Archive for October 14, 2013

Welcome to part one of our three-part Santa Fe brewery series that does not actually include Santa Fe Brewing itself. Why not? We can drink SFBC beers anytime, since they’re all bottled or canned and sold down here in ABQ. We cannot, however, enjoy Blue Corn, Second Street, or Duel anywhere but at their breweries. So Franz Solo and I, Stoutmeister, trekked up to Santa Fe on Sunday and got us some tasty sampler platters.

Too many hours have passed since we had this sampler to remember which beer was which. The important thing is that they were all good.

Too many hours have passed since we had this sampler to remember which beer was which. The important thing is that they were all good at Blue Corn.

Our first stop was Blue Corn, where brewer John Bullard has been doing some pretty darned good things with beer for some time now. If his victory over juggernaut Il Vicino in the IPA Challenge wasn’t enough proof, John just brought home two silver medals from the Great American Beer Festival for his brown ale and stout. Luckily for us, both of those beers are in Blue Corn’s regular lineup, and as such were among the eight beers we got on our sampler tray. (We also paid an extra dollar for a ninth beer to have all the current beers on tap covered.)

The sampler consisted of the 40K Honey Wheat Ale, Atomic Blonde Lager, Atalaya Amber Ale, Road Runner IPA, End of the Trail Brown Ale (GABF silver medal winner), Gold Medal Stout (GABF silver medal winner this time around; it won the gold in 2007), and the seasonal Pumpkin Ale, Oktoberfest, and Paonia Wet Hop IPA. In a way, it was almost every beer style on one tray.

Before we get to the beer-by-beer review, we do have to point out that if you’re ever in Santa Fe on a Sunday and want to watch whatever NFL game is being kept off regular TV by the Broncos and/or Cowboys, head over to Blue Corn’s main location on Cerrillos. They have lots of TVs all showing different games and a great food menu to go with the beer. Heck, I even watched a quarter of the Steelers’ first victory of the season. Then I ended up missing the rest, so Monica from Craft Beer Drinkers has told me I’m not allowed to watch any more games this season so they’ll keep winning. This is not to say that Steelers fans are superstitious or anything. Not at all. (Memo to self, wear this Mean Joe Greene shirt again next weekend.)

Anyway, on with the beers. Rather than relying on fuzzy memories like we did at the New Mexico Brew Fest, I made audio recordings after each session. I am also including our star ratings on Untappd for each beer.

Atomic Blonde Lager (5% ABV, 30 IBU)

This was actually really nice. It tasted more like a cream ale. It’s listed as sort of a German pilsner, but it really has a creamy quality to it. One of the better blondes in the state. — Stoutmeister

Definitely more of a cream ale, like Nexus, than a traditional blonde. — Franz Solo

Untappd ratings: **** – FS, **** – S

40K Honey Wheat Ale (5.6% ABV, 18 IBU)

I didn’t find it that sweet, I thought it was kind of dry. It was fine. Not my genre of beer, but good for those who like wheat beers. — S

It was more wheat than honey. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. — FS

Untappd ratings: **** – FS, *** – S

Atalaya Amber Ale (5.5% ABV, 30 IBU)

It was very similar to the recent American Amber that Nexus brewed. It’s dry, it kind of has a little hoppy, crisp bite on the back end. — S

I expected more of a wheat-like flavor, but it was not there. It was close to Nexus’ amber. — FS

Untappd ratings: **** – FS, *** 1/2 – S

Road Runner IPA (6.8% ABV, 90 IBU)

The Road Runner IPA was a very solid IPA, kind of dry, starts out with the Centennial and other Northwestern hops toward the front. Then you really get hit by the Simcoe on the back end. — S

As far as the Road Runner IPA, very impressed. Very crisp and clean. I could definitely drink a few of these during the course of a day. Not overpowering at all. These are very smooth beers. — FS

Untappd ratings: **** – FS, *** 1/2 – S

Blue Corn will have to make some room in its medals case for the two silvers that John Bullard has brought back from GABF.

Blue Corn will have to make some room in its medals case for the two silvers that brewer John Bullard has brought back from the 2013 Great American Beer Festival.

End of the Trail Brown Ale (5.6% ABV, 25 IBU)

A silver medal winner at GABF, very good, just kind of a mild brown, little coffee hints on it. — S

The brown ale, I got a strong sort of coffee, roasted malts and then a nice nuttiness as it warmed and I finished my half of the sample. So all in all a very well worthy medal-winning ale. — FS

Untappd ratings: **** 1/2 – FS, **** – S

Gold Medal Stout (5.7% ABV, 25 IBU)

It ended up being a silver medal winner this year at GABF. Crisp, clean, nice chocolate-y flavor. Just a very good oatmeal stout. Not too thick (in mouthfeel). The one thing about Blue Corn is there is a smoothness to all of their beers. — S

The oatmeal stout, yeah, delightful. Smooth, lots of bits of chocolate and oatmeal, like you were drizzling chocolate sauce on a steaming bowl of oatmeal in the morning. Good stuff. — FS

Untappd ratings: **** 1/2 – FS, **** 1/2 – S

Pumpkin Ale (5.7% ABV, 20 IBU)

This was basically a pumpkin pie in a glass. It was very heavy on the pumpkin flavor, not on the spices and cinnamon and other stuff that you get in (La Cumbre’s) Witch’s Tit or over the top in (Chama River’s) Punkin Drublic. — S

The Pumpkin Ale in my personal opinion probably my favorite that I’ve had this year. A lot of the others, including Witch’s Tit, which is also a favorite of mine, have a lot more spice. But this was very much more just pumpkin with a little hint of spice. It tasted like my grandmother’s pumpkin pie. — FS

Untappd ratings: **** 1/2 – FS, **** – S

Oktoberfest (5.2% ABV, 23 IBU)

This was kind of nice, mild, very smooth. A little sweet but not too much. It’s a little hard to taste after all the higher-flavor beers. — S

Oktoberfest, I really unfortunately couldn’t taste very well, my tastebuds were a little inhibited. It was decent but honestly couldn’t give you the best opinion today. — FS

Untappd ratings: **** – FS, **** – S

Paonia Wet Hop IPA (7.4%, 100 IBU)

This is one of the best IPAs I’ve ever had. Hoppy, yet sweet, yet smooth, yet just really an easy-drinking beer which would probably kill you if you tried to drink it slowly. — S

Yeah, this one gives the IPA Challenge winner a run for its money. It’s amazing, simply amazing. It doesn’t overpower, just a perfect amount of bold, hoppy goodness which will blast your sinuses, but it will also give you a nice sweet, balanced flavor and then smooths off at the end. Really, really well-crafted beer. — FS

Untappd ratings: **** 1/2 – FS, **** 1/2 – S

* * * *

Blue Corn was a great way to start our day in Santa Fe (pardon the rhyme). We wish John could have been there to chat, but we imagine he was on his way home from hauling in two more medals at GABF. We will definitely be back at Blue Corn sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, we will recap our visit to Second Street. Also this week, we will recap our visit to Duel, E-Rock will have the latest edition of The Week Ahead in Beer, and if we’re lucky look for an interview or two with some of the brewers who brought home medals from GABF. Plus, I’ll be delving into the history of Hopfest as we start to preview the last, and biggest, local beer festival of the year. It’s Oct. 26, so hurry up and get your tickets!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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