Other than a brief period of wind that amounted to all sound and fury signifying nothing, we have to say that Saturday’s Hopfest was another excellent outing for newbies and craft beer veterans alike. A big thank you to Marne Gaston and her army of volunteers for keeping it all running smoothly, even when Mother Nature did not want to cooperate.
There were many beers to be had, and for once the Crew did our best to not go overboard. Still, we found some new ones we liked, others we would rather skip, and oh dear lord that slab of smoked meat that Clinton Coker gave us from the Sandia Chile Grill booth was epic. We all need to visit SCG again as soon as we can for more smoked meats. Oh, and that Legacy Mead was pretty damn epic, too.
So the best of the local brews:
- Canteen had some Exodus for us. It was still as wonderful as ever.
- Cazuela’s hit a couple home runs with Kilt Kicker, a smoked Scottish that does not just taste like roasted peat. Also, the award-winning Beer For My Horses remains one of the best oatmeal stouts in town.
- Marble’s Imperial Red is still one of the finest beers they make.
- Ponderosa unleashed Walther IPK, which is a definite contender in the “Beer Name of the Year” contest we are going to hold before 2015 ends. What is an IPK? It is an India Pale Kolsch, so basically it is a big old blast of tropical hops on top of a Kolsch base. Nice work, Andrew.
- Red Door and Rio Grande/Sierra Blanca both had excellent Milk Stouts available.
- At long last, we got to try Santa Fe’s Autonomous Collective IPA. Franz Solo is convinced it would have been among the finalists at the IPA Challenge had things gone right with the keg at VIPA. Try it while it is still available (only at the brewery).
- For a nice blast of hops without the heavy ABV, head over to Tractor for Big Sipper Session IPA. ABQ-area breweries are getting really good at sessions with actual flavor.
As for the best out-of-state brews:
- Adelbert’s Tripel
- BJ’s Whiskey Barrel Stout
- Left Hand’s Great Juju
- Mother Road’s Tower Station IPA
- Upslope’s Imperial IPA
- Oh, and AmyO wanted to pass along her favorite of the ‘Fest: “We all know IPAs are not my go-to beers. If I had to pick a favorite from Saturday it would be Odell’s Myrcenary Double IPA. Shocked! It was because I could appreciate how well crafted it was. Hoppy but not in your face. On the sweeter side without being syrupy or heavy. It was fruity (tropical?) and not over the top despite it’s high ABVs. The balance was superb.”
So rather than ramble on, and since I’m currently finishing this story from Denver on our way to Avery Brewing in Boulder (don’t forget, they’re having a tap takeover at Nob Hill Bar & Grill tonight with some righteous imperial-strength beers), here are some photos of Hopfest from our good friend Mario Caldwell, plus a selfie from Luke.
We will see you all out at Mountain West Brew Fest this weekend. Until then, Franz Solo and I are off to Avery. Gotta fill the trunk!