Archive for October 17, 2013

Welcome to part three of our three-part series on Santa Fe’s non-distribution breweries. You can find our recap of Blue Corn here and Second Street here. Franz Solo and I, Stoutmeister, visited these three breweries on Sunday afternoon, grabbing sampler platters at each so we could make it home in one piece.

Franz Solo makes the holy pilgrimage with his growlers.

Franz Solo makes the holy pilgrimage with his growlers.

Duel Brewing has been open for a few months now. It has been a bumpy ride at times, but then again, most breweries find themselves dealing with unexpected issues while attempting to establish themselves. We were joined for part of our visit by Trent Edwards, Duel’s owner, who was candid in talking about the ups and downs of a brewery’s infancy. For those who visited Duel in its opening weeks, something might have tasted a bit off with the beers. That was due to poor water filtration, an issue that has now been fixed, Trent said. Beers are mostly water, after all, and if that’s not right, you have a problem.

Otherwise Duel seems to be in fairly good shape since Franz Solo first visited a few months back. They had almost all of their regular beers on tap, save for the Grunewald porter. The flavors of those beers have changed and evolved, as I found out when trying the Dark Ryder, which I originally had way back at WinterBrew. Trent explained that the Duel beers we had before would be different from the ones we were having Sunday, and in all likelihood will be different still a few months from now. As with any new brewery, Duel is working to find that perfect recipe, that perfect balance with their beers before declaring “this style is perfect, we shall never change it again!”

By the measure of our palates, with Franz Solo being more accustomed to Belgian-style beers, Duel is doing just fine right now. I again skipped one of the beers due to allergy reasons, but Franz Solo had that one covered and we both reviewed the other six on site with my trusty digital recorder. That recorder has been hard at work at (deep breath) the Rose Bowl, LA Coliseum, Home Depot Center, Galen Center, Pauley Pavilion, McKale Center, Arizona Stadium, Hi Corbett Stadium, Tucson Electric Park, Camelback Ranch, Isotopes Park, The Pit, over 20 high schools, a dozen breweries, and multiple beer festivals, including GABF. It’s a trooper, I’ll tell ya’ that.

Anyway, on with the beer. We have also included our Untappd ratings. If you want to friend us on Untappd, feel free. Many friends of the Brew Crew already have (including Miguel, whom we met at Blue Corn and I totally forgot to give a shout-out to! Glad you enjoyed that growler of Paonia Wet Hop IPA!).

Bad Amber (5.9% ABV)

It has that born of Belgian yeast flavor that gives off kind of an upper-palate mouthfeel, kind of an in-mouth aroma that you get. I don’t know quite how to describe that. It’s kind of sweet. It’s got body to it, more so than most ambers. That Belgian yeast, aroma flavor is not overpowering. — Stoutmeister

The Bad Amber was just as smooth as I remember. It still needs a little more work on the specific character but all in all, reasonably solid. — Franz Solo

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

A sampler of Belgian goodness, just an hour north of Albuquerque.

A sampler of Belgian goodness, just an hour north of Albuquerque.

Non-Fiction Pale Ale (5.2% ABV)

The Non-Fiction was pretty much solid as I remember it to be (from NM Brew Fest). Just kind of a nice, mild hop (flavor), a little sweet. A good pale ale. — S

I think the standout of the basic beers. Lower alcohol content. Nice and smooth, good Belgian character. — FS

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

Fiction IPA (7.1% ABV)

The Fiction, on the other hand, is missing a little bit of something. Maybe I’m just more used to an American-style IPA. A little less sour, less citrus-y than I was expecting it to be. — S

Fiction, much like (Stoutmeister), I got a good, nice flavor at the beginning but it didn’t perpetuate at all. I would like to see a little more of that flavor continue throughout the beer itself. It just didn’t quite have what I wanted. — FS

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

Duchamp Sour Wit (5.2% ABV)

All right, so typically I don’t like sours very much but Duchamp, at first I was like this is a little light, brazenly sour, not quite my thing. But it did grow on me a little bit. I look forward to trying this style in the future. — FS

Untappd ratings: **** 1/2 – FS

Dark Ryder (11% ABV)

The Dark Ryder, this batch is a little different than I had at WinterBrew. Again, sort of that kind of oak-y, earthy kind of flavor. You could taste more of the roasted elements of the malts. It’s not as sweet, but I think that’s good because it keeps you from drinking an 11-percent beer too fast. — S

Dark Ryder was definitely different from the one I had after their first week, which we found out due to some differences in water content. Their filtration has created quite a different beer entirely. It’s still the same character but some of the more subtle flavors are far, far more pronounced then when I had it previously. Love it. — FS

Untappd ratings: ***** – FS, **** – S

Titian (8.1% ABV)

The Titian was kind of different. A little more bitter than I expected it to be. It’s got kind of an earthy, oak-y kind of flavor to it on the peripheries. Again, not a style I’m used to consuming but not too bad. — S

Titian, huge improvement. I really liked this when I first came in but it was more a lemony (flavor). It didn’t have the pure, wonderful wash in the mouth like the current batch does. This is a classic Belgian blonde done quite well. I look forward to future incarnations of this one. — FS

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

The ambiance inside Duel fits with the relaxing quality of the beers on tap.

The ambiance inside Duel fits with the relaxing quality of the beers on tap.

Grunewald (8.1% ABV)

The samples of this imperial porter were not yet carbonated and thus, not on tap yet. Trent said it should be done soon and back for all to enjoy.

The description of Grunewald is “a deep, mysterious porter with hints of chocolate, plum, and a little something else.” I definitely picked up on the chocolate with it. Very smooth, it was robust without being some of that dry stout-style thickness that you can get. It definitely fit the characteristics of a porter but it was not a light porter by any means. — S

The Grunewald, wow, I wish I was here tomorrow. Delicious. — FS

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

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A big thanks to Trent for sitting down to chat. He wanted to pass along his congratulations to Rod at Second Street and John at Blue Corn for bringing GABF medals back to Santa Fe. If all goes well, Duel will be joining them in Denver next fall. Also a big thanks to Trent and brewer Todd Yocham for giving us bombers of Night Watch Barrel-Aged Porter to take home. Neither Franz Solo nor I have been fully healthy the last few days (a virus for him, seasonal grass/weed allergies hammering me) so we have yet to open those bombers. Don’t worry, we will, but gotta make sure the tastebuds are unaffected by all the … ACHOO! It’s been one of those weeks.

Anyway, we really enjoyed our trip to Blue Corn, Second Street, and Duel. We look forward to our next visit to Santa Fe. In the meantime, it’s back to ABQ-area breweries for the next few weeks. We have Hopfest coming up a week from Saturday and I will be working hard to preview (and then cover) the biggest beer festival in New Mexico. In addition, a return trip to Kaktus may be in the works, Bosque is close to celebrating its one-year anniversary, and there will be plenty more beyond that.


— Stoutmeister