One of these weeks we will all get our acts together and have this feature ready for a Monday run, but alas, this is not one of those weeks. As we noted last time around, this is simply a series of short recaps of weekend beer adventures for different members of the Crew.
Hops were the order of the day for this past weekend, what with the preliminary round of the NM IPA Challenge going down and all. I was not able to attend due to work, but I still managed to set out in search of at least one of the entries that is on tap around town.
My Friday night sojourn led me to Quarter Celtic, where the Gondola Party Starter XH (Extra Hops) is now on tap alongside the Test Batch #3 DIPA. Talking to QC co-owner Ror McKeown, I found out that both had been released with the goal of asking loyal customers which one should be the NMIPAC entry. Gondola was ultimately the choice of the public, though the way he described it was interesting. Most customers actually preferred Test Batch #3, but none of them thought it could win a competition, and thus Gondola became QC’s entry.
Tasting them side-by-side, I found Test Batch #3 to be lighter and sweeter, while Gondola has a bitter back-end kick, with a little less sweetness around the mid-palate. Gondola is certainly more of a traditional West Coast hop bomb, and in the end, the customers were right, as it advanced to Wednesday’s first round of the NMIPAC alongside 15 other IPAs.
Now for the rest of the Crew …
Back in the ring
After going just over a month without a stop-in at Boxing Bear, I was fortunate to time it right on Friday afternoon. I started with an AlbuMurky, which we can add to the list of impressive hazy NE IPAs to come out of ABQ. This juicy IPA effectively balances strong citrus flavor with underlying grapefruit. Folks who don’t typically enjoy IPAs because of bitterness will be able to enjoy this one. Next, I had a crisp and refreshing Ameri-Kolsch. This true-to-style clear beer is very easy to drink and perfect for summer. While enjoying the Ameri-Kolsch I also munched on a Cubano sandwich. The Cubano sandwich and beer pairing is one that I hold in high regard and I was not disappointed.
A couple quick updates: 1. This was my first time at Boxing Bear while ‘under construction’ and I experienced no inconveniences. The new flooring looks very nice! 2. I have always been a fan of the tater tots at Boxing Bear; however, I was surprised to see that they have switched to wedges. Imagine that! I have high expectations for these wedges … next time.
Crowded times at El Vado
I went to the El Vado taproom on Sunday for the first time. It was completely packed, even at the outside tables in the scorching mugginess. It’s really a cute space and everyone there seemed to have positive things to say. Despite it being so stupid hot; it really was, we were totally melting. I had Ponderosa’s Tart Cherry Chocolate Porter. It’s essentially a good, smooth porter, with no overwhelming flavors from the cherry or chocolate.
Closing thoughts on the preliminary round
This week was all preparation and excitement for this year’s NMIPAC. This would be my first year not only attending, but also competing, making the excitement palpable. (Jerrad is now working at Sidetrack, FYI. — S) Not being sure what to expect, I was surprised and amused by how well the entry process went, despite being towards the rear of the line. Seating was an interesting issue, but it was quickly resolved with a rooftop escape for the Crew and I. All in all, it was a controlled chaos of laughter and catching up with the NM beer community with fantastic entries in hand. There is no better way to spend a Saturday afternoon in my book.
That is all from us until next week, when we hopefully get this done in time to run on Monday!