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Saint Arnold is one of the most popular breweries in the Houston for a good reason. Lots of good reasons, in fact.

I can already hear you asking: Why is a New Mexico beer site writing about breweries in Houston?

My answer: Because sometimes people go to other places and want to drink beer there.

This was the situation I found myself in a few weeks back when I booked a trip to visit a friend in the biggest city in Texas. Given that our friendship formed over the consumption of beer, I knew a brewery or two should be part of the weekend. I had never been there before and she’s new to the area, so it was time for an adventure.

My first tactic for finding craft beer was to turn to my base of beer drinking friends. Of all the recommendations, there was one clear choice of places to visit: Saint Arnold Brewing Company. Texas’ oldest craft brewery, founded in 1994, is an easy 15-to-20 minute drive from the airport, so it made sense to make that our first stop once I arrived.

We were a bit dubious as we pulled up, as it is located in a very industrial neighborhood, and upon entering the building you are greeted with office doors and a staircase. Those fears were easily cast aside once we located the beer hall on the second floor. When entering you are greeted with rows of tables and benches, cornhole boards, paintings of Saint Arnold on one wall, and a sea of windows showcasing their impressive brewing capacity opposite that. I loved how friendly the staff was there. It was a busy night at Saint Arnold but every single employee we encountered greeted us with a smile and gave us their full attention when they were serving us.

Welcoming atmosphere aside, the beer was the real star here. I started with the Elissa IPA, which was available on both draft and cask, and, yes, I had both versions. After sampling the 2016 Pumpkinator, Pup Crawl Pale Ale, and Summer Pils, my third and final pint of the night was the Endeavour DIPA. All were delicious, and if we had gotten there earlier, I would have gladly purchased more pints. My friend opted for the Raspberry AF Berliner Weisse for her first, and second, and third … While I’m not much for tart beers, I could see the appeal of this one on a hot, humid summer night.

For the rest of our beer-ventures, I searched using my old stand-by: Google. We were staying in the suburbs and I was curious about what local watering holes could be found. Turns out, there were plenty, but we only had time for three of them.

Talk about fitting in with the area.

First up: Texas Beer Refinery in Dickinson. This 4-year-old brewery sure made a positive impression. From the woman who excitedly told us about the food menu options to the hop-shaped hanging lights, this is a brewery filled with charm. It’s also got some pretty tasty beer. I got a pint of the Covfefe Coffee Pale Ale (turns out they have a sense of humor, too). My friend got the Mexican IPA on nitro. While we were both very happy with our choices, we were also jealous of each other’s beer. She also tried the Gulf Coast Gose and really enjoyed it. I stole a sip and could tell it was well made, but it isn’t one I’d want a full pour of (see above). We would have tried more, but we had other appointments to keep that afternoon, and decided it was best to pace ourselves.

There is a wee bit of scenery down by the Gulf of Mexico.

Second beer stop: Galveston Island Brewing in Galveston. After dipping our toes in the Gulf of Mexico, more beer was necessary. Google said this was the closest one, so off we went. The place was hopping when we arrived. Granted, it was a Saturday night, but the sheer number of people there was impressive (we later found out out we stumbled upon their Third Anniversary party). They had a tented area with a section set aside for live bands, an area with picnic benches and a playground, and a smallish indoor seating area and stools around the bar. There was a lovely view of the setting sun, so sitting outside was an easy choice to make. Due to the crowds, we only had one beer each, but both were nice and easy to drink. I had the DIPA and she had the Hefen-A Hefeweizen. I’d like to come back again when it’s not so crowded, so I can chat with the staff and sample more of the beer.

They do everything big in Texas, include taproom interiors.

Final destination: Saloon Door Brewing in Webster. Unbeknownst to my friend and I, we saved the best for last. Only open for a year, they already have everything I look for in a local watering hole — friendly and informative employees, regulars you can strike up a conversation with, and killer beer. If I lived here, this would be my regular beer-drinking home. One of their distinct features is their beer blend offerings — they mix different beers together creating different (and fun) flavor combinations. My friend got a flight of these, while I opted to try the beers in their original format. This way we could determine if they were trying to hide off flavors in the blends. Long story short, they were not. I had the Brown Ale, Cream Ale, Milk Stout, Pale Ale, Wee Heavy, Double Gunshot Imperial IPA, Summer IPA, River Ace IPA, Tasty AF Peanut Butter, Chocolate Milk Stout, and Bourbon Barrel Russian Imperial Stout. Each one was delicious, and I would have been happy with a full pint of any of them. I can’t possibly list all the blends, but some of them are called Snickers, Strawberry Cheese Cake, and Orange Cordial. There is an art to making these beyond the “let’s mix these and see what happens” approach I’ve taken in the past, but it really is art.

All in all, we had a lot of fun exploring the growing craft beer scene in the Houston area. I recommend checking these places if you are in the neighborhood, then play your own game of “Google-Roulette” to see what gems you discover.

Sláinte

— The SheNerd

This is the look of a man who’s about to be rather busy over the next 11 days.

Local favorite Jubilation Wine & Spirits is known for their frequent tastings of new and rare beers. So, how are they going to make things special for this year’s Albuquerque Beer Week? I spoke (technically emailed) with beer manager and Brew Crew emeritus member Adam Auden about what we can expect.

SheNerd: What makes Beer Week different from other events/tastings hosted at Jubilation?

Adam: As always I’m blown away by the range and number of events going on. It’s a great opportunity to push the boat out and do something a little special for the beer scene in town. I hope folks enjoy what we have on offer!

SheNerd: Jubilation is hosting five events for Beer Week this year. Is there any one that is particularly special?

Adam: So, the big event we’re running this year is going to be our Grand Saison Tasting (on Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m.). Twelve different saison beers from around Europe and the U.S. with a couple from here in New Mexico, too. It’s a fantastic opportunity to be able to compare a range of beers from this fantastic style. Another new addition for us is having the option of offering draught-only beers on our growler fill station, and we are taking advantage of that for the saison tasting, and to be able to offer up the Mother Road/Tractor Altbier collaboration, too.

SheNerd: Tell me about the beer collaboration (with Broken Trail) and how it came to be?

Adam: This one has actually been in the works for a little while. Back in September I was lucky enough to go and brew at Sierra Nevada for Beer Camp No. 181, and during the tasting where we launched that beer, I was talking with Keith Hynes, the Sierra Nevada rep here in New Mexico, about the Neomexicanus hop. (It is) a hop Sierra Nevada has used for a couple of their Harvest series IPAs, which was propagated from a wild varietal here in New Mexico by a chap called Todd Bates, who has a farm up on the Rio Grande in the northern part of the state. Turns out he’s turned his hand to herbs and is farming this local plant known as Oregano de la Sierra. It has the characteristics of oregano, but with a spicy aspect, too. My response was that I thought it would be great in a saison — fragrant and spicy to complement the yeast character you get with those beers.

Roll on to a couple of months back when we were putting our Beer Week plans together and I get chatting to Katixa Mercier, our Favorite Brands sales rep, about my ideas around this Saison tasting and she suggests we could do something with Broken Trail’s Sancho Saison. I put the idea of a collaboration brew to her and Matt Simonds from the brewery, and everyone was excited for the idea! We had a great time hanging out and getting our hands dirty making the beer. We hope everyone enjoys drinking it as much as we enjoyed making it!

SheNerd: Are there any more collaborations in your/Jubilation’s future?

Adam: Given the opportunity I’d love to be able to do more collaboration beers down the road. We are already expanding our program of providing barrels to local breweries from single-barrel spirit releases at the store. We currently have barrel-aged beers from Boxing Bear and Quarter Celtic in the pipeline and more releases to come from Bosque Brewing, too. I also had the pleasure in getting to brew on the Oskar Blues pilot system a couple of months back and we should be seeing that beer on tap very soon. If anyone else wants to let me stick an oar in their mash tun, just say the word!

* * * * *

Here is the complete list of what Jubilation is doing starting tonight (Thursday).

Thursday, 4-6 p.m.
La Cumbre Beer and Cheese Pairing —
La Cumbre beers paired with artisanal cheeses
Book SigningAlbuquerque Beer: Duke City History on Tap from the brains behind the Brew Crew, Chris Jackson

Friday, 4-6 p.m.
Mother Road Tasting & Special Tapping — Caleigh Snyder of Mother Road Brewing will be tapping an Altbier brewed in Flagstaff in collaboration with Tractor Brewing specifically for ABQ Beer Week
Saturday, 2-4 p.m.
Founders Tasting & Giveaway
— A tasting of Doom barrel-aged IPA, Sumatra Mountain Brown Imperial Brown Ale with sumatran coffee, Curmudgeon, PC Pils, and others. You can also enter to win a counter-top grill.
Tuesday, 4-6 p.m.
Saison Tasting & Broken Trail Collaboration Tapping — See Adam’s description above.
Beers to be sampled:
  • Broken Trail Sancho de la Sierra
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales Saison du Sarlacc
  • Saison Dupont
  • St. Feuillien Dry-Hopped Saison
  • Thiriez Extra
  • Blackberry Farm Brewing Classic Saison
  • St. Somewhere Traditionnel & Serge
  • North Coast Puck Petite Saison
  • Prairie Artisan Ales Prairie Ace
  • Off Color Apex Predator
  • Stillwater Artisanal Rockstar Farmer

Sláinte!

— SheNerd

Nexus Brewery expands to the West Side

Posted: June 8, 2016 by theshenerd in Taproom Preview
Tags:
Patio

Say hello to Nexus, West Siders!

Once breweries achieve some level of success, it seems the first thing they do is open another location. This was not the case for Ken Carson at Nexus. Even after the success of the food menu, national TV appearances, awards, and lines out the door, he was very cautious about his expansion plans. That patience has paid off with the opening of the Nexus Silver Taproom at 2641 Coors Blvd NW. It is an easy to get to location in an untapped market. This should spell success. It officially opens Thursday, but I got to poke around a bit during the soft opening Tuesday.

So, what’s different?

  1. No kitchen. People hoping for some chicken and waffles with Kaylynn’s exquisite brews are out of luck. That doesn’t mean no food, however. Ken is working to partner with eateries in the strip mall location to deliver food to patrons. There are also several restaurants that you can pick up food from and take into the taproom. Karim and I opted for Wing Stop, and I would say he was pleased …
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  2. The layout. The first thing I noticed was the ample patio (see above photo). Like the original location, the patio faces east so there is a bit less worry about roasting in the afternoon sun. Ken is sticking with later openings for now, but once the place becomes a hit (and it will be), some sort of shading option will become necessary for earlier in the day. The inside is very spacious and gives it an open and welcoming feel. I’ll let the pictures do the talking, but you will notice that it does not feel as cramped as the original location. We’ll see what happens when it’s full of people, though.
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What’s the same?

  1. The beer. It’s still delicious, and you can get all Kaylynn’s signature beers in addition to a few guest taps. Plus, they have the Salted Caramel Stout on tap. WIN!!! I was a very happy nerd and it was the perfect dessert after my wings. (Karim and I may have pestered Ken about serving it with a scoop of ice cream, or putting it on cask, or barrel aging it, or serving it on nitro … bless his patience with us as we geeked out!)
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  2. The service. Granted, it was a quiet evening there with it being a soft opening, but I was happy to see the friendly service that I love at the original location is still a priority at Nexus Silver. Every person I spoke with had genuine smiles on their faces and were eager to know what they could do to make the experience even better.

Since I had his attention, I asked Ken about the status of the Nexus Neighbor program. Regulars may have been frustrated by the system being out of commission. That’s nothing compared to the frustration Ken and the staff have been going through. What happened was this: The old payment system would not allow the two locations to communicate, meaning that points would not transfer from OG Nexus to Nexus Silver. The company hired to make the new systems communicate and upload the member database had a few glitches. This left the poor servers to manually enter each ticket. BUT, he also gave me this scoop: He will be giving bonus points to all Neighborhood members once the system is back online as a thank you for their patience and understanding. Did I mention that Nexus has good service? It starts at the top.

All in all, Ken has set himself up for success yet again. I can see Nexus Silver quickly becoming a regular hangout for the neighborhood, as well as those who happen to be passing by.

Cheers!

— Kristin

Chama just made the best stout better

Posted: February 26, 2016 by theshenerd in Beer Review
Tags:
IMG_20160225_180153

Hello, beautiful darkness!

What do you do when you have the best stout in Albuquerque, as decided by the Brew Crew? If you are Chama River Brewing, you take that winner and throw it in a cask. They tapped it Wednesday night and I knew I had to head over to try it out.

The result? Well, no mere words can truly describe the experience of the first pint. Nor the second. (I would have gone for a third, but I was driving home, plus I didn’t want to be greedy.)

But still, how to describe the casked Sleeping Dog Stout? The only way that seemed fitting was in the form of a sonnet of love.

Ode to a Casked Dog
by
The SheNerd

It should be unstated that dear Chama
Has always brewed one damn delicious stout.
Now they’ve done something made me yell ‘oooh Mama.’
But what exactly is this all about?
The brewer hid this nectar in a cask
And made improvements to our Sleeping Dog.
‘Is it really different?’ you ask.
Well, yes and no, and here’s my little log.
Served cool, not cold, it made the flavors sing
Not bubbly yet not flat it balanced well
Beer served this way it really is my thing
I’d drink it ’till the cask’s and empty shell
It hearkened back to ye olde England pub
And paired ever so nicely with their grub

Sláinte

— The SheNerd

Founders thingy

If you needed to get away this weekend, might we recommend this event in Flagstaff?

This time of year is a bittersweet one for craft beer lovers. Bitter for those who didn’t score tickets to the Great American Beer Festival and SWEET for those who did.

If you need to nurse those wounds, there is an event coming up this weekend in Flagstaff, Arizona, that may just do the trick — Founders Far Out West Fest. This Saturday, Flagstaff’s newest brewery, Dark Sky Brewing Co., is hosting this fundraiser to benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. During the summer months not a day goes by that we don’t hear about wildfires springing up across the country. Many brave men and women have given their lives protecting people from these fires and the Founders Far Out West Fest is one way to ensure that the families of these fallen heroes are provided for.

Now that you’ve gotten the guilt trip, here are the nuts and bolts.

Date: August 8
Time: 1 p.m.–5 p.m.
Location: Dark Sky Brewing, 117 N. Beaver St. Suite A, Flagstaff, Arizona 86001
Tickets: $50
What you get for that $50:

  • Six 5-ounce tastings of specially selected Dark Sky beers.
  • Six 5-ounce tastings of Founders beers, including Mosaic Promise, Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Curmudgeon, All Day IPA, Rubeus, and the next-to-impossible-to-find CBS. I have it on good authority that this event has the only kegs of CBS available in the Western Hemisphere.
  • In addition to the beer, there are also swag bags being given away and raffles for other cool prizes. If $50 still seems like too much, remember that all proceeds go to help the families of fallen firefighters.

Because this is the first year of this festival, there is no way to pre-order tickets online or over the phone. Tickets can only be purchased in person and will be available at the door. The person I spoke with does not anticipate the event selling out, but if it does, look on the bright side: You are in Flagstaff and there are plenty of breweries to spend your time at. Might I recommend Historic Brewing Company? Hands down my favorite brewery in Flagstaff.

If you have any more questions about the event itself, there is an extensive Q&A post on the Facebook event page.

Cheers!

— Kristin

Editor’s note: And since this is Kristin’s first story as a member of the Brew Crew Bullpen, we asked her to include a bio as a way of introducing herself to all of you.

The precious!

The precious!

Kristin (The SheNerd): I’m still a relative noob in the world of beer appreciation. While I had enjoyed an occasional beer from time to time, it wasn’t until I moved to Albuquerque in 2009 that I had my mind blown by what beer could actually be — freaking delicious! Craft beer hadn’t really caught on where I used to live in Southern California, so I would stick with Guinness, or Newcastle if I wanted a light beer. (I know …) Oh, the things I have learned since moving here. Though I do have my favorite styles, namely stouts, porters, browns and ESBs, I really enjoy trying everything. It was a banner day the first time I found an IPA I would order on a regular basis. Trying new beer makes for fun adventures and is a great way get to know the people whereever I am visiting. From Scotland to California, I have made fantastic friends thanks to craft beer. It really is about so much more than just the taste. It is about the total experience from the atmosphere of where I am drinking beer to the people I am surrounded by. Beer just tastes better when shared with great people. My habit is supported by my day job of being on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all day. Seriously, I get paid to do that. Outside of that, I co-host a radio show called Director’s Cut Radio (www.directorscutradio.com) and have even created some beer-centric shows to educate my co-host about the wonders of different beer styles. Cheers all and feel free to hit me up on Twitter and Instagram: @TheSheNerd