Before we dive into our latest round of beer adventures, a little business comes first. Starting Thursday, the Crew will have live coverage from the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Yours truly, plus Franz Solo and Luke, all have press passes that will get us into the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoon sessions, plus the awards ceremony Saturday morning. We will get you all the news you need as it happens, so long as we have not consumed too much beer as to render our brains useless.
Life is a struggle, sometimes.
We do have the list of competition beers from the New Mexico breweries, which will we will publish in advance of the awards ceremony so you all can follow along. Look for that no later than Saturday morning.
Wish us luck up there. It is rather easy to get completely overwhelmed, but with enough of us attending, we should stay on track this time around.
As for this past weekend, I actually made it out to quite a few places. Friday lunch was at Canteen, where the Piggly Wiggly remains one of my all-time favorite pulled pork sandwiches. I washed it down with some Hank ESB, which is just as biscuity and English as ever. Eli, forever an awesome bartender and fellow metalhead, also gave me a sample of the Wet Hop Pale Ale, which sure tastes like a much, much bigger beer, with a delightful blast of both piney and berry hop flavors.
After the Lobo men’s soccer game on Friday night, I popped in at La Cumbre and faced a vexing decision between Make IPA Clear Again and Wet-Hopped Elevated. The former won out, and it remains an excellent example of a tough, bitter old-school West Coast IPA (Luke reviews the latter down below). For Saturday, I took a trip to Red Door, where I lucked out and found a car leaving its parking space (it pays to gamble sometimes). Once inside, I did the smart thing and hung out with head brewer Matt Meier, and we were later joined by Bombs Away head brewer David Kimbell. We consumed some of the not-too-sweet, not-too-boozy Double Vanilla Cream Ale, sampled the latest batch of the New England IPA, and then I personally capped my night with some Dunkel, which AmyO also tried when she was there earlier (see below).
Following a rough day at work on Monday, I was able to make it to the Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day Festival at Quarter Celtic, where there was still just a little bit left of the 2016 Irish Handcuffs Imperial Stout. Man, aging is doing that beer wonders, just highlighting all the barrel flavors and how they blend beautifully with the strong, thick base stout. I cannot wait to try it again on the actual St. Patrick’s Day.
Enough from me, here is what a couple of the others found around their respective towns this weekend. As always, these are just our suggestions. Let us know what some of your favorite beers/places of the weekend are in the comments!
Helping out and catching up
Friday night, I went to the extremely crowded (successful) fourth anniversary party for Red Door. I had my pint of the Dunkel, because a dollar from each of those pints went to the Storehouse, a local charity. It was great to see so many people there. Beer tastes even better when it is for a good cause!
We went to the soft opening at Cantero on Saturday. It is worth mentioning that there were six of us in our group, we all ordered food, and everyone thought the food was very good to excellent. The beer is also pretty solid for a new brewery. We all enjoyed our afternoon there very much.
Next, on Sunday, we went to the new Village Pizza on the west side for lunch on our way to our first visit to the new La Cumbre taproom. Two more new places! I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this new location of Village Pizza has a small bar mere steps from the lunch buffet. I was pretty impressed with the beer selection, so I took a picture and mumbled, “Huh, really decent beer list, too.” Dave cracked up and asked me if I ever would have thought that a beer list like that would only be the second best beer list located in the same parking lot? (Village Pizza is in the same parking lot as Flix Brewhouse.)
The new La Cumbre is gorgeous, too. All in all, a pretty good weekend of discoveries.
The freshest hops are the best
As I went into the weekend before GABF, I had not had any beers at all to speak of, but being the good beer writer that I am, I managed to sneak in a couple brews of note before all the madness of GABF ensues. I made my way Rowley Farmhouse Ales, where I was fortunate enough to try not one but two of New Mexico’s recent wet-hopped beers. ’Tis the season, after all. I enjoyed Rowley’s Wet-Hopped Brut IPA and La Cumbre’s Wet-Hopped Elevated IPA. Both were quite special beers, as, of course, it’s highly unlikely that I’d get to try them again in a week or so, due to the batch-size of said wet-hoppers.
Rowley’s Brut IPA was certainly a standout. Using 100 pounds of whole-cone High Wire Chinook hops, this beer wouldn’t, for a second, let you forget that it was fresh hopped. The fresh Chinook hops stayed with you long after you took your first sip, but in a great way. The lingering hop presence made a very refreshing, juicy beer, something big and beautiful, but not cloyingly bitter thanks to the brewer’s artful balance. It reminded us that there is always a reason to mark your calendar for wet-hop season.
La Cumbre’s Wet-Hopped Elevated was another delicious strike against the haze craze. The hop variety was a clear and present danger to bored palates, and as it was, Wet-Hopped Elevated was a fantastic tribute to what we do so well in New Mexico, and how long we’ve been doing it so well. I can only hope to try more of New Mexico’s wet-hop beers, but alas, the season’s almost over. So make your way out to our local breweries and drink up these special beers before they all dry up.