A whopping five more Oktoberfest-style beers went on tap in the Albuquerque metro area last week, joining multiple marzens that have already been on tap for a while. With so many wonderful lagers available, I just had to get out there and try as many as possible. My plan totally worked for two days, until a combination of sports (NHL openers and MLB playoffs mostly) and the need to watch season three of The Expanse caused me to fall behind. One of these years I will get to them all.
Anyway, my first three stops were Sidetrack, Boese Brothers, and Marble. I rather enjoyed Sidetrack’s offering, which did not overdo the sweetness. It was a solid, crushable beer, befitting the laid-back atmosphere of the pub. The Boese Brothers offering had been on tap for a while now. It did not quite have the flavor impact I had hoped for, but age may have been a factor. As for Marble, it was less of a marzen and more of a straight German lager. It is still a quality beer, as one would expect from brewmaster Josh Trujillo. I also got to try the Kottbusser collaboration beer, which was sweet yet bready, and the Jimmy Bock, a chewy little tribute to Shiner Bock.
Day two of the Oktober-quest took me to Toltec for lunch a pint of another tasty offering. I would like to try it side-by-side with Sidetrack, as both had many of the same tasty qualities. My final stop was at Bosque on the way home. Again, it was a bit lighter lager than the more copper-colored marzens of yore, but it was again a clean, balanced beer. A few years ago, the Oktoberfests had almost disappeared from taps in favor of the pumpkin beer fad, but thankfully that passed and now we are blessed with multiple marzens and lagers.
What is your favorite Oktoberfest on tap this fall? Yes, you can still include some from a few weeks back, like Santa Fe and La Cumbre.
Now for the rest of the Crew’s adventures from the past weekend.
Viva Las Vegas … beers
Live from Las Vegas! Throughout this month in Las Vegas, there is a beer-tasting event available for purchase. Twenty bars along the Strip are participating, and it’s not something I have seen or done before. It’s refreshing to find something so different after so many trips to Vegas.
Willkommen zu Hoptoberfest!
Brews for man’s best friend
For the second Saturday in a row I managed to find my way to an Oktoberfest celebration. This time it was Boxing Bear’s Dogtobearfest, which was benefiting Animal Humane New Mexico. Much like the previous weekend, the weather was great and folks were enjoying the patio. Of course, I ordered the namesake Marzen, which came in a bad-ass stein that I was able to keep for posterity … and for drinking beers from into perpetuity. The beer lived up to the standards set by the glass it was served out of. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that Coffee Chocolate Milk Stout was available and I indulged. It was a fun event benefiting a good cause!
Kicking back with a Better Half
Greetings to you all, this was kind of a relaxed and uneventful weekend of preparation on the beer front for me. I did pick up some Curmudgeon’s Better Half from good old Founders, which is just lovely (go grab a four-pack from Jubilation while the getting is good) and I bottled my ESB at last. This will be the last beer I brew prior to having fully temperature-controlled fermentation, thanks to the generosity of Brew Crew friend Mario gifting me his old chest freezer and some brewing equipment along with it. So that’s rather exciting for making consistent batches of beer, and what I’m very excited for in the realms of German lagers and pilsners, which are some of my favorite styles of beer. Speaking of home brewing, I had the privilege of delivering one of the first round of kegs and canned beer to our friends at Southwest Grape and Grain, who have their taps flowing and growler-filling station stocked and ready for your consumption. You can fill your growler either while shopping for ingredients for your own brews, or just to take home and enjoy at your leisure. More on this in the near future. Until next time, happy brewing and prost!
— Franz Solo
Embrace the coming darkness
With the balloons invading our skies, more robust dark styles of beers beginning to flow, and the air finally cooling our October days, it’s certainly a wonderful time for brew enthusiasts in ABQ. On the beer front, we’ve finally powered through our GABF Denver haul, including some exceptional brews from New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk to Flying Dog’s Imperial Gonzo, with much more exciting things to come! Keep an eye out on your local releases (Sidetrack has three alone!) to fully embrace his changing of seasons, and perhaps come take a walk on the Dark Side with us.
New discoveries from the far north
My weekend adventures took friend and local Santa Fe (Blue Corn Brewery) brewer Paul Mallory and I up to Red River for their annual Oktoberfest. There, we sampled many great beers, from GABF medal winners like Starr Brothers’ Lampshade Porter to other excellent beers from breweries we’ve spent a lot of time in, as well as breweries we’ve never visited before like Colfax Ale Cellar from Raton. Among a few great surprises, Colfax Ale Cellar really blew me away with its creativity and execution. I’ll post a full report on the whole festival soon, but for today’s Weekend Beer-cap, we bring it back to the brewery with home-field advantage, Red River Brewing Company. It was the first Oktoberfest the brewery was open to the public and it was necessary to make a stop inside, especially with a brewer friend to get another experienced point of view. After a full sampling of the 12 beers on tap, I only confirmed what I’d been preaching all along. The beers, while remaining relatively safe in style, are solid, and continue to get better as the brewers gain experience and push their own limits. The lighter beers are clean, the maltier beers are balanced, and the darker beers are nicely complex and hit that spot as fall arrives. And, with the nod from Mallory, the beers on the whole are brewer-approved.
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While heavy hitters such as La Cumbre and Santa Fe continue to bring it for Oktoberfest, I rather liked the offerings of Steel Bender and Toltec. Bombs Away and 377 had solid entries as well. Hard to choose a favorite… I did score some Rahr & Sons Oktoberfest on draft (GABF Gold) shortly after GABF–several of our local offerings would have given them a run for their money!