We drink a lot of beer. Shocking, I know, but between the six members of the Dark Side Brew Crew, we really do have a lot of different beers every month. The more I thought about this, while of course filling out another beer check-in on Untappd, I realized we were missing a perfectly good recurring feature here on the web site.
So starting this week we will be churning out a bi-weekly story in which all six of us, or at least those of us who are going out and trying new beers, can offer up short, rapid-fire reviews. In many ways this is a perfect end-of-week complement to E-Rock’s The Week Ahead in Beer. He tells you what beers are out there and then we wrap up the best of what we have tried. Heck, we will even open this up to let you, gentle readers, share your thoughts. I know, most of you are too shy to put a beer review online. Or least that’s what I’m guessing. Prove me wrong! Be bold, share your thoughts on your favorites, from regular beers at breweries to seasonal specialties to the beers you buy at Jubilation/Total Wine/Sprouts/Whole Foods/Kellys/Quarters, etc.
In that regard, while we will mostly review beers we drink at New Mexico’s breweries, we do still buy beers from out of state and drink those, too. We will review those as well. We are not necessarily doing away with the Saturday Night Sixer but for the time being this will take its place if we do not find a single beer that deserves its own feature.
Now I said bi-weekly above just because I know there are some weeks (usually during Isotopes homestands for me) we won’t get out there and try a whole lot of beers. Other times we’ll have tons of beers to review, like for this inaugural edition.
So here we go on this grand new experiment. Wish us luck.
Back Alley Draft House’s Belgian Pale Ale
E-Rock: It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to go to Back Alley Draft House. Contrary to popular myth, they are still brewing their own beer (although they do have a great selection of guest taps). I had a chance to sample their newest offering, the Belgian Pale Ale, last week. The pale ale malts dominate in this Belgian style. Addison, BADH’s main brewer right now, told me that this beer didn’t come out quite the way he wanted to, but it is still a tasty pale ale that is dark in color and crisp in flavor. Whatever the original intent, it is still a good beer worth ordering. I’m looking forward to seeing what changes are made for the next batch.
Blue Corn’s Oaked Schwarzbier
Shilling: I got to try this at SummerBrew last weekend (all full post in the works, be patient folks). If any of you folks that are in to homebrewing, go down to SW Grape and Grain, walk into the grain room and taste and really savor all of the individual roasted malts. When you drink this beer, you can taste some of those individual malts so clearly. Without a doubt one of the best beers I have had in a while.
Brandon: Well for anyone looking for a reason to travel to Santa Fe, this beer alone should be a good reason to do so. Smooth caramel base, with plenty of chocolate and cocoa, with some mild spice hints in the back. Drinkable to no end and incredibly flavorful. I’m getting thirsty writing this …
Bosque’s Pale Ryder
Stoutmeister: Never been a big pale ale/IPA guy, but I found this beer to be rather delightful. The malts produce a sweetness you don’t normally find in the style. The hops and rye are present but they are muted enough to make this a very smooth, summertime beer.
Broken Bottle’s Brown Bear Toffee Stout
Stoutmeister: Very mild and light-bodied for a stout, though considering the warm summer season it should not come as too big of a surprise. I could have used a little more flavor in this one. It tasted more like something I would get at an Arizona brewery.
Cazuela’s Stone Cream Ale
E-Rock: I wrote about this beer in a post that I co-wrote with Stoutmeister earlier this week, but the beer was so good that I thought it was worth a second mention. This is a great summer beer. It is smooth with complex flavors. If you find yourself in Rio Rancho and you want to find a great way to beat the heat, then I highly recommend dropping by Cazuela’s and grabbing a pint for yourself.
Il Vicino’s Red River Bitter
Stoutmeister: During that impromptu Brew Crew gathering to watch Team USA defeat Honduras 1-0 on Tuesday, we all managed to try this new concoction by the mad scientists at the Canteen. They basically mixed up their sweet Irish red and a proper ESB, which is somewhat similar to what we used to do with the Scottish ale and ESB at Nexus (back when Nexus still had the ESB; get to work on bringing that back, Manu!). The RRB produces a nice mix of the bitter dryness of the ESB and the malty sweetness of the Irish. It is nice and smooth with minimal aftertaste. Kudos once again, Canteen staff.
Brandon: “Blending an ESB and a Red ale? Sure, I’ll give it a shot” That was my thought when I ordered up a pint of this and I was impressed by the smooth but warm body of this beer. It’s not warming in the alcoholic sense, but it’s a beer to cuddle with. There is a lingering sweetness with this beer that I love, but it is balanced out nicely by the ESB. A very well done blend.
Sandia Chile Grill’s Barb’s Barrel Hefeweizen
E-Rock: I recently caught some flack from a reader because he thought I was selling my integrity since I always note that Sandia Chill Grill is generously giving me food and beer and allowing me to write my weekly column at their establishment. In fact, I look forward to the time I get to spend at Sandia Chill Grill each week. My newest favorite beer is their Hefeweizen. It’s cloudy and sweet with hints of banana flavor. This is another great summer beer. Barb, a long time SCG patron, loved this beer so much that when she was told that it was no longer on the menu because it was a seasonal beer and SCG need the barrel to make other beer, she bought an extra barrel for SCG so that she would alway have her favorite beer on tap. Since then, the beer was christened Barb’s Barrel Hefeweizen in her honor.
Tractor’s Bourdain Bruja Roja
Stoutmeister: In the midst of a long weekend with those Fightin’ Topes, I stopped by Tractor for what seemed like the first time in ages. Lauren Poole was running the show and quickly provided me with samples of all the new (or just-returned-to-the-lineup) beers at Tractor. The standout of the group was this one. Brewed as a red pilsner, it came out closer to a Marzen. There are a lot of similarities to Tractoberfest and that’s a good thing. There is a good balance here with just a tinge of hoppy bitterness to go with the sweetness from the malts. I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but this is another standout that fits perfectly with the summer temps.
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The Great Beer Roundup will return in a couple weeks. We’ll be sure to keep sampling all the new (and some old) beers at breweries around ABQ. But we do invite our readers to submit their own reviews.
Oh, and we’re kinda scared, based on his Untappd posts, of when Franz Solo finds a couple hours of free time to unleash his reviews of the many, many beers he has taken home since he returned from Spain. The soccer may be great there, but the beer is not, so he’s been making up for lost time.
— The Crew