Author Archive

Greetings friends! Forgive me for the rather late post. Got to love summer school, but a late post is better than no post.

Back at the beginning of the month, Stoutmeister and I made time for a very quick trip up to the state capital to visit our state’s oldest brewery to get a sample of a very small batch brewed in collaboration with our friends the Babes in Brewland.

You're a Peach was a peach-infused pale ale created by the Babes in Brewland at Santa Fe Brewing Co. earlier this month.

You’re a Peach was a peach-infused pale ale created by the Babes in Brewland at Santa Fe Brewing Co. earlier this month.

This collaboration was first brought to our attention by the group at our meet and greet event at Marble downtown during ABQ Beer Week back in April. All that they would tell us is that “it’s a peach.”

They weren’t kidding about peach!

After waiting in line and a toast of thanks to SFBC, Stoutmeister and I scored our pints and sat down to sample and watch the sizeable crowd of people packing in at the bar. “You’re a Peach” is, as you all have guessed, a peach ale. The base beer, however, is not just any ale but a pale ale. It was a fantastic change-up from all of the fruit-infused wheats, which we greatly appreciated. “This beer has close to 14 to 16 pounds of fresh peaches, hand mashed and put in to the fermentation,” Dana from Babes in Brewland told us. “This was our very first batch we have gotten to do as a full group. The hardest part was coming up with what we wanted to do. At first, we thought about doing a Peach IPA.” (Trust me, we know how hard it is getting a group of people together at once to do anything. We have six Brew Crew members; I can’t imagine getting a larger group like the Babes organized.)

Now for our review!

The crowd that showed up to try You're a Peach was almost too big for the Santa Fe tasting room.

The crowd that showed up to try You’re a Peach was almost too big for the Santa Fe tasting room.

You’re a Peach is, well, a peach! It’s very peachy. This pale ale has a very crisp, naturally sweet taste, and for 14 to 16 pounds of fruit, I’d sure hope so. The color is a rich golden hue with a mellow bite towards the middle palate and a fresh, peachy-apricot finish. Although there were no apricots used, there are subtle overtones. All in all, it was a very refreshing beer for these hot summer days. Too bad it was only a small batch.

Stoutmeister shared his thoughts: You’re asking me to remember so many beers ago. Well, what I recalled most was that despite the sweetness of the peach flavor it did not overwhelm the rest of the beer. You could still pick up hints of the slightly dry, bitterness from the pale ale hops. I wonder if that hop-peach mixture is what produced the apricot flavor you tasted, Shilling. Normally I shy away from the fruit beers but this was perfectly drinkable. Cheers to the Babes in Brewland and the staff at Santa Fe Brewing for working together to create a unique, flavorful beer. And yes, this inspires me to someday get the Crew together and do a collaboration beer with a local brewery. All details on that are TBA. We have to wait for Derek to finish working on that Johnny Depp movie they’re filming around New Mexico right now. And for Derek to finish bragging about Johnny liking his “Nightmare on Elm Street” shirt the other day. (sigh)

We should learn the names of all the Babes in Brewland, but lordy, there are too many of them.

We should learn the names of all the Babes in Brewland, but lordy, there are too many. They’re all too nice to us bearded thugs.

So what’s up next for the Babes?

“We are hoping to brew again in the very near future,” Dana said. “Thinking about doing another summer beer with a release for sometime later in the summer. Haven’t totally decided on the final recipe. Whatever we brew, this one will be made in Albuquerque.”

Thank you to the Babes in Brewland for inviting us out to Santa Fe for a great small batch.

We look forward to their next collaboration project, whatever it may be and wherever it may be brewed.

Cheers!

— Shilling

Editor’s note: Yeah, I know I said none of us went out to do any beer reviews last night. I was wrong. Shilling got free for the first time in, well, he’ll tell you. We’re just glad to have him back. — Stoutmeister

Greetings beer lovers. After a damn near 15-week hiatus to focus on my studies, I’m rejoining my beer-loving brothers just in time for Beer Week. A perfect way to kick off my short summer break (good old summer school). For those that know, I have a hard time turning down a good red ale and Il Vicino is one of my local favorites.

Il Vicino's Irish red was served up on cask at Two Fools, and it was wonderful.

Il Vicino’s Irish red was served up on cask at Two Fools, and it was wonderful.

This year for ABQ Beer Week, Brady and company have released quite a few special batches, including the Cask Irish Red.

So on a warm Tuesday afternoon, I made my way to Two Fools Tavern to give this different version of the popular ale a try. I was actually lucky enough to get the first pint they served, in fact.

The cask red looks like a pint of honey. Its mellow flavor and sweetness outweigh the normal bitter, hoppy flavor found in the majority our local reds. It is simply a nice, refreshing ale on a warm day that won’t fill you up after one.

All in all, I enjoyed this beer. It is much lighter than what I’m used to, especially for a cask ale (at Cask Wednesday last week, IVBC had the Black IPA clocking in at around 7-percent ABV). This is probably not an ale for the hop heads, but it is a good ale for those who have never had a cask ale.

So the next event I will be at (I believe) is Thursday afternoon at Sister Bar downtown for a tasting from my favorite brewery, Stone, followed by the Beer Groups Meet & Greet at Marble.

Cheers my friends!

— Jon

Editor’s note: Shilling wrote this with Jan. 1 in mind, but we had to hold off until things were finalized with our anniversary party. What party? Read on and find out! — Stoutmeister

Happy New Year, folks!

Man, it feels like its been forever since I’ve gotten to write one of these. The Great American Beer Festival usually marks the end of festival season, which means things slow down quite a bit in the brewing world. Well, sort of; we do stay busy with the many new beer tastings that happen over the fall and winter months.

The good news is that the new year will bring us some new beer festivals and events.

NMBG 3x5 WntrBrew

The New Mexico Brewers Guild presents WinterBrew, January 25 at the Santa Fe Farmers Market from 4-8 p.m.

You can purchase tickets at nmbeer.org and at the entry of the event. The ABQ Craft Beer Drinkers Group highly recommends purchasing your tickets in advance and taking the RailRunner to and from the event.

The Brewers Guild calls the event “a craft beer and comfort food festival.”  We are bringing Derek, our resident “foodie,” along for the ride (as of now), so he should be able to judge the culinary delights while Stoutmeister and Brandon focus on the beer.

Image

B.J.’s Brewhouse presents the inaugural New Mexico Cup, February 16 at the Albuquerque Convention Center from 1-7 p.m.

We are very excited for this event because many of the Brew Crew members will be present as celebrity judges. (Editor’s note: When we know what this entails, we will share it, but to call us excited would be an understatement, and it’s not just because they think we are celebrities. — Stoutmeister) This will be a beer and wine competition and festival for New Mexico only, a sort of scaled-down GABF. Breweries that have signed so far include Back Alley, Bosque, Broken Bottle, Il Vicino, Kellys, Marble, Nexus, Rio Grande/Sierra Blanca, Sandia Chile Grill, Santa Fe, and Tractor. We would love to see more breweries from the north (3 Rivers, Taos Ale House, Blue Heron, 2nd Street, etc.) and from the south (High Desert, Mimbres Valley, Roosevelt, Wellhead) sign up as well.

You can buy tickets online here.

* * *

Last, but not least, the New Mexico Dark Side Brew Crew will be kicking off the new year with our first anniversary party. That’s right, the NMDSBC turns one this month. We will be celebrating downtown at Back Alley Draft House on Saturday, Jan. 26 from 7:30 p.m. until closing. For those who have never been to Back Alley, it is located behind J.C.’s New York Pizza Dept. on the north side of Central between 2nd and 3rd Streets. Back Alley is owned by NYPD, so you can enjoy a wide selection of microbrews — including in-house beers plus Goat Head, Chama River, La Cumbre, Marble, Santa Fe, and many more from around the country — while still being able to order pizza and other food from NYPD.

We felt that this would be a perfect place for our little shindig. All of our readers are invited to come down, share a pint and talk beer with us. We hope that everyone can make it out and pack Back Alley!

Come on out and start the new year by supporting your local breweries!

Prost!

— Jon

Happy New Year’s, friends. 2012 was a big year for us. It was the start of the Brew Crew, we got to meet many of our local brewers and brewery owners, we got to check out many of our local beer festivals as well as the Great American Beer Festival, and we got to watch three new local breweries open with success. Oh, and not to forget that we survived the world ending three different times.

When you look at the year like that, it doesn’t seem like much but this is what all went down in the Year of the Apocalypse That Wasn’t.

From left, Stoutmeister, Shilling, Franz Solo, and E-Rock gathered for the first Beer Battle back in February on Super Bowl Sunday.

From left, Stoutmeister, Shilling, Franz Solo, and E-Rock gathered for the first Beer Battle back in February on Super Bowl Sunday.

Earlier this year, the core members of our group came up with the idea for what is now the Dark Side Brew Crew. Stoutmeister (Chris) came up with the name at 3 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2012, while finishing off a growler of Tractor’s Smoked Porter and staring up into the night sky. He texted me the name and we were off. We all gained a new hobby (and something to keep Chris busy during the baseball off-season) with something that involved one of our favorite things — beer! In no time at all, our blog and Facebook page went public, and the Brew Crew was born. We have gone from having our friends and family follow our shenanigans to gaining 150-plus followers on Facebook and our blog, many of whom we end up meeting whenever we are out at the metro area’s many breweries.

With the expansion of our postings to Twitter and Reddit, we’ve been able to reach readers all around the world (Editor’s note: Jon isn’t kidding; we’ve had folks from as far away as Latvia, the UAE, Bangladesh, Togo, Slovenia, and Kenya check out the site. — Stoutmeister). It is something that we are still blown away about.

The Crew had a rare almost-full-staff (no Derek) meeting at Il Vicino back in October. One of these days all six of us will be in the same place at the same time.

The Crew had a rare almost-full-staff (no Derek) meeting at Il Vicino back in October. One of these days all six of us will be in the same place at the same time.

Many of the Crew members have been able to be a part of many of the local beer festivals including Blues & Brews (Stoutmeister and E-Rock), Hopfest (Stoutmeister and I), Brew Fest (Brandon), the IPA Challenge (Stoutmeister and E-Rock), and Septemberfest (Stoutmeister). It has all given us a chance to try many other beers from around the state and country, plus it also allows us to step back and watch how our fellow Burquenos swarm the booths with great enthusiasm.

Stoutmeister and E-Rock were able to cross off a huge bucket list item by representing the Brew Crew at VALHALLA, the Great American Beer Festival, in Denver back in October. They slowly conquered the regions of hard-to-find beers for Albuquerque residents. Franz Solo was able to show us some of the great breweries in the Midwest, while I uncovered a hidden gem in the Denver Bicycle Cafe, and we can’t forget the folks up at Taos Ale who were kind enough to save us the last two pints of a nitro Irish stout on a visit from Stoutmeister and E-Rock back in April.

We have been all over the Southwest (Stoutmeister and E-Rock have also trekked to Durango and down to Phoenix/Tucson), yet there is still so much more out there to visit we know we are not done yet.

Stoutmeister, left, and Shilling, right, get the tour from Turtle Mountain owner Nico Ortiz. (Photo by E-Rock)

Stoutmeister, left, and Shilling, right, get the tour from Turtle Mountain owner Nico Ortiz.

We were able to meet some of our top brewers and brewery owners, including Brady at Il Vicino, Ken and Manuel at Nexus, Dave from Tractor, Nico from Turtle Mountain, and Jeff from La Cumbre. All of these folks have been awesome and we are honored to have been able to meet them and talk about beer and the history of our craft beer scene. We have also been fortunate enough to meet the folks from ABQ’s newcomers, Broken Bottle Brewery and Bosque Brewing Co.

And of course we can’t forget the Tractor growler fiasco. Stoutmeister dedicated many hours a day brushing up on our local laws, neighborhood association ordinances, contacting our friends at Tractor and the City of Albuquerque, and attended many of the government meetings. Stoutmeister really stepped up and did a fine job covering this topic, putting that old journalism degree of his to good use (well, besides his excellent coverage of the Albuquerque Isotopes and the occasional high school/UNM sports story for the Journal).

I threw it out to the other Crew members to share their favorite memories/experiences of 2012. Here is what they had to say.

Stoutmeister may not put himself in the picture very often, but he could not resist at GABF.

Stoutmeister may not put himself in the picture very often, but he could not resist at GABF.

Stoutmeister: You know you have made an impression when folks start referring to you by your blogging nickname when they see you at a brewery. This has been a wild first year, a little uneven and sometimes frustrating, but all in all I like where we are at with the Crew and where we are going in the future. I have been the prolific writer of the group because, well, I am a professional writer, plus I do not have a full-time job at the moment or a girlfriend/wife who actually makes me do valuable things in my spare time. But what is truly more valuable than enjoying quality beer? To recap the year, things took off for us with Tractor’s misfortune of running afoul of Nob Hill’s arcane regulations. It took me back to Reporting Public Affairs, a pain-in-the-ass journalism class and my lone “C” grade in my major. Hey, at least I didn’t fall asleep at any of those Environmental Planning Commission Meetings like I did at the Oro Valley (AZ) Town Council meeting back in 1999. It was a wild ride with Tractor, but everyone stayed strong on their end and came out victorious. Through it all we made friends with the friendliest bar staff in town, and maybe someday Lauren will invite us to appear in a Lynette video.

The good folks at Taos Ale House saved E-Rock and I pints of their Nitro Patty (Irish) Stout. It was our first "we've arrived!" moment.

The good folks at Taos Ale House saved E-Rock and I pints of their Nitro Patty (Irish) Stout. It was our first “we’ve arrived!” moment.

Anyway, beyond that the haphazard, but still fun, Super Bowl beer battle was a highlight as we debated what truly makes my favorite beer style (if you haven’t guessed by now … oy) great. From that February fun we moved into March, when E-Rock and I visited breweries and baseball games throughout Phoenix, followed by my solo trek to my college town, Tucson. Arizona has a ways to go to catch up to New Mexico (can’t say that about much else besides beer, so, yay!). April kicked off with our Taos Trek, where we visited the awesome little breweries Blue Heron, Comanche Creek, and Taos Ale House. Eske’s was a disappointment, but hey, I’ll take a 3-for-4 trip anytime. May saw the arrival of ABQ Beer Week, an awesome event I mostly missed as the darned Isotopes were in the midst of an epically draining 12-game (they’re usually 8-game) homestand. Matt Kemp even had to show up and rehab with the Topes, causing me to miss half of Blues & Brews. I know, I know, priorities and all.

Stoutmeister took a shot of the final night of GABF in one direction while E-Rock, bottom left, shoots in the other direction. It was that huge.

Stoutmeister took a shot of the final night of GABF in one direction while E-Rock, bottom left, shoots in the other direction. It was that huge.

June saw E-Rock and I back on the road (we like the same music, thus we do fine in the car together), this time visiting Durango and enjoying once again 3-of-4 breweries (sorry, Steamworks). We stopped at Farmington’s 3 Rivers on the way back; I have no idea why I never wrote it up. Darn, we’ll have to go back. In July I was asked to write for Tractor’s blog, which was more fun that I thought it would be. We then drove out to Rio Rancho and joined Nico Ortiz for a long, fun, informative talk about Turtle Mountain and brewing in ABQ.

After the IPA Challenge we seemed to hit a collective wall, but the Crew regrouped heading into the fall, even with Shilling and Brandon back in school. We hit Hopfest (big thanks again to Marne Gaston for the special passes) and Septemberfest, met with the staff of the soon-to-open Bosque Brewing, celebrated the return of growlers at Tractor, and then of course came VALHALLA. We followed that up with more in-depth interviews with Jeff Erway at La Cumbre and the Fab Five (up from four) at Bosque. We will have more of those interviews, plus possibly some actual videos (courtesy of our resident filmmaker, Derek) in 2013.

Overall, we may not have been the most consistent group of writers, with some weeks featuring an onslaught of posts and others almost none, but I think for a first-year, multi-writer blog we did pretty well. I am looking forward to our one-year anniversary coming up in January (the full details/date will be posted soon), plus the New Mexico Cup (yes, we’ve been tasked to serve as “celebrity judges”) in February, another Super Bowl-timed beer battle, and plenty more. I could not have asked for a better Crew to work with on this little passion project. Thanks, guys, now let’s go out and kick this thing to the next level in 2013!

Yeah, we pretty much re-ran this photo of Brandon just because of the hat. And that look on his face.

Yeah, we pretty much re-ran this photo of Brandon just because of the hat. And that look on his face.

Brandon: I feel I should start this by saying that I am in no way a professional writer. Technical writing was never a strong point of mine; thankfully we have Stoutmeister as our trusty editor to clean up the bad grammar in our posts after we’ve had a few pints! I had been trying my hand at other writing projects that weren’t going so well, so this was a perfect attempt to try something new and write about something I love: delicious pints of beer. Although I have known Derek and Shilling for a while, I actually met the other Crew members just around the time that we started. I was introduced to everyone over (you guessed it) a beer, specifically a nice pint of Malpais Stout from La Cumbre. I remember it like it was yesterday (sniff) … I’m getting sentimental, so I’ll move on!

And we re-ran this picture of Brandon (from Halloween) just for how he has his pinky finger extended while drinking Black Eyed P.A. at Tractor.

And we re-ran this picture of Brandon (from Halloween) just for how he has his pinky finger extended while drinking Black Eyed P.A. at Tractor.

Though it has been a hectic year for me personally, I’ve had an amazing time working with every member here at NMDSBC. I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to write with and hang out with. Starting off with the Brewology series was something extremely fun and I enjoyed bringing info and the minimal experiences I have in homebrewing to you, our readers. Although I haven’t been able to brew these days, mainly due to a full work and school schedule and limited space at home, Derek has been brewing fairly regularly and is continuing the series. He has already produced some tasty batches, so keep an eye out for future posts from him. Aside from that the weekly (usually) Saturday Night Sixer column gives me a chance to share some great craft beers from outside of our mini beer mecca here in New Mexico, and more will be coming in the new year. I had a chance to sit down and talk to some great folks around the beer community, such as Chris Chavez and Donavan Lane at Broken Bottle Brewery, and Jeff Erway at La Cumbre, all of whom are great individuals who live the dream of making great beer. I have to say that covering the NM Brew Fest was a personal highlight for me. Getting to sample beers from New Mexico’s best, and some from beyond the state, was a great experience. It also was an exercise in how to properly cover a beer festival without having a few too many, as my handwriting deteriorated as the day wore on. Nonetheless, it was wonderful and I look forward to covering more events — with a voice recorder next time!

This next year is already shaping up to be exciting for us. Our first anniversary is rapidly approaching, and we have kindly been asked to serve as celebrity judges at the NM Cup Beer & Wine Invitational in February; that last part alone makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside! We will have some other things in the works, new features on the site, and hopefully a new look for it here in the near future. I couldn’t be happier to do my part to spread the word about our great craft beer scene here in NM and all the wonderful craft beer across the country. Cheers!

E-Rock has smiled over pints and samples of beer all year long, in between his various musical gigs.

E-Rock has smiled over pints and samples of beer all year long, in between his various musical gigs.

E-Rock: I was one of the last members to do my recap of 2012, so I had the advantage of reading everyone else’s pieces. As such, I’ll skip the brewer interviews and festivals that everyone else already talked about and head straight to the other stuff.

My favorite aspect about being in NMDSBC is that I get to be an active member of New Mexico’s craft brewing community. I posted very few posts the first few months that the blog was up. I was finishing up my masters’s degree in math and it took me forever to write posts. I kept telling Stoutmeister that I would start week a weekly column when I finished my degree in May.

When May rolled around, Albuquerque-area brewers were beginning preparations for Beer Week. There were multiple tastings occurring every day around town for the span of about nine days. The only Brew Crew members that could cover any of Beer Week were Franz Solo and myself. Since I didn’t have any more excuses not to write, I found myself going to several tastings a day and then having to go home and write something. I took that experience and channeled what I learned into maintaining a weekly column.

The first Monday after Beer Week, I wrote my first Week Ahead in Beer. My initial idea was to do a beer listing that was similar to movie listings in the newspaper. I asked for any ideas that might beef up my column a bit. Stoutmeister suggested calling up each brewery a half hour before they opened, put a short write-up on a beer or two for each brewery, and throw together a little intro to each week.

E-Rock, left, and Stoutmeister have known each other since high school. They still bond over beer, as it should be.

E-Rock, left, and Stoutmeister have known each other since high school. They still bond over beer, as it should be.

I started by gathering phone numbers and operating hours of each brewery. Originally, I just asked each brewery about new beers that were being tapped that week. Eventually, I decided that I would keep track of seasonal beers. For newer breweries that did not have any set regular and seasonal beers, I listed all of their beers. At first, I didn’t know if I was annoying busy brewery staffs just to create a column that no one reads. In time, word got out and I learned that many brewers were reading my column to keep up with what other brewers were doing. I also had the privilege to meet other readers who recognized me from my picture that accompanies my column each week.

Nowadays, I look forward to my weekly calls and talking to a lot of the friendly beeristas (a term coined by Stoutmeister) around town. Other than my weekly column, I usually just add little blurbs to group posts and try to join other members whenever they visit different breweries. I want to expand my column to include breweries and tap rooms in other New Mexico cities and towns. 2012 was fun, but I am looking forward to the possibilities, challenges, and people we will meet in 2013.

Franz has been a busy man in 2012, but hopefully he will have more time to write and enjoy great beer in 2013.

Franz has been a busy man in 2012, but hopefully he will have more time to write and enjoy great beer in 2013.

Franz: Well, this is Stoutmeister writing Franz’s piece. As some have noticed, one of our founding members has not written much lately. We hope he will have more time to write in 2013, but he is married, just bought a house, works full-time, and his wife works full-time and is back in school. So to say Franz is busy is an understatement. Basically, he is the complete opposite of me in terms of having free time to write.

From time to time, he has managed to join us at places like La Cumbre, Il Vicino, and Broken Bottle. He is still planning to host the Super Bowl party/Beer Battle II in February. We will just have to come up with a way to ensure he can contribute with the small window of time he has to write every week.

The best news, I suppose, is that he is still drinking great beer whenever he can (his wonderful wife even let him have a beer-only refrigerator in the garage). He has not had to sacrifice in that regard.

Derek: 2012 has held some really special memories for me. Not only have I joined the amazing group of writers/bloggers/brewers at the New Mexico Dark Side Brew Crew, but I really stepped up my game in my own home brewing and adventures in experiencing all types of crafted beers from all over the country.

The Crew enjoyed Derek's pumpkin ale and Scotch ale that he created in his kitchen this year.

The Crew enjoyed Derek’s pumpkin ale and Scotch ale that he created in his kitchen this year.

I joined this group as a resident home brewer.  I’ve created a handful of tasty selections from amber to pumpkin ale to chocolate stout. I even had the privilege to help two of our other members learn how to brew themselves, and help them create some tasty concoctions.

My most notable home brews of the year were my Pumpkin Ale, which I have also written a step by step guide for the NMDSBC site for anyone who wants to learn to brew their own beer, and a very heavy Scotch Ale, one of those nice, let it sit and age for half a year before you even get to taste it, kind of beers.

As I’ve traveled to various parts of the country I was also able to experience and review some microbrews outside of our home base here in Albuquerque. Primarily on my trip to Florida I had the chance to review 7th Sun Brewery and Orlando Brewing, and found some really amazing beers from each. Also, while I was there I was able to taste on tap other local brews from the region whose breweries I wasn’t able to visit.

2013 is going to be exciting for us in the beer world. We’re working on our first anniversary party and our first collective NMDSBC batch of home brew. We’ll be judging beer for the NM Cup in February. Beyond all that, I’ll be traveling to various parts of the country again and am really looking forward to comparing each of their resident and local styles with what we have here. This group is always moving forward and tasting and experiencing all over, and there will be so many more home brews by the group as well. The upcoming year looks bright for us all!

* * *

Shilling raises a pint in thanks to all of our readers. The rest of us do as well.

Shilling raises a pint in thanks to all of our readers. The rest of us do as well.

2012 was our first year and a very successful year at that, if we do so say. We will continue bringing you more beer news and reviews in 2013. Look for us at Winter Brew in Santa Fe on Jan. 25 and at the inaugural New Mexico Cup on Feb. 16. Beyond that, we might be making some road trips to check out breweries across the state, from High Desert (Las Cruces), Mimbres Valley (Deming/Las Cruces), the Wellhead (Artesia), Roosevelt Co. Brewing (Portales), NM Craft Brewing (Las Vegas), and all the breweries in the Taos area, including Blue Heron, Taos Ale House, Taos Mesa, and Comanche Creek. A return trip to VALHALLA could also be on the horizon, plus we imagine there will be a few other side trips to various parts of the country.

The Week Ahead in Beer, Saturday Night Sixer, and other regular or semi-regular features will also continue. We hope to have some beer videos up on YouTube later this year, plus expect more in-depth interviews with local brewers and brewery owners.

To all of our readers, we would like to thank you for all of the amazing support for making our first year so successful.

Prost!

— Jon “Shilling”

Saturday Night Sixer: Getting in the holiday mood

Posted: December 8, 2012 by Shilling in Beer-to-go

Greetings folks! Shilling here, filling in for the hard working Cryptogrind while he is working on a big post for the site. While he is slaving away with studying for finals and writing blog posts, I will be bringing you this week’s holiday edition of the Saturday Night Sixer.

This year's version of Anchor's seasonal is a handful.

This year’s version of Anchor’s seasonal is a handful.

With the holidays getting closer, we are beginning to see many of the nation’s microbreweries releasing their batches of winter seasonals. Well, even though New Mexico is nowhere near cold (though it will be by Sunday night), hopefully some of the newly-released beers out on the shelves will remind you what winter is like.

The one I am reviewing today is one of my favorites from Anchor Brewing: Merry Christmas, Happy New Year is a special brew hailing from the city by the bay, San Francisco. The 2012 version marks the 38th anniversary of Anchor’s special ale.

Each year Anchor uses a different recipe — the nature of which remains top secret — with a different tree on the label, and ends up creating a flavorful beer that is simply perfect for the time of year. Last year marked my first time trying this festive ale.

Last year's version of Anchor Brewing's winter seasonal was a delight.

Last year’s version of Anchor Brewing’s winter seasonal was a delight.

My good friend, Rob Palmer, a local skateboarder and home brewer, was the one that introduced me to the 37th edition last winter. My response was simple — this beer tasted like Christmas. With Merry Christmas, Happy New Year having such a well-known reputation, I’m not expecting anything less than delicious.

And I was right! The 38th edition from Anchor is dark in color, with a semi-sweet refreshing flavor with a light, hoppy bite. Served chilled, this beer reminded me of a hike in the mountains on a cool, rainy day. The smell of evergreen trees plus the aroma of slightly damp soil leave you the feeling of being bundled up in cool weather.

Of course, I may analyze beer differently than others. You might think of it simply as holiday brew. Either way, this beer is delicious.

The 2012 edition of Anchor's holiday seasonal is of a darker variety.

The 2012 edition of Anchor’s holiday seasonal is of a darker variety.

Now, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year is not the only holiday beer out there. Sam Adams has a Gingerbread Stout on sale, Sierra Nevada does a couple of different batches, Rogue has one, plus there is English Brewery Ridgeway’s Lump of Coal, JK’s Scrumpy, and not to mention many of our favorite local breweries (check out E-Rock’s weekly beer update to find out who has what on tap) are brewing up their own varieties of winter seasonals.

But if you folks are looking for something different, I highly recommend this seasonal from Anchor Brewing Company. You can pick up a six-pack or a large collector’s bottle from our friends at Jubilation Wine and Spirits on Lomas and Monte Vista.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Beer Year!

— Shilling

Greetings, Hopheads and Malties!

With the holiday season quickly approaching, the group was trying to think about a way to give back to our community and what better way to do so than with a canned food drive!

The Dark Side Brew Crew has teamed up with the Albuquerque Craft Beer Drinkers Group along with Tractor Brewery, Broken Bottle Brewery, Nexus Brewery, Fixed and Free Bike Shop, and Mint Tulip Cafe.

Starting Halloween night, all of the locations mentioned will be accepting cans and other non-perishable food items for donation to Roadrunner Food Bank. Look for bins inside all of the locations.

Let’s make it happen Albuquerque!

— Shilling

Broken Bottle does it again

Posted: September 29, 2012 by Shilling in Brewery Reviews
Tags:

So when the Crew first met the folks from Broken Bottle earlier this year, we were blown away by their pride and their creative and unique ideas for beer.  So it is no surprise that when Chris and Donovan posted on their Facebook page about a Sunflower Seed Ale and an Irish Coffee ale, we wer left extremely intrigued. So following an afternoon of Lobo football, a quick meal at Five Star Burger, and with Anthrax’s “Worship Music” blasting away, Stoutmeister and I made our way out to the west side to sample these new Broken Bottle creations.

Broken Bottle continues to win fans over with its unique seasonal styles.

Broken Bottle commented on their Irish Coffee ale: “It has such a bold flavor that it will make a barista blush.” We did not disagree. This ale is a full-flavored brew made with classic roast and french roast coffee. Even the initial whiff of this beer has enough aroma to straighten your posture. Try drinking that with your morning paper! (But only if you have the day off, of course.)

Stoutmeister sampled the Sol Rosenburg Ale, which was made with sunflower seeds. Sadly, it has run its course, but he offered up this analysis with the hope it will return next year: “Subtle is the word for this beer. This is not a hoppy beer, but instead a malty style, lying somewhere between a mild pale ale and a light brown. The sunflower seed taste comes on at the finish, providing a smooth, satisfying ending. In many ways this beer works both with the lingering heat of summer’s final days and the slight chill of fall that is now upon us.”

After talking to Donovan for a bit, he brought out a bottle of a small batch of jalapeno beer that he whipped up. This small batch is light but leaves a slight lingering sense of spicy heat at the back of the palate. I thought this beer was fine; Stoutmeister preferred his pint of “The Incident” Black IPA.

The Crew has been extremely impressed with BBB’s creative seasonal batches and it seems to be winning over Albuquerque’s beer drinkers with the recent addition to their full-time lineup, the black IPA, and the quickly sold-out sunflower ale. Even though the ale may be gone for a while, BBB’s Debacle Pumpkin Ale is on tap this week to bring in more of the fall flavors. There are a few other seasonals in the works, but we’ll leave those for another write-up. Oh noes, guess we’ll have to go back out to the west side.

Cheers!

— Shilling

Hump Day at Chama River

Posted: August 22, 2012 by Shilling in Brewery Reviews
Tags: , ,

Shilling here. School is back in session and what better way to relax after a day of hitting the books than drinking a beer?

Stoutmeister and I decided to meet up to discuss our “plan of attack” for Hopfest (well, we were really just mostly trying to figure out how to get from the NE Heights to the Hard Rock; Rail Runner, here we come). Stoutmeister picked the brewery he had not been to in the longest: Chama River. Chama currently has four seasonal brews on tap right now that are worth drinking.

Chama’s August lineup of seasonals (from left): The Big LeBrewski, Liquid Schwarz, Hopricot and Noble Session Ale.

The Noble Session Ale: The Noble is a light, pale ale that has crisp flavor with a slight bite at the end. I thought it was OK; Stoutmeister did not like it that much.

The Hopricot Pale Ale: Unlike the apricot wheat at Broken Bottle, the is the opposite on the spectrum of bitter-to-sweet. Now, that is not to say that this beer is bitter, it’s just the hops are very prevalent in the first sip, then the crisp, sweet apricot flavor hits followed by a mellow, pale ale finish.

Liquid Schwarz: All “Spaceballs” gags aside, I left this one’s review to Stoutmeister: “It’s a solid version of the German schwarzbier. It’s dark in color but lighter in taste, with a slight sweetness that you might find in a brown ale rather than it’s similar-looking cousins, the stout and porter. It’s smooth and easy-drinking, good for the late summer. Give this to people who don’t like dark beers and use it to start changing their minds about the genre.”

The Big LeBrewski: Now, I don’t know if I’m really one to critique an IPA since I am not a normal IPA drinker. Although, unlike the other double IPAs that I have had, this one is the easiest to drink without burping up a pine tree. I would like to get some readers’ opinions on this one.

That’s all from Chama for now. We’ll try to stop by more often when new seasonals are introduced.

Stoutmeister and E-Rock will be at Marble tonight to see The Lonesome Heroes, an Austin-based band that E-Rock is friends with, perform while also checking out the beers there if any are new.

Until we all gather at Hopfest on Saturday …

Cheers!

— Shilling

ABQ Hopfest is nearly upon us

Posted: August 21, 2012 by Shilling in Events
Tags: ,

Our apologizes for not posting about this sooner, but this Saturday, Stoutmeister and Shilling will be present at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino for the fifth annual ABQ Hopfest.

The Hopfest is a fundraiser for the New Mexico Make-A-Wish Foundation, raising money to grant wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses. This year the festival features 50 breweries, eight bands on three stages, plus indoor and outdoor booths.

Doors open at 3 p.m. for general admission tickets, while the special Extra Hoppy tickets get you in at 2 p.m. Tickets are available online or you can purchase them at the Tractor Tap Room in Nob Hill. Extra Hoppy tickets are nearly gone.

Widmer Bros. Brewing, the kings of the American Hefeweizen, are the sponsor brewery for the event.

Also in attendance this year are Abita (Louisiana), Big Sky (Montana), Deschutes (Oregon), Goose Island (Illinois), Green Flash (San Diego), Kona (Hawaii), Sam Adams, Blue Moon, Guinness, Left Coast, Bridgeport; our Colorado favorites Breckenridge, Left Hand, Oskar Blues, Odell, and Ska; plus New Mexico’s Marble, Tractor, Broken Bottle, Santa Fe, Boar’s Nest, Back Alley, Taos Ale House, and many, many more!

Stoutmeister will unleash a mondo preview on Friday of all the breweries and all the beers (we hope) they will be bringing along for us to enjoy.

Folks, this is a great event supporting an amazing cause. So if you’re interested in attending, redirect your browser over to the Hopfest Web site to get your tickets and we’ll see you guys there!

Cheers!

— Shilling

If you recall our multi-post series with Turtle Mountain owner Nico Ortiz from earlier this summer,  he talked to us about a semi-annual brew that consists of, well, all the remaining ingredients from their storage room. After hearing the history about this one-of-a-kind batch, we were left excited to try it.

Turtle Mountain’s Yardsale Amber was created out of the leftover malts and grains for a uniquely flavored pint.

Lo and behold the Yardsale, this year tagged as an amber, is back on tap at TMBC as of this week. So with Stoutmeister at the helm, we trekked over to Rio Rancho late Friday afternoon to snag a pint and grab a bite of food. After navigating our way through the usual mess that was Paseo del Norte, we got to TMBC, lucked into a close parking spot, and headed inside.

Like all of our tastings, we jumped right in, with a side of chips and guacamole.  The Yardsale, like many of the beers at Turtle, is on the lighter side.  The combination of various different malts and grains give the beer a bit of an English taste similar to a Newcastle, but more on the dry side.

Stoutmeister’s take: “I liked this one a little more than Shilling did. Yes, it was light, with little or no bite at first sip. The flavors come up in the mid- to back-palate. There a lot of them in there, as one would expect from a beer with so many varied ingredients. The flavors do not overwhelm the way many IPAs or DIPAs do, but instead just produce a solid back-bite. I could taste hints of caramel from the malts, and the hops were there, too, albeit in far less quantity than we come to expect from most ABQ-area breweries, Turtle included (for a better dose of hops, I recommend the Hybrid IPA that is still on tap). The weather is still hot and this beer is a good darker ale for the late summer.”

So if you’re in the neighborhood of Southern and 528, swing out and visit our boys at Turtle Mountain and give this one of a kind brew a try.

Cheers!

— Shilling