Posts Tagged ‘Bell’s Brewery’

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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Beer pairs so well with tacos, grilled cheese, and just about everything else today.

It’s back to a full slate of events today, with food pairings being the biggest theme.

There’s beer and tacos, beer and grilled cheese, beer and whiskey and food, and so on. Basically, fill your belly, fill your soul, and have some fun.

Featured Event

Every day we will pick what we consider the biggest, most interesting, most unique event. This does not mean you should go to only this event and ignore the rest. All of them deserve your attention, but realistically, you can probably only attend a few. So we will make our daily pick, and you can either jump on it, or declare the Crew is foolish (we kinda are) and pick your own.

What: Two Fools and Canteen Whiskey and Beer Pairing. Where: Two Fools Tavern. When: 6-8 p.m. Cost: $25.

Details: Get three Canteen beers paired with three whiskies and three food items. Irish Red is paired with Tamdhu 10-year and whisky BBQ shredded duck. Exodus IPA is paired with Teeling and pork belly jicama taco. Dark ‘n Lusty Stout is paired with Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban and sea salt caramel truffle.

Why you should go: Well, um, gosh, that just looks ridiculous. If you love beer, whiskey, and food, then this might be pretty close to your idea of heaven.

All the other great events

What: Cask Release of Two Fools Whiskey Barrel-Aged Obey the Darkside. Where: Canteen Brewhouse. When: Noon until it runs out. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Yes, Canteen saved some of the Obey that we helped brew and put it in a barrel. Some of that barrel-aged beauty will be in a cask for us all to enjoy. Why you should go: If you don’t go early, the Crew will drink it all. We’re not kidding about this.

What: Special Tapping of Boxing Bear Sucker Punch. Where: High and Dry Brewing. When: 2-10 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: It can be hard to find the Bear’s big IPAs east of the Rio Grande, so take advantage of it being on tap at High and Dry. Why you should go: If you still haven’t been to High and Dry, this is as good a time as any to visit.

What: Ultimate Taco Tuesday. Where: Ponderosa Brewing. When: 3-9 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: For $15 plus tax, get four special tacos (fish, beef & green chile, carne adovada, twice-burnt stuffed) paired with four beers (Crosscut Kolsch, Ghost Train IPA, Brewers Beard Bock, Hop-Mosa 2.0). Why you should go: Tacos!

What: Beer & Grilled Cheese Pairing. Where: Tractor Nob Hill. When: 5-10 p.m. Cost: $13. Details: Once again, Tractor teams up with Cheesy Street for this delicious event. Get four mini-grilled cheeses — Yo Mama’s (classic cheddar), The Dubliner (aged Irish Dubliner cheese with Granny Smith apple slices), Uber Cheesy (German-style with grilled onions and brown mustard), New Mexico’s Favorite (cheese, green chile, bacon) — and a dessert (Raspberry Cinnamon Cheesecake), each paired with a different beer (Almanac IPA, Double Plow Oatmeal Stout, Apricot Wheat, New Mexican Lager, Berry Cider). Why you should go: It’s like the other beer and cheese events, only the cheese is all melty and gooey and wonderful.

What: Tri Tuesday Beer and Taco Pairing. Where: Canteen Taproom. When: 6-10 p.m. Cost: $13. Details: Three tacos are paired up with three 5-ounce beer pours to bring you total happiness. Why you should go: They’re leaving the identities of the beers and the style of tacos a mystery. We like mysteries.

What: Collaboration Beer Dinner with Bell’s Brewery and Steel Bender Brewyard. Where: TFK Smokehouse. When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Cost: $55. Details: Indulge in a five-course meal with six beers, three from each brewery. Bell’s Oberon opens it up, followed by Steel Bender’s Raspberry Dynamite with a Brazilian salad. Then it’s Bell’s Lager of the Lakes with smoked pork firecrackers and Steel Bender’s Ingenio with margarita shrimp tacos. Finish it off with Steel Bender’s Red Iron Red with smoked beef short ribs and Bell’s 30th Anniversary Cherry Stout Reserve with Mayan chocolate mousse. Call TFK at (505) 639-5669 for reservations. Why you should go: If you’re not hungry and thirsty just reading that, we need to have a talk.

What: Hops and Beer Talk with Tom Brewer and Matt Meier. Where: Red Door Brewing (Candelaria). When: 7-8 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Our own AmyO will preview this event in full later today, but basically you get the chance to sit down and listen to Red Hat Hops owner Tom Brewer and Red Door head brewer Matt Meier discuss the fledgling hop farming industry in New Mexico and what it can mean to the future of craft beer in our state. Why you should go: It’s educational and it’s free, plus you can enjoy some of Matt’s new beers, including the ESB, English IPA, and New England IPA.

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Got any questions, comments, complaints? Send them to nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com, or leave them here on our site, on Facebook, on Twitter (@nmdarksidebc), or on Instagram.

Enjoy yourselves out there, but please, do it responsibly.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Set yourself free on Day Three as Nexus turns 7, Marble brunches with the brewers, and more!

Anyone else get wiped out by the 21 and Over event at Sister last night? There were so many good beers, it took a big bite out of us. Nevertheless, we push forward for more!
Nexus’ anniversary may loom as the dominant even today, but there are 10 total events, the most of any day this Beer Week, so take your pick and properly pace yourselves.

Featured Event

Every day we will pick what we consider the biggest, most interesting, most unique event. This does not mean you should go to only this event and ignore the rest. All of them deserve your attention, but realistically, you can probably only attend a few. So we will make our daily pick, and you can either jump on it, or declare the Crew is foolish (we kinda are) and pick your own.

What: Nexus’ Seventh Anniversary Party. Where: Nexus Brewery. When: 11 a.m. to close. Cost: No cover charge.

Details: Ken’s red chile ribs will be available, along with music from Racine Creole. Enjoy some pints of the Notorious BUN (Big Ugly Nasty) IPA and Beam Me Up Scotty and celebrate seven years of one of our all-time favorite brewpubs!

Why you should go: Really? You need a reason? Besides the delicious, delicious food? And the amazing beers? There is no hope for you if you say no. Not enough parking? Uber/Lyft. Too long for a table? Snack before you get there (the smell of the food will instantly make you hungry again). Anything else? We will smack you upside the head. Seriously, we will. NOW FEAST.

All the other great events

What: Brewer’s Brunch. Where: Marble Westside. When: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Cost: $25. Details: Join brewmasters Ted Rice and Josh Trujillo for this edition of the brunch, where patrons get to enjoy a full meal from Ohana Hut paired with Marble beers, and learn all about Marble beers and the process by which they’re created from the brewers themselves. Why you should go: For once, let someone else besides me (Stoutmeister) tell you about a key chapter in the beer history of New Mexico, plus beer and food come with it.

What: Pedals and Pints with Oompa Lupulin DIPA Release. Where: Canteen Brewhouse. When: Noon-11 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Ride your bike to the brewery and get discounts on the beer, including the new Oompa Lupulin. Why you should go: With all the beer dinners and food pairings fattening you up, take a day to get some exercise while still trying some delicious beers.

What: Double Beer Release and Food Pairing with Malaguena’s. Where: High and Dry Brewing. When: Noon. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Enjoy two new beers, The Sun Never Sweats (Thai Wheat Ale) and Smell the Glove (Rye Ale), paired with shrimp skewers with curry cocktail sauce and BBQ brisket burnt ends, respectively, until the supply runs out. Why you should go: That does sound like a darn tasty way to enjoy the afternoon on High and Dry’s wonderful patio.

What: Cider-day Night Fever. Where: Tractor Nob Hill. When: 1-11 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Enjoy some of the finest ciders from Tractor plus guests Boxing Bear, Black Mesa Winery, Palmer, and Red Door, plus DJ Dave 12 will be spinning classic disco hits starting at 8 p.m. Why you should go: Drink lots of cider, then dance off the added pounds at the end of the night.

What: Pig Roast and Marble Special Keg Tapping. Where: Freight House (Bernalillo). When: 1 p.m. Cost: $15.99. Details: Feast upon some fresh roasted pig from the matanza pit while enjoying some delicious Marble IPA-X. Why you should go: Meat. Hops. It’s all a growing boy (or girl) needs.

What: Bell’s Brewery Tasting. Where: Albertsons Enchanted Hills (Rio Rancho). When: 3-5 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Try some of Bell’s finest packaged beers for free, then buy your favorites and take them home. Why you should go: It always seems like the beer tastings are in Albuquerque, so go get ‘em Rio Rancho residents.

What: Beer Dinner with Bosque and Upslope. Where: M’tucci’s Italian Market and Pizzeria. When: 6:30-9:30 p.m. Cost: $75 ($55 for brewery industry employees). Details: A five-course meal, with each dish paired with one beer apiece from Bosque and Upslope. Call (505) 639-4819 for reservations. Why you should go: Yeah, it is expensive, but the menu sure looks delicious. Click on the M’tucci’s Facebook page to see what’s being served.

What: Beer-rita Release and Selena Covers. Where: Tractor Wells Park. When: 8-10 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Casey Mraz and Amanda Machon (Red Light Cameras) will be singing the late pop singer’s biggest hits, plus Tractor releases its first Beer-rita. Why you should go: Two talented musicians plus a new beer? What more do you want?

What: DJ Graemater with Afro Beats. Where: Nexus Silver Taproom. When: 8:30 p.m.-Midnight. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Get your dancing shoes on and enjoy the anniversary beers, Beam Me Up Scotty and Notorious BUN IPA, all while staying close to home on the west side (should you live that way). Why you should go: The west side is lacking in places to enjoy music and beer, so live it up.

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Got any questions, comments, complaints? Send them to nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com, or leave them here on our site, on Facebook, on Twitter (@nmdarksidebc), or on Instagram.

Enjoy yourselves out there, but please, do it responsibly.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

It’s a fairly mellow Friday … oh, wait, no it’s not, mainly because of one bonkers tapping after another.

That was still a lot of beer on Thursday, but we gotta admit that we like limiting the number of events to 10 or less per day. It keeps us more focused, cuts down on our Lyft/Uber expenses, and so on.

There are only six events today. Each one is a little different, yet we cannot take our eyes off one particular downtown gathering.

Featured Event

Every day we will pick what we consider the biggest, most interesting, most unique event. This does not mean you should go to only this event and ignore the rest. All of them deserve your attention, but realistically, you can probably only attend a few. So we will make our daily pick, and you can either jump on it, or declare the Crew is foolish (we kinda are) and pick your own.

What: 21 and Over. Where: Sister. When: 5-8 p.m. Cost: No cover charge.

Details: Eight breweries that have been around for 21 or more years are coming to Sister, each with a rare beer (or two) for this special event. Feeling light? There’s Four Peaks’ Green Tea Lager or Sierra Nevada’s Kolsch German-Style Ale. Feeling hoppy? Rogue’s Combat Wombat could be your ticket, or perhaps Bell’s Double Two Hearted. Feel like puckering up? Odell’s ’16 Meddler or New Belgium’s Clutch Sour Stout could whet your whistle. Feeling malty? There’s a choice between Left Hand’s Chai Milk Stout Nitro, Firestone Walker’s ’17 Helldorado, and Bell’s 30th Anniversary Cherry Stout Reserve.

Why you should go: There are not your regular beers on the shelves at liquor and grocery stores across town. There’s a little something for everyone here. We can’t think of a better way to kick off your weekend.

All the other great events

What: Beam Me Up Scotty Release. Where: Nexus Brewery. When: All day. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Just in time for the anniversary party, this Scottish Wee Heavy returns to taps with a burly, malty base and a slight peaty/smoky kick. Why you should go: Get some now before the place gets packed for the anniversary party, which you should still attend, but this will give you time to truly enjoy this beer slowly without anyone eyeing your table.

What: Bosque Tasting. Where: Jubilation. When: 4-6 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Rather than just bring beers to taste, Bosque is teaming up with Carnivore Popcorn. Try some Bosque Lager with Hollypeno popcorn, Elephants on Parade with Sour Apple popcorn, Bosque IPA with Garlic Rosemary popcorn, and Scotia Scotch Ale with Cinnamon Caramel Espresso popcorn. Why you should go: If you did not get simultaneously hungry and thirsty reading those details, go see a doctor, now.

What: Founders KBS ’17/18 Vertical. Where: Nob Hill Bar & Grill. When: 5-7 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Remember when the Crew did our latest ridiculous review of this classic barrel-aged stout? Well, now you can do your own version by trying the 2017 and 2018 versions side-by-side. Why you should go: You get to grab some delicious food while trying a couple of big beers. Hey, you gotta eat dinner at some point, right?

What: ABQ Trolley Company’s The Hopper—A hop-on, hop-off brew cruise. Where: Red Door Downtown, Duel Downtown, Marble Downtown, Rio Bravo. When: 6:30-11 p.m. Cost: $25. Details: Hop on the trolley, hop off at a brewery, enjoy a pint, and repeat. With trolleys running every 30 minutes or so, there will be stops at Red Door’s downtown taproom, Duel’s taproom, Marble, and Rio Bravo. Why you should go: Feel like a pub crawl? Worried about your car? Leave it at home and leave the driving to these good folks.

What: Beer Release & Folk Covers of Radiohead. Where: Tractor Wells Park. When: 8 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: A slew of local musicians will be covering the band, while Tractor releases its next entry in the Beer for a Better Burque (BBB) series, Peach Chinook Common with gold glitter, which will benefit Equality New Mexico. Why you should go: Radiohead might be not our thing, but maybe it’s yours. Also, you gotta admit to be curious about an actual glitter beer.

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Got any questions, comments, complaints? Send them to nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com, or leave them here on our site, on Facebook, on Twitter (@nmdarksidebc), or on Instagram.

Enjoy yourselves out there, but please, do it responsibly.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

That little construction project on McMahon near Unser is the forthcoming west side taproom for Tractor.

Time to clear out the old beer notebook once again …

Tap That offers up a different approach

For those who do not follow us on Facebook, you might have missed our discovery, per reader Matthew Abeyta, that there is a new taproom opening up this weekend. It is not, however, like most (or possibly) taprooms you have ever been to before.

Tap That, located on Montgomery just west of Louisiana (near the old Heimat House/Assets Grille), is hosting its grand opening starting at 5 p.m. today (Friday). The concept, as explained to us by our friend Angelo Orona, is where people come in, get a hi-tech bracelet, and use it to order the beers. There will also be a full food menu. It is not quite like one of those serve yourself taprooms that have popped up in other states (that is still against the law in this state, as far as we know), but it will be a different concept.

We would share more from the Albuquerque Business First story that ran a few weeks ago, but it is locked behind the subscriber-only paywall. Needless to say, if you can afford a subscription (we cannot), go get it, and help some fellow journalists stay employed.

Otherwise, head over to Tap That and let us know what you think. With luck, and a little free time, the Crew will head over there soon as well.

Tastings, tappings, and more

Outside the breweries, there is a fair amount going on this weekend that will keep us plenty busy. It starts today (Friday) at 4 p.m. as North Coast Brewing will be at Jubilation, presenting their most excellent Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout and other beers for tasting. Word is there will even be two bottles of the barrel-aged Rasputin, XVII and XX. It runs until 6 p.m. and is free, of course, but it is so hard to roll into Jubilation these days and not roll out with a box full of delicious beers from around the country and some delectable local offerings as well.

Once you are done there, head on down to Sister for a Bell’s tap takeover that starts at 5 p.m. In addition to the worth-the-hype Hopslam, an imperial IPA brewed with honey, there will be multiple other varieties available as well. The one we are excited about is the Whiskey Barrel-Aged Cherry Stout, which many folks have told us is a much more balanced version than the regular batch.

For events at breweries, might we suggest going to Marble Westside tonight at 8 to see our friend Kristen’s band, String Dinner. Hopefully her other band, Distances, which might be the best metal band in Albuquerque, will be performing again soon somewhere.

If anyone needs to get out of town this weekend, our friends at Truth or Consequences Brewing have suggested a trip south. Take a dip in the hot springs to relax, then head over to the brewery for some fun and new beers. Big River IBA (7.5% ABV, 69 IBU) went on tap Thursday. It is an India Brown Ale, a fun take on a slightly different IPA. The brewery has live music ever Friday and Saturday night, too. Special upcoming concerts include The Pine Hill Haints on Tuesday and The Booze Bombs on Thursday, both at 7 p.m. The latter band is described as German rockabilly, which has us imagining Rammstein crossed with Reverend Horton Heat, or something like that.

The TorC staff recommends The Firewater Lodge, The Blackstone, Riverbend, Las Palomas, The Charles, Indian Springs, and The Pelican as the best places to stay the night.

New brewery/taproom updates

  • High & Dry Brewing has quietly opened in the southeast. I took a tour the other day with brewer/owner Andrew Kalemba, so look for our full story early next week. For now, there are six guest taps available, but the house beers will not be on tap until the grand opening on February 10. It is a sweet little space that they have built on Adams just south of Lomas. It also might be one of the most deceptive taprooms in town. From the outside it looks quite small, but the inside can fit up to 88 people, with even more room in the back for brewing.
  • Tractor has a pending license for its forthcoming west side taproom, plus some pictures went up on social media this week (see above). Look for that space to open in the coming months.
  • It appears the mysterious 1933 Brewing Company announced for Rio Rancho will be moving into the old Fat Squirrel Pub and Grill on Southern Boulevard. Long ago, of course, that was the original location of Turtle Mountain. It will not be owned by the folks behind Pi Brewing, who also previously owned the Fat Squirrel, but by new owners.
  • Construction continues apace at Cantero and Lava Rock, but neither appears close to opening its doors. The Ponderosa taproom at the El Vado Motel redevelopment has been delayed (more on that with the Ponderosa Look Back/Look Ahead Series article coming next week) and will probably not open until later in the spring.
  • Another new addition to the list of pending small brewer licenses is Casa Vieja LLC in Corrales. We are pretty sure we know what this one is, too, but for now we are remaining mum at the request of the owner.

That is all from us today. As always, please let us know whenever you see anything out there that you think is beer news: nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Black Note is a beauty, especially on tap.

December is here, and you have one more chance to snag a taste of one of the true wonders of the barrel-aged world with one last keg of Bell’s Black Note on tap at Nob Hill Bar & Grill this evening. This beer, a.k.a. Voldemort, is just as insidious as he who shall not be named. You will not notice the darkness as it creeps over your palate until it is far too late. A thoroughly delicious end, if I do say so myself.

This batch was added to freshly retired bourbon barrels, so it has a good, wet presence of bourbon that extends from the aroma and melts throughout the entire experience. I found hints of light cinnamon, vanilla, and plenty of roast and black malts in this one, with an incredibly smooth, sweet chocolate middle, finished off with fresh bourbon.

This beer does not mess around at all. A quintessential winter warmer with hints of creamy chocolate that coats your entire palate with sweet sweet darkness. But, don’t take my word for it, go forth and enjoy this black diamond of winter’s looming chill and decide for yourself!

You can still find this delicious offering in six packs around town.

For that matter, Bell’s is a brewery that has multiple stouts to choose from, as they put it themselves, a “stout portfolio,” ranging from the somewhat sweeter Special Double Cream Stout to the tart Cherry Stout all the way to Expedition (Russian Imperial) in all of its glory, not to mention Kalamazoo and of course Black Note. These alone are only some of the delightful darkness that has landed in our fair desert oasis on the wings of the tolling of the Bells. But, as I’ve said, don’t take my own musings for it, go forth and explore with your own palates and sensibilities! Deep was the darkness with no light at all, and it was good.

Skål!

— Franz Solo

Counting down the days till Expedition and its stout friends arrive from Michigan! (Photo courtesy of Bell’s Brewery)

It was pretty awesome and all when Bell’s Brewery started distributing in New Mexico last month. After the initial excitement just to get beers like Two Hearted and Kalamazoo Stout here, plenty of folks started asking that one, inevitable question: “Where are the seasonals?”

Oh, they are about to arrive in a big, big way. Bell’s sales rep Silas Sims sent us the full list of upcoming seasonal beers coming to New Mexico, plus just where you will be able to sample them, enjoy them on tap, and get them to go.

First up, sour lovers, get ready for The Wild One (6.5% ABV, 20 IBU), a sour brown ale aged in oak foeders with a little brett thrown in for an extra funky kick. If you prefer something maltier and chewier, Christmas Ale (7.5% ABV, 35 IBU), a hefty Scotch ale, is “certain to make any occasion festive, or at least a bit more bearable,” per the Bell’s website.

Then comes the darkness, a quartet of excellent stouts that has the Crew already saving up some money in advance. Expedition Stout (10.5% ABV) is a massive Russian Imperial Stout that has earned plenty of fame among the fans of the darkness. It does not arrive alone, as two dessert stouts will accompany it to Albuquerque and points beyond. Cherry Stout (7% ABV) is a little more tart than sweet, using only Montmorency cherries from the Traverse City area in Michigan. Meanwhile, Special Double Cream Stout (6.1% ABV) gets its sweetness and smooth mouthfeel not from lactose, but from a blend of 10 special malts.

Finally, the whale of the bunch will be here, but in limited supply. Black Note Stout (11.2% ABV) is a wonderful behemoth, a bourbon barrel-aged blend of the Expedition and the Special Double Cream. “Aimed squarely at the stout and bourbon aficionados, Black Note makes a grand statement about the art of the dark.” That is just beautiful poetry right there, people.

These beers should arrive by the end of next week, meaning November will be getting off to a great start. Jubilation will have them, as should both Total Wine locations and both Whole Foods locations. Additional retailers will be announced when that information becomes available.

For those not quite sure if you want these beers, there will be some special tastings and tappings coming up as well.

  • Friday, November 3: Sister Bar will host the first tapping of Black Note from 5 to 8 p.m., with Porter, Oarsman, Lager of the Lakes, and Two Hearted also available.
  • Thursday, November 9: Jubilation will have a tasting of select beers (no Black Note, sorry, it is a limited amount) from 4 to 6 p.m. Keep an eye on their social media for the full lineup.
  • (Black) Friday, November 24: O’Niell’s on Juan Tabo will have kegs of Black Note, The Wild One, Winter White, and one TBD beer on tap from 5 to 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 30: Whole Foods on Carlisle will have a tasting of all available beers from 4 to 6 p.m.
  • TBD date in December: There will be another Black Note tapping, this time at Nob Hill Bar & Grill. We will share that info when it is available.

Stout season is upon us! Glory to the elder gods!

Now we can’t wait to see what our local breweries will produce this season to go up against these national heavyweights. We have a feeling the winner will be … all of us!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

fire_hops_entrance

Fire & Hops Gastropub in Santa Fe

The arrival of Bell’s Brewery in New Mexico led to plenty of special tappings and tap takeovers. One of those took place in Santa Fe, at an establishment that is becoming a go-to place for craft beer lovers.

“Bell’s reputation precedes it,” said Josh Johns, co-owner and cicerone of Fire & Hops Gastropub. “I’m always on the lookout for new beers to bring to Santa Fe, and I’ve been impressed with what I’ve tasted from Bell’s before.”

Bell’s recently raised some eyebrows when Zymurgy, a magazine dedicated to homebrewers, named their Two Hearted Ale as the best beer in America. Bell’s finally took over the lead spot that Russian River’s Pliny the Elder held for eight straight years.

twohearted

Two Hearted Ale, complete with proper glassware

I’ve had Bell’s in the past, while traveling in Arizona and in the Midwest. I remembered the Two Hearted Ale (American IPA, 7.0% ABV), but not much beyond that. So, I was looking forward to tasting a wider swath of what they’ve been brewing when I sat down with Josh at the tap takeover last Wednesday at the restaurant.

Elsewhere in Santa Fe, the Piñon Pub at Whole Foods Market was tapping their Best Brown Ale (5.8% ABV) and Violet Crown was set to tap a few the following day. My choice was a simple one of where to go, however, because Fire & Hops has been a favorite local haunt since they opened their doors three years ago, and Josh’s presentation of the craft brews he serves up is always impeccable.

All of Bell’s primary brews are stylistically classical, yet their smaller-batch experiments show a willingness to explore. The Kiwi Gose that I sampled was fruity on the nose and tart, retaining the kiwi flavor all the way through. The staples that will be available in New Mexico regularly will delight the purists among us. The Two Hearted Ale was clean, balanced, and smooth. There’s nothing particularly hop-forward about this IPA, though it has a full profile while drinking it, the slightly bitter aftertaste does not linger. I do love a hoppy IPA, but find that more classically balanced ales like this one are easily drinkable. That’s why Two Hearted Ale will likely be on regular rotation in this hop-head’s repertoire.

Bellsbrews

From left to right, Lager of the Lakes Bohemian Pilsner, Kalamazoo Stout, Two Hearted Ale

Brushing aside the known quantity of the IPA, I suddenly found myself a stout fan. The Kalamazoo Stout (6.0% ABV) is an American-style stout with lots of coffee on the nose and a great mix of bitter coffee and dark chocolate on the tongue. Both flavors stick while drinking it, and they don’t fade. That’s long been my beef with stouts that can’t hold what they promise at first taste, but it’s not the case with Bell’s take on the classic American stout. It also has a nice foundation of hops, which is possibly another reason why I liked this brew so much.

Next up, the Amber Ale (5.8% ABV) was, again, classically American. Very smooth, with a beautifully rich amber color, it’s a highly drinkable ale. Clean, with just the right amount of bitterness provided by the underlying hops, its most notable feature is the slightly toasted caramel flavor. This was a favorite in my party of four, and it’s a welcome addition to the current lineup of amber ales we have available here in the state.

Finally, the surprise hit of the evening was Bell’s excellent Lager of the Lakes (Bohemian Pilsner, 5.0% ABV). A true-to-form Czech-style pilsner, this immediately shot me back to the streets of Pilsen and Prague in the Czech Republic. Seriously, it’s that good and that authentic. The crisp hop profile is balanced by an even-tempered malt. Hoppy on the nose, it’s refreshing and immensely sessionable. This will be my new go-to pilsner, I predict.

Sliding into the seat next to me, Bell’s national sales manager Tina Anderson told me that their head brewer was trained in German techniques, and that’s why it shows through so clearly with their pilsner.

tina-bells

Tina Anderson, national sales manager for Bell’s Brewery

“The Lager of the Lakes will be going exclusively into cans in February,” Tina said. And, more of their experimental series will find their way into cans at the same time, she added.

Tina, who is based in Atlanta, has been with Bell’s for eight years now after successfully recruiting them for a distributorship in Georgia. At the time, she was an area brand manager and took a leap of faith when Bell’s entered the state by going to work exclusively for them. She had tried their Two Hearted Ale at GABF and loved it during her tenure in Colorado working for Vail Resorts. That’s where her love of craft beer blossomed, after getting to know Ska and Oskar Blues breweries back in the late 90s.

When asked what she’s been drinking lately, Tina named the Oarsmen Ale (Tart Wheat Ale, 4.0% ABV) and called it her go-to, lounging-at-the-lake beer. She said it’s tart and refreshing without being overly astringent like a sour.

Switching gears, I asked Tina about the label graphics. While each of them were interesting in their own right, there didn’t seem to be a cohesive theme. She said the owner, Larry Bell, supports a lot of local artists in the Michigan area. The famed trout on the Two Hearted Ale is from a watercolor he bought, as is the artwork on the Amber Ale label. The Kalamazoo Stout features rotating sketches of locals from Kalamazoo, drawn by a taproom regular who was a third-shift worker and who would sketch anyone who bought him a burger and a beer. Larry bought the entire set, and the sketches will rotate as the graphics when the stout is canned.

Larrys-Sour-Ale

Tina gave me a preview of the new artwork for Larry’s Latest Sour Ale, a “kettle soured ale with a dry hop burst,” from their new innovation series.

What’s next for Bell’s, closer to their Michigan headquarters? Even though they just completed a $52 million expansion at the Comstock location, they are adding new tanks to accommodate their experimental forays. Larry’s Latest is one of the first to be packaged from their new Innovation Series, which these new tanks will support. Their second location, the Eccentric Café in Kalamazoo, continues to be a busy hub for locals and supporters of their beer.

Tina said she noted a synchronicity between Bell’s local focus and homebrew roots, and New Mexico’s hyper-local beer community. Bell’s is not distributed in Colorado as of yet, as they’ve put their faith in us instead to carry their growth. After the sampling at Fire & Hops, I think we’ll rise to the challenge.

Cheers!

— Julie

Note: look for a deeper dive on Fire & Hops Gastropub later this fall.