Rock & Brews celebrated Christmas in July and Kaktus made a … pickle beer?

If you're gonna call it Christmas in July, you might as well go all out.
If you’re gonna call it Christmas in July, you might as well go all out.

Greetings, gang. This is one of those recap kind of stories, so it’s about some things you already missed. Sorry!

I, your Los Alamos correspondent, actually got down to Albuquerque on a Thursday night. We were going down anyway, so we checked out a couple of interesting-sounding beer events. The first was Rock & Brews Christmas in July Party. If you don’t know much about Rock & Brews, it’s a nationwide chain of restaurants that feature rock music and brews, as you might have guessed. Sort of like if you take a Hard Rock Cafe and mix in good beer (and remove the pretentiousness, though I’m editorializing). Albuquerque has had one for awhile now, but we don’t often drive by its location on Montgomery, and we usually go with one of the many other good-beer options when in town.

Donovan Finley, the bar manager there, let the Crew know about their Christmas in July party. It was a good excuse to finally check the place out! We got there a bit early and talked to Donovan. He’s a very friendly guy, and he’s also knowledgeable about his beers. On this day, they brought out some of their aged beers. These were the sort of beers that you don’t drink a lot of; ABVs were in the double-digits in several cases. There were so many good ones on tap that he kindly brought us flights of their eight “best” beers. All were exotic and tasty.

The current inventory of rotating drafts. They change frequently!

We also ate there, and the food gets a thumbs up as well. Our only minor complaint is that the food marked as “spicy” (such as the “fireball” burger) wasn’t all that spicy. We’re a little extreme in that regard, though; to a normal person, it’s probably just right. The green chile was good, though.

Overall, we really liked the place. They have some very comfortable outdoor seating. In fact, Donovan said that the outdoor area was recently renovated at great expense. There are foosball and shuffleboard tables. There are many TVs; they were showing music videos while we were there. And the beers! They normally have a large selection of drafts and bottles. Donovan seems motivated to have a varied selection on hand to keep the craft drinkers of ABQ coming through the doors. All in all, we will certainly make this one of our regular stops.

In addition to the Christmas party, Kaktus was having a grinch party, of sorts. They intentionally brewed a “bad” beer! It’s rare that a brewery creates and brags about a bad recipe. They did it to raise funds for a campaign to stop the new public transit system being planned for Central. I don’t know much about that, including if it really is a good or bad idea. (It’s a terrible idea. — S) The beer in question was a “pickle porter” called Albuquerque Rapid Transit Ale. Yes, a porter that actually tasted like pickles! Going in, I doubted it would be something on the level of mixing chocolate and peanut butter (bless you, Mr. Reese), but I thought it might be OK. And, believe it or not, it was. I ordered a pint and finished it. It really wasn’t bad. (My wife Cecilia had a light cucumber beer that she enjoyed.) This was another opportunity to visit a place we’d been meaning to get to. The Nob Hill location is quite nice, and the rooftop patio was comfortable and had wonderful views.

That garnish is a pickle. Perfect for a pickle beer.


— Reid

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