Porter Pounder and I went over to Red Door Brewing’s sneak preview Tuesday afternoon and came away quite impressed. Much like Boxing Bear did earlier this summer, Red Door took the time to perfect their first batches of beer and it showed. We already talked about the general ambiance and setup for Red Door, so we don’t need to repeat that. If you need to, click back on our story from Monday.
The most important thing with any new brewery is quite simply, how do the beers taste. In Red Door’s case, they are all pretty darned good for first batches. There are five total, including a cider, on tap right now, plus Boxing Bear’s Hairy Mit Hefe is featured as a guest tap as Red Door’s wheat beer was not quite ready yet.
Beer by beer, here is what Red Door has and what they compare to, in mine and Porter Pounder’s humble opinions.
Gateway Blonde Ale
Local comparison: Chama River Class VI
It’s your standard “starter beer,” light in body and in flavor. It’s not as sweet as a lot of blondes around, many of which are now in the Kolsch style. There is no bitterness as there isn’t much, if any, wheat being used. It’s a simple beer and a good way to start your day at Red Door.
Porter Pounder: 6.3% ABV. I was surprised that this blonde was their third heaviest beer by ABV. It is smooth and a good beginner beer that has some backing. Super clean, which is exactly what you want in all beers. No real hops whatsoever in taste so perfect for people getting into craft beer.
Local comparison: Cazuela’s Panama Red
This one falls at the midpoint between a hoppy red like Marble or a sweet Irish red you would find at Il Vicino. It’s dry, has some hop bite (but more along the lines of a pale ale than an IPA), but overall is quite smooth and flavorful. Kick up the malt bill a smidge more and you’d have one of the best reds in town.
Porter Pounder: 6.0% ABV. Such a gorgeous deep red color on this. Reds don’t typically get this dark, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The nose is sweet and lightly floral hoppy. Very heavy body for a red as well, but it is just so smooth and balanced in hops. Easily setting up to be one of my favorite red beers in town.
Local comparison: Il Vicino Wet Mountain IPA
Wow, they dry-hopped this one quite nicely. It smells like a hop bomb, but it is smoother and less potent than you would expect. Nonetheless, I would already put it among the better house IPAs in town. Brewer Wayne Martinez told us he only got to use three of the five (!) hops he wanted in this beer, though he was interrupted before he could tell us which ones (we know Citra was not in the batch, as the supply/demand for that hop has gone out of control). It’s a dank, mean little IPA, perfect for Albuquerque.
Porter Pounder: 6.6% ABV. Golden goodness. For a guy that’s not nearly as into hops, the floral hops really give this a pleasant tone for me. The bitterness stays with you long after to a hop head’s delight and the next incarnation is boasting to be even bolder.
Paint it Black Milk Stout
Local comparison: Tractor Milk Mustachio Stout
Served on nitro rather than Co2, this is a criminally smooth stout. It’s not as sweet as Mustachio, with some prominent roasted, coffee-like elements at the forefront. The mouthfeel is much thicker than most breweries’ first stout efforts. About the only thing anyone noted was that it wasn’t quite as black and opaque as you would expect. Wayne said he plans to correct that on future batches. As long as it doesn’t mess with the flavor, or even improves it, we’re all for it.
Porter Pounder: 5.5% ABV. This is one of the lighter ones, despite being a stout. Yet because of the nitro, the body is amazing on this one and you would never guess it’s a lower ABV. Delicious roasted tones kick off the nose, and are followed by that heavy nitro body, giving the perfect mouthfeel for a stout. A definitely close second to the red for me here.
Local comparison: Tractor Hard Apple Cider
Believe it or not, the biggest ABV out of this bunch belonged to the cider at 7.9 percent. That, plus the powerful flavor, should make it quite popular. It almost had a pear-like flavor with the tartness. This is not some sweet little cider. It’s some tough stuff.
Porter Pounder: 7.9% ABV. That’s right, an 8-percent cider. I’m used to trying ciders that are somewhere between 4-5-percent tops. You would never guess that’s how strong this was by tasting it. It is extremely flavorful, with total lack of alcohol taste. The apples are prevalent and fresh and crisp tasting, and keeping a smooth crisp finish and feel, this should soon become a statewide favorite for those who drink ciders.
All in all, we have a great new addition to the Albuquerque brewing scene. You can stop by Red Door for their soft opening today (Wednesday) between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m., or wait until the grand opening Friday, which will last from noon to midnight.