Archive for the ‘Weekend Beer-cap’ Category

After two years, it was nice to drink you again, Irish Handcuffs.

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!

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There is no such thing as too much food at Steel Bender, apparently.

Of all the Crew, I (Stoutmeister) am the only one who does not get a true weekend. Well, sometimes Brandon works, too, but I am guaranteed to work every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday without a vacation-time request, which often limits my excursions to breweries and bars (heck, sometimes I get so tired I just open something at home and drift away, hopefully without spilling anything; being 40 does kinda suck sometimes).

Thus, when I chime in for the Weekend Beer-cap, my adventures date back to my actual days off, Wednesday and Thursday. I made sure to stay busy this past week, too. After a stop by Red Door for an interview, I hit up Tractor Wells Park for a delightful pour of Oktoberfest. It is just as smooth and lightly sweet as I remember. Later that day, I hit up High and Dry for the first time in a while, through no fault of theirs, but I wanted to make sure to stop by for the start of Second Street Brewery’s “residency” as the guest brewery of the month. It is quite the cool concept for High and Dry, and gives a brewery like Second Street a chance to show off its beers to the many folks who think Santa Fe is just too far away, even for beer. I enjoyed a tasty Vienna Lager, while my friend Kristen was quite into the Boneshaker Bitter.

The next day I did the impossible, which is to get my dear sainted mother out to a brewery not named Canteen (she has a serious love for the Irish Red, as I have mentioned before). Yes, dad and I got her to Steel Bender for some OktoberFiesta and a big old mountain of food. The pairings were delightful — she went with the grilled chicken, I stuck with the tried-and-true pulled pork, dad went more traditional with a bratwurst — and after my folks departed, I also made sure to snag some of the Black (Hole Sun) IPA. Big and burly, for sure, and one I would like to try again.

Oh, and I also had a couple beers at Chama River earlier that day. Wait, what?

Stay tuned for a (very) overdue update about what is going on with Chama and Kellys. We are also scheduled for a full sit-down interview with the owners and brewers of Cantero Brewing this week, and of course there is this little thing coming up next week called the Great American Beer Festival. Expect blowout coverage of that, too.

No rest for the wicked, right? Here are the rest of the Crew’s adventures over the actual weekend.

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Ah, Arizona football, driving Stoutmeister to drink for more than 20 years.

A holiday weekend provides plenty of chances for members of the Crew to explore our local beer scene. From beers-to-go to visiting breweries to the ages old blend of football and beer, we had some fun out there.

My weekend actually runs Wednesday and Thursday, but this week I found myself out and about on Friday as well. For lunch, I swung by La Cumbre to try the new batch of Oktoberfest that had just been released. It is a wonderful batch, available in cans as well as on tap. I was also quite pleased that my gamble about My Sweet Basil having German-themed food to go with the beer also panned out.

Later that night, after work, I hit up Bosque, but alas, all the Scale Tipper IPA cans had long since sold out. There was still some on tap, at least. From there, it was off to Red Door’s Wyoming taproom, which was in its surprise last night of business. Most of the beer had already been consumed, but I snagged a final pour of Paint it Black Milk Stout. It was a shame to see the place close, as it was packed many nights, and it certainly went out with a bang.

Finally, I was trying to be good Saturday, but then the Arizona football team went out and, well, played like usual, choking against BYU in the season opener. Thus, I opened a 2018 Founders KBS. Oh, Wildcats, once again you have me looking ahead to basketball season.

Speaking of beer and football, here are the rest of the Crew’s adventures.

Keeping it local at the tailgate

If Incarnate Word football fans existed, they would have seen lots of local beers at the tailgate.

I would venture to say my holiday weekend was likely a little different than most of yours. It’s all about opening weekend for tailgating and football. We tailgated Friday overnight and all day and into the night after the game on Saturday. Sunday was recovery and Monday means catching up on errands and things around the house. It was a rainy, misty, awesomely cool day on Saturday. The picture reflects this perfectly. Our tradition is to get at least one type of Santa Fe Brewing “Zia cans” to show off to visiting teams. Sadly, we never met any Incarnate Word tailgaters on Saturday. It doesn’t matter, though, it still always tastes great.

— AmyO

Holiday bites and brews

There are worse ways to spend Labor Day.

Starr Brothers Brewery was open for business on Labor Day and I took full advantage. I’ll confess that the main purpose for the visit was a quick snack to hold me over till dinner, but that always couples well with a nice beer. I have always enjoyed their food and this time I was specifically aiming for tacos. They are small and a little bit gourmet, but quite tasty and on-point. I had a chicken taco and a steak taco. My mom, who was visiting from Chicago for the weekend, enjoyed her fish taco. I started with a pint of There Gose Them Boyzz, which is a cleverly named and tasty boysenberry gose. It was a fruitier than the average gose, but was still tart with a tinge of salt, as it should be. I also enjoyed a pint of Bottoms Up Kolsch. This kolsch gave me exactly what I wanted from the style. It was no frills, but it checked the kolsch box that needed checking. Never unhappy after a visit to Starr Brothers Brewery. Cheers!

— Andrew

The new big boys (?) on the block

This is not Brandon’s fridge, but it could be. (Photo courtesy of Steel Bender Brewyard)

Can Steel Bender become a new powerhouse brewery in NM? Recently, in discussing the brewing industry here in the state with a friend, this question was posed to me. Honestly, I didn’t have an answer, as any answer would be fairly complex. As I enjoyed a few nighttime ales this weekend, it struck me that, aside from my 2016 KBS that I had opened, each of the other beers I had enjoyed WERE FROM STEEL BENDER. That’s right, Red Iron, Skull Bucket, and Tangerine Dream. That got me thinking that, at least in terms of sales, packaging, and distribution, perhaps the answer could be yes. Now I know some will argue that they are still a new kid on the scene and lack the cred in terms of accolades (GABF, WBC, etc., hardware is always lovely when you bust your ass as a brewer!), but if more and more people are buying and enjoying their beers, that says a lot about this brewery that is only over a year into existence. Therefore, I’m of the opinion that this distinction is on the horizon for the taking for the SBB crew, and good on them for that.

— Brandon

A rhapsody of a pilsner

There is nothing frightening about this Bohemian pilsner. Right, Galileo?

This past week saw some wonderful new projects come to fruition for ABQ’s beer community. Luckily that meant stopping by La Cumbre’a new westside location. The Thunderbolts and Lightning Pilsner by far stole the spotlight among the expanded tap list with its brilliant clarity, and clean, pleasant light citrus, and refined, distinctive malt character. The excitement is certainly building as we enter Oktoberfest season as well- keep an eye out for all the new releases!

— Jerrad

Proper glassware, Pfriem, TRVE, CAH, and … yeah, not sure what the frypan was doing there, but you can blame our insatiable need for bacon.

Welcome back to this weekly feature, which got skipped last week due to a deadly combination of not enough people sending in items, and too many other stories clogging up the queue.

This past weekend, however, was a lot more jam-packed with beer-related fun for most of us. Huzzah to that! For me (Stoutmeister), it was a chance to catch up with friends in the film industry who actually got a weekend off. There were beers to be consumed, ridiculous food to eat, and, naturally, a round of Cards Against Humanity was in the, um, cards.

On the beer front, folks cleaned out some oldies but goodies. We had beers from Trinity Brewing (Colorado Springs), TRVE Brewing (Denver), pre-evil-empire Wicked Weed (Asheville, NC), Pfriem (Hood River, OR), and one lunatic stout known as the Truffledome from California. For a few other beers, we did a little mixology. Using Santa Fe’s Chicken Killer as a base, we tested it out with some Oak Aged Vanilla Worldwide Stout from Dogfish Head, and the blend was a beauty, as it took away some of the CK burn as well as keeping the Worldwide from being overly sweet. Hey, if the folks at the SFBC taprooms can make some mixes, we can, too.

Now to the rest of the Crew’s weekend adventures … (more…)

The spoils of the best airport gift store in the world, which is naturally in Portland, Oregon.

What do you get when you mix a few procrastinators (AmyO excluded) and have them write a story together? Well, you get this weekly feature at night, that’s what you get.

Anyway, the Crew has been a bit scattered of late, with me (Stoutmeister) in Oregon and the others running amok all over New Mexico for various reasons. I have returned, and yes, I brought back a few goodies from Portland, though not quite in the normal way. Rather than borrow a hard-sided suitcase for my trip in which to store bottles/cans for the flight home, I took my old soft-sided bag. Even with copious amounts of bubble wrap, I wasn’t going to risk beer, or my clothes, for the trip home. So I forlornly traveled into the airport after checking my bag and … wait, what’s this? Beer bottles and cans for sale inside the airport?!

Bless you, Oregon liquor laws. Or just whatever genius moment occurred at a place called “Made in Oregon” that enabled someone to think, “Hey, would should sell some of our amazing craft beer at reasonable prices to travelers who still have room in the carry-ons!” And thus, I was able to stuff my backpack with four bombers — a barrel-aged barleywine from Buoy (Astoria), an imperial IPA from Gigantic (Portland), a pilsner from pFriem (Hood River), an export stout from Pelican (Pacific City) — and bring them home to New Mexico. There may not have been the biggest of the big beers there (sniff, no Great Notion), but it was a solid and varied selection (yes, there were Cascade sours) at about the same price one would pay at a brewery or liquor store.

Let us just imagine weary travelers being able to purchase some Elevated IPA to take back to New York, or Double White to Chicago, or Scotia to San Francisco, or Mustachio Milk Stout to Seattle, or … well, you get the point. Unless it is completely forbidden by state law, some enterprising soul should sell our best craft beers behind the TSA security check at the Sunport. Let’s start exporting New Mexico around the country and beyond!

After that, I wolfed down a Hopworks Pilsner and some chicken-infused mac-n-cheese at the Henry’s Tavern inside the airport, and I finally returned home. As for the rest of the Crew that was “stuck” here over the weekend, here are a couple of their reports.

Trekking to the City Different

After taking the Rail Runner to Santa Fe, if your first stop isn’t Second Street Railyards, you’re not doing it right.

This past Saturday afternoon we took the Railrunner from Los Ranchos to Santa Fe. The weather was perfect for strolling about town. It was mostly cloudy with a few light sprinkles, but not enough rain to interfere with any outdoor plans.

As per usual when we take the train up there, the first stop was Second Street at the Railyards. My pint of choice was a Rod’s Best Bitter.

We wandered around a bit and decided to call upon Desert Dogs Brewery and Cidery just off the plaza at 112 W. San Francisco. It was our first time there. It’s a nice, bright, and open space with a mini patio overlooking the street below. They have pool and shuffleboard as well as a good selection of beers and ciders. I had a mango cider that was quite tasty.

— AmyO

Someone let Luke name a real beer

Meet La Marcha Wedding Lager at Blue Corn. Yeah, Luke really got to name it.

This weekend my beer adventures took me to Second Street for their brand new can release. I won’t get into detail about them, as I have the full story for you coming today or tomorrow. On a separate beer adventure, one of the beers that happened to be on tap this past weekend at Blue Corn Brewery was La Marcha Wedding Lager. It’s an excellent crisp and refreshing lager, fish-bowl clear like an un-tinted vehicle driving through Espanola. This is an all-around solid lager that definitely makes for a great easy-drinking porch beer. And, as an added bonus, brewers Paul Mallory and Andy Lane were nice enough to let me name this one. To say that I have a large Hispanic family is an understatement, and I know that it’s pretty rare to have a Hispanic wedding without La Marcha. Hence, the name, and they did a great job. I’ll be back for a growler to satisfy my late-summer porch-drinking needs.

Cheers!

— Luke

Any beer lover visiting Eugene would be remiss not to stop at ColdFire Brewing.

Welcome to the road version of Weekend Beer-cap. Yours truly is still up in Oregon for a little while longer, still bouncing around breweries.

I am currently down in Eugene, which is one of those towns that most people probably just pass through going between Portland and Bend. Yeah, it is a college town, but ignoring the ubiquitous Ducks merchandise everywhere, it also has a fair number of breweries.

Ninkasi is the big boy here, distributing its beers as far away as Arizona. Heck, Ninkasi even sponsors Sunday games for the Eugene Emeralds, the short-season Single-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs (for those that do not follow baseball, that is four levels below the Isotopes, mostly kids right out of college). Imagine Marble sponsoring Sunday games at Isotopes Park. Oh, we can only dream.

Since I had Ninkasi before, outside the ballpark I aimed to visit the smaller breweries. My favorites so far have been ColdFire, Elk Horn, and Falling Sky. They all have a nice mix of stouts, pilsners/kolsches, reds, IPAs, and the rest. Falling Sky also had a pretty solid menu, even if the chefs went way overboard on the pesto on the chicken-and-bacon sandwich. ColdFire is the only one without food, but its American Stout and Stylish Kolsch were worth two visits.

The next time you make it up to Oregon, take note that Eugene is worth a beer stop, or even an overnight beer visit. Most of the breweries are within walking distance of each other, too, since the weirdest thing about Eugene is that its government has kept Lyft and Uber out of town. (No place is perfect.)

Anyway, here is what a couple other Crew members were up to back home while I was away.

Bending towards a love of certain sours

Why yes, that is a blend of Raspberry and Tangerine Dynamite at Steel Bender.

Full disclosure, I am not typically a fan of sours. But, all summer I have been drinking Steel Bender’s Raspberry Dynamite, on purpose! This Sunday we went to Steel Bender to try the next in the Dynamite “series,” Tangerine Dynamite. While still good, to me it is a little more on the sour side than the Raspberry, or it feels that way. The beertender suggested mixing the two and she even poured a sample that way. I fell for it immediately because it looks so neat. I noticed quite a few going out to servers, so I think they struck gold with that. Next time, I will stick to straight Raspberry, but it was a lot of fun.

Cheers!

— AmyO

Dancing to a plethora of pints

A little 7K IPA goes well with salsa.

Unlike many in the DSBC, I suspect, I have a secret second life as a Latin dancer. Yes, it’s not pretty to see in my case, but at least it’s something that can be done while drinking good beer. (It’s practically a requirement, really.) Sunday evening, the New Mexico Salsa Congress held a fundraiser at B2B, the taco/beer joint near Uptown. The place has very good tacos and supposedly 60 NM beers on tap. This is a monthly event, so if this sounds interesting to you, stay tuned for future events!

(P. S. Nosotros, a popular local Latin band, will be playing at Marble downtown this Friday. Best of both worlds!)

— Reid

Breathe in the history at Silva’s Saloon in Bernalillo. Just don’t breathe too deep.

Well, this past weekend took quite a bit out of all of us. Hence, no Monday story, and only a couple other Crew members could put together coherent thoughts about all that happened. We can’t blame the IPA Challenge, either, since Andrew was one of four of us who was there.

As for me? Well, in addition to the hops, I spent Friday night showing an old college friend around town. Swede had never stopped in Albuquerque for anything more than a tank of gas, but after hearing me brag over and over again about our beers, he was ready to finally stop in and see what our breweries offered. Well, that and he can’t seem to get enough of La Cumbre’s distribution in Tucson.

We hit up Canteen so he could try a flight and maybe grab a bite to eat. That maybe turned into definitely as the rain hit hard the first time. After a couple pints and some food, we moved to Bosque in Nob Hill. It rained a lot more outside, pints were consumed inside, and by golly, we have a new convert to our beer scene. He said he was impressed by the sheer quality of taprooms compared to those in Tucson (though they are starting to catch up).

Though I never asked Swede which specific beer was his favorite, he did order a pint of Pecos Trail Brown at Canteen after his flight, while Elephants on Parade and The Irish Goodbye were his Bosque selections.

Meanwhile, after the NMIPAC ended on Saturday, I lost track of the rest of the Crew and ended up waiting with the brewery folks who either worked for the Guild or just ended up hanging out until the very end. Someone came up with the glorious idea of driving into the heart of Bernalillo and going to the historic dive of dives, Silva’s Saloon. The place was quite the slice of history, and worth further exploration. (It is right next to the original Range Cafe, just in case you got lost like Brandon and co. did trying to find us.)

A good time was had by all by the pool table, with cans of Marble Pilsner on hand, and a jukebox cranking out some random old tunes. I would share more details, but it was all off the record. Oh, but if you ever challenge La Cumbre’s Daniel Jaramillo at pool, you better bring your “A” game. The man is a shark. I feel that’s something that I can safely report.

On with the rest of the Crew’s adventures …

Dine out, darkness in

Love the darkness. Become the darkness.

This weekend I hit up one of my favorite local haunts, M’tucci’s Market & Pizzeria after a long morning swim. I go for the quality of the food, the charm of the place, and the eclectic selection of local beers they have on tap. Well, that and the fact that it is mere minutes from home. Of the two saison-style brews they had on tap, I went with Bosque’s Pepporfessor Honeydew, which had mellowed in spiciness over time perfectly to accompany the many delectable meats on the pizza selections we made.

Since reading Brewmaster’s Table by Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery, I’ve taken a bit more of an appreciation of just what different styles of beer can accomplish when paired — using intent and a little knowledge — with food. Good meals can become, well, transformative experiences with the right pairing of beer and dish of choice (try a weissbier with good bratwurst, kraut, and mustard to get an idea). This day was one of those for me, but then I have yet to meet an unworthy dish at any of the M’tucci’s establishments, so go and try it for yourself.

The day continued in excellence to the nightcap, which was my last bottle of my favorite beer, batch one of Avery’s Tweak from 2014. If you know anything about us in the Dark Side, there are few beers we do not consider “sessionable.” This one is, in fact, a sipper. Deep waves of darkness from malts and coffee and barrel create, to my palate, the pinnacle of what beer can be. This is not some one-trick animal, either. Layered subtle echoes, shades of the dead, tendrils of the darkest fears and … er, malts, roasted, toasted, burned at the stake … clearly, perfection! Grab a bottle and find out for yourself.

Skål!

— Franz Solo

Back to the Winchester

A man cannot live off beer alone. Brats and fries are also necessary parts of a healthy diet.

I had another overdue visit this weekend. Sunday afternoon, I stopped at Quarter Celtic after an almost two-month hiatus. Quarter Celtic may be my favorite neighborhood-pub-style vibe kind of brewery in the ABQ area. I feel regular-ish, even if I go only once every couple months.

I started with the VP30, which is a Festbier commemorating the 30th anniversary of Village Pizza of Corrales and Albuquerque. The anniversary was celebrated earlier in the month, but this clean, well-balanced, and true-to-style beer carries on. After a few refreshing gulps, my banger in a bun arrived. This sausage was properly presented on a fresh pretzel bun with whole-grain mustard and purple kraut. I didn’t plan it, but of course, it paired perfectly with the VP30.

For dessert I happily lapped up a MacLomas Stout. I tend to think of Dry Irish Stouts as the “lagers of stouts.” They are the younger cousins of the bigger, bolder stouts that we tend to champion in the NM Dark Side Brew Crew. However, I found myself content with this not-so-dry, and slightly creamy with a little bit of roastiness, 5.4-percent ABV-packing stout.

— Andrew

Aggie up, Lobo fan

Cheers to the weekend gone by!

For my weekend beer-cap, my craft connoisseur-ing was pretty much broken down into post IPA Challenge Final celebrations and the recovery stages. Much fun was had Saturday, and many beers certainly were drank in honor of another Challenge in the books, but what stood out the most was a fresh cold one straight from Bosque North’s new canning machine. In my experience, it doesn’t get much better than a can straight from the line, shared amongst beer friends, regardless of beer style and the college team on the side of the can. (Go Lobos! Haha.) Thank you Mr. Bullard for the full tour and your excellent hospitality! The Crew won’t soon forget.

— Luke

Blue Corn’s Gatekeeper IPA is the overall leader at the NM IPA Challenge after two rounds.

OK, fine, I give up. Weekend Beer-cap will now be a Tuesday feature, not Monday. Turns out it can be hard for folks to get things together Sunday night, myself included.

It was quite the weekend. Franz Solo and I joined a group of beer-loving friends for another epic tasting and bottle share. We indulged in a seven-year vertical of Surly Darkness, a wonderful imperial stout from Minnesota. That was followed by many other beers. Many. So many. (Sunday at work was rough.)

Anyway, I could continue to brag about drinking a slew of beers not available in New Mexico, but instead I will let the rest of the Crew talk about their more local adventures.

Brunch brews at Devon’s Wood Fired Grill

Delicious food and a wide beer selection make Devon’s an eatery worth visiting.

Early Sunday afternoon, I satisfied my brunch needs at Devon’s Wood Fired Grill. We had a Crew dinner at Devon’s a few weeks back and I had an itch to return. Brunch was the perfect occasion. From Devon’s 32 New Mexico craft beer options, I selected La Cumbre’s fruit smoothie of an IPA, Guavarama. It’s subtle and refreshing fruitiness paired well with Pop’s Hash, a lighter breakfast dish consisting of veggies and potatoes topped with a poached egg (I managed to resist the red chile chorizo chilaquiles, but I’ll be back). Devon’s brunch runs from 10:30 a.m. To 2 p.m. on Sundays, and it’s worth checking out for dinner and/or drinks any night of the week.

— Andrew

Farewell to a friendly taproom

Some of the final pints at Monks’ Corner, which will close on July 31.

Four of us went to Monks’ Corner on Friday night to say goodbye to the taproom in the current space at Third and Silver. When we got there just before 6:30 p.m., there were a handful of customers. But, by the time the live music started just after 7, the place was completely full. It was a festive, if slightly woeful final visit for us. Two of us had the Dark Ale and two had the Dubbel Ale. I couldn’t help but feel a little nervous for the staff who may not have jobs for a while; but, they were still very professional, and service was good despite the size of the crowd. We will miss this taproom. Hopefully there are good things to come in the very near future for Monks’.

— AmyO

Hopping around Santa Fe

The haze craze has hit Santa Fe Brewing.

For my weekend recap, IPA was certainly the name of the game. It was the second leg of the IPA Challenge in Santa Fe, and I guess I just couldn’t get enough hops into my system. Thursday through Saturday, due to meetings, errands, and pal hangs, I put my taste buds through hop boot camp. Whether I was preparing them for Saturday’s competition or just pounding them into soapy submission, I got around to trying three of the IPA Challenge beers around town, very much on accident.

Santa Fe Brewing Company’s “Murky,” a bigger, likely more dry-hopped version of their Reluctant Hazy IPA, was an excellent beer. I’m not at all here to battle whether hazies are here to stay. As will all styles that took some time to accept, I say, “Just make them well.” And SFBC has done so once again.

Second Street’s Hoppy Balboa packs a punch.

Second Street’s Hoppy Balboa felt like it pulled a few punches this year. Perhaps that was my very foamy first pour — there were draft line issues, but not cleanliness issues, mind you. Perhaps it was just pressure, but I don’t think I really ever saw this beer’s Eye of the Tiger. I’ll get back in the ring with this one soon. Until then, thanks for the puns.

Blue Corn’s Gatekeeper, the current leader in the IPA Challenge, reminded me more of a finely honed, but certainly “upped” version of their house Road Runner IPA. It’s a well-brewed beer, and I know the Blue Corn boys really worked hard on this one. I think, perhaps, it stands out because it’s clean while keeping its powerful aroma and flavor even as it warms.

All in all, you should try them all in full pours. That’s the only way to really get to know a beer, in my opinion. To all the brewers, and what you do with those wonderful hops, cheers!

— Luke

The Test Batch #3, left, and Gondola Party Starter XH are two excellent double IPAs now available at Quarter Celtic.

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.

— Stoutmeister

Now for the rest of the Crew … (more…)

The Crew ventured far and wide for beer over the weekend, but at least two of our members found themselves at the new Tractor Westside Taproom.

For the first time in a while, the Crew is trying out a new weekly feature. We may, or may not, keep the name Weekend Beer-cap, but the idea is that each of us in the Crew will relate a quick tale of our favorite beer-related experience from the prior weekend. In the future, this will usually run on Mondays, at least in those weeks where enough of us have something to write about.

On with the show.

West Side is the best side?

This past week was filled with hot dogs, fireworks, and a slew of interesting occurrences. Some of the more delightful of those included making it over to Tractor Brewing’s new Westside Taproom. The entire venue is open to natural light, with massive vaulted ceilings and windows to match. We were able to stop by Toltec Brewing as well this week, enjoying their Altbier for the first time, with impressive and complex malt character as ABQ endured the heavy rain.

— Jerrad

Holiday bonus

Check out the new pilsner at Rio Bravo if you get the chance.

This was an unusual week with a holiday right in the middle. It was like having half a weekend extra, which did not suck. It was not enough time to go away somewhere, but we did spend the night of July 3 at Route 66 Casino, just for something silly to do. I can happily report that Thunder Road Steakhouse & Cantina inside off the casino floor has multiple (it looked like around 10) local beer taps. So we enjoyed some of those as well as nachos.

When we checked out of the hotel the next morning, we continued our mini-staycation with a road trip up Unser to the new Tractor on the west side. That is one great space! All three of us road trippers chose the Imma Pale Ale. Then we trekked over to Nexus on Pan American to get a snack to hold us over until a 6 p.m. holiday barbecue. At Nexus we filled up growlers of Red and IPA for the night’s festivities. All in all, a very nice holiday.

On Friday evening, we went to Rio Bravo to see a friend play music. The brewery was more crowded than I have seen it on previous visits. We sampled some of the newer beers, and they were pretty good. The pilsner, in particular, was super clean. But, me being me and all, I still ordered a barrel-aged stout.

Saturday night we went to Dukes retro night at Isotopes Park and sadly watched the “Dukes” lose a nail biter to the Tacoma Rainiers. I drank Odell, sorry!

— AmyO

Don’t waffle on visiting Bow & Arrow

The picture may be slightly out of focus, but the Waffle Bandit Stout was on point.

This is not a time of year for many special releases on the darker side of the beer spectrum, so it was quite nice to see Bow & Arrow recently release its new Waffle Bandit Stout. With a spot of free time available, I finally headed over to the brewery to check it out. At only 5.7-percent ABV, one can enjoy more than a single pour, but man oh man, I do hope they craft an imperial version and barrel age that sucker. For now, the current iteration will do just fine. The nose is all maple and waffle dough, and the initial flavor is almost overpowering in the sweetness. As the beer warms, though, it creates a three-layered approach. The maple holds up front, though it is not cloying or overpowering. In the middle is the big stout roast, chewier than the ABV would indicate. On the back end, the Belgian yeast esters pop to the surface. There is a lot going on in this beer, and I will certainly head back to Bow & Arrow for a second tasting just to make sure my palate did not play any tricks on me.

— Stoutmeister

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That’s all from us for this week. Expect lots of tales of hops, or possibly of getting away from hops, next week!

Cheers!

— The NMDSBC