Editor’s note: Julie came down to Albuquerque to attend a pair of Beer Week events on Thursday. We will be running recaps from the Crew throughout the coming week, highlighting some of the best beers for you to go out and track down on your own. Enjoy! — Stoutmeister
Marble Tasting, Abricot: Whole Foods Market, Sandia Saloon
I’ve met a lot of beer reps in my day, but I have to say Tony Calder is one of the best. After 19 years working for a wholesale distributor, he joined Marble last October. Well done, Marble. This guy knows his stuff and is an absolute pleasure to talk to.
The tasting (well-placed in the artisanal cheese section of Whole Foods Market), showcased an array of tried-and-true favorites — Pilsner, IPA, Red, Wildflower Wheat —plus a “dinner bottle” of their seasonal Brett IPA and their newly canned Double White. The real star of the show was the Abricot (7.4% ABV, 8 IBU), which was on tap at the new Sandia Saloon just a few steps away. They reserved the last 1/6 barrel of this beer for Albuquerque Beer Week at the Saloon.
Tony described it as a French oak-aged, funk-ified wheat ale fermented with apricots. In his words, “Sour and dry with spontaneous flair.” I like that. I found the Abricot (Marble chose the French spelling for the name) really effervescent with a lot of tang as you swallow. The nose is fruity, as you might expect. While the aftertaste definitely smacks of alcohol, the overall effect is smooth and very drinkable.
While I was there, I tried the Double White (7% ABV, 8 IBU) for the first time. I know, I know … I’m an IPA girl. I need to branch out, but their IPA is just so classic and consistent I have a hard time drinking anything but that. I was surprised to find a little bite in the Double White. Tony let me know it was the grains of paradise that lent this Chilean orange pepper taste, which was a nice was to offset the sweetness normally found in white beer.
I also sampled the seasonal Brett IPA (6.8% ABV, 70 IBU), which had been aged in oak barrels for “a year or two.” The Brett IPA had an exceptionally strong nose, tangy mouthfeel, and a funkiness that gave a very distinct aftertaste. Tony said the funkiness was from the brewing process where they spiked the IPA with the Brett yeast, which leaves more sugar in the mix and results in the funky aftertaste. Overall, very good beer. I bought a “dinner bottle,” Marble’s attempt to rename bomber bottles, for the collection at home.
Cheers, Tony, and thanks for the beer and company!
Ballast Point Barrel-Aged Piper Down tapping at Nob Hill Bar & Grill
Full disclosure — I attended the Ballast Point beer dinner at Joseph’s of Santa Fe as part of the Outside Bike & Brew Festival last weekend (it was fabulous). But, we didn’t have this special tapping of Elijah Craig bourbon barrel-aged Piper Down Scottish Ale from Ballast Point (9% ABV after the barrel-aging process). So, I hightailed it to Nob Hill Bar & Grill to see if always-helpful rep Thomas DeCaro could give me some insight. I found both Thomas and Derek Pflug, the director for New Mexico and Arizona, on hand to answer my questions.
The Scottish ale normally has a base of 5.8-percent ABV, and just was named a silver medal winner at the World Beer Cup. Derek said it was the only barrel experiment to come in under 10 percent after being aged for eight months. The result is a big initial taste that surprised me with how effervescent it was. The body was very oakey and dark. The back end had notes of stonefruits — I insisted it was black cherry, my companions insisted it was apricot. (Your companions were right. — S) You be the judge, if you have the chance to try this delicious brew.