Posts Tagged ‘Anderson Valley Brewing’

Editor’s note: Bullpen member Amy O recently went to Portland and found just a few things to write about. I know, big shock, lots of beer stories from Portland. Here’s the first article about a beer festival that’s being added to my personal beer bucket list. — Stoutmeister

Welcome to the Portland International Beer Festival!

Welcome to the Portland International Beer Festival!

Rose City (or City of Roses), Rip City, Stumptown, Bridgetown, P-Town, PDX … the list goes on and on. Whatever you want to call it, Portland, Oregon, really is a beer Mecca that consistently ranks in the top three beer towns in the United States. I lived there for six years and I go back and visit a few times a year, usually in conjunction with one or another of my favorite Portland beer festivals. There are many. One of my favorites was last weekend, the Portland International Beer Fest (the festival also has a “twin” Seattle International Beer Fest.)

This year the three-day festival returned to a previous, larger location in Holladay Park. The park has plenty of space and shade, and is easily accessible via a quick ride across the river from downtown Portland on the MAX light rail. Unlike other Portland beer festivals, the lines at this event are short for entry and for beer. As is common, attendees pay an entry fee for a glass, wristband, and a starter amount of tickets. Additional tickets are available for purchase. Samples start at one ticket per four-ounce serving, with a majority of the samples only requiring one or two tickets. A very limited number of beers can cost up to seven tickets, and price is based upon the amount the beer costs the organizers.

The lines were nice and short at the festival.

The lines were nice and short at the festival.

There are hundreds of beers at this event. Most of the foreign beers were from Germany, Belgium, and England, although there was representation from as far away as New Zealand. Pilsner Urquell sponsored a beer garden with $3 pints of their beer. I spoke with a very nice Pilsner Urquell representative from San Francisco who explained their new freshness initiative involving faster shipping, better packaging, and improved temperature control. The goal is to be able to offer beer that is of similar quality to the beer served at the factory in the Czech Republic. It did improve the flavor, in my opinion. Domestic craft beers were largely from western states (mostly Oregon, Washington, California, and Colorado) but there were some from the Midwest and East Coast as well.

A fairly nifty little guide to the festival.

A fairly nifty little guide to the festival.

Our group of 10 people sampled a wide variety of beers on two visits — Saturday evening and Sunday midday. Despite the fact that it is difficult to get even two people to agree on anything, we were actually able to come to a consensus on some clear favorites. The top five (no particular order) in our crowd were: “Chrome Satin,” a California Common/Steam Beer style made by Hilliard’s Beer in Seattle (5.7% ABV); “PranQster” Belgian Golden from North Coast in Fort Bragg, Calif. (7.6% ABV); “Barrel Aged Mayan Cave Bear” Belgian Strong Dark Ale from Sound Brewery in Poulsbo, Wash. (10% ABV); “Hofbrau Munchen Marzen” Marzen/Oktoberfest Style from Germany (6.3% ABV); and “Wild Turkey Barrel Stout” from Anderson Valley, Calif. (6.9% ABV). It’s also a tradition dating back many years now that we all get at least one “Black Boss” Baltic Porter from Poland (9% ABV) at every Portland International Beer Fest. (Editor’s note: I’ve seen PranQster and Hofbrau available at stores in New Mexico, and the Wild Turkey Barrel Stout may also be available as Anderson Valley does distribute here. Franz Solo will probably track it down at some point. — S)

Sadly, there were no New Mexican beers at this event. I would love to see more representation from New Mexico breweries at out of state beer festivals. We may lack volume, but certainly not the quality. All of our top breweries produce beer that can easily match up, so I believe it’s high time to show them off to the world! The International Beer Fest is a great place to start. I mean, after all, some people in this country have no idea New Mexico is even part of the United States. At least I was never asked to “show my passport.” That has happened to me once or twice in the States, though, thankfully never in Oregon.

¡Salud! 

— Amy O

Happy Friday everyone. Stoutmeister here with a grab-bag of beer news and notes. I would ask if you all had a fun Halloween, but it seemed strangely quiet out there. Save for a show at Sister Bar and the kids trick-or-treating, putting the great holiday on a Thursday meant a lot of folks put it off till Saturday. Or at least it did for us in the Crew. We were not a festive bunch, but we will try to make up for it this weekend.

Anyway, there are some beer-related goings-on this weekend and a recap of stuff from last weekend.

Dia de la Cerveza

Las Cruces gets its own fall beer festival. Rejoice, southerners!

Las Cruces gets its own fall beer festival. Rejoice, southerners!

Las Cruces usually has little to celebrate on Saturdays, what with the New Mexico State football team being just about the worst program in America. So for a second time this year, the NM Brewers Guild is doing something about that with another beer festival.

The Dia de la Cerveza will take place in downtown Cruces on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. There are 11 breweries signed up and you can still get tickets online for just $15. There will also be food trucks and live music present.

So what breweries will be in attendance? Of course High Desert will be there, plus Deming’s Mimbres Valley, which has a taproom across the street from NMSU now. Others on hand will include Little Toad Creek, from the mountains near Silver City, and a full-on northern invasion featuring Abbey Brewing, Blue Corn, Bosque, La Cumbre, Marble, Santa Fe, Second Street, and Sierra Blanca/Rio Grande.

None of the Crew can make it down, but if anyone wants to share pictures or write a guest post review, contact us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com, or via our Facebook page.

Beers for the Dead

The mad scientists at Il Vicino have created a beer called Day of the Dead. It’s a Belgian Dark Strong aged in bourbon barrels. This beer won’t just put hair on your chest, it will probably turn you into a Sasquatch. It debuts today at the Canteen, so keep an eye out for the Crew. We’ll almost certainly stop by to try some of this monstrosity, which should be well over 10-percent ABV.

Meanwhile, if you have a hops craving, head over to La Cumbre for some of their “Chinookered” IPA on cask. Head over quickly, since last week’s batch only lasted a few hours.

Up in Santa Fe, there will also be a firkin present at Second Street’s original location as their Cask and Curry series returns for 2013, starting today.

Hopfest favorites

The voting totals are in for the best of fest, plus the best of the home brews. For the latter, the Dukes of Ale were happy to pass along (via the always awesome Marne Gaston) that Brian Ausderau’s Green Chile Pumpkin Beer won the people’s vote as the best of the five home brews offered up at their booth in the southeast corner of Hopfest’s main room. Both Brandon and Derek greatly enjoyed this unique take on a pumpkin beer. Ben Miller’s IPA was a very close second, which should come as no surprise since A) this state loves IPAs, and B) Ben is a former winner of the Samuel Adams Longshot Competition. The man can brew, people.

Anyway, Hopfest also released the people’s choice for Best of Fest, which went to a full brewery rather than a specific beer (because we all know that was Uinta’s Labyrinth). The people’s choice for the fourth straight year was Marble. No wonder Ted was smiling all day.

Checking in at a very close second was New Mexico Craft Brewing, whose Wet-n-Wild IPA was one of the biggest hits at Hopfest. Il Vicino and Tractor came in third and fourth, so it was very nice to see that people continue to vote and support local breweries first and foremost.

Since I guess some folks needed a break from beer, Angry Orchard was fifth. There was a three-way tie for sixth between Alaskan, Dukes of Ale, and Woodchuck. This mad love for cider is … unexpected. Kona, Santa Fe, and Uinta tied for seventh. Eel River and Indian Wells tied for eighth. Ninth was a five-way tie between heavyweights Abita, Anderson Valley, Clown Shoes, Left Hand, and Odell. Kellys, Red Hook, and Widmer Bros. all tied for 10th place.

We can’t complain too much about those selections, as we enjoyed at least one beer from each of those breweries (leaving out the two cider joints, of course; it’s a beer festival, we drink beer).

* * * *

Anyway, that’s it from a surprisingly newsy Friday. If there is ever some breaking beer news that slips past us, please contact us at the email we listed above or Facebook or Twitter (@nmdarksidebc) or just leave a message here. And if you see us at a brewery, you can tell us there, too.

See some of you around the breweries this weekend. And a happy birthday on Saturday to Broken Bottle’s Chris Chavez!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

There was a bittersweet feeling as the Crew left Hopfest on Saturday afternoon. It stemmed not from any disappoint in the event — it was quite the opposite, in fact — but instead it came with the realization that beer festival season in 2013 was coming to a close. Even though the year itself is far from being over, in a way another chapter of our lives in beer has come to a close. In that respect, we all raise our sample glasses one more time in honor of a year that began with a fun experiment (New Mexico Cup), had a middle chock full of adventure (ABQ Beer Week), and ended with the biggest bang of all at Hopfest.

Stoutmeister, Brandon, and Porter Pounder all tackled Hopfest. Hey, half the Crew in one room is an accomplishment.

Stoutmeister, Brandon, and Porter Pounder all tackled Hopfest. Hey, half the Crew in one room is an accomplishment.

So enough sepia-tinted nostalgia of times past. Let us get to the important thing: How was all that beer, guys? There was much beer. And it was good. So good.

We begin with a careful analysis of … ah, to hell with it. LABYRINTH! LABYRINTH! LABYRINTH! LABYRINTH! LABYRINTH! LABYRINTH! The quadruple black ale of godliness stole the show. Only this time we weren’t the only ones to think so. Post-event buzz centered around this monster from Uinta, this wonderful beast that blasted our palates and made our tastebuds dance. Yes, Labyrinth, you were the best of show. Now please, somebody, help Uinta start putting that on the shelves of Jubilation and other fine New Mexico liquor stores. PLEASE!!!!

Ahem, anyway, amid the 62 breweries and thousands of beer lovers, we (this is Stoutmeister, and Porter Pounder and Brandon were along for the ride this time) found a few favorite beers, some off-beat beers, and overall enjoyed the heck out of our Saturday. This is our stab at a breakdown of what we had or remembered having (though there was no Nexus brewer around this time constantly refilling our sample glasses with two-year-old barley wine, so we were much more lucid than after Brew Fest).

Stoutmeister’s favorites (besides Labyrinth)

New Mexico beers: Well, first off, one of the major highlights were the home brews served up by the Dukes of Ale and Southwest Grape & Grain. Ben Miller’s Belgian Trippel and Mike Griesmeyer’s Milk Stout were quite wonderful at the Dukes booth. The former found a nice balance between sweetness and strength, while the latter was smooth as silk and not overly sweet. I also felt the Octoberfest at the SWG&G booth was comparable to any brewery’s Marzen.

Las Vegas’ New Mexico Craft Brewing brought a couple of top-notch beers to tap. The Wet-N-Wild Ale, made with wild hops picked in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, was a wholly unique beer with a strong vanilla flavor amid the hops, which had a Cascade-like aroma and feel. The uniquely named F Your Black IPA Dry-Hopped Porter tasted like a hybrid between a dry, bitter black IPA and a smooth, coffee-and-chocolate-heavy porter.

Back Alley Draft House also unveiled two big, tough beers in the hop-bomb Triple IPA and the burly Imperial Russian Stout. BADH doesn’t brew huge batches, so head down there ASAP before they disappear from the taps.

Marble’s Pumpkin Noire offered up a nice mix of a smoky porter base with some pumpkin spices. Also of note, Tractor’s more classic pumpkin ale, Jack the Sipper, and Sandia Chile Grill’s always excellent Rio Negro smoked milk stout.

In case we haven't said it enough already, Uinta's Labyrinth is one of the greatest beers ever brewed.

In case we haven’t said it enough already, Uinta’s Labyrinth is one of the greatest beers ever brewed.

Out-of-state beers besides Labyrinth: A lot of breweries busted out their big guns (by ABV and/or IBUs), but Clown Shoes’ Blaecorn Unidragon, a 12.5-percent Russian Imperial Stout that is every bit the behemoth it sounds like. Seriously, if Godzilla were real, he would drink this beer. And then smash Tokyo to bits looking for more of it. For us mere mortals, it’s often available at Total Wine; just drink with caution.

Keeping with the big beer theme, Anderson Valley’s Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout offered up a kung-fu kick to the face. Indian Wells’ Whiskey Barrel Amber took a style not usually associated with barrel-aging and made it into a rough-and-tumble beer in its own right. Sierra Nevada did not bring the excellent Narwhal Imperial Stout, but they made up for it with the Bigfoot barley wine, aged for over a year. I only had one this time, I swear.

For those who are looking for something a little lower on the ABV chart, you could go seasonal with Bridgeport’s Witch Hunt or Deschutes’ Jubelale. Durango’s Dark Lager is always a solid standby, while Eel River’s Certified Organic Amber packed a lot more flavor than most regular ambers. Kona’s Pipeline Porter exceeded my expectations (Franz Solo should enjoy it when he’s in Hawaii soon). Another staple of my autumn beer diet, Left Hand’s Oktoberfest, showed up in place of Fade to Black. Oh. Darn. And speaking of seasonals, Ska brought down its Vernal Minthe Stout, which is basically dessert in a glass. A chocolate mint made into a beer? Sure, why not?

And the award for the strangest beer went to Twisted Pine’s Roots Revival Carrot IPA. I’m not sure if I tasted the carrot in there. I’m not sure what I tasted period. It was a beer that cannot be categorized. It’s not bad, just … different.

Oh, and beers I wanted to try but ran out of time to get to included Pedernales’ Lobo Negro, Green Flash’s Green Bullet, and Odell’s Isolation Ale. Looks like a trip to Jubilation is in my near future.

Brandon’s favorite beers (besides Labyrinth)

New Mexico beers: A majority of our state’s breweries have been unleashing their latest offerings over the past few weeks, so there were only a few new things to check out. The majority of my praise has to go to the home brews from the Dukes of Ale. There were several pleasant surprises in the mix at their table, of which the public got to vote on their favorite beer. This truly was a tough choice, as all had qualities that I really appreciated. Here’s a quick breakdown.

Sandia Chile Grill definitely got into the season with their beer board.

Sandia Chile Grill definitely got into the season with their beer board.

Belgian Pale Ale: This hybrid-style gave a pale ale some refreshingly crisp character from the Belgian malts and enough yeasty character to please this guy’s palate. Add a hop profile that held a slight bit of citrus and pine without being overwhelming and you had a very delicious take on a unique style.

Milk Stout: Well, what can I say? You had me at milk stout. This was quite the creamy delight, actually, as I have high expectations of this style. Lots of chocolate and roasted malt, with a hefty dose of sweetness from the lactic sugars that was still somehow not overpowering. Wonderful job with this beer.

IPA: This was a really interesting beer for one big reason, which is that is was NOT a hop bomb … however, the nose on it said otherwise. Lots of grapefruit and pine, with a touch of citrus. The body? Light, almost floral throughout the front and middle, and slightly resiny in the back. It didn’t leave me with a lack of taste buds for the rest of the day, which is good. Unexpected but very tasty.

Belgian Trippel: A creation of noted homebrewer Ben Miller, the Belgian Trippel stood tall among the other entries. A rich and smooth malt bill was balanced out with a slight bitterness, and finished with a subtle sweetness. Subtle spice hints and complex yeast aromatics made this a great brew, though deceptively easy drinking (as most trippels are). One of my favorite beers of the day.

Green Chile Pumpkin: Yes, you read that right. Odd, huh? Well, I’m all for experimentation when it comes to beer. This was actually a very tasty brew, with fresh green chile prominent in the front and middle, along with a slightly sweet malt bill and spices. The pumpkin comes in mainly at the end, but does lend to the overall creamy mouthfeel of this beer. Judging from the patrons I spoke with this was a pretty polarizing beer, but most people enjoyed it. I will include myself in that group.

Now, on to the breweries! Marble brought two pumpkin beers, the Pumpkin Noire being my favorite of the two. A very natural pumpkin flavor is met with slightly burnt/toasted malts to give the flavor of a baked pumpkin pie. Wonderful stuff really, it was one of my favorites of the pumpkin season.

The good folks at NM Craft Brewing brought the hops to Hopfest. F Your Black IPA was a dry-hopped porter with a bit of smokiness and a dry finish. Plenty of dark and roasted malts gave it a rich body with a nice hop kick. For those of you not big on the dark malts, the Rye PA was plenty smooth with floral and pine hints, and a nice light/medium malt body, making this an easy drinking IPA variation.

Back Alley Draft House had their Russian Imperial Stout and Triple IPA flowing. The IPA was an expected onslaught on the senses with loads of floral, grapefruit, and pine, and a subtle fruity hint, and a strong nose to boot. I’m glad I only had a taste, but man was it good.

Sandia Chile Grill brought out their Rio Negro stout for the event. Strong and malty with a nice sweetness, there is lots of chocolate-y goodness to be found in this brew, so make sure to stop in for a pint.

We have no idea why some dude dressed as Batman and came to Hopfest. But he did, and we hope he enjoyed it more than Porter Pounder enjoyed The Dark Knight Rises.

We have no idea why some dude dressed as Batman at Hopfest. But he did, and we hope he enjoyed it more than Porter Pounder enjoyed The Dark Knight Rises.

Out-of-state beers: The breweries from around the region were in full effect at Hopfest. Clown Shoes brought the big guns out in the form of Blaecorn Unidragon. A huge amount of malt complexity, lots of chocolate and slightly burnt malt with coffee and mild hop kick. All the things one would expect from the style are here in droves in this Russian imperial stout, quite a wonderful brew.

Green Flash brought out their Green Bullet Triple IPA that I’ve heard so much about. As one who has grown to love a nice dank IPA, this one made me utter a brief string of obscenities … in a good way. Huge grapefruit and pine notes, with a punch of citrus and fruit around the middle, and slight resin and more citrus in the finish. Not for the faint of hops … er, heart.

Big Sky came from Montana with their limited release Heavy Horse Scotch Ale. More of a traditional “wee heavy” style, it had a wonderful malt body, with a dash of earthy hops and a slight smokey touch to it. This needs to be a year-round beer.

A pleasant find of the day was Indian Wells’ Whiskey Barrel Amber. One of the smoothest libations I had the pleasure of sampling, the whiskey character was prominent and smooth with oak and vanilla spread all through and slight caramel, almost butterscotch flavors. A delightful amber that just wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t aged. I’m glad it was, though.

We of course took time to get a taste of some of our old favorites from breweries like Left Hand (Oktoberfest), Ska (who brought their Mole and Vernal Minthe Stouts, two excellent seasonals), Oskar Blues (hello, G’Knight!), Deschutes (Jubelale, a tasty winter ale), Durango Brewing Company (Dark Lager), and Sierra Nevada (Bigfoot Aged Barley Wine). So many beers were tried that I know we will miss some, but all in all it was a great day filled with delicious beers.

Porter Pounder’s favorite beers (besides Labyrinth)

As this was my first Hopfest, I finally had the opportunity to try a staggering amount of beers that the rest of the Crew has enjoyed from GABF and other such festivals. Here’s some of my high points in no particular order.

Many of the best beers from outside NM were found on the patio outside the casino.

Many of the best beers from outside NM were found on the patio outside the casino.

Big Sky’s Heavy Horse Scotch Ale: Really full-bodied Scotch Ale, which I am a big fan of always; it was just nice and rich. I love root cellar temp-fermented beers. It gives styles like this that nice thick body and a creamy tone off the top.

BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse’s Pumpkin Ale: I was quite surprised I liked this one, to be honest. But in the end, out of all the Pumpkin Ales I tried at Hopfest, this one really had some of the best balance between pumpkin flavor and pie spice, blended to make it creamy with a smooth finish.

Clown Shoes’ Blaecorn Unidragon: One of the highest ABV beers at the show, and clearly an all-around winner for the NMDSBC alongside the Labyrinth that we call can’t stop raving about. This was also my first time experiencing Clown Shoes beer. It was also one of the first things I tried. I figured go big or go home and no regrets my friends, this beer was worth every sip. So thick you could cut it with a knife and fork and amazingly enough, it finished relatively clean, so despite how bold it was it didn’t ruin your palate for your next samples.

Ska’s Vernal Minthe Stout: I never thought about doing mint in a stout, and all you get is what it claims, a bold, rich, perfect stout with just the right amount of mint that adds this throat-and-palate-cleanse at the end. It’s like eating girl scout cookies, but even better, cause cookies don’t get you buzzed. I’m officially sold on Ska after this and their Mole Chile Stout.

Milk Stout, Dukes of Ale (Brewed by Mike Griesmeyer): Welcome to the Indie Awards! The fine folks with the Dukes of Ale had brewed five brews for their own mini-competition. This was my runner up. I drink a lot of stouts, and I’ve brewed at least one of my own, and they are trickier to get just right than a lot of other lighter beers. This was bold and rich, actually almost like a punch in your mouth, but it’s because you joined Fight Club on purpose, so it’s exactly what you came for. Full-bodied with a bold nose off the top with the added richness from the milk sugars. Definitely a highlight on independent brewing.
Green Chile Pumpkin Beer, Dukes of Ale (Brewed by Brian Ausderau): Exactly what it claims to be. Many chile beers have an inherently vinegary tone to them which isn’t that pleasant. This is all about natural roasted chile flavors. Keeping it to a crisp light ale is usually the best way to go with this category to balance it, but then this fine fellow decided to try something new — add pumpkin. Strangely it works really well. It makes this lighter beer almost creamy, which was wonderful to follow the hotness of the chile, and then all you’re left with in the end is a nice pumpkin flavor to finish it and remain. This is the one that got my vote.
Octoberfest, SW Grape & Grain: Second up on the indie beer brewing tastings for me was this wonderful local beer supplies store’s offering of an Octoberfest. They hosted five beers for this event, and this was my favorite. I tried quite a few Octoberfest beers during this event, and this one really stood out for me being particularly crisp. It had a little extra body which I find nice, and a clean finish without being overly bold or alcoholic so you could just eat and drink at an event all day long and never need to take a break, just enjoy!
New Mexico Craft Brewing's booth was full of unique beers and some unique characters serving those beers.

New Mexico Craft Brewing’s booth was full of unique beers and some unique characters serving those beers.

New Mexico Craft Brewing’s F Your Black IPA Dry-Hopped Porter: Our other indie brewing category friends brewed a really damn delicious beer. Honestly, the only way to write to you all how bad ass this beer was, is to steal directly from the write up they submitted for the Hopfest guide: “Oh what am I? Am I a roasty beer? Am I an IPA? I suck at being both. Nope. I am a fat-balled dry-hopped porter. So shut up.” Damn right!

And Finally probably my favorite of all of Hopfest goes to …
Indian Wells’ Whiskey Barrel Amber: This beer is exactly what I came to this festival for. I love whiskey or bourbon barrel-aged beers, but what sets this aside from the rest is one simple fact. It was a dried in the direct sun until the whiskey was sweated out. The difference in doing this from the others — and as good as the others are they are SO overly bold with the alcohol flavor — is that you have to sip your beer like it is a fine scotch, or brace yourself and take your beer in shots. This style Indian Wells tried gives it an edge, because you still taste some great whiskey, but it’s so mellow and well blended into an already excellent beer that you can enjoy it like you would any other smooth drink. It definitely has a decent alcohol content that will sneak up on you in the end, but I could drink this all day, winter or summer.

The beers that ran out before I got to try or somehow weren’t available to try for other reasons were Brigdeport’s Bear Hug (Cherry Chocolate Stout) and Clown Shoes’ Crunkle Sam (American Barlyewine).

* * * *

Well, as we said at the beginning, that’s it for beer festival season in the ABQ area (there is one more fest down in Las Cruces this coming Saturday, but we’ll be sitting that one out). A huge thanks to the always awesome Marne Gaston and her entire volunteer staff, everyone at Isleta Casino that helped out, and all the brewery staff members present. Everything went smoothly, just like many of the beers we had. And thank you to all of the other attendees; once again, you were a great crowd united in the pursuit of having a good time without anyone going overboard.

The big fests may be over, but there is still plenty of beer news out there for the Crew to cover. We will be back soon with our advance preview of The Stumbling Steer, including our samples of some of their forthcoming beers, plus a whole lot more as the rest of 2013 draws to a close.

Because after all, what else are we going to do? Sit around and watch our football teams? (They’re a combined 11-18 and probably only going to get worse.)

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Hopfest is big. There are 62 breweries serving up samples for thousands of beer lovers. In other words, it is not the place to just walk into and wander about. Nope, you need a plan, a battle plan. Luckily, the Dark Side Brew Crew is here to provide one. It’s what we do.

Hopfest is tougher than he looks. You need a battle plan before entering.

Hopfest is tougher than he looks. You need a battle plan before entering.

In terms of physical layout, Hopfest is divided in three. There is the side room, where the Premier Stage is located; the main room, where over half the breweries will be stationed; and the outdoor area, where the Project Acoustic Preview Stage is located. There is also a VIP area, but we don’t have VIP tickets and most of you probably do not, either, so we’ll skip that place.

The two smaller areas should be your first two targets. They can get crowded quickly. In fact, if you are a serious beer drinker, that additional $10 for Extra Hoppy Hour tickets is a must. That initial hour is an excellent time to not only try more beers with fewer people in line, but it is also a chance to actually converse with some of the brewery reps behind the counters.

Upon arrival we are heading for the side room first. It features three in-state breweries, eight from out-of-state, and two from outside the country. What order you go in is up to you, and in the end that is likely to be determined by the beers they have on hand and your personal preference by style. Luckily, we have the list that the breweries passed along to Hopfest, though as always things will be subject to change.

Abita: The Louisiana brewery is bringing two of its standard bearers, Turbo Dog and Purple Haze, so the one we’re interested in is Andygator (8% ABV), a high-gravity maibock-style beer.

Cazuela’s: The Rio Rancho brewery is bringing five beers to Hopfest. For hopheads, you have to go with the Papa Cabra DIPA (9.2% ABV, 100+ IBUs). If you fall on the maltier side of the spectrum, check out the Piedra Del Fuego (5% ABV), a stoned cream ale.

Clown Shoes: Make sure to thank Total Wine for bringing this Massachusetts-based brewery to town. And they’re not coming bearing anything wimpy. Both the Crunkle Sam (11% ABV), an American barleywine, and Blaecorn Unidragon (12.5% ABV), a monstrous Russian imperial stout, will be available. This is why you take the Rail Runner down to Isleta, so you can sample beers like this. Do not go all imperial-crazy and expect to drive afterward, OK?

Durango Dark Lager will be one of the featured beers at Hopfest. Huzzah!

Durango Dark Lager will be one of the featured beers at Hopfest. Huzzah!

Durango Brewing: Ska gets a lot of the attention out of Southwest Colorado, but this little gem of a brewery was a favorite of mine and E-Rock when we visited last year. They’re bringing one of our favorites, Durango Dark Lager (5.4% ABV) along for the ride. There will also be Hop Hugger (6.7% ABV) for you IPA lovers.

Eel River: Gotta admit, have not had too many certified organic beers over the years. This Fortuna, Calif.-based brewery will bring three of those, an IPA, amber, and a blonde, for us to sample.

Indian Wells: Another California brewery, you can find their Lobotomy Doppelbock (typically shortened to the NM-friendly Lobo Bock) around town. It’s not a personal favorite, but we do intend to give their Whiskey Barrel Amber a shot. For all the stouts/porters/browns/Belgians that get the whiskey barrel treatment, we gotta admit, we have not heard of anyone doing that with an amber.

Lost Coast: Not to be confused with Left Coast (see below), this Northern California institution is one of the only female-owned-and-operated breweries in the country. They are bringing three of their primary beers, Indica IPA, Great White, and Downtown Brown.

Mad River: It’s practically a California invasion in the side room. Mad River is bringing three of its standard beers as well in Steelhead DIPA, Steelhead Extra Pale Ale, and Jamaica Red Ale.

New Mexico Craft Brewing: The Las Vegas, NM, brewery is unleashing four hop-centric brews — Starvation Peak AIPA (6.3% ABV, 80 IBUs), Anti-Imperial AIPA (9% ABV, 100+ IBUs), RyePA (6.6% ABV, 85 IBUs), Wet-n-Wild Ale (7.3% ABV, 100+ IBUs) — with the last one made with wild hops picked here in NM. In addition, there’s the early candidate for “most unique beer name” at Hopfest in the F Your Black IPA Dry-Hopped Porter (5.8% ABV, 60 IBUs).

Petrus: The Belgian brewery is bringing its Aged Pale Ale and Aged Red Ale to tap. If you’re a Belgian beer fan, this place is one of the big guns in that country.

Rio Negro is big and burly, yet very smooth.

Rio Negro is big and burly, yet very smooth.

Sandia Chile Grill: Feeling dark? Yet smooth? Then a sample of Rio Negro smoked milk stout on nitro should fit you perfectly. If you want to stay on the light side, the award-winning Gold Rush Pilsen should more than suffice.

Twisted Pine: This will mark the first visit (we think) to a NM beer festival for the Boulder-based brewery. Twisted Pine is not coming light, either, bringing its wholly unique Roots Revival Carrot IPA (6.9% ABV, 51 IBUs), plus Bishop’s Elbow ESB (5.2% ABV).

Van Steenberge: This Belgian brewery is bringing Gulden Draak, which is not a character in the upcoming “Hobbit” film, but instead a Dark Triple Ale that checks in at 10.5-percent ABV.

All right, so that’s the side room. Now head to the small outside area on the south side of Isleta Casino, where 11 breweries, all from outside New Mexico.

Anderson Valley: Another of Northern California’s finest breweries will grace our presence with four beers. While the seasonal Winter Solstice (6.9% ABV) sounds nice and all (if a bit early), the one we have our eye on is the Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout (6.9% ABV).

Big Sky: Montana’s biggest brewery will bring three beers to sample, with the Heavy Horse Scotch Ale (6.7% ABV) as the highlight.

Boulder Beer: Colorado’s oldest microbrewery will feature four of its primary beers, including the popular Hazed & Infused and the Flashback India Brown Ale.

Deschutes isn't bringing Obsidian Stout (sniff), but you can still celebrate their beers the way I celebrated the Pirates' 82nd victory a few months ago.

Deschutes isn’t bringing Obsidian Stout (sniff), but you can still celebrate their beers the way I celebrated the Pirates clinching their first winning season in 20 years back in August.

Deschutes: Bend, Oregon’s most famous brewery will have four beers to try, including two regulars in River Ale (4% ABV) and Hop Trip (5.5% ABV) pale ale, plus the seasonal Jubelale (6.7% ABV) and Chasin’ Freshies IPA (7.2% ABV).

Left Coast: Poor Left Coast has probably been mixed up with Lost Coast (see above) and Left Hand (see right below) plenty of times. This Southern California brewery will try to set itself apart with four beers on hand in the Una Mas amber lager (6.4% ABV), Hop Juice DIPA (9.7% ABV), Voo Doo American Stout (8.5% ABV), and a fourth TBA beer. (We heard it was called Lucky Buddha, but the official Left Coast site has no info on such a beer.)

Left Hand: The Longmont, Colo., brewery racked up multiple medals at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival. They are best known for their Milk Stout, which will be among the regular beers they are scheduled to bring down. Sawtooth Ale, an ESB-style beer, will also be present, as will whichever current edition of Fade to Black they have available. That has been a porter, a black IPA, and various other dark genres in the past. Guess we’ll have to go and find out what this version is.

New Belgium: Another Colorado institution, they will have regular beers Fat Tire, Rampant Imperial IPA, Shift Pale Lager, and the seasonal Pumpkick.

Oskar Blues: It’s all about Colorado breweries on the patio. They will have five of their regular beers on hand, including two of our favorites in G’Knight, an imperial red, and Old Chub, a Scotch ale.

Pedernales: Another brewery making its ABQ debut is this Fredericksburg, Texas, outfit. They have a series of Lobo beers, so that should appease the local sports fans. Lobo Lager, Lobo Lito (a pilsner), and Lobo Negro (a black lager) will be on hand for many of us to try for the first time.

Tommyknocker: This Colorado brewery has made a recent push into NM and gotten some good reviews from folks around the state. They will have the dry-hopped IPA and a Half (7% ABV, 85 IBUs) for all you hopheads. Seasonal lovers can try the Pumpkin Harvest Ale or the Maple Nut Brown Ale.

Dear lord, thank you for Uinta's Labyrinth, a quadruple black ale.

Dear lord, thank you for Uinta’s Labyrinth, a quadruple black ale.

Uinta: Another brewery that has arrived in force in NM, this Utah-based group will have the wonderful, magnificent, still-not-available-for-sale-here (damn it) Labyrinth Quadruple Black Ale. If you did not have this wonder at Blues & Brews back in May, now you must try it. No, seriously, TRY LABYRINTH!

All right, now it’s time to tackle the main room. Odds are, you’ll be arriving just as the general admission crowd is walking in. So get strategic, target the places you absolutely want to try first; if a brewery only brought some classics, hold off and wait until you’ve cleared your must-haves, then pick the shortest lines and go wild.

Alaskan: Sadly, no seasonals are expected, just the four regular beers you can find in six-packs all around town. Still, if you have not tried the Amber or the Freeride APA, now is a good chance. They are both worth it for malt lovers and hopheads.

Angry Orchard/Crispin/Woodchuck: It’s all ciders. Have fun if you’re into that sort of thing any of these three booths.

Back Alley Draft House: Addison is bringing two monsters, his Imperial Russian Stout (9.6% ABV) and Triple IPA (10.5% ABV, 100+ IBUs), to clobber us all. We had the stout at Brew Fest and it was excellent. Just not for the faint of heart. If you can’t take those behemoths, go with the Pumpkin Ale. It’s only 8-percent ABV.

Batch 19/Blue Moon/Third Shift: Don’t let the cute names fool you, these are macrobrewery-owned places trying to masquerade as microbreweries.

BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse: It’s a beer chain. There’s one by Winrock. In a better world, we would have gotten the superior Rock Bottom first. Oh, well.

Boston Beer Co. (Samuel Adams): The biggest of all microbreweries in America, they have a bunch of their usual stuff. The only I (Stoutmeister) have not had before is the Hazel Brown (5.2% ABV). I’ll give it a shot if there’s time.

Breckenridge: A staple in Colorado, they are only bringing their two most popular regular beers, the Vanilla Porter and Lucky U IPA.

Bridgeport: The Oregon brewery got some pub when the final season of TNT’s “Leverage” was filmed there. While their IPA and Hop Czar have been here before, this may very well be the debut of Bear Hug, a cherry chocolate stout. Sample it and then head over to Il Vicino to see how things stack up.

Dukes of Ale: Definitely make time to stop by the home brewers’ booth, where they will have samples of some of the best locally made beers you will have Saturday. There should be a big variety.

Goose Island: The Chicago brewery is not, sadly, bringing us more of that Bourbon County Coffee Stout like they did back during ABQ Beer Week. Instead we just get three of their regulars, IPA, Honker’s Ale, and 312 Urban Wheat Ale.

Green Flash: San Diego’s up-and-coming brewery will have two blasts for hopheads. Their West Coast IPA is a good start. Then they will clobber you with the Green Bullet, a triple IPA. See how it compares to Back Alley’s Triple IPA.

Milk Chocolate Cherry Stout from Il Vicino goes perfectly with ... everything.

Milk Chocolate Cherry Stout from Il Vicino goes perfectly with … everything.

Il Vicino: Our favorite local mad scientists will have some more Milk Chocolate Cherry Stout for us all to enjoy. There will also be Hell(y)es, Dark American Lager, and Wet Mountain IPA, but you can still get those at the Canteen.

Isotopes Beer: It’s the two beers you can get during baseball games, the Slammin’ Amber and Triple-A Blonde. They are made by Rio Grande/Sierra Blanca (see below).

Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing: The popular Wisconsin brewery will have their Hoppin’ Helles. That’s all they’re listing, for now. At least they’re not bringing the Summer Shandy, which one Twitter feed considered a form of torture under the Geneva Convention.

Kellys Brewpub: The Nob Hill institution will have its Session IPA, Scottish Ale, Apricot Ale, and Pumpkin Ale. It’s been so long since we have been there we have no idea if three of those beers are new or if they have been on tap for a while (we know the Scottish is a regular).

Kona Brewing: Hawaii’s biggest brewery will bring three of its regulars to town in the Longboard Lager, Pipeline Porter, and Big Wave, a golden ale. I’ll give the porter a shot since it was never on tap at any of the bars I was at in Honolulu about eight years ago. We’ll have Franz Solo seek out Hawaii beers when he is out there for a cousin’s wedding next month.

Lagunitas: These hopheads from California are just bringing their IPA and Undercover Shutdown Ale. Not that there’s anything wrong with those, but we can go buy ’em at Jubilation. Bring us something new!

Magic Hat: The Vermont brewery has also made a fairly recent push into NM. It’s beers tend to be all over the place. Along for the ride at Hopfest are #9, a “not quite pale ale,” the HI.P.A., Seance (a Saison), and deVeiled Red Ale. These appear to be all the beers available in their current variety pack that you can pick up at Jubilation.

What mystery kegs will Marble bring to Hopfest? We will find out soon.

What mystery kegs will Marble bring to Hopfest? We will find out soon.

Marble: They’re bringing … no one knows! As per usual, Marble seems to be throwing together its beer list at the last second. We are sure there will be some good ones, some company standards, and hopefully a surprise or two.

Odell: There’s nothing too new from this Colorado brewery, just the debut of Isolation Ale, their annual winter seasonal.

Omission: Widmer owns this gluten-free line of beers. For that gluten-free friend of years who just can’t take another cider, their Pale Ale will be on tap.

Redhook: Three of their standards will be available from Seattle, the ESB, Longhammer IPA, and Audible Ale. Actually, that last one is new. They brewed it with former ESPN anchor Dan Patrick. Yeah, you read that right.

Sierra Blanca/Rio Grande: The Moriarty brewery will have all of its crowd favorites on hand, including the Sierra Blanca Nut Brown Ale, which has won silver and gold, respectively, at the last two Great American Beer Festivals.

Santa Fe: Three regulars and Octoberfest. About what we expected.

Sierra Nevada: If you haven’t tried the Narwhal Imperial Stout, this is your chance.

Ska: Decadent Imperial IPA beckons hopheads everywhere. But where are the excellent stouts? WHERE?!

Spoetzl Brewery (Shiner): They are only bringing their Ruby Redbird. Have at it, fruit beer lovers.

Squatters/Wasatch: For hopheads only. These two Utah breweries are bringing Squatters IPA, Hop Rising DIPA, and Ghostrider White IPA.

SW Grape & Grain: They will have some home-brewed beers to sample, just like Dukes of Ale. See whose collection is superior. Hey, there’s an Octoberfest on their list! See Monica, not everyone brewed pumpkin beers instead this fall!

It's always a party at the Tractor booth with Skye and Dave, or whoever they send.

It’s always a party at the Tractor booth with Skye and Dave, or whoever they send.

Tractor: It’s pretty much what you’d get over at the Nob Hill tap room (IPA, DIPA, Red, Cortijo, Stout are listed, though I thought the Cortijo, a farmhouse ale, ran out a while ago), but they’re always a fun bunch to stop by and say hello to. And if you are one of those weird people who still hasn’t been to tractor, grab yourself a sample of the Double Plow Oatmeal Stout and see what you have been missing.

Widmer Bros.: Hopfest’s sponsoring brewery, so at least stop by and say “thanks!” Their Hefeweizen (4.9% ABV) and Alchemy Ale (5.8%) will be on hand. The latter is a result of an ongoing experiment to create a “perfectly balanced, perfectly hopped ale.” We love when breweries go all mad scientist on us.

So that’s the entire lineup (Duel will only be pouring in the VIP room, darn it), but as we said, it’s all subject to change. You can go clockwise or counter-clockwise around the rooms, or just dart about, picking shorter lines as the event gets more crowded. Whatever approach works for you, go with it. Just pick the beers or breweries that sound like your kind of places, and hit ’em up first. Everyone at these events has traditionally been polite and courteous, but still, please be on your best behavior. I think we have all seen enough videos on Deadspin of drunk sports fans battering each other. That bad behavior has never spilled over into Hopfest or any other beer festival, so don’t let it start. Smile and remember, it’s all about having a good time and lots of good beer.

However you choose to go, just don’t overdo it, please. Getting a designated driver or taking the Rail Runner is a must for this event. We will be doing the latter, so we’ll see some of you on the train.

On behalf of myself, Brandon, Porter Pounder, and associate Brew Crew member Corporal Hicks, we hope you enjoy Hopfest tomorrow half as much as we do!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

As promised a little while ago, the Crew has resurrected this bi-weekly feature. This is where we share short reviews of the various beers we have tried of late from local breweries and from microbreweries across the nation.

Since it has been a while since we have done one of these, I fear some of the guys might go overboard in a sheer number of reviews. Well, maybe they will. This is also us trying to find that free time amid work/school/sports coverage (we really can’t call what I do “work,” can we?) to jot stuff down. While it’s easy for this professional freelance writer to churn out copy quickly, the others, well, I at least know they don’t type with one finger. At least I hope they don’t.

Anyway, as always we divide this between local beers on tap and bottled beers from around the country.

Far Darrig Red Ale is well worth the trip to Bosque.

Far Darrig Red Ale is well worth the trip to Bosque Brewing.

Local brews

Bosque’s Far Darrig Red Ale: A malty blast of goodness, without too much sweetness like some Irish-style reds tend to have. This is a strong, flavorful brew but at the same time it is smooth and drinkable. It rather perfectly bridges that summer-to-autumn gap. The best comparison is Il Vicino’s Irish Red and the Far Darrig is very close in quality. It is a seasonal and those tend to often go quickly at Bosque, so head over ASAP for a pint or a growler fill. — Stoutmeister

Broken Bottle’s Highway 6 Scottish Ale: This one was delightfully smooth and as the pint warmed a bit I got a nice blast of peaty smoky goodness. Perhaps not my favorite Scottish (maybe I’m biased after the glorious Beam Me Up from Nexus), but very drinkable and worth a taste. — Franz Solo

I also had this one while watching my football team gag away its season opener. Thankfully, the beer was good enough to keep me distracted. The peat-smoked flavor was present early and late, but never to an overwhelming degree. Less sweet and malty than some other Scottish ales. It was the winner of a homebrewing challenge at BBB. — Stoutmeister

Broken Bottle’s Year Two IPA: Wow, did this one improve from last year in my opinion. The new batch includes some of my favorite hops (Willamette) which give it a lovely berry front end. What comes next in terms of flavor is the best elements from one of my personal favorites from BBB: Nacho Brau. These two beers are of a kind, with the IPA finishing nice and crisply. In a word, I LOVED this beer as an excellent alternative to some of the other offerings around town at this time. — Franz Solo

The Panama Joe Coffee Stout has become a regular feature at the Crew's weekend beer brunches.

The Panama Joe Coffee Stout has become a regular feature at the Crew’s weekend beer brunches.

Il Vicino’s Panama Joe Coffee Stout: I was very pleased that this one made a triumphant return to the Vicino lineup, a rare dark beer to end the summer. Delicious strong coffee aroma and flavor at the beginning well balanced with good strong stout malts. This was not as overwhelming in terms of coffee flavor as last year’s and all in all a wonderful stout. — Franz Solo

Il Vicino’s Wine Barrel Aged Golden Strong: I had this one during ABQ Beer Week at the Double Barrel tasting in April and it was really quite good, if a little young. The latest release was simply magical, sweet Cabernet with potent Belgian character, almost like drinking a really good mead. At the time of this posting Vicino has re-released the other of their barrel aged Belgians, the Dark Strong, which I also highly recommend and will be sampling soon. — Franz Solo

Il Vicino’s Sucellus Dry Stout: This beer is Denver-bound as the winner of IVBC’s Pro-Am homebrew challenge. As the name might imply, it is as dry as a beer can be. The roasted elements are somewhat muted. This is more akin to a regular Guinness stout, though it does have the feel of being as thick. I hope it does fairly well in the Pro-Am competition, though it’s not as good as the Coconut Porter from last year. — Stoutmeister

Il Vicino’s Dark American Lager: Another GABF entry, this beer looks and feels like a brown ale. It has some flavor, but seems to be missing something that would give the extra oomph it lacks. I liked their Dark Matter Pilsner a lot more than this. It’s just too light of a beer. — Stoutmeister

La Cumbre’s Who Gose There: Well, here’s something you don’t see around the 505 … ever. Honestly, I was a virgin to this style, but La Cumbre never really disappoints. A tall wheat body, with a somewhat complex hop profile, citrus notes abound. A light and crisp finish with a slightly tangy/sour hit in the finish. Refreshing and not too strong, this drinks like a very sessionable wheat beer. Definitely unique and different from other wheat beers, though. Try this if you like your pints crisp, tangy, and refreshing. — Brandon Daniel

Nexus’ American Amber Ale: More hops and less malt than your standard amber, this lies at the other end of the spectrum than the Alaskan Amber I reviewed last week. The hops are certainly not overwhelming, it’s a little closer to a pale ale and makes this drier than one would expect from an amber. Over time it mellows out and just becomes an easy-drinking beer to have alongside your chicken and waffles. — Stoutmeister

Out-of-town beers

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen: I’m typically not a fan of rauchbiers (there have been some bad ones), but this was a surprise procurement from a trip to Total Wine. The smoke flavor is very good, very consistent which one would expect from a beer that has been brewed for centuries in a small town in Bavaria. They use only beechwood to roast the malts and then age this beer in all-copper vessels for several months. If you want a smoked beer that is exactly what the title indicates, this is your beer; really good smoke flavor with a delightful Märzen base. — Franz Solo

Anderson Valley’s Fall Hornin’ Ale: I like this beer quite a bit, it may be too sweet for some palates, but I really enjoyed the pumpkin spices that are almost like pumpkin pie or marshmallow sweet potatoes. My one wish is that it were just a tad stronger in alcohol content, but for a pumpkin fall seasonal, very good. — Franz Solo

Of course a bunch of metal-loving beer reviewers went to Jubilation and bought this bomber.

Of course a bunch of metal-loving beer reviewers went to Jubilation and bought this bomber.

Robinson’s Trooper: Okay, I was excited but skeptical for this one. But a beer created by Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson? Of course I’m going to try it! And it was pretty solid overall. Earthy hop notes and biscuit are present in the nose. Drinks smooth with a medium body, and caramel, toffee, and almost a cookie flavor in there. Roasted malt and hop bitterness are pretty mild for an ESB, but pleasant. This would be a decent starting point for someone not used to the ESB style (an underrated one, if I do say so). Finishes mellow with more biscuit and caramel, bitterness fades quickly. Pretty solid stuff; run to the hills and grab some … I mean, run to the liquor store! — Brandon Daniel

Stone’s Götterdämmerung 17 Anniversary IPA: A monster of a beer. Fresh, flavorful, bitter, bold, awesome, all wrapped in the same bomber. I’ll take this one against any other IPA from 2013 as the best of the year. I’ve had three of these so far and I’m hooked so if you love hops and a mosh pit of hops try this guy! — Franz Solo

Uinta Punk’n Harvest Pumpkin Ale: It’s that time of year for pumpkin beers! This is probably the most solid of the few I’ve tried this season. The nose is slight pumpkin, cinnamon, and clove, with slightly earthy hops. A light-to-medium bodied ale, the pumpkin flavors are fresh and accompanied by cinnamon, clove, some caramel and toffee. It has a smooth mouthfeel, with a touch of vanilla. I was hoping for more pronounced pumpkin, but it’s enough to make this one an enjoyable seasonal brew. It will certainly bring the feeling of fall to your palate. — Brandon Daniel

Local beers we’d like to try but have not had (yet)

Chama River’s Last Minute Ale; Il Vicino’s Hell(y)es; La Cumbre’s Hoppy & Weiss and Project Dank: Operation Drown Moses; Turtle Mountain’s Dark Star Black IPA and Molasses Porter; plus any and all beers from breweries in Farmington, Taos, Santa Fe, Las Vegas, Portales, Deming, and Las Cruces!

If any of you readers have tried these and would like to share (or pretty much any beer available in NM, for that matter), please send your short reviews of 100 words or so to nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com. Please include whatever name you would like to go by. You can also direct message us your reviews on Facebook.

* * * *

That’s all from us this time around. We’re going to try to move this feature back to Fridays in the future. Thanks for reading and we will be back in about two-plus weeks (tentatively Oct. 4) with our next beer roundup.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Stoutmeister here with another Beer Roundup. We did the last one three weeks ago but hope to stick to more of a biweekly schedule from here on out (the July 4 extended holiday weekend threw us off). As we stated last time, the idea of the Beer Roundup is to provide our readers with short reviews of the beers we try at local breweries and, starting this time around, the beers we purchase to take home from in-state and out-of-state breweries. Think of it as a big old collection of our suggested beers for your weekend activities … which we’re releasing on a Monday, but only this time. It will go back to being a Friday feature next time.

The two Brew Crew members on the left have had free time to enjoy beer lately. The busy guys on the right have not.

The two Brew Crew members on the left have had free time to enjoy beer lately. The busy guys on the right have not.

With all that being said, we’re still open to people providing reviews of the beers we haven’t tried. Yes, you, gentle reader, can chime in on the discussion. You can send us a one-paragraph review at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com or via our Facebook page.

To help you out with that, at the suggestion of our friend Josh “Be a Hoptimist” Sanders, here is a list of some of the beers we have wanted to try but have not gotten around to at local breweries:

Bosque Brewing — Saison Rouge; Broken Bottle — Jurye 4th Brown, Don Cherry Wheat; Chama River — Cold Crush Kolsch, Bock to the Future II, Sunset Red; Marble — Bier, American Gold; Turtle Mountain — Genesis IPA, Triple Play Pale Ale

There are others, of course, and if anyone is up in Santa Fe or the Taos area or pretty much anywhere in New Mexico with a locally-made beer, share that with us, too.

Brewery beers

Nexus’ Chocolate Porter

Stoutmeister: This delectable beer is back at Nexus. Hooray. This batch is not as sweet and overwhelmingly chocolate as the last one. It has a better balance between the sweetness and the roasted malts. The mouthfeel is thicker than most summer beers but it still works despite the warm season outside. For those craving dark beer in the summer, Nexus has come through for you (ditto Tractor and its Milk Stout).

Sandia Chile Grill’s Sun Ranger, Rattlesnake IPA, and Smooth Move Amber

Stoutmeister: I grabbed small samples of these (I had an Isotopes game to cover later, so I could not indulge in a full pint) when I stopped by to talk to Mickey and Clinton about what they had on tap for The Week Ahead in Beer. The Amber was first. As the name implies, it is very smooth and light on the palate. This is a good starter beer; it won’t linger too long. I prefer beers with a little more oomph and body. The Sun Ranger is a variation on their Irish red. It is also light on the palate but with a nice, malty sweetness that hits you in the middle. This is a tasty and refreshing beer, perfect for summer. The Rattlesnake IPA has been confounding Clinton since he started brewing it. The guys from Il Vicino have given him some advice, so I look forward to the next batch. This current batch had a bit of an odd flavor profile. There are some hops present but they lack the bite you normally associate with an IPA.

Tractor’s Milk Stout

Stoutmeister: Oh, how I missed thee, Milk Stout. It is good to have you back. This is not an overly sweet stout. There are still some nice roasted malt flavors that mix in with the creamy sweetness, giving this beer a good amount of balance. The mouthfeel is lighter than most stouts, so it fits the warmer season. I just find it nice that Tractor is still willing to give us a dark seasonal beer when everybody else is churning out the light-colored stuff in the summer. You can do both, brewers!

Take-home beers

I left this section to the dynamic duo of Franz Solo and Brandon. They each even wrote an intro.

Franz Solo: Well, let’s go through the past month and really dig deep to find the best gems (there have been many, many good brews worthy of mentioning). I’ve mostly stuck to what I’ve been stocking my beer fridge with, lots of bombers of really strong double imperial behemoths of beers so here’s a couple of my favorites of late.

Brandon: I feel a slight bit of shame, as time to make it out to our local watering holes has been hard to come by for me lately; thus, most of my beer consumption has been at home, so here are some of the bombers and bottles that have graced my fridge recently.

Anytime you relate a beer to a mosh pit, you know at least a couple of us are gonna buy it and drink it.

Anytime you relate a beer to a mosh pit, you know at least a couple of us are gonna buy it and drink it.

Stone’s RuinTen

Franz Solo: This monster of an IPA is the 10th anniversary of my personal favorite IPA, Ruination. It smells like an ocean of hops and sandblasts you in the face right from the start. We have a superb amber color like liquid gold and the first taste hits like an IPL without the sweetness, a truly metal beer that lives up to the maxim on the bottle: “A stage dive into a mosh pit of hops.” If this beer was a metal show it would be Slayer and Pantera back-to-back for double sets. Now, I’d spend a good long while describing the subtle … waaaaaait, there are no subtle flavors here, and that time could be much better spent enjoying what is a 10-year homage to my favorite IPA! So if you have a chance, head to Jubilation to pick one of these up while you can. Pröst!

Brandon: I appreciate a cacophony of hops in my beer here and there. However, Stone’s RuinTen KILLED MY PALATE. As Franz wrote, there is really nothing subtle about the hops packed into this anniversary offering of the Ruination IPA. You pick up resin, citrus, light floral offerings, and an almost nonexistent malt profile. RuinTen claims to be “a stage dive into a mosh pit of hops;” I’d say it was more like being in the middle of a wall of death at a Sick Of It All show (needless to say, it took me back to my hardcore punk roots). Definitely not for the faint of heart. If you like a hoppy kick in the teeth, turn your stereo to 11, pour one of these and bang your head.

Lagunitas Lucky 13 Imperial Red Ale

Franz Solo: This beer had an enormous head, very creamy with a strong hoppy aroma. It drank and tasted almost like a barleywine, but was exceptionally smooth for the ABV of 8.65 percent and clocking in at 76.92 IBU’s. I would have liked a tad more malt presence in this burly red monster, but we are talking about Lagunitas here so I will let that slide (re: Hop Stoopid IPA). I’d rate this one as nearly on par with Il Vicino’s Odin’s Imperial Red with a slight edge to Odin.

It's a strange name for a beer, but hey, it works.

It’s a strange name for a beer, but hey, it works.

Rogue’s Dad’s Little Helper

Franz Solo: This had an incredibly thick and wonderfully creamy head, not unlike that of a milk stout, but not much in the way of any aroma. The first taste had a delightful double whammy with a little coffee and a delightful bite of hops. This almost had a wavelike quality in the flavors, which would do a wonderful cresting of hops leading down to just a delightfully bitter, slightly burnt finish like good dark coffee. As I poured a second glass, the dark creamy head came back just as strongly as at the start. Delightful!

Anderson Valley Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout

Franz Solo: I had this one twice, once on a Friday evening and then while I was grilling on the Fourth of July. It lives up very much to the billing that it tastes and smells like Wild Turkey. There are strong hints of raisins and a very crisp and creamy head.  You pick up the aroma of Hunter S. Thompson’s favorite whiskey (“buy the ticket, take the ride”). I’m astounded at the amount of flavor that came out of this very full bourbon barrel stout as it only clocked in at 6 percent ABV! I am very impressed with this beer and it’s one I could certainly drink all day.

Sierra Nevada Barrel-Aged Bigfoot Barleywine Ale

Brandon: Now, I know what you are probably thinking, and yes this beer came out months ago. I’ve been storing a bomber of this to age a bit and just couldn’t resist popping it open recently. The folks at SNB did a wonderful job here: mellow resiny hops, oak hints throughout that play well with the strong malt base. A helping of vanilla and toasted coconut hits around the middle and helps provide a smooth mouthfeel. A big beer that is oh-so-smooth but big in ABV, this is a good beer to end the evening with. Delicious stuff.

Rogue’s Captain Sig’s Northwestern Ale

Brewed in honor of Sig, Edgar and Norman Hansen (you may be familiar with their crab wrangling on “The Deadliest Catch”), Rogue classifies this brew as an India Red Ale. It leans more towards the red end of things, though, as the hops are light and floral, though they give good support to the malt bill found in the rest of the beer. A medium-bodied ale that drinks smooth and still provides a good deal of caramel throughout. A nice flavorful beer for those looking for a richer taste in the summer months, without being too heavy.

* * * *

All right, that’s it from us for this time around. We should have E-Rock back from his California “work” excursion and hopefully we get Shilling out to more than just a soccer game in the next two weeks (though it was good game, even though the Rapids lost). Oh, and Porter Pounder might finally be done with his movie … eh, probably not. Even when that one ends, another shall begin.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister