Posts Tagged ‘Cazuelas’

Our sixth annual Stout Challenge brought about a sixth different winner.

Our sixth annual Stout Challenge brought about a sixth different winner.

Amid all the seriousness of the weekend, the Brew Crew was still able to gather to hold our annual Stout Challenge before the start of the Super Bowl. While the game featured an improbable rally by the favorite, our blind taste test featured an upset by one of the newer breweries in town.

For the sixth time, we have a new winner. A past winner came oh-so-close to becoming our first two-time champion. We structure the event similar to the IPA Challenge, but with variations. We go around the day of the event, fill our half-growlers (or full growlers for last year’s top finishers), and then bring them to Franz Solo’s house. Our friend Margaret then pours them into numbered glasses out of sight, and we try them one by one, rather than put all on a tray. We take notes and score them from zero to five points in the categories of aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, and finish, and add them up.

We were short quite a few Crew members this year. Illness knocked out Brandon, Luke, and Shawna. E-Rock was unable to make it back from his musical adventures in Texas in time. Shilling was studying. Porter Pounder was on the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise again. Thus, only myself, Franz, Mrs. Solo, Kristin, and guest judge Tim (Margaret’s husband) were available.

Also, after reporting 16 stouts Friday, we ended up two shy, as Bow & Arrow did not open until it was too late for us to pick up their Storm & Hearth, and Twisted Chile was unable to deliver their Irish stout from Socorro.

As always, these are our opinions. We could be wrong.

14. Cazuela’s Beer for my Horses (19.5 points): This was the only truly disappointing stout among the batch. The flavor was almost sour (my opinion) or salty (Franz’s opinion). It was too thin in the mouthfeel. We have no idea what happened with this batch.

13. Santa Fe Dysphotic Stout (45.5): None of us disliked this robust, almost hop-forward stout, it was just that when stacked up against a field of mostly oatmeal variants, it stood out almost as more of a black IPA than anything. Basically, it is a stout that stands alone in the current available field in the ABQ metro area.

12. Rio Bravo Oatmeal Stout (46): While it did not move up in the standings that much, Rio Bravo’s entry scored much better this time around. The aroma scored the highest, with some mixed feelings on the flavor and mouthfeel. Overall it just came off as a bit light for what we look for in a stout.

11. Boxing Bear Standing 8 Stout (47.5): Every year there seems to be one of the top stouts from the previous year that falls way down the ladder. The main complaint here was in the bitter, overly smoky flavor, aroma, and mouthfeel. It was similar to Dysphotic, but with more malt and less hops.

10. Bosque Driftwood Oatmeal Stout (48): We found this batch to be a little on the thin side, with the most negative marks coming in terms of its mouthfeel, or lack thereof. The flavor was good, quite a bit sweet up front, but it faded pretty quickly.

9. Turtle Mountain Stauffenberg Stout (52.5): This was the first stout we sampled, so in many ways, it served as the base line for all that followed. In general everyone liked it, though it was noted as being just a tad short in all four categories. Still, we would call it perfectly drinkable.

8. Sidetrack Stoker Stout (53): A significant improvement on their stout from last year, this batch was quite a bit smokier and more roasted. Those were probably the biggest attributes, good or bad, with our voters.

7. The 377 Full Booty Stout (56): The top word used to describe our newest brewery’s oatmeal stout was “dry,” which accounted for much of the flavor and mouthfeel for folks. Some scored that well, others did not. The thickness of the mouthfeel scored the highest with most of us.

6. Chama River Sleeping Dog Stout (58): The 2016 champion could not pull off the repeat. The flavor and aroma this time around was sweet, with a pronounced vanilla element, but otherwise it lacked enough mouthfeel and overall complexity. It remains quite good, but not quite on par with last year.

5. Marble Oatmeal Stout (59): If there is a stout deserving of the title of “old reliable,” it is our 2012 champion, which still ranks among the best in town. There was a sweet, almost vanilla flavor and aroma at the front. The mouthfeel and finish saw some contrasting opinions with the five of us.

4. La Cumbre Malpais Stout (61): Unlike most La Cumbre beers, this did not have much of an aroma to draw you in. It did have a smokier, heavier flavor, scoring highest in mouthfeel and finish. The 2013 champion remains one of the best in town, though it is definitely not for those who like their stouts sweeter.

3. Canteen Dark n’ Lusty Stout (62.5): No stout has yo-yoed up and down more in our Stout Challenge the last six years than Canteen’s staple. It has finished seventh (out of eight), fifth (out of 10), 10th (out of 10), second (out of 14), 11th (out of 14), and now it’s third. This batch had a lot of chocolate flavor. It was sweet and solid, but just lacked the flavor complexity to claim its first title.

2. Tractor Double Plow Oatmeal Stout (70): My personal favorite in the bunch, it came up just short of being our first two-time winner (2014 was its previous victory). That cookie dough-like flavor was back at the front, with lots of chocolate up front and hints of smoke on the back end. The mouthfeel was solid throughout.

1. Starr Brothers Foggy Monocle (71.5): First Stout Challenge, first victory! Brewer Rob Whitlock said he actually prefers his Roisin Dubh, an Irish dry stout, to this. Guess he will have to change his mind now. The flavor (roasty coffee) and mouthfeel (thick and creamy smooth) scored especially high with our group.

We will have our Stout Challenge helmet trophy ready soon to be presented to Starr Brothers. Congrats to Rob and their entire staff!

As always, here are our individual point totals for each beer, to see where we agreed and disagreed on each.

  • Stoutmeister: 1) Tractor 13.5, 2) Chama River 11, 3) Canteen 10.5, 4) La Cumbre and Marble 9.5, 6) Boxing Bear and The 377 and Starr Brothers 9, 9) Bosque 8.5, 10) Sidetrack and Turtle Mountain 8, 12) Santa Fe and Rio Bravo 7, 14) Cazuela’s 3
  • Franz Solo: 1) Tractor 16.5, 2) Starr Brothers 16, 3) Canteen 15.5, 4) La Cumber 15, 5) Boxing Bear and Sidetrack 13.5, 7) The 377 12.5, 8) Chama River and Turtle Mountain 12, 10) Marble and Santa Fe 11, 12) Bosque and Rio Bravo 7, 14) Cazuela’s 3
  • Mrs. Solo: 1) Starr Brothers 16.5, 2) Tractor 15.5, 3) Canteen and Sidetrack 12, 5) La Cumbre and Marble and The 377 and Rio Bravo 11, 9) Bosque 10.5, 10) Chama River and Turtle Mountain 10, 12) Santa Fe 7, 13) Boxing Bear 6, 14) Cazuela’s 4
  • Kristin: 1) La Cumbre 16.5, 2) Starr Brothers 16, 3) Marble 15, 4) Chama River 13, 5) Rio Bravo and Turtle Mountain 12.5, 7) Bosque 12, 8) Boxing Bear and Canteen 11.5, 10) The 377 and Tractor 11, 12) Sidetrack 10.5, 13) Santa Fe 10, 14) Cazuela’s 5
  • Tim: 1) Starr Brothers 14, 2) Tractor 13.5, 3) Canteen 13, 4) The 377 and Marble 12.5, 6) Chama River 12, 7) Santa Fe 10.5, 8) Bosque and Turtle Mountain 10, 10) La Cumbre and Sidetrack 9, 12) Rio Bravo 8.5, 13) Boxing Bear 7.5, 14) Cazuela’s 4.5

Once again, these are just our opinions. We invite everyone to go out and try all these stouts, whether it’s for the 100th time or the first time. Our local breweries are doing a great job with the darker side of beer, and we couldn’t be happier on the whole.

We will have more on the weekend’s serious news about Senate Bill 314 and the contentious town hall meeting on Tuesday, once we put everything together.

Until then, keep supporting local breweries!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Just embrace the beer and the metal and everything will be just fine during your stay in Albuquerque.

Due to work commitments, most of the Crew will not be at Hopfest this year. Raise a glass and the horns in our honor while you are there.

Ah, late August, when the hints of cooler weather arrive, the kids go back to school, football (both American and international) revs up, and Hopfest takes over Isleta Casino. Hey, at nine years old, we can pretty much declare Hopfest an annual tradition.

The largest beer festival in New Mexico returns this Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m. If you not bought your tickets yet, get them now, particularly if you want VIP or extra hoppy hour, which we highly recommend. For tickets and info, click on the event website.

There are 18 breweries from our state that will send beers to the event this year. We did our best to get you the beer lists, or at least confirm if the event program has the right beers listed. We will update this post if we get any late corrections/additions.

  • Albuquerque Brewing: Imperial Red Ale, Duke’s Pale Ale
  • B2B: Coconut Porter, Raspberry Wheat
  • Bathtub Row: Red Hammer Ale, Hoppenheimer IPA, Wit Rock, Green Chile Pilsner
  • Cazuela’s: Agave (American Wheat), Acapulco Gold, Panama Red, Papacabra DIPA
  • Duel: TBA
  • Enchanted Circle: Hells Bells Lager, ESB, Red River Red Ale, Session IPA, Glory Hole IPA
  • Eske’s: Rat Queen DIPA, Wheat IPA
  • Kellys: Amber, Session IPA, Apricot Ale
  • Marble: Double White, Imperial Red, Dang Pale Ale, Stout Americano
  • Oso Loco Brewery (Sandia Chile Grill): Irish Red, Chocolate Brown
  • Pi: Discordia IPA, Scotty Doesn’t Know, Pineapple Express, Cardinal Sin
  • Ponderosa: Berliner Weisse, Cascadian Pilsner, Wry Ale, Crosscut Kolsch
  • Quarter Celtic: Pedro O’Flangan, Dusk’s Early Night, MacLomas Stout, #GFF
  • Red Door: Trapdoor Belgian Wit, Roamer Red, Threshold IPA, Paint It Black Milk Stout, Unhinged Cider, Vanilla Cream Ale, Blackberry Hefeweizen, Nieuwe Bruin
  • Rio Bravo: Karl’s Krystal Weizen, Duke City Pilsner, Rio Bravo Amber, Dirty Rotten Bastard IPA, Snakebite IPA, RoadKill Red, Old Town Porter
  • Santa Fe: Oktoberfest, Autonomous Collective IPA, Imperial Java Stout
  • Sierra Blanca/Rio Grande: IPA, Pancho Verde Chile Cerveza, Sun Chaser Pale Ale, Bone Chiller Brown Ale
  • Tractor: Farmer’s Almanac IPA, Farmer’s Tan Red Ale, Milk Mustachio Stout, Delicious Red Hard Apple Cider, Dank Johnson DIPA, Hillario DIPA, Kolsch

Definitely take the time to try Enchanted Circle, they just opened in Angel Fire back in April. Eske’s has new ownership, so it might be interesting to see what that has done to their beers. Otherwise, among the beers worth trying are Hoppenheimer IPA (Bathtub Row), Stout Americano (Marble), Scotty Doesn’t Know (Pi), MacLomas Stout (Quarter Celtic), Nieuwe Bruin (Red Door), Old Town Porter (Rio Bravo), Autonomous Collective (Santa Fe), and Dank Johnson DIPA (Tractor). Or, try as many as you safely can, and let us know what were your favorites.

Also present, of course, will be the Dukes of Ale. You need to visit their booth to try all the excellent home brews and help vote for a winner.

Broken Trail will also be there, but they are only listed as bringing their rum and vodka, no beer. If you are into ciders, Sandia Hard Cider will be present.

As for the many, many national brands, a few have some beers worth checking out. BJ’s has Hop Pact IPA, a collaboration with Green Flash. Boston Beer (Samuel Adams) has the new (?) Toasted Caramel Bock. Firestone Walker, still fairly new to our state, has the wondrous Luponic Distortion. Mother Road usually brings something extra from Flagstaff beyond the usual beers, though Tower Station IPA and Lost Highway Black IPA are worth your time if you have not had them before. If you have been remiss in checking out the Imperial IPA from Upslope, here is your chance. Also, new to the state is The Dudes Brewing Co. No beers were listed for them in the program, but I tried a DIPA at the brewery in Torrance, Calif., two months ago and it would stand up to our local hop bombs. There are many other beers to try, as well, from old favorites to seasonals to new ones, so please, sample away and let us know which are your favorites.

Above all else, have fun, try not to go overboard, and celebrate craft beer this Saturday. Do it because I cannot, since the Isotopes suddenly decided they want to win their division and I have to be out here covering them.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

This year's many, many IPA entries.

This year’s many, many IPA entries.

And we are off! The preliminary round of the 2016 New Mexico IPA Challenge is complete, with 16 15 breweries advancing to the three main rounds that will begin next weekend at Santa Fe Brewing. This came out of the 28 beers that were sampled in a blind taste test Saturday afternoon at Rio Bravo.

Editor’s note: We have been updated by the Guild that Rio Bravo does not advance.

Were there surprises? Of course, both in some of the breweries that scored well and in some that did not. One of the new wrinkles in NMIPAC is that the three host breweries — Santa Fe, 3 Rivers, Tractor — were guaranteed to advance no matter their voting totals. In the end, only the first needed that bye to advance, as 3 Rivers (nine votes) and Tractor (seven votes) would have qualified regardless.

The results of the preliminary round, with the breweries listed by their numbers on the left, voting totals on the right.

The results of the preliminary round, with the breweries listed by their numbers on the left, voting totals on the right.

Every brewery that was eliminated garnered less than seven votes. Those are, with voting totals included, Bathtub Row (4), Cazuela’s (1), Chama River (2), Enchanted Circle (2), Kaktus (2), Little Toad Creek (4), Lizard Tail (3), Marble (6), Rio Bravo (3), Roosevelt (4), Sierra Blanca (6), Spotted Dog (1), and Turtle Mountain (2). While some of those breweries are newer or in more remote locations, seeing big names like Chama, Marble, Sierra Blanca, and Turtle were all surprising.

The advancing breweries, including the hosts, are Blue Corn (10), Bosque (13), Boxing Bear (33), Canteen (33), Chili Line (10), La Cumbre (13), Quarter Celtic (24), Red Door (7), Santa Fe (3), Second Street (7), Sidetrack (7), Starr Brothers (17), Taos Mesa (13), 3 Rivers (9), and Tractor (7). In terms of the two trays, numbered 1-14 and 15-28, the leaders were Boxing Bear and Canteen for the first tray and Quarter Celtic for the second tray. It was nice to see some of the newcomers, all of whom opened this year, make the final cut in Chili Line, Quarter Celtic, Sidetrack, and Starr Brothers.

In the interest of full disclosure, Brandon had the first tray and picked Canteen. I had the second tray and picked Starr Brothers, though it was close between their offering and Quarter Celtic.

The next round of NMIPAC will be Saturday, July 16, at Santa Fe, followed by a stop at 3 Rivers in Farmington on July 20, and the grand finale at Tractor Wells Park on July 23. Luke will have the SFBC stop covered for us, and the rest of the Crew will see you all at Wells Park.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

p.s. Kudos to the staff at Rio Bravo for putting on such a smoothly-run event. All of us attendees appreciated your hard work!

Pork & Brew is back at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, featuring three local breweries in the beer tent.

Pork & Brew is back at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, featuring three local breweries in the beer tent.

It is another Fourth of July weekend, which means it is once again time for Pork & Brew. The 13th annual edition of this Rio Rancho-based event will take place this Saturday through Monday at the Santa Ana Star Center. Just like last year, there will be quite a bit of craft beer on tap.

“This is not a (traditional) beer fest, but the beer vendors do just fine,” said Noah Trujillo of the Rio Rancho Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s more of a family event.”

Local beer will be available in the beer tent outdoors, plus there should be some additional national brands available on tap inside the Star Center. Cazuela’s and Red Door will be back, while Tractor joins the fun. Not attending this year are Kaktus and Turtle Mountain.

Cazuela’s will have the new Porky’s Malt Liquor, plus old favorites Chupacabra IPA, Panama Red, Piedra del Fuego Cream Ale, and Acapulco Gold Mexican Lager. They will also be making beer-garitas.

Red Door again made the Sowbelly Blonde just for the event. It will be joined by Roamer Red, Paint It Black Milk Stout, and Trapdoor Belgian Wit.

Tractor joins the fun with the new Sam’s Honey Glazed Shandy, plus they will Delicious Red Apple Cider, Cerveza Mexican Lager, and Haymaker Honey Wheat on tap. You can also purchase cans of Almanac IPA, Farmer’s Tan Red, and Milk Mustachio Stout.

“One thing I kind of like to let people know when they come to the event, you’re not going to find long lines, you’re not going to wait 45 minutes for food,” Noah said. “I’ve heard that’s been happening at a lot of events. You’ll be able to go get beer, go get food, and sit down inside or outside. The indoor/outdoor layout lends itself to comfort. If it rains for a little bit, you can go inside. We’ve been doing the event for long enough where we’ve kind of mastered short lines and people being able to actually enjoy the event rather than standing in line for 30 to 45 minutes.”

In addition to the beer, here is the music lineup between the two stages.

“We’ll have live music both inside and outside,” Noah said. “Last year was the first year we did an outdoor stage in the beer area and obviously it went over well. A lot of local bands will be playing outside. Obviously we’re going to build on that.”

  • Saturday (Brew Tent Stage)—Bosque Blues, 11:30 a.m., Gershom Brothers, 4 p.m.
  • Saturday (SASC Stage)—Toby McBrooks, 12:30 p.m., Split Decision, 3:30 p.m., Twist & Shout, 5:30 p.m.
  • Sunday (Brew Tent Stage)—Danny the Harp, 11 a.m., Ancient Bones, 3:15 p.m.
  • Sunday (SASC Stage)—Toby McBrooks, 11 a.m., Bob Farrell & Brushfire, 12:30 p.m., Red Wine, 5:30 p.m.
  • Monday (Brew Tent Stage)—Bosque Blues, noon
  • Monday (SASC Stage)—Toby McBrooks, 11 a.m., 3rd Element, 12:30 p.m., Red Wine, 3:45 p.m.

There will be special eating contests, watermelons for kids and pies for adults, on the main stage every day. They will start at 1:45 p.m. on Saturday, 2 p.m. on Sunday, and 2:15 p.m. on Monday.

The BBQ Award Ceremony will be Sunday at 4 p.m.

“On the kids’ side, there are two components that we hope will draw people in,” Noah said. “Galloping Grace Youth Ranch will have a petting zoo and a pig race.

“This year we’re doing a mascot day on Saturday. Orbit will be there. I did not know this until a couple weeks ago, but CNM has a mascot. The Sun Cat will be there. There will be a few others. It looks like we’ll have eight to 10 mascots floating around the event. That’s a little bit different.”

The exact hours for all three days will be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday. It costs $6 for general admission, but active duty military (with ID), seniors over 65, and kids between 4 and 12 only cost $4. Kids 3 and under are free.

Just don’t forget the sunblock, and enjoy the weekend!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

One IPA to rule them all!

One IPA to rule them all!

The announcement went out on Tuesday, and hopheads across the state rejoiced, for the New Mexico IPA Challenge is returning to the land. Now 28 breweries will do battle, as all seek to remove the three-time king, John Bullard, from his iron throne.

OK, fine, it is a bit of Game of Thrones there, but that is the theme this year, said NM Brewers Guild director John Gozigian. We met for some pints and a good old information download at Bosque Brewing on Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re kind of running with a Game of Thrones theme,” John said. “It all makes sense. The brewing community in New Mexico is kind of incestuous, it really is. Everybody’s worked here and there. All the houses have been mixed, kind of, so it kind of lends itself to that.

“You’ve got a guy like John Bullard who’s won it three years in a row for two different breweries. He’s the guy that everybody wants to dethrone. You’ve got all these usurpers out there that would love nothing better than to make him pay.”

Bullard has won three in a row, the last two at Bosque and two before that Blue Corn. His title defense starts on Saturday, July 9, at Rio Bravo for the preliminary round. After that, the scoring rounds will be at Santa Fe Brewing on July 16, at Three Rivers Brewery in Farmington on July 16, and the grand finale will be at Tractor Wells Park on July 23.

The other 27 combatants who will face off with Bosque are, deep breath, as follows (* = confirmed first-time participant): Bathtub Row, Blue Corn, Boxing Bear, Canteen, Cazuela’s, Chama River, Chili Line*, Enchanted Circle*, Kaktus, La Cumbre, Little Toad Creek, Lizard Tail, Marble, Quarter Celtic*, Red Door, Rio Bravo*, Roosevelt, Santa Fe, Second Street, Sidetrack*, Sierra Blanca, Spotted Dog, Starr Brothers*, Taos Mesa, Three Rivers, Tractor, Turtle Mountain

Last year there were 23 participants, so to get to 28 is immense in and of itself. Rather than copy the same format as the VIPA Challenge, there will instead be a new format for the opening round at Rio Bravo.

“It’s going to be a little different though it’s going to accomplish the same end,” John said. “Last year was the first time that we had to winnow the field down to a manageable amount of beers to take on the road, so attendees at the subsequent stops got all of them in one sitting.

“We capped it this year at 28 breweries. They can only enter one beer. It all goes back to the lunch lady trays that we’ve always used. You can fit 14 of those plastic tumblers on one of those trays. You can fit 2-to-3 ounces in there, a big enough sample where you can reasonably evaluate the beer. So, that limits it to 14 in a flight. Plus, given the quantity of each one, you can’t go less than 2 ounces, so that ends up (28) ounces of beer per flight, plus you get the complimentary pint. We don’t want people to over-consume.”

The format now will feature two separate trays, labeled A and B. One will have beers numbered one through 14, the other 15 through 28. Each attendee will only receive one of the two trays, and will rank the beers on his/her tray only. An equal number of the two trays will be distributed so all beers will have an equal chance, regardless of which tray they are on.

“We’re going to be smart, the ones that have done well in the past, they’re not going to all be on one flight,” John said. “They’re going to be spread out in a way that makes sense. We’re going to take the top 12 to 14 out of that first round at Rio Bravo and then take those to the next stops.”

Yes, you and your best friend/significant other/old drinking buddy can each get a different tray and sample from the other, but you can only vote for one. Basically, drink up as much as you want off your tray first for proper voting, then, if your palate can take it, try from the other tray.

“So, the first one is going to be fun,” John said. “That’s where we get the field down to where it’s supposed to be. Even with 28, there’s going to be some good IPAs that get left behind. There are a lot of good IPAs out there now. For sure, those top 12 or 14, they’re going to be some great beers.”

Tickets for all four rounds are now on sale online, and paper tickets will begin appearing at the breweries (full list TBA) in the next couple of weeks.

Get them early this year. Even as big as Rio Bravo is, and Tractor WP will be (they are going to close the front parking lot along 4th for additional capacity), there will be ticket caps. This should be the biggest NMIPAC ever, both in terms of participating breweries and attendees.

After the opening round, the remaining rounds should be what you have come to expect, 12 to 14 beers numbered on a tray for a proper blind tasting. As attendance outside of Albuquerque has always lagged behind, the folks at Three Rivers are trying something new this year to get their numbers on par with at least Santa Fe.

“Actually, those guys are going to try to get people from Durango,” John said. “They’re going to put up posters at the breweries in Durango. I hope we get some attendance from there because, I think New Mexico’s beers, especially the IPAs, are well enough known now, at least in our neighboring states, it’ll be worth the 30-mile trip for somebody from Durango to come check out. Especially when we have gold medal winners and National IPA Challenge winners all submitting beers.”

Start doing your hop homework people. Prep those palates, get your ticket(s), and the Crew will see many of you at Rio Bravo and/or Tractor sooner than later.

One IPA to rule them all! We can get behind this theme.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

We are off and running with 14 events on the opening day!

Ready for event overload? Because it’s today, people!

Welcome to the single biggest day of Beer Week.

Don’t believe us? Scroll below. Yeah, that’s 23 events. Twenty. Three.

Now more than ever, you need a plan of attack. Go by time. Go by geographic location. Go by whatever you can do safely (if driving, or even Ubering).

Just remember to carve out some time to visit Battle of the Beer Geeks and vote. Hopefully you vote for our beer (clearly I won’t be there to offer up hints), but since it’s a blind taste test this year, we just want you to pick the best one.

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: Battle of the Beer Geeks III. Where: Tractor Wells Park. When: 5 to 8 p.m. Cost: $10 for a tray of all five beers, plus a 12-ounce pour of your favorite.

Details: It’s time for war! Again! Battle of the Beer Geeks is back as the Crew (2014 champs) and three other beer groups (Dukes of Ale, ABQ Craft Beer Drinkers, Wort Hogs) try to dethrone the Babes in Brewland. This year there are some changes to the format. First up, you will get your tray that will identify the beers, but not the identity of the groups that brewed them. That should make it a little more objective (maybe). Pours start at 5 and end at 7:30, with the winners announced at 8. There will be a people’s choice award and a professional judges’ best of show.

Why you should go: We need your votes! Even if we cannot tell you which beer is ours. Odds are, though, you’ll figure it out (but to be fair, please only vote for it if it’s truly the best of the bunch).

All the other great events

What: Outside the 505 Tap Takeover. Where: Cazuela’s. When: 8 a.m. Cost: No entry fee. Details: We can’t imagine this actually starts that early, but word is it will involve NM breweries from outside the ABQ metro area and their beers. Why you should go: You can always hope for something from outside ABQ other than Santa Fe or Sierra Blanca.

What: Ballast Point Tap Takeover. Where: The Barley Room. When: 11 a.m. Cost: No entry fee. Details: Sea Monster, Mango Even Keel, and Calm Before the Storm are expected to be available. Why you should go: Lunch breaks in the NE Heights need beer.

What: Santa Fe Special Release. Where: M’Tucci’s Market & Deli. When: 11 a.m. Cost: No entry fee. Details: The Western Bloc IPA will be on tap. Why you should go: You don’t have to leave the West Side to try this SFBC seasonal.

What: Marble Special Tapping. Where: Gecko’s (both locations). When: 11 a.m. Cost: No entry fee. Details: Saison #1 will be tapped. Why you should go: Another beer-plus-lunch opportunity.

What: Second Annual Food Truck Battle. Where: Red Door. When: 2 p.m. Cost: No entry fee. Details: It’s a casual competition between several food trucks, who will have scaled-down menus, with many items paired with Red Door beers. Pick your favorite truck and dish and see if they win. Why you should go: Chow down, drink up, don’t feel guilty. It’s a win-win.

What: Barrel-Aged Release and Chocolate Pairings. Where: Rio Bravo. When: 2 p.m. Cost: No entry fee. Details: Get a flight of BA beers (Stout, Porter, Barleywine, Belgian Dark Strong) for $7, or a chocolates tray for $4. Better yet, combine them both for $10. Why you should go: Dude, chocolate and barrel-aged beer. If you need any reason beyond that, then you’re just too needy.

What: Bow & Arrow Special Release. Where: Bow & Arrow. When: 3 p.m. Cost: No entry fee. Details: Wild Rice Pale Ale will debut. Why you should go: New beer alert!

What: Santa Fe/Broken Trail Collaboration Release. Where: Santa Fe ABQ Taproom. When: 3 p.m. Cost: No entry fee. Details: Say hello to Horse Thief Porter, a barrel of State Pen aged on rum-soaked pecans, oak chips, and molasses. Why you should go: They are the best of neighbors, aren’t they? Celebrate with them at Green Jeans.

What: Ponderosa Special Bottle Release. Where: Ponderosa. When: 3 p.m. Cost: No entry fee. Details: Say hello to Ponderosa’s first special bottle release — Saison Petite Souris. Why you should go: Grab a beer and go, drink at your leisure.

What: La Cumbre Special Tapping. Where: Two Fools Tavern. When: 4 p.m. Cost: No entry fee. Details: Strawberry Gose will be available on regular CO2, while Malpais Stout will be on nitro. Why you should go: Malpais on nitro? Goes great with Beef Boxty.

What: Sierra Blanca Special Release. Where: Alien Brewpub. When: 4 p.m. Cost: No entry fee. Details: The Whiskey Barrel-Aged Stout will go on tap for the first time anywhere. Why you should go: It’s their official anniversary beer, and if you like it on tap, you can still buy four-packs at Jubilation while they last.

What: Mother Road Sampling. Where: Jubilation. When: 4 p.m. Cost: No entry fee. Details: Taste the full lineup from Flagstaff’s finest, including the Anniversary Barleywine and the delectable Tower Station IPA. Why you should go: Free beer!

What: Odell Tap Invasion. Where: Mezcal (formerly Stereo Bar). When: 5 p.m. Cost: No entry fee. Details: Remember when we all thought Ballast Point went crazy with 15 taps? Well, Odell is matching them with (deep breath) 90 Shilling, IPA, St. Lupulin, Myrcenary, Loose Leaf, 5 Barrel, Cutthroat Porter, Easy Street, Levity, Tree Shaker, Splice Session IPA, The Meddler, Prop Culture, Lugene, and Friek. Why you should go: If you love Odell, this is your event. If you don’t love Odell, go anyway, and then you will love them.

What: Beer and Food Pairings. Where: Sandia Chile Grill. When: 5 p.m. Cost: TBA. Details: Green chile chicken enchiladas will be served with a hefeweizen. Why you should go: You gotta eat at some point, NE Heights residents.

What: Alaskan Tap Takeover. Where: Bubba’s 33. When: 5 p.m. Cost: No entry fee. Details: Get all your favorites from Alaskan with a burger or more. Why you should go: Again, eating is good, eating while drinking craft beer is better.

What: Goose Island Special Tapping. Where: Nob Hill Bar & Grill. When: 6 p.m. Cost: No entry fee. Details: Bourbon County Stout is the beer in question. Why you should go: Come on, you know you want more BCBS in your life.

What: Mother Road Tap Invasion. Where: O’Niell’s Juan Tabo. When: 6 p.m. Cost: No entry fee. Details: Remember those Mother Road beers you loved at Jubilation? Get them in pint form. Plus, there will be a special firkin. Why you should go: Admit it, you’re far too curious about what’s in the firkin.

What: Marble Beer Dinner. Where: Torino’s @ Home. When: 6 p.m. Cost: $45 per person, call (505) 797-4491 for reservations. Details: We covered this event, along with the entire menu, a while back. Why you should go: Great beer plus great food equals happiness. It’s scientific fact.

What: Steal the Pint Night. Where: Canvas Artistry. When: 6 p.m. Cost: TBA. Details: The description simply reads “join us for a night of thievery and steal all the pint glasses we have.” Um, OK, sounds like fun. Throw in beer and food specials and it should be a treat. Why you should go: Someone please go and find out just what the heck this crazy thing actually is.

What: 3rd Annual Sierra Nevada Sausage and Cheese Tasting. Where: O’Niell’s Nob Hill. When: 6 p.m. Cost: TBA. Details: Head over to the second iteration of this annual event, featuring sausage and other foods paired with on-tap entries from the 2016 Beer Camp Across America. Why you should go: The BCAA beers are delicious this year, and the food is always good, so how can you possibly go wrong?

What: New Belgium Frozen T-Shirt Contest. Where: Monte Vista Fire Station. When: 6:30 p.m. Cost: TBA. Details: It’s year three of this crazy event, where folks get to try and untwist a wet, frozen T-shirt in a timed contest. The winner gets a special cruiser bike from NB. Why you should go: Win a bike!

What: Brews and Blues with Roger Lewis All-Stars. Where: Albuquerque Brewing. When: 7 p.m. Cost: No entry fee. Details: It’s another jam session on the patio; all musicians are welcome. Why you should go: Support local music.

* * * * *

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The Crew who attended Blues & Brews were a happy bunch. From left, Adam, Laura, Stoutmeister, Kristin, with the photo bomb from Karl.

The Crew who attended Blues & Brews in 2015 were a happy bunch. From left, Adam, Laura, Stoutmeister, and Kristin, with the photo bomb from Karl.

The biggest of the big is back at Sandia Casino this weekend as Blues & Brews returns for its sixth annual beer-a-palooza. This Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m. (2 to 6 for VIP ticket holders), attendees will be able to choose beers from 70 different breweries, a mix of local, national, and international.

As we do every year, we present the key things you need to know.

  1. Uber is your friend, or a taxi, or a designated driver, or just get a room for the night.
  2. The VIP ticket is worth it, but the supply is nearly out, so buy it online ASAP. That first hour where there are only a handful of people is huge when it comes to being able to properly taste and enjoy your beers. Make a list of your “must haves” and hit those first.
  3. Load up on food beforehand, whether at home, a stop on the way, or at one of the casino restaurants.
  4. And most of all, have fun. Just about everyone in attendance always seems to be in a good mood, so keep the positive vibes flowing.

That brings us to the beers, which are always the key. As noted, there will be an awful lot, too many to simply list below. To start, here are all the local breweries with their full lists. Some are correct in the event program, others have been updated thanks to info from the breweries.

  • Abbey: Monks’ Ale, Monks’ Wit, Monks’ Dark, Monks’ Dubbel, Monks’ Tripel
  • Albuquerque Brewing: Saison, Dunkelweizen
  • Cazuela’s: Agave, Chupacabra IPA, 1859 India Porter, Lemon Drop
  • Firkin: Peach Fuzz, Jailhouse Java Stout, Ombibulous IPA
  • Isotopes: Slammin’ Amber, AAA Blonde
  • Kellys: Amber, Session IPA, Apricot Ale
  • Marble: Double IPA, Double White, IPA, Red Ale, Abricot Sour, Pilsner Anejo, Rita
  • Pi: 5 O’Hop Somewhere Session IPA, Barrel-Aged Bourbon Vanilla Porter, Prohibition Pilsner
  • Red Door: Vanilla Cream Ale, Shift Ender Golden Lager, Belgian Dubbel, Threshold IPA
  • Rio Bravo: Black Angus Stout, Dirty Rotten Bastard IPA, Karl’s Weizen, Amber, Roadkill Red
  • Sandia Chile Grill: Red Ranger Irish Red, Legacy Mead, Honey Moon Mead
  • Santa Fe: Freestyle Pilsner, SF Gold, Western Bloc Wheat IPA
  • Sierra Blanca: Bone Chiller Brown, Sun Chaser Pale Ale, Pancho Verde Chile Cerveza, Vanilla Milk Stout, Desert Pilsner, Alien Amber, Cran Sour, Alien Imperial Stout, Rio Grande IPA, Outlaw Lager, Alien Wheat
  • Tractor: Farmer’s Almanac IPA, Farmer’s Tan Red Ale, Milk Mustachio Stout, Cerveza New Mexican, Hard Apple Cider, and either Desert Flower IPA or Hopsplitter IPA

If we had to pick a few favorites from that list you need to try, make sure to hit up the Monks’ Tripel, ABC’s Dunkelweizen, Cazuela’s Porter, Firkin’s Jailhouse Java Stout, Marble’s Pilsner Anejo (it is the last of that beer available anywhere, ditto the Rita), Pi’s Barrel-Aged BVP, Red Door’s Vanilla Cream Ale, any mead from Sandia Chile Grill, Santa Fe’s unique Western Bloc, Sierra Blanca’s Vanilla Milk Stout, and whichever of those two specialty IPAs that Tractor brings. These are suggestions only, pick out your favorites, and then let us know what you think. Who knows, maybe you will find a great beer that we have overlooked.

Oh, and of course you need to visit The Dukes of Ale’s booth to try their beers as well. We do not know what they are bring, but odds are, it will be home brew that rivals many of the professional beers you will be tasting. Get over there during VIP hour, because the lines always get long later on.

Once you have done your solemn duty and visited as many of the local breweries as possible, then head out into the national/international landscape. Again, we cannot list every available beer or brewery or this would get longer than The Week Ahead in Beer, so these are just our picks. Of course, your palate could demand something completely different, so double check the listings in the event program.

  • Alaskan: It may seem out of season, but their Smoked Porter is good year round. (Alternative: Kicker Session IPA)
  • Avery: They did not have a list in the guide, but odds are, they will have something amazing.
  • Ballast Point: Whichever fruit you like the best between Watermelon (Dorado), Mango (Even Keel), or Pineapple (Sculpin) is the one you should go with.
  • Boston Beer Co. (Samuel Adams): Surprise! They brought some of their newer styles instead of the same old, same old. Our pick is the Heaven or Helles. (Alternative: Got to Gose)
  • Boulder Beer: At some point in your life you have probably had Hazed or Confused. They are offering up a twist on it in the form of Hazed Hoppy Session Ale. (Alternative: Shake Chocolate Porter)
  • Eddyline: The Colorado brewery has their Java Stout on tap. Try it and compare it to Firkin. (Alternative: Crank Yanker IPA)
  • Founders: The current season of choice is Mosaic Promise, which is definitely worth sampling, and the next day you can go buy a six-pack at Jubilation and be the hit of your Memorial Day party. (Alternative: Dirty Bastard)
  • Green Flash: Get in the groove with Soul Style IPA. (Alternative: Tangerine Soul Style)
  • Lagunitas: Does mine eye spy a Lil Sumpin’ Sumpin’? Why, it does! (Alternative: Lucky 13)
  • Left Hand: They listed three of their standards — Milk Stout, Polestar Pils, Good Juju — plus one TBA. Go check out what that one is and let us know.
  • Mother Road: Our friends in Flagstaff debuted Tower Station IPA here last year at Hopfest. Go see what all the buzz is about with this delicious hop bomb. (Alternative: Lost Highway Black IPA)
  • New Belgium: Oh, come on, they don’t do hoppy. Or do they? Rampant Imperial IPA is bucking the NB trend. (Alternative: Heavy Melon Watermelon Lime Ale)
  • Oskar Blues: The Beerito Mexican Lager sounds like a summer porch beer for a lazy afternoon. (Alternative: Pinner Throwback IPA)
  • SanTan: Our friend Nicole Duke of Tractor absolutely loves Mr. Pineapple, and we are pretty sure she would never, ever steer us wrong. (Alternative: Devil’s Ale)
  • Sierra Nevada: If you have not tried Nooner Pilsner yet, you are still doing summer wrong. (Alternative: Otra Vez Gose-Style Ale)
  • Ska: To hell with the heat, grab some Bump ‘n’ Grind for that perfect coffee stout flavor. (Alternative: Modus Mandarina)
  • Upslope: Another contender for porch beer of the summer is their Craft Lager. (Alternative: Belgian Pale Ale)

Other breweries in attendance will include Adelbert’s, Bridgeport, Durango, Goose Island, Guns & Oil, Kona, Leinenkugel, Lexington, Magic Hat, North Coast, Odell, Omission, Pyramid, Redhook, Shiner, Squatters, Wasatch, and Widmer Brothers. There will also be multiple cideries and other vendors.

Remember to pace yourselves, be kind to others, don’t spill your beer, and above all else, have fun and stay safe. Send us your pictures and your comments afterwards and we will include those in our Beer Week in Review story that will run the week of June 6.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Here we go again. Are you ready?

Here we go again. Are you ready?

One month and one day from now, the annual exercise in brew-insanity otherwise known as ABQ Beer Week will kick off with multiple events across the metro area. From May 26 to June 5, there will be 84 events (with more likely to be announced), ranging from tastings to special tappings to beer dinners and festivals and more. After sorting through all of those events, we came up with our early list of the one per day you should not miss, at least in our humble opinions. Once ABW arrives, fear not, the Crew will have a daily roundup of all the events every morning, even though one of us (hint: me) will actually miss most of the whole shebang due to a family wedding out in California. Don’t feel bad for me or anything, though; my hotel is within walking distance of Firestone Walker Barrelworks in Buellton.

And before anyone asks, no, I am not stealing a barrel of Parabola and sharing it with everyone.

(It’s all mine. MINE!)

Ahem, anyway, here are our daily picks, plus the other events each day that should be worth checking out if the primary pick doesn’t hold any interest for you.

Thursday, May 26

3rd Annual Sierra Nevada Sausage and Cheese Tasting at O’Niell’s Juan Tabo: This annual event always seems to be a blast for everyone that attends. There will be a whole lot of tasty food pairings again, but this time with the entire lineup from the forthcoming 2016 Beer Camp Across America (the collaboration set to end all collaboration sets). Reservations are usually required, so stay tuned for that info.

Other events of note: Marble special tapping at Spinn’s Burgers & Beer; Abita Horchata Turbodog firkin tapping at Anodyne; Ballast Point Barrel-Aged Piper Down special tapping at Nob Hill Bar & Grill

Friday, May 27

505 Collaboration Rye/Kellerbier NM Brewers Guild Fundraiser: OK, this day was almost impossible to pick, as there are 13 (!) events already planned. What a way to kick off the weekend, right? This year’s 505 collaboration beer will debut at multiple breweries (locations TBA) across the metro area. Raise a pint or two and help the Guild in its ongoing quest to make our beer scene better and better. We will have more info as we get closer to the day of release.

Other events of note: Marble special tapping at The Local Brewhouse; Beer Brat Cookout at Albuquerque Brewing; 4th Annual Tower of Sour at Back Alley Draft House; Avery special tapping at Nob Hill Bar & Grill; Tractor Co-op Members barrel-aged beer release at Wells Park; Ballast Point tap takeover at Stereo Bar

Saturday, May 28

Founders KBS Vertical Tapping at Nob Hill Bar & Grill: Oh, dear lord, you all know how much we love barrel-aged imperial stouts. KBS is one of our favorites, and the chance to drink two (or more) varieties on tap and compare them side-by-side is too much to pass up.

Other events of note: Marble special tapping at Piatanzi Juan Tabo; Cornhole Tournament at Albuquerque Brewing; Beer & Seeds Anti-GMO Festival at Tractor Wells Park; Duke City Pedaler Beer Bike Social; Cider Night Fever at Tractor Nob Hill

Sunday, May 29

6th Annual ABQ Blues & Brews: The annual mega-sized festival will be back at Sandia Casino. Get your tickets now online (we always recommend VIP for that extra tasting hour). The full brewery list is online as well.

Other events: ABQ Bike & Brew Tour; Patio Brews at Albuquerque Brewing

Monday, May 30

Folds of Honor Foundation Fundraiser at Red Door: Folds of Honor works to provide financial aid for the dependents of American military personnel, the majority of whom do not qualify for federal financial aid when it comes to going to college. Over 80 percent of funds raised go to recipients. On this day, Red Door will donate 20 percent of all sales to Folds of Honor, and representatives will be on hand to take additional donations. Enjoy some beers for a good cause.

Other events: Cheese, Boards and Brews at Albuquerque Brewing

Tuesday, May 31

Beer & Cheese Pairing with Cheesy Street at Tractor Wells Park: Cheesy Street, one of our finest food trucks, is again teaming up with Tractor to offer up pairings of their cheese-centric dishes with specific Tractor beers. Look for more information online soon.

Other events: Marble special tapping at Rock & Brews; Lagunitas special tapping at Nob Hill Bar & Grill; Ballast Point special tapping and pairing at Canvas Artistry

Wednesday, June 1

Ask a Certified Cicerone and Bad Beer Tasting at Tractor Wells Park: Yes, if you are sensing a theme here, Tractor is definitely pulling out some unique events beyond tappings and tastings. In this case, co-owner Skye Devore is a certified Cicerone and she will be presenting tips and tricks to pass the Cicerone test. Afterwards, there will be a special “bad beer” tasting to discuss what flavors can be identified to tell whether or not a beer is bad.

Other events: Ska special tapping of barrel-aged Dementia and Bump & Grind Coffee Stout at Nob Hill Bar & Grill; Mother Road tap invasion and special firkin tapping at Grain Station; Ballast Point tap takeover and special tapping at Rock & Brews

Thursday, June 2

Battle of the Beer Geeks III: Once again, the Brew Crew, Babes in Brewland, ABQ Craft Beer Drinkers, and more will be brewing up some special beers at Tractor Wells Park to compete to see who has made the best beer of the year. We won in 2014, the Babes took the trophy home in 2015, and this year is anyone’s contest to win. It costs $12 for a tray of beers and a pint of your favorite. This year, we won’t say who brewed what, as to avoid any possible bias toward your favorite beer writers. I’ll miss this event, so someone save me some of the Crew’s entry!

Other events: Outside the 505 tap takeover at Cazuela’s; Marble special tapping at Gecko’s; Red Door 2nd Annual Food Truck Battle; 3rd Annual Sierra Nevada Sausage and Cheese Tasting at O’Niell’s Nob Hill; Goose Island Bourbon County Stout special tapping at Nob Hill Bar & Grill; New Belgium 3rd Annual Frozen T-Shirt Contest at Monte Vista Fire Station

Friday, June 3

NM Brewers Guild Beer Premiere: It’s back! The National Hispanic Cultural Center will again host this special Guild event, which will feature 15 breweries debuting brand-new beers. It costs $40 and M’Tucci’s Cocina will provide custom appetizers. We will have a lot more details on this event as we get closer to the date.

Other events: Marble special release at Uptown Sports Bar; Odell special encore tapping of Russian Pirate at Nob Hill Bar & Grill; Beer-Themed Art Fight at Tractor Wells Park

Saturday, June 4

Planned Parenthood Beer & Bands Annual Fundraiser: Tractor Wells Park will again host this event, with all proceeds going to Planned Parenthood. It costs $15 at the door. There will be live performances from Le Chat Lunatique, Keith Sanchez, Desert Darlings, Robb Janov, and more.

Other events: Marble special release at 5 Star Burgers on Central; Barrel-aged beer release at Tractor Nob Hill; Beer Baked Goods Cake Walk and Circus Day at Albuquerque Brewing; Sierra Nevada special tapping at Nob Hill Bar & Grill

Sunday, June 5

8th Annual NM Brewers Guild Golf Tournament: It’s another Guild event, but this one is just for those who can actually hit a golf ball in the right direction. Head out to the Santa Ana Golf Course for the 8 a.m. shotgun start. For $100, you can get free range balls, a breakfast burrito, a round of golf, lunch, beer on the course, and a chance to win prizes by finishing first, second, or third. You can register as an individual or as a team at nmbeer.org.

Other events: Goose Island Brunch at Nob Hill Bar & Grill; ABQ Bike & Brew Tour

* * * * *

Well, as noted above, I will be absent for most of these events, but the rest of the Brew Crew will be out and about. We will endeavor to preview every major event and then cover those as well.

Until May, prep those palates, clear your schedules for the key events, and get ready for some fun.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Bosque's bid for back-to-back NIPAC banners is still going strong, but other NM breweries are in the hunt as well! (Photo courtesy of Bosque)

Bosque’s bid for back-to-back NIPAC banners is still going strong, but other NM breweries are in the hunt as well! (Photo courtesy of Bosque)

Lots of little news tidbits demand a roundup, thus, Beer Notes is back!

Locals keep rolling at NIPAC

Five of the six remaining New Mexico entries advanced to the fourth round of the Brewing News National IPA Challenge. Of course, only five could advance since Bosque’s Scale Tipper and Boxing Bear’s Uppercut were going head to head. Scale Tipper moved on to continue to defend its championship.

The four other victors in the main bracket were Turtle Mountain’s Adrift, Boxing Bear’s Bear Knuckle, and Second Street’s 4 Hour Lunch and Fulcrum. Adrift defeated Flying Bison’s Buffalo IPA; Bear Knuckle knocked out Reuben’s Brewing’s Cirkey IPA; 4 Hour Lunch ousted one of the big boys, Firestone Walker’s Union Jack; Fulcrum struck out Half Moon Bay’s Full Swing.

The fourth-round matchups will be Adrift vs. Karl Strauss’ Aurora Hoppyalis, Bear Knuckle vs. Barley Brown’s WFO, Scale Tipper vs. Fat Heads’ Head Hunter, 4 Hour Lunch vs. Lawson’s Finest’s Triple Play, and Fulcrum vs. Odd13’s Codename: Superfan.

As for the other two brackets, the Session and Imperial, one New Mexico entry remains in each. Bosque’s Southwest Session defeated Fremont Brewing’s Session Pale Ale to reach the quarterfinals. Southwest Session will take on a heavyweight next in Stone’s Go To IPA.

Over in the Imperial bracket, Boxing Bear’s Sucker Punch was KO’d by Comrade’s Hop Chops, while Old Schoolhouse’s Plutopia Triple IPA was too much for Bosque’s Just For Fun. The lone survivor of the third round was Second Street’s Trebuchet, which eliminated Tricksters’ Hops on Parade. Next up for Trebuchet in the fourth round will be Melvin Jackson’s Drunken Master.

Congrats to those that advanced and good luck in the next round!

Java vs. Java

The original Capo's Java Stout, left, and the newer, more coffee-centric version.

The original Capo’s Java Stout, left, and the newer, more coffee-centric version.

One of the perks of being in the Crew is that sometimes you get to try a new beer before the general public. Brewer Aaron Walters invited me over to Firkin Brewhouse last week to try a sort of Version 2.0 of the Capo’s Java Stout. It was pretty different than the first batch they rolled out (as an aside, yes, Firkin’s beers are now properly carbonated, so for those who tried them early on, head back over to see how much better they all taste). Since my visit they posted on Facebook a “name the beer” contest as they seek to give this new Java Stout a proper branding.

The original Capo’s used Kahlua Coffee, which gave it that overly sweet, almost chocolate flavor that left little room for any stout/coffee roasted malts. I got to compare the two side by side, and I can assure everyone, the new version is much more in line with what you might think of as a true coffee stout.

Prosim Coffee Roasters, a local company, provided the five-bean blend of Brazilian, Costa Rican, Ethiopian, Mexican, and Sumatran. Together they create a smooth, yet still coffee-crisp flavor, sharp but not bitter. There is minimal sweetness this time around; you’ll have to bring your own cream. It’s not as thick as Santa Fe’s Java Stout (which is an imperial, after all), so you can drink a few of these and not have to summon an Uber to get home.

Just for fun, I even combined a small amount of the two versions to see what it would taste like together (Firkin still has some Kahlua left). Basically it’s like a mild shot of chocolate cream, but the old version does not overpower the roastiness of the new. Overall, kudos to Firkin for being willing to keep experimenting with their beers to make them better.

New breweries update

This was the original location in Nob Hill that was supposed to be the home of Hops Brewery.

This was the original location in Nob Hill that was supposed to be the home of Hops Brewery.

Even with four breweries opening since the start of this year, folks keep asking us who’s next down the pipeline. Well, the long-rumored Hops Brewery is now listed as having an active small brewers license by the State of New Mexico. Hops was originally going to be in Nob Hill, but had run into issues over the lack of a dedicated parking lot. If anyone out there has info on where Hops might be opening, or at least who to contact, please send it to us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Among those breweries with listed pending state licenses, progress continues at Palmer Brewery and Ciderhouse (which is owned by the same folks as Left Turn Distilling and will share part of that building). The new Monk’s Lab is moving along on 1st Street north of Marble; they will be the second New Mexico brewery to focus on Belgian-style beers. We have heard that OffKilter, the brewery from former Cazuela’s/Tractor brewer Mike Campbell, has to undergo a name change. Drafty Kilt is the rumored new moniker after they found out someone else had beaten them to registering the name OffKilter.

There are still no pending licenses for the other rumored new places around, including Sugar House in the old Stumbling Steer building, Steel Bender Brewyard on 2nd Street near Paseo del Norte, and The 377 Brewery near Gibson and Yale. We still cannot confirm rumors of a brewery somewhere on Paseo between San Pedro and Wyoming. There are also rumors of a brewery looking to open on the corner of San Pedro and Marble.

Outside of the Albuquerque metro area, things are progressing for Rowley Farmhouse Ales (formerly Sub Rosa) to open in Santa Fe later this year. Ale Republic, in Cedar Crest, continues construction on their brewery. Enchanted Circle Brewing in Angel Fire is now listed as having an active small brewers license. Milton’s Brewing in Carlsbad has found their location and has begun the buildout. Colfax Ale Cellar in Raton is moving forward. The Farmington HUB Brewery and Grill is now open. There are also unconfirmed rumors of a new brewery looking to open in Portales, giving Roosevelt Brewing some local competition.

Sampler tray

  • Cazuela’s now has 10 taps, thanks to brewer Brandon Venaglia. That means more beers will be available, including some old favorites that he has brought out of the cellar. Look for the full list on Wednesday in The Week Ahead in Beer.
  • The kombucha craze continues, with Kaktus joining Bow & Arrow and Bathtub Row. Guess I might have to send one of the Crew out to do a story on this new trend.
  • We’ve heard a rumor that we will have to follow up on that Back Alley Draft House has a new brewer. Hopefully they will get some stability over there.
  • Bosque is inching ever closer to completing the expansion of the San Mateo taproom. We’ll share some pictures when it’s done.
  • Boxing Bear is trying to claim the title of “King of Dark Beers” with another awesome release. Baltic Bear Porter is now for sale in bombers and on tap at the brewery.
  • Rio Bravo looks to share a little love, er, grain with their fellow breweries. Once their silo is filled in a couple weeks, they will be offering grain sales and custom milling with their four-roller mill. This should help those breweries without their own mills who don’t want to pay high prices for pre-milled malt. Thanks to brewer Ty Levis for the heads up.
  • There are some breweries in a hiring mode right now. Turtle Mountain is looking for a new floor manager, they said on Facebook. Head over to the brewery to apply if you think you have the experience and desire to take on one of the busiest jobs in Rio Rancho (or anywhere, really). La Cumbre posted on their website openings for multiple positions, including a new marketing guru, delivery driver, brand representative, and beer tender. Marble is looking to fill two part-time cleaning positions at their taprooms. Email Barbie Gonzalez at barbie@marblebrewery.com if you are interested.

That’s all for now. If anyone has any beer news or notes to share with us, please, never hesitate. Big or small, we’ll get it out there.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Another successful year on the Dark Side.

Another successful year on the Dark Side.

The Dark Side Brew Crew gathered on Super Bowl Sunday for the fifth straight year to hold a blind taste test to determine the best house stout in the Albuquerque metro area.

And for a fifth straight year, we had a different winner. So who was it?

Well, rather than keep everyone in suspense, here was the full list of 14 beers (we thought we would have 15, but it turns out Kaktus’ Nob Hill taproom was closed Sunday, so we could not get theirs). The beers were graded on a 0-5 scale in four categories — aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, finish. The voting Brew Crew members were myself, Franz Solo, Mrs. Solo (our hosts), Brandon, and Kristin. Shilling, sadly, had to work, while E-Rock was playing music in Florida and Porter Pounder was on a boat with a bunch of metalheads and metal bands. The rest of the Bullpen was unavailable as well.

From the lowest rated to the highest, here we go.

14. Rio Bravo Black Angus Stout (16 points): This was … not good. Last year: NA

13. Sidetrack Dark Engine Stout (24.5 points): They’re new, so we will cut them some slack. Still, more malts for a stout are a good thing. Last year: NA

12. Albuquerque Brewing Handlebar Stout (30.5 points): New brewer, so give him time. It wasn’t very carbonated, for one thing. It struck us more as a brown ale than a stout. Last year: NA

11. Canteen Dark & Lusty Stout (41.5 points): This was the 2015 version of “are you kidding me? It’s that low?!” There just wasn’t much flavor or mouthfeel or really anything with this batch. We have a feeling that Zach will be tinkering with this beer. Last year: 2nd

10. Lizard Tail Oatmeal Stout (42.5 points): At least we got the right variety of stout this year, but it was just a bit thin on all accounts, including aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, etc. Last year: 13th for their rye stout

9. Turtle Mountain Stauffenberg Stout (46.5 points): Kinda average all around, but perfectly drinkable. Last year: 11th

8. Marble Oatmeal Stout (47 points): Last year the batch was contaminated by an unclean growler. This time around, the growler was fine, but the beer was … average. Last year: 14th

7. La Cumbre Malpais Stout (60.5 points): In a sea of oatmeal stouts, a foreign export stout certainly stands out. I guess it also proves we’re more biased to the oamteals, or something like that. Last year: 6th

6. Ponderosa Zaftig Oatmeal Stout (64.5 points): Some of us found this one pretty middle-of-the-road, others enjoyed it quite a bit more. A pretty solid representation of the style. Last year: NA

5. Tractor Double Plow Oatmeal Stout (67 points): This batch could not quite reach the heights of 2014’s “cookie dough” batch that took home the title. It still remains one of their best and most consistent brews. Last year: 4th

4. Cazuela’s Beer For My Horses (74 points): We all found this one kind of mean, almost leaning closer to a foreign export than a traditional oatmeal stout. Everyone picked up on a star anise aroma/flavor, which worked for some, not for others. Last year: 7th

3. Boxing Bear Standing 8 Stout (77.5 points): Last year’s winner came up just short this time around. It is still one of the finest regular stouts on tap around town. Last year: 1st

2. Bosque Driftwood Oatmeal Stout (84.5 points): Brewer John Bullard told us he was going to change up the recipe. We’re assuming he did just that, because this was rather wonderful. Last year: 12th

1. Chama River Sleeping Dog Stout (88.5 points): A while back a brewer from another brewery told me that this was the best local stout. Well, he was right. The only question, do we congratulate current brewer Andrew Krosche or former brewer Zach Guilmette? Or both? Heck, both of you, revel in this one! Last year: 10th

As always, in the interest of full disclosure, here are everyone’s individual results.

Brandon: 1) (tie) Bosque and Cazuela’s 15.5 points, 3) Chama River 14.5, 4) Ponderosa 14, 5) Boxing Bear 13, 6) (tie) La Cumbre and Tractor 12.5, 8) (tie) Marble and Turtle Mountain 10, 10) Canteen 8.5, 11) Lizard Tail 7, 12) Albuquerque Brewing 6.5, 13) Rio Bravo 2, 14) Sidetrack 1.5

Franz Solo: 1) (tie) Bosque and Chama River 19 points, 3) Boxing Bear 18.5, 4) Cazuela’s 17.5, 5) Tractor 16, 6) La Cumbre 15, 7) (tie) Marble and Turtle Mountain 12, 9) Ponderosa 11, 10) Lizard Tail 9, 11) Canteen 7, 12) (tie) Albuquerque and Sidetrack 6, 14) Rio Bravo 4

Mrs. Solo: 1) Chama River 19, 2) Bosque 17, 3) Boxing Bear 16, 4) Cazuela’s 14, 5) (tie) La Cumbre and Ponderosa 12, 7) Tractor 10, 8) Marble 9, 9) Lizard Tail 8, 10) (tie) Canteen and Turtle Mountain 7, 12) (tie) Albuquerque and Sidetrack 5, 14) Rio Bravo 3

Kristin: 1) Chama River 19, 2) Ponderosa 17.5, 3) (tie) Bosque and Boxing Bear 17, 5) Cazuela’s 15, 6) Tractor 14.5, 7) La Cumbre 11, 8) Lizard Tail 10, 9) (tie) Canteen and Turtle Mountain 9, 11) (tie) Albuquerque and Sidetrack 7, 13) Marble 6.5, 14) Rio Bravo 4

Stoutmeister: 1) Chama River 17, 2) Bosque 16, 3) Tractor 14, 4) Boxing Bear 13, 5) Cazuela’s 12, 6) (tie) Canteen, La Cumbre, and Ponderosa 10, 9) Marble 9.5, 10) (tie) Lizard Tail and Turtle Mountain 8.5, 12) Albuquerque 6, 13) Sidetrack 5, 14) Rio Bravo 3

So, that was how we voted. We invite everyone to make their own choices, and we look forward to seeing how our choices compare to the upcoming Stout Invitational at Bathtub Row on Feb. 20.

And with that, another Stout Challenge is done. We shall see if year six produces a sixth different winner.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister