Archive for the ‘Weekend Beer-cap’ Category

It’s definitely not the best picture of our always-in-motion Metal Mayor, but we were happy to see him at a local brewery.

A long winter nap is becoming more and more tempting, but there are beers to drink, and the Crew kept after them this past weekend.

My weekend started early, as per usual, but it was more of a working weekend, with trips to Marble and Tractor to interview staffers for our Look Back/Look Ahead Series. After leaving Wells Park on Wednesday, I made my way to La Cumbre, as an old friend of the Crew tipped us off that Mayor Tim Keller would be making an appearance. I was not able to bend his ear, but I did still get to enjoy some Pecos Porter and catch up with some readers who were enjoying some afternoon beers. Though the Pecos does not get the hype of other LC beers, it remains a solid, sessionable dark beer that fits the winter chill.

There are two more special Brickie Stout casks to come at Steel Bender.

After a proper metal show with birthday boy Derek on Thursday night, I took it easy Friday night. By Saturday, it was time to head out again. Steel Bender has again had its 4 Casks of Christmas series every Saturday in December. They take the Brickie American Stout and infuse it with some other tasty elements, stick ’em in a cask, and watch everyone enjoy. This edition was special, as our own Franz Solo and old friend David Facey developed the French Toast Brickie. It was a delicious beer, with the sweetness of the maple syrup working in concert with the roasty malts. This Saturday will see another version, Fruity Chocolate Tart. Make sure to grab one or more of these wonderful brews while you still can this holiday season.

Speaking of the holiday season, Crew members found reasons for giving, and reasons to avoid the mass marketing rush and instead indulge in local beer and food.

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The Pining for Breakfast Maple Brown at Red Door joins the pantheon of wonderful dessert beers in town.

The weekend was humming along at such a nice pace, and then the Steelers went out and f@#$ed it all up for me. It’s hard being a sports fan, but these days it’s easy being a beer lover. My weekend actually kicked off back on Thursday with trips to Marble Downtown and Marble Heights to interview a number of staff members for an upcoming Look Back/Look Ahead Series article. Naturally, I also got to partake in a few beers, because that’s the reward in advance for the hours of upcoming transcription.

First up, Ye’ Olde Ale is a delicious concoction made in collaboration with the Marble Beers in Manchester, England. A proper, 9.7-percent ABV English strong ale was aged in port wine barrels, with a little bit of brettanomyces thrown in for fun. The result is a complex beer that, in many ways, probably should not work together, but the warming alcohol and thick malt mixes wonderfully with the funky brett and sweet wine flavors. Also available were the Northside IPA and Alpha Acid Trip (Triple IPA), both of which had many of the best characteristics of what I still love in the style, with a piney touch to go with the more fruity and floral hops, plus enough of a malt backbone to keep them from drying out the palate. I also had more Reserve Ale, which has already run its course in bottle form, but remains on tap for now. It is a delightful batch this year, so if you have not had it, you are dead to me. (Just kidding. Well, maybe.)

From there, I grabbed a friend and headed over to Red Door for the release of the new Pining for Breakfast Maple Brown. I have had my fair share of maple-infused stouts in recent years, but for a lighter beer in color and mouthfeel, this brown held up well and did not allow the maple to turn it into a sugar bomb. The folks at New Mexico Piñon Coffee supplied the beans that brought in a nice coffee character to help balance everything out. Red Door has been churning out some quality seasonals for a while now, so make sure to snag a pint of this one and raise it high in honor of head brewer Matt Meier and his staff.

For Friday night, I trekked to the west side to catch up with a good friend and finally indulge in a long overdue pizza-and-beer night. We found room at the bar at the Blue Grasshopper location off Coors. While a number of the beers I wanted to drink had run out, the remainder (Boxing Bear’s Body Czech, La Cumbre’s BEER and Dunkelweizen) were more than enough. Throw in some really good pizza and even better company (thanks, Jess!), and it was a good night.

I picked up a trifecta of excellent brews from a beer-trading friend (thanks, Majin!) and stayed in on Saturday, a little too worn out from work to venture beyond the confines of home. As for Sunday, well, at least I didn’t punch the TV or anything. How a team blows a 23-7 lead at home is beyond me.

As for the rest of the Crew, two of them ended up joining forces for part of their weekend, while another ventured out of town for one of her favorite annual festivals.

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The beer fridge overflows with all the stout-y goodness.

Thanksgiving was kinda fuzzy, man. At least that seems to be the case for most of us, as the sheer number of holiday brews left the bulk of the Crew speechless (or, at least, unable to write). It was a tad overwhelming.

First up, Wednesday saw a quick trip to Tractor for a four-pack of Turkey Drool. Yeah, didn’t need the half-growler this year. It’s been my personal tradition to always make the TD the first beer of every Thanksgiving. It makes the bad Lions and Cowboys football go down so much easier.

After that little treat, Friday brought a shorter-than-usual line at Jubilation for the annual Black Friday cellar sale. The barrel-aged Expedition Stout from Bell’s topped my personal list, so I walked out with two of those, one 2016 Uncle Jacob’s from Avery, a 2015 Barrel-Aged Narwhal from Sierra Nevada, and, yeah, had to get one Bourbon County Brand Stout and see if it still holds up (Jubilation did not receive any variants, which was disappointing this year).

Since I still have a huge stout haul from a friend’s cellar sale a few months back, I limited myself to just those five bottles. Oh, but alas, the locals beckoned me back out in the afternoon.

I joined Franz Solo at Boxing Bear for the always excellent VantaBlack Russian Imperial Stout, with this year’s batch in bottles, and a 3-year-old barrel-aged version on tap only. I am sad to report that the BA is out, but you can still buy bottles at the brewery, as I made sure to do. Next time around, head brewer Justin Hamilton assured us, he will make sure to bottle some of the barrel-aged batch, too.

The good folks at Bosque were simultaneously spreading the word over social media that their Fresh Start Breakfast Stout was on tap, so I hit up the San Mateo location on my way back. It’s just as good as ever, a sweet treat that paired oh-so-well with leftover dessert. A four-pack of that accompanied me home.

It was back to work for me on Saturday, after which I really needed more beer. My original plan was to stay in, drink some of those stouts, and watch terrible movies, but friends dragged me out to Quarter Celtic. The Oat Face Killer (Oatmeal Stout) was delightful, tasting way heavier more than a 5.1-percent beer should.

As for the rest of the Crew, only AmyO was able to put her thoughts together in printed form, which is remarkable considering the Lobo-sized headache she dealt with after another dismal season of hand-egg just ended.

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Cheers to Metal Monday at Tumbleroot!

It can be hard for all of us down in Albuquerque to join Luke for a beer in Santa Fe, but Monday was Veteran’s Day observed for all federal, state, and local government entities, which left me with a day off and a chance to finally attend a Metal Monday at Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery’s Agua Fria taproom.

After Luke assured me that the streets of Santa Fe were free of ice, I drove north and first made my way to Second Street O.G. for some chicken mushroom schnitzel and a pint of the Old Pecos Porter. With a proper amount of sustenance now in my belly, Luke and I made the short drive to the taproom. It was a bit of a winter wonderland out on the patio, with the temperature well below freezing and the snow still lingering there.

We went inside to the rather spacious interior and grabbed beers as Street Tombs warmed up on stage. By the time Albuquerque’s Distances played, the entire joint had filled up with 100-plus metalheads who braved the cold (as I noted to my friend Kristen, it was 19 degrees out, but felt like 12, to which she responded, “I didn’t need to know that!”). The sound system at Tumbleroot more than did its job, leaving all the bands sounding quite good. Distances sounded even better than their last show at Launchpad.

Luke predicted that a good number of Santa Fe brewers would show up, and he was right. From Blue Corn’s Paul Mallory to his former assistant, Andy Lane (now with Tumbleroot), to Wes from Rowley Farmhouse Ales and David Merkin from Santa Fe Brewing, it was quite the gathering of metal-loving beer minds. Merkin brought us some Dysphotic Stout, since his old band was the headliner for its CD release (seriously, get the new Dysphotic album, it is quite spectacular), and Street Tombs (Black) Ale. The stout was on point, not quite as heavily dry-hopped as in the previous year’s batch, but it still offered up quite a kick. I personally want to try it side-by-side with Marble’s Cholo Stout.

As for the house beers, I had a full pour of the Irish Stout, since it was just 3.8-percent (!) ABV, and I still had the drive home ahead of me. Being a good beer writer and all, I did try samples of the Honey Hibiscus Wheat, Old School IPA, and Oktoberfest. The Irish Stout was deceptively rich and creamy for such a low ABV. The Old School IPA took me back in time about a decade or so. The Oktoberfest was good, but it was definitely the sweetest take on the style by any New Mexico brewery that I tried this year. The Honey Hibiscus was rather mild, as expected.

Overall, I was quite impressed by Tumbleroot, from the setup for the music, to the beers on tap. Hopefully I get the chance to attend a future Metal Monday or two.

As for the rest of the Crew, it was a bit of a quiet weekend, but three of them got out and about.

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Bow & Arrow stole all the flavor and put it in the Breakfast Bandit.

A pair of delicious seasonal stouts appeared on tap for International Stout Day last Thursday, and to the surprise of no one, of course I went and tried both of them.

First up was Breakfast Bandit, the latest in Bow & Arrow’s series of pastry stouts. Checking in at 9-percent ABV, it is the biggest to date. Made with 240 Krispy Kreme glazed donuts and a whole lot of local coffee, the flavor is stronger with the latter than the former. There is still a fair amount of sweetness on the back end, but it doesn’t leave you wanting to rush home and brush your teeth to avoid a cavity or anything. Mostly, it is a big blast of coffee roast, with an appropriate amount of thickness in terms of the mouthfeel. As the stout warms, it gets even more complex. This is one of those beers where you might end up drinking a couple before you even realize it, so make sure you can handle the higher ABV.

For the second stout, Mustaches and Cream, that came with a group visit to Canteen. Franz Solo, Brandon, and I were meeting to discuss our applicants for the open writing spots on the Crew. Naturally, we stuck with tradition and ordered the darkest seasonal on the menu. Made with chocolate and vanilla, M&C is a burly stout, one that does not hit you with too much sweetness. Brandon tasted a lot of coffee in this one, even though technically there was no coffee in it. The powerful roast of the stout balances out with the sweeter additives. Even better, a portion of the proceeds of this beer go to Movember.

A couple other beers worth checking out around town are the Citra SMASH at Red Door and the Wee Stache, the collaboration Scotch ale at both Steel Bender and High and Dry, with proceeds from that tasty brew also going to Movember.

The rest of the Crew were off and running around town, revisiting some old favorite haunts.

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Andrew, center, found fellow Crew member Reid, right, and former Crew member Julie at the Beer Premiere.

It was quite the busy weekend for the Crew, so naturally in trying to type this up, ye ole work wi-fi would crap out on me at lunchtime. Sigh, that is what you get sometimes for not getting this all done the night before. Anyway, fear not, The Week Ahead in Beer is coming later today, then we will be back on our usual schedule.

My beer weekend was actually fairly light. The combination of Halloween-related events and the final (sniff) Lobo men’s soccer game took up my time. I did end up on 3,999 unique beers on Untappd, so I had to come up with a worthy beer for 4,000. After examining the archives, I dug up an Old Perseverance, a monstrous (18.5% ABV) old ale from Avery. After a rather terrible Monday at work, it was the perfect antidote.

Yeah, not terribly exciting, but with some awesome beers all debuting Thursday, I will be back at the breweries next weekend.

As for the rest of the Crew, they were all over the place, again. Andrew even sent in a double post, of sorts.

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Where was this when most of us are in college? We just had whatever swill was in the keg.

This past Thursday marked a return of sorts of “guest lecturer” Stoutmeister, which was my role again in the Geography 180 “World of Beer” class at the University of New Mexico. This time I had to ramble on for close an hour (Q&A included) about the great beer history of our state to a bunch of new students. It was fun, and in the end, I did not lose my voice (the class comes highly recommended, too, if you want a good education in all aspects of craft beer). It did, however, make me thirsty for beer after talking about so much beer.

Oh, college life, how far you have come since my days at the University of Arizona. Now I just joined a few students and Professor Maria Lane at Draft & Table, the new on-campus craft beer taproom in the Student Union. It was my first visit since its recent opening, and it was rather nice to see the completion of a project that (now former) students spoke to me about years ago. While their plan called for the conversion of the pool hall on the lower level, the final project was completed on the top floor in the southeast corner of the building, right next to most of the mall-style food court.

That’s a pretty darn solid lineup.

There was an impressive collection of varied beers from breweries across the state. I snagged a pint of Monks’ Dark Night, since I missed having that cookie-like stout since Monk’s Corner closed downtown. Others grabbed some of the gourmet, flatbread pizzas. There were other tasty-looking foods on the small menu, which is always good to pair food with beer.

Some of the students complained the place was a bit too bright; it has huge windows looking out to the south, so those could use some drop-down shades. Taprooms do not have to be dark caves, but nor does everyone want to be watched by all those poor, thirsty under-21-year-olds outside. The joint needs a happy middle ground between the dark and the light.

Throw some shades on those windows and this place will be set.

Overall, I was impressed with what UNM has managed to do with the space. Like I have written many times before, it is far easier to create craft beer fans out of folks between the ages of 21 and 30 than it is between 51 and 60. Introducing college students to craft beer and moving them away from binge-drinking culture is a good thing. Clearly, too, professors do not mind having a place to stop for a pint on their way out the door.

My only other stop this weekend was a quick one at Bosque, where my friend Kristen and I greatly enjoyed some of the Watchfire, a potent-yet-smooth Scottish Wee Heavy. I would print her exact response to the beer, but then I would probably be in trouble, because it was a wee bit naughty. Let’s just say that she was not wrong, as it was rather decadent.

Anyway, enough about my random trip back into the halls of higher education, here is what the rest of the Crew managed to find over the course of the weekend.

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The Crew was represented at the NM Brew Fest by, from left, Andrew, Reid, and AmyO.

Well, that was quite the weekend. Of all the Crew, I may have done the least craft beer drinking, which is quite weird. Hey, I am single and do not have a kid, but I also have a screwy work schedule and missed the ninth annual New Mexico Brew Fest. Boo.

Anyway, I did get around a little bit. My quest to try all the local Oktoberfest-style beers continued with stops at Ponderosa (quite good, quite traditional) and Bow & Arrow (also quite good, but a little more bready and dry). I also found some of the last remaining cans of Steel Bender’s OktoberFiesta at Jubilation when I was sent on a beer run for a post-NMBF party.

Then the weather changed and it became stout season. That is a story for next week, however.

Here are the rest of the Crew’s weekend adventures. Let’s just say they all had a lot of fun, and a lot of beers, and everyone survived to tell the tales.

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There are a whole lot of Oktoberfest-style beers on tap around the metro area right now.

A whopping five more Oktoberfest-style beers went on tap in the Albuquerque metro area last week, joining multiple marzens that have already been on tap for a while. With so many wonderful lagers available, I just had to get out there and try as many as possible. My plan totally worked for two days, until a combination of sports (NHL openers and MLB playoffs mostly) and the need to watch season three of The Expanse caused me to fall behind. One of these years I will get to them all.

Anyway, my first three stops were Sidetrack, Boese Brothers, and Marble. I rather enjoyed Sidetrack’s offering, which did not overdo the sweetness. It was a solid, crushable beer, befitting the laid-back atmosphere of the pub. The Boese Brothers offering had been on tap for a while now. It did not quite have the flavor impact I had hoped for, but age may have been a factor. As for Marble, it was less of a marzen and more of a straight German lager. It is still a quality beer, as one would expect from brewmaster Josh Trujillo. I also got to try the Kottbusser collaboration beer, which was sweet yet bready, and the Jimmy Bock, a chewy little tribute to Shiner Bock.

Day two of the Oktober-quest took me to Toltec for lunch a pint of another tasty offering. I would like to try it side-by-side with Sidetrack, as both had many of the same tasty qualities. My final stop was at Bosque on the way home. Again, it was a bit lighter lager than the more copper-colored marzens of yore, but it was again a clean, balanced beer. A few years ago, the Oktoberfests had almost disappeared from taps in favor of the pumpkin beer fad, but thankfully that passed and now we are blessed with multiple marzens and lagers.

What is your favorite Oktoberfest on tap this fall? Yes, you can still include some from a few weeks back, like Santa Fe and La Cumbre.

Now for the rest of the Crew’s adventures from the past weekend.

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The pretzels were on point at Marblefest.

This was one of those weekends where most of us should have been in recovery mode, but the beer events (and metal shows) would not allow us to rest.

For me, the in-town fun was this past Thursday, when I took a trip out to Turtle Mountain to celebrate owner Nico Ortiz’s “39th” birthday and the recent gold medal that head brewer Mick Hahn brought home from the Great American Beer Festival. I thought we were just going to raise a pint of the Wooden Teeth and then I could head out, but noooooo, Mick had to go and bust out a whole bunch of beers from various places for us all to try. Darn it, Mick. Darn, darn, darn. Anyway, the Wooden Teeth tasted great, as a gold-medal winner should, and it was nice to see so many of Nico’s longtime friends and customers stop by to wish him a happy birthday and congrats on the medal.

From there, it was off to Steel Bender for the OktoberFiesta. The chef and his kitchen staff should be applauded for a delicious jaegerschnitzel, which is not an easy thing to make, especially as the place filled up and more and more folks stormed in wanting a plate. I was also happy to be one of the last people to get a commemorative mug, even though I need another piece of glassware (or ceramic-ware, in this case) like I need a hole in the head. Sadly, we also drank up all the OktoberFiesta beer. Who thinks we should petition the brewing staff to make another batch? Huh, even my parents have their arms raised.

Anyway, for the rest of the Crew (minus poor Luke, too sick to drink this weekend), here are their latest adventures in beer.

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