Posts Tagged ‘#albuquerque’

Brewology—The taste of homebrew

Posted: April 2, 2012 by Brandon Daniel in Beer Science, News
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Greetings to all, it’s your old friend Cryptogrind here with another installment of Brewology!  The culmination of lots of hard work, careful monitoring, and a liberal amounts of grains and hops finally reached the palate this past weekend, and we were all eagerly anticipating this day.  So what better way to celebrate than a party with ribs, brats, and other assorted meats?  Oh yes, there were plenty of grilled veggie alternatives for our vegan friend Shilling.  Food, friends, good tunes, and homebrew … all the makings of an excellent day.

The ESB is finally unveiled. The NMDSBC rejoices.

If you’ve been following the Brewology articles, you will recall that the homebrew in questions was an ESB … or so we thought.  After some research into this type of recipe, it could more accurately be labeled as an ESB/English Brown hybrid.  The good folks over at Victor’s Grape Arbor put together some tasty looking recipe kits based on their own house recipes, which is where this particular brew came to light.  My personal tastes also led me to this beer; plus, knowing the friends I’d be sharing this particular brew with, I figured it would be a solid bet for a first homebrew attempt.  And it certainly yielded enjoyable results.

With Shilling, Stoutmeister, and E-Rock all in attendance, we proceeded to pop a few bottles and have our first taste.  Upon first appearance, you immediately noticed that this was a rich beer with a color that gravitated towards the dark amber side of the spectrum.  It had a thick head, with an appropriate level of carbonation for the style.  The aromas gravitated towards the nut varieties; everyone seemed to agree it possessed the comforting and tasty aroma of banana nut bread.  Upon first taste you will get a few of the characteristics of an ESB, but those are quickly taken over by a smooth malty coating on the entire palate that left a pleasant, lingering medley of grains.  The mouth feel was somewhat thick and rich, which subsides after a few seconds to a mellow malty sensation.  The Kent Golding hops are present in the beginning, as are the Hallerteau hops at the finish, albeit in an extremely subtle way.

Going for a swim...

Shilling's red takes an ice bath before going into the fermenter.

After several were passed around to the other members of our shindig, the general consensus was that this was a surprisingly easy drinking beer, considering the richness.  My first impression upon the first few sips was that it starts off a bit shy, but leaves with smile and laughter once that pint or bottle is empty.  At an estimated 5.5-percent ABV, this is a brew that won’t leave you having to call a friend or a taxi after only a pint or two.  After tasting this, I considered boiling some of our delicious brats in a bit of the ESB before throwing them on the grill, but ultimately decided I would simply enjoy it straight from the bottle.  Overall, everyone enjoyed the drinkability and the overall flavor of my first homebrew, and I couldn’t be happier to make that claim.

At the same time, Shilling has been bitten by the homebrewing bug himself, and has started the process of brewing his very own red ale.  As for myself, I also jumped right back into the fermenter (so to speak), and began a batch of a style I am a huge fan of — a delicious vanilla porter.  I wanted to stick to something that would match the spring season, but I could not resist the urge to brew a nice complex beer with a lot of grain variety (and those oh-so-soothing vanilla beans).  Brewing and primary fermentation has already commenced on both of these brews, so I will keep you posted on the progress in the coming weeks.  Until next time, I bid you a tall, frothy, cold one!


— Cryptogrind


After a really busy week, just about every member of the Crew is looking forward to this weekend. Anyone that reads this blog probably realized that, considering we did not come with a single post since the previous Beer Weekend entry that went up last Friday. Rest assured, Shilling and Cryptogrind will have multiple posts up soon (or so their editor hopes).

Rather than just hang around ABQ all weekend, I, Stoutmeister, will accompany E-Rock to Northern New Mexico, where four breweries have been crying out for us to visit. Well, maybe not crying out, but we like to think that the beer gods do sometimes summon us to take beer treks beyond the metro area.

The Scottish Ale on tap here is among the best beers in the state.

Before anybody starts screaming “don’t you love ABQ breweries anymore?!” I would like to point out that I have visited La Cumbre, Tractor, and Il Vicino while also enjoying Marble Monday at Old Town Pizza Parlor since I returned from Arizona. This weekend, though, represents one of the last opportunities for some time to trek northward to the Taos area to check out the breweries there (I cover the Isotopes in addition to the Lobo baseball team, and the season opener is next week, which tends to cut into my weekend availability). So E-Rock and I will hit the winding road Saturday morning to visit Blue Heron Brewing, which sits along Highway 68 en route to Taos, before a side trek to Comanche Creek Brewing north of Eagle Nest, and finally stops at Taos’ two in-town breweries, Eske’s Brew Pub and the Taos Ale House. I have never had beers from either Comanche Creek or the Ale House, so I am very much looking forward to trying both. Blue Heron’s online menu lists the La Llorona Scottish Ale as being back on tap; Shilling and I voted it our favorite, not just in that style, but overall at Marble’s Septemberfest last year. A growler or at least a 22 oz. bottle will be coming home from that stop. We look forward to trying all four breweries and hope that they will come down to ABQ for the Blues & Brews mega-event that caps Beer Week on May 27.

Taos Ale House, the area’s newest brewery, will have an Imperial IPA, a Dunkelweizen and an English pale ale on tap, along with something that sounds so intriguing we just have to try it: a honey raspberry porter. Brewer/owner Jesse Cook said he hopes to have it on tap when we are there, but we understand if he was not able to get it ready in time (fatherhood takes precedence over beer). If it is on tap, man, we’ll just have to sample that curious mix of flavors.

Comanche Creek has an IPA, amber, and a pale ale listed on the Web site, but if any surprises are in store, well gosh we will just have to live with drinking those, too.

As for Eske’s, the “grandaddy” brewery of the region, their last Facebook photo of their beer board (cheaper and more efficient than constantly updating their Web site) showed some intriguing beers like Victory Bitter, Black Cat Ale, Turbinator, Doobie Rock Heller Bock, and Seco Stout. Eske’s also has a tendency to display lots of photos of their culinary creations on Facebook, so Saturday might very well mark a great time to indulge in some food as well.

The rest of the Crew will be around town, visiting local breweries and trying the latest creation, a homebrewed chocolate stout, from our good friend Derek. We are also happy to report the return to health of Franz Solo, who will be back posting soon after a long beerless drought.

Stay safe and have fun this weekend!


— Stoutmeister

La Cumbre is at it again. Just when beer lovers thought the hops were in full command of the brewery, Jeff Erway and company flipped the script and concocted an Irish red ale and an oatmeal stout, perfect for March. With Shilling and the Professor Emeritus of Beer in tow, I dropped on by LC on Thursday afternoon after the weekly UNM baseball press conference. It sure felt like spring outside at Isotopes Park, where the grass is greener, the players are more upbeat (winning six of seven will do that), and the winds are (temporarily) at bay.

The Professor Emeritus finishes his Irish Red Ale as the Chew and Swallow oatmeal stout arrives at La Cumbre.

Over at the brewery, we tried the Irish Red Ale first. It is a smooth, crisp beer, offering up only a slight hint of its East Kent Golding hops. The red offers up tremendous drinkability, similar to many of the styles I tried in Arizona, but with more flavor. As far as reds go, it is very different than Marble’s red, much closer to the Irish red over at Il Vicino, just a bit less sweet. The caramel and roasted malt flavors blend together nicely, finishing with a little dry kick. Unlike many La Cumbre beers, it is also very light from an ABV standpoint, checking in at just 4.6 percent. This is definitely a kick-back-and-relax beer, not the kind that would start an old-fashioned Irish bar brawl, despite the fact it is made entirely with British ingredients. Grab a few pints and catch up on the Premier League action this weekend. (Go Newcastle!)

For our second helping, we picked up the uniquely named Chew and Swallow, an oatmeal stout. This is a smooth, thick, delicious beer that would likewise feel at home in a pub with football (soccer) on the telly. It does not have the bite or bitterness commonly associated with stouts, including La Cumbre’s Malpais Stout. This is not a chocolate stout, but instead an obsidian elixir that just redefines the term “smooth” for beers. For those who usually do not drink stouts, this one will give you the illusion of filling you up. It is certainly thicker than, say, Guinness, but it is just an illusion. You can drink two of these (at 6.5 percent ABV, I would not recommend three unless you pass off your car keys to a friend/significant other) and still avoid having to go run five miles the next day to work it off.

Other seasonal beers on tap right now are the VMO #2, a German-style lager, plus the Dubbel Entendre, the hyper-flavored Belgian that is nearing the end of its run, and Barley’s Wine, the 10.8-percent ABV powerhouse of the brewery. When the Dubbel runs out, prepare for the arrival of Acclimated IPA, a new double IPA that is sure to unleash a furious hop onslaught of joy upon the many fans of the style.

It is a set to be a gorgeous weekend outside, but still take the time to head over to La Cumbre to indulge in these tasty seasonal beers, or go over, fill your growler, and enjoy from the comfort of you backyard.


— Stoutmeister

It always helps to have other members of the Crew around at certain times.

In this latest update in the Brewology series, I will take you through the bottling process, which is arguably the simplest step in brewing your own beer, as I found out.  It also turns out to be a great way to gather friends together; what better way to promote bonding than by helping out with bottling some delicious home brewed beer?

After approximately a week in the secondary fermenter, the ESB was ready to take the leap into bottling.  The majority of time was spent with Shilling and myself doing our prep work, which meant sterilizing all of our equipment, bottles, etc. As a first-time homebrewer, I can tell you once again that cleaning and sterilization is going to be one of your main keys to getting the best tasting beer.  There are a lot of products available to aid in this process, and I’ll discuss them further on.  As a time-saving tip, I would recommend doing your cleaning and sterilization well ahead of time; you don’t want to spend hours cleaning bottles and gear when you were planning to start bottling early in the evening.  Needless to say, we found this out the hard way, as we started much later then we had planned.  But trial and error can lead to good lessons for future use.

My new bottling hat. We take ourselves very seriously.

We proceeded to siphon the brew into my bottling bucket from the glass carboy in order to filter out the last bit of sediment that was remaining.  After this, we simply took the priming sugar, which was dissolved in warm water, and slowly stirred it in the beer.  Again we started a siphon and were ready to begin bottling.  This went very quickly, as we started a DIY assembly line with myself filling bottles and Shilling capping them; it was as easy as that.  The brewing kit I purchased came with a large bag of caps and a dual lever capper, as well as the bottle filling attachment.

From start to finish, the bottling itself took about a half an hour, after which we stored the bottles away in cases and in a cool part of the house where they will be sitting for about another week to attain adequate carbonation.  Now we simply play the waiting game again, and we shall finally get to reap the benefits of all the hard work and enjoy a (hopefully) delicious ESB!

Shilling demonstrates proper technique

The rest of the Crew and a few friends will be having a BBQ to taste my brew, as well as my good friend Derek’s chocolate stout that is carbonating at the same time.  Next time I will be doing a quick review of the beers, as well as discussing recipes and equipment for future use as well.  So to my brothers and sisters of beer, I bid you farewell, until next time …


— Cryptogrind

This week has been just a tad chaotic. At least for the sports writer in this group, who has barely had a chance to breathe while spending hours at the Pit and Santa Ana Star Center.

The good news is the weekend is almost upon us, which means the high school basketball tournament is almost over, and it means the first great beer road trip for Crew members is about to kick off.

Along with my trusty right-hand man, E-Rock, I will be trekking to our neighboring state of Arizona on Sunday to begin a week of baseball games and brewery visits. Starting with Flagstaff’s ubiquitous Beaver Street Brewery and continuing through the many breweries of Maricopa County and then Tucson, E-Rock and Stoutmeister’s Excellent (Beer) Adventure is about to begin.

As for the rest of the Crew, well, they’ll still be around to hold down the fort in Albuquerque. Here are the weekend plans for those staying in NM, and for E-Rock and Stoutmeister before they blaze a trail westward …

E-Rock, left, and the Stoutmeister will hit the road for baseball and beer in Arizona this weekend.

Stoutmeister: If I have time, I will try to visit a brewery Saturday night. I’d go somewhere Friday after the Lobo baseball game (yeah, doing that on top of daytime hoops, I am probably insane) but a few bands I know are playing at non-beer establishments and I should stop by to say hello to my musician friends. Otherwise, in addition to Beaver Street on Sunday the plan is to head up from our crash-pad in Chandler to one of the breweries in Tempe that isn’t Four Peaks — always a favorite, but the idea is to visit some new places this trip.

E-Rock: I am headed off to Arizona with Stoutmeister for some out-of-state brews, but before that I am probably going to drop by Bad Ass Brewery on Saturday to check out some of their newest creations.  I am also looking to make some time to check out the new Mustachio Milk Stout over at Tractor.

Franz Solo: One of those evil viruses, the kind that make a person too sick to drink beer, has attacked one of our own this week.  We hope Franz feels better soon.  A week without beer is a week too long for any man.

Shilling: This weekend is looking to be a busy one for me which is pretty much normal.  As usual, the spring weather here in the Duke City is unpredictable (70’s earlier this week with light winds and 30’s and low 40’s later in the week with Hurricane Jorge blowing outside) which makes it hard to plan for a bike ride or enjoy anything outside.  I am looking to spend a little bit of time at the Tractor Taproom with Cryptogrind and grabbing bottles for his ESB that is currently in secondary fermentation.  Also, I’m hoping to get an interview in with Chris and Donavan over at the new Broken Bottle Brewery out on Albuquerque’s Westside.

Cryptogrind: Well, it looks to be a chilly weekend … which only calls for a nice, warming brew. This means I shall be spending some time warming my limbs and palate with some of Tractor’s new milk stout. And Sunday … well I think that calls for a nice brunch, featuring a Scottish ale and a big tasty plate of chicken and waffles courtesy of Nexus. Mouth … is … already … watering …

That’s all for us. Hope all of you have a great weekend and for those who get to enjoy it, a great spring break week! Look for some Arizona and local posts in the coming week!


— The Crew

It’s been a busy week already, but before I became a semi-permanent resident of both The Pit and the Santa Ana Star Center for the state basketball tournament, I managed to trek out to try a couple new beers here in ABQ.

First up was the Shadow Boxer Black IPA at Chama River. It appears to be the season for black IPAs, as both Turtle Mountain (Ironman) and Tractor (no special name, just a special taste) also have this style on tap right now. The Shadow Boxer is comparable to both, though it has a flavor all its own. Unlike a lot of IPAs, there is no stinging bite at the start of a pint. There are a lot of hops that come up mid-palate, giving a burst of comforting flavor that reminds you that, yes, this is an IPA. It does not overwhelm, however, nor does it leave any bitter aftertaste, just a warm, dry feeling until the next sip. It does not have the power of Ironman, nor the mix of different flavors found at Tractor, but it is a solid beer in its own right. This is the type of black IPA one can enjoy at a slow, relaxing pace. It also has a lower alcohol content, 6.2 percent ABV, when compared to Turtle (6.8) and Tractor (7.5). Each of these outstanding black IPAs is worth more than worth trying; they are a wonderful indulgence while we all take refuge from the March winds and the juniper pollen they are spreading across the metro area.

The Mustachio Milk Stout may be Tractor's finest creation to date.

After dinner, I zipped on down the freeway and headed for Nob Hill to visit Tractor Brewing for their Growl at the Moon promotion. Since that pesky city ordinance will not be lifted until August (or so everybody hopes), the folks at the taproom have come up with a unique promotion to still make use of all those unsold growlers that would otherwise be gathering dust in the cabinet. Folks can visit Tractor and effectively use the growlers like a pitcher, enjoying vast quantities of Tractor beers (so long as the growlers never leave the premises). The new beer that everybody should have been filling their growlers with was the Mustachio Milk Stout, a long-awaited new dark elixir that ties into the now annual “Mustache March” charity campaign, where people grow mustaches for various charities. A month-long series of events in ABQ called “March Moustache Madness” is being organized by Glad Castle, culminating in the Moustachio Bashio at the El Rey on March 31, a concert with Lost Lingo headlining. In between there will be a bicycle pub crawl that starts at Tractor on March 22 at 6 p.m. Check Facebook for even more details.

Anyway, back to the beer — Mustachio Milk Stout may be the best beer Tractor has ever brewed. No, seriously, as anybody can attest, I spend a lot of time at the Taproom, so if I’m willing to engage in such hyperbole, get on down there and try this exquisite stout. If one uses Left Hand’s Milk Stout as the standard for this stout style, then Mustachio may even outrank the national champ. This is a sweeter stout; there is no bitterness here, unlike that which is found in the more common oatmeal or Irish dry styles. This stout is exceptionally smooth with a clean finish. It is not as heavy or as creamy as Left Hand (which, by the way, is available on tap down the street at Two Fools for comparison’s sake). Now, for some it might be too light, but for me it was just about perfect. I could go swimming in a lake of this beer and drown happy. If not for all the basketball, I probably would spend every night at Tractor this week until I finished off every last drop in the inventory. But as I have a job to do, and I don’t want my liver sending me a move-out notice, I will hold off and allow the rest of ABQ to indulge in the milk stout goodness.

Elsewhere on the good news front, owner/master brewer Jeff Erway has updated the La Cumbre Blog to let us all know about his plans to increase brewing capacity even further, to start canning the gold medal-winning Elevated IPA, and offer up a preview of some new beers, including an oatmeal stout and an Irish red for St. Patrick’s Day. As someone who will be out of the state for that wonderful holiday, I can only hope the rest of you don’t drink every last drop before I get back to try some.

So unless you’re attending HS hoops this week, head over to Chama and Tractor to try their new beers, brace yourselves for more La Cumbre goodness, watch and root on the Lobos in the Mountain West tournament, and stay out of that darned wind!


— Stoutmeister

Clearing out the beer files…

In case you haven’t noticed, every Monday members of the Crew gather at various watering holes to kick off the week the right way.  Why Mondays? Well, who honestly enjoys that first day back to work after a two days away? (and Stoutmeister’s freelance gig for the local paper doesn’t schedule him for prep sports, because high schools don’t play on most Mondays).

Follow us on twitter and like us on Facebook to see where we’ll be on Beer Mondays and all other outings.

This week, as in today, we will be at Chama River to try their new Shadow Boxer Black IPA and Barely Legal Barley Wine. After dinner we will be heading down to Tractor Brewing in Nob Hill for their Growl at the Moon promotion, where patrons can bring their growlers into Tractor. The catch is that you have to drink all the beer in the growler before departing. Don’t worry, enough of us will be there that no one will be KO’d by the new milk stout. Look for reviews on these new beers soon!

Cheers to a great week!

— Shilling

Malt Madness returns

The staff at Il Vicino are geniuses with this promotion. Geniuses, we say!

The mad scientists at Il Vicino Canteen are once again combining two favorites — beer and bracketology! The IV crew has brought back Malt Madness, a “tournament” of beers where a 24-beer bracket is created, pitting IV’s regular and specialty beers against one another in a battle to the death. Well, not death, but a battle to be IV’s top beer (Wet Mountain IPA is almost certain to be the No. 1 seed after winning the IPA Challenge).

The brackets come out today and fans have until next Monday to come in and fill out their brackets. For further details, check out the picture of the official rules page we have here, or just head over to the Canteen and sign up.

Here’s hoping my personal favorites, the Irish Red, Slow Down Brown, Passtout, and the Vanilla Porter make the 24-beer list.


— Stoutmeister

Coming soon to a beer blog near you

Keep an eye out this week for more bomb(ers) away from Franz Solo; madcap beer mixing in E-Rock’s Lab; the next lesson in Brewology from Professor Cryptogrind; a full list of the breweries in New Mexico outside the ABQ metro area from Stoutmeister; and plenty more before Stoutmeister and E-Rock’s Excellent Arizona Adventure begins on Sunday!

Stopped by the Il Vicino Brewery Canteen with E-Rock, Shilling, and the Professor Emeritus of Beer on a quiet Monday afternoon. There is something about the Canteen that just lends itself to a slow-down-and-enjoy-a-pint kind of day. Located at 2381 Aztec Rd. NE, the Canteen sits just about a block north and then a block east of La Cumbre. On a nice day somebody can walk from one to the other, just make sure one has a ride afterward, of course.

The Canteen is the hub for brewing all the beers available at the various Il Vicino pizza kitchens around town, only with even more beers. In addition to favorites such as the Slow Down Brown and Wet Mountain IPA, the Canteen rolls out a seemingly never-ending list of seasonal and experimental beers.

Greeting us Monday was the new Milk Chocolate Cherry Stout, an obsidian amalgamation of multiple flavors. There is a slight smoky bite, followed by a cherry sweetness and finally a smooth, dark chocolate finish. The beer literally debuted as we arrived; the giant wall menu was not even complete for its entry.

Comments from the rest of the group:

Sweet, but with a bite. You can definitely taste the chocolate in there. It’s almost like something you’d find at Bad Ass, but with a better aroma. — E-Rock

I had a horrible day. I need something stronger. — Shilling (who just jumped on the regular stout in a 22-oz. power-blast glass)

That’s … a little different. — Professor Emeritus

Other beers on tap (as of Monday, Feb. 13; I’m not kidding when I say the menu changes frequently) include an Amber, which was described by our waiter as hoppier than most of its genre (he was not kidding, as E-Rock can attest to); the Bosque Blonde, a Belgian ale; the Dark ‘n Lusty Stout, which we reviewed in our great battle of the stouts on Super Bowl Sunday; the Fruit Cake, a cousin of Tractor’s super-sweet, multi-flavored Turkey Drool; the Marzen, a German-style amber lager; the delicious Irish Red (Mrs. Professor Emeritus, a.k.a. mom, enjoyed hers, and if she can drink it, anybody can); and the new Hop X Pale Ale, which E-Rock had a pint of and allowed us to try. Made with HBC Hops, a new style, it offers up a unique mix of, well, let the Crew speak:

It’s like a cross between an IPA and a Pale Ale. — E-Rock

It has a hoppy bite, but not too much of one; it’s sweet, too, a surprising second flavor. — Stoutmeister

The Canteen also has food, for those who need some grub with their beers. I prefer the Sauce Hog, a pulled-pork sandwich (wear a bib), but even the non-meat lovers can find some proper pub grub to enjoy.

For a relaxed atmosphere with a wide variety of (ever-changing) beers, stop by the Canteen any afternoon. Just remember, Cask Wednesday unleashes a specific new brew (this Wednesday, Feb. 15: Cherry Brown) or an old favorite served up cask-style.


— Stoutmeister

Tractor Update: One Step Forward

Posted: February 10, 2012 by cjax33 in News
Tags: , ,

Tractor Brewing got some good news at the Nob Hill Neighborhood Association meeting on Thursday night. The governing panel voted on whether or not to push through an amendment to the ordinance that prevents packaged liquor sales in Nob Hill, which keeps Tractor from selling growlers out of its taproom. In a show of support for local business, five panelists voted yes and three abstained. That pushes the amendment forward to the city council, said Tractor manager Dave Forster, where it already has support from city councilor Rey Garduno, who will officially file the amendment petition in the coming weeks.

If the city council approves the amendment it will move on to the Environmental Planning Committee and, provided it passes there, would go back to the council for the final vote.

If this all sounds complicated, it is. Considering the original text of the massive Nob Hill Highland Sector Development Plan, where the tiny notation on liquor sales is found on page 84 of the entry titled “Nob Hill Draft Sector Planned Components” stating simply “Alcoholic beverage sales for off-premise consumption are not allowed.” This is due to the classification of Nob Hill as a CCR-2 land use, which, translated from legalese, just means the neighborhood is bound by overlapping laws and restrictions due to the proximity of residential neighborhoods to the businesses along Central.

Got all that? No? Even for a seasoned journalist, this goes back to Reporting Public Affairs in college, but beer-loving sportswriters who got C’s in that class can only provide so much of an explanation.

A positive sum-up goes like this: the neighborhood association will not oppose Tractor’s efforts to sell growlers. Now it will be up to the city council. Hopefully things will continue to move quickly (by government standards) and the beer will flow again.

Stay tuned for more news as it comes in, and keep supporting Tractor by visiting the taproom. La Cumbre’s Elevated IPA will be making a guest appearance, the deliciously potent Black IPA is still on tap and the first in a series of Belgian ales will be arriving next week.

Coming Soon: Broken Bottle Brewery

Posted: January 31, 2012 by Shilling in News
Tags: , ,

Looking to fill the void of the “neighborhood bar feel”, Chris Chavez and Donavan Lane are setting up shop on Albuquerque’s west side. Broken Bottle will be the third microbrewery out on the ever-expanding west end of ABQ along with well-known companies Il Vicino and Turtle Mountain Brewing Company out in Rio Rancho.

Go check them out on their Facebook for news updates