
In case ya’ hadn’t heard, beer-wine-liquor superstore Total Wine is opening up in Albuquerque, I believe in two locations on each side of town. The west side TW is opening first and will kick things off next Wednesday with an invite-only grand opening party. So how do you get invited? Well, it’s the 21st Century, so invite yourself by clicking here.
There will be special tastings and a chance to talk to some beer/wine folks from New Mexico and possibly beyond. It runs from 6-8 p.m. I will be in the beer section with some the ABQ Craft Beer Drinkers Group. Hurry up and sign in to join us, as the last RSVP will be accepted today at 5 p.m.
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That’s it for this edition of beer notes. I will see some of you at Tractor tonight, don’t forget the No. 21-ranked UNM baseball team opens its season Friday at 5 p.m. at Isotopes Park, and of course I hope many of you can make it to the New Mexico Cup this Saturday!