Posts Tagged ‘Green Flash Brewing’

Get your hop bomb fix, all in one place.

Get your hop bomb fix, all in one place.

Hop harvest season is upon us, in case you have not noticed by all the pictures of brewers stuffing their noses in mounds of fresh-picked hops that are floating around social media these days. Of course, one could argue hop season is year-round in New Mexico, judging by IPA sales remaining steady even in the colder months. To capitalize on this endless love of hoppy beers, Angelo Orona and his company, Craft King Consulting, are putting another tasting event at Sister Bar. Last time around it was the Tart at Heart, celebrating sour beers. This time they are calling it Palate Fatigue.

The event will take place on Saturday, Oct. 17, at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $35 in advance and $40 at the door, but take note that Tart at Heart sold out before the day of the event. You can purchase hard copy tickets at Sister, Jubilation, and the Kelly’s on Juan Tabo. You can also buy them online via Hold My Ticket.

To learn a little more about the event, I sat down with Angelo over at La Cumbre during the Full Nelson release, because after all, if you are going to talk hoppy beers, you might as well be drinking one of the hoppiest in all the land.

NMDSBC: So tell me all about Palate Fatigue. How did you come up with this crazy-sounding, hop-forward, craft-beer tasting event?

Angelo: In keeping with our theme of curating interesting and esoteric beers, like we did for Tart at Heart, we wanted to do an event that’s seasonally appropriate. October being the high season for hop harvest, we thought it would coincide nicely with the hoppy beers that are going to be in season at this time.

NMDSBC: Set-up wise, is it going to be a lot like Tart at Heart? Are you changing anything at all?

Angelo: It will be very similar in the setup. One difference will be this event will be unlimited tasting. Some of the best, most hoppy beers that are out. We are curating a list of specialty beers from regional breweries, local breweries, and some from across the world as well.

NMDSBC: So it’s pretty much IPA, double IPA, triple IPA.

Angelo: Yeah, so hop-forward beers will definitely be showcased. Our intention is to make the majority of them resinous, hop bomb, hop-forward beers. There may be a couple of curveballs thrown in. One idea was to have one very light, very easy-drinking beer thrown in as a sort of palate cleanser, rather than a palate wrecker.

NMDSBC: You list a few of the (local) guys here, Santa Fe, Ponderosa, La Cumbre, Bosque. People are always going to ask what kind of beers do you have? What’s coming? Do you have a list at this point?

Angelo: We do. So Lagunitas is going to send us something special, a keg of their Waldos’. Green Flash has Green Bullet and a Triple IPA that they’re going to send. We’re considering doing Le Freak from them, which is a Belgian IPA. Green Flash is really a brewery that does some hop-heavy beers, but hasn’t been showcased in New Mexico. So we partnered with them to get something special.

We’re going to get some beers from Alpine, which is the partner of Green Flash. We’re thinking of doing Duet and Hoppy Birthday. Breckenridge is going to likely have a beer that we’re going to debut at the event, which is a barrel-aged IPA with some sort of melons, though I don’t know specifically what they are yet. I’m waiting on the information for that.

Upslope is going to send us some Imperial IPA. Avery is going to send us something special. We’re likely to have Ballast Point Dorado Double IPA and Habanero Sculpin. And Wasatch has a real nice Ghost Rider White IPA that we’re going to feature. Ska also has a few … it’s going to be a special barrel-aged Modus (Hoperandi) and then Mandrino, which is aged on Mandarin oranges.

Those are some of the regional offerings, but we’ll also have specialty beers from a lot of the local breweries as well.

NMDSBC: I’m guessing those (local) lists will be finalized closer to the event itself.

Angelo: Yes. So the idea is to really have as many exclusive beers at the event as we can, or if they’re not exclusive at least debut at the event.

NMDSBC: I know something you wanted to do at Tart at Heart was to educate people about the beers they were drinking, since sours are still a new style for a lot of folks. People around here think they know a lot about IPAs, or is there more for them to still learn?

Angelo: Absolutely. We’re going to step up the educational component at this event. There will be a table that will feature different hops in their different forms. We’ll likely have some pelletized hops. If we can get our hands on some whole-cone hops we’ll do that. Hop plugs are another thing that we’re going to seek out, just so people know the difference between what these hops look like, smell like, and feel like.

Also we’ll have a better sort of program to have descriptions of the beer. Last time we had them on a projection (screen) over the event, but this time it’s likely we’ll have a small map so people can make their way around and have fuller descriptions of each beer.

NMDSBC: You’re doing the pre-sale at the door, but last time you guys sold out before?

Angelo: We did sell out.

NMDSBC: So you’re encouraging people to buy in advance.

Angelo: Buy your tickets as soon as you can. This event is likely to sell out just like Tart at Heart. This time we do have slightly more capacity. Last time we were limited to 150. This time we’ll have seating for about 200 folks. You can buy hard-copy tickets at Sister Bar, Jubilation, and Kelly’s Juan Tabo. The soft copies are through Hold My Ticket.

NMDSBC: And there is a charity.

Angelo: There is a charitable component to the event. A portion of the proceeds are going to the Aljaba Casa Hogar Children’s Home, which is located in Mexico. It’s a charity that I’ve been involved in for the last couple years. It was strongly supported by Marble Brewery while I was there. Each year we do several trips to support this children’s home. It has 45 children there that are cared for by the folks there. The proceeds will go to make sure they have what they need for school supplies, medicine, and so on.

Angelo added there would be a special IPA brewed by Sierra Blanca/Rio Grande just for the event, so we also have that to look forward to in October.

So hurry up and go get your Palate Fatigue tickets in advance. The Crew will see you at Sister in a few weeks.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The Tuesday announcement that Founders Brewing was coming to New Mexico in October was greeted warmly by most of the people we interacted with online or in person. However, more than a few folks seemed a bit disappointed that one beer was missing from the (outstanding) lineup of nine Founders offerings that will be at the Kickoff Party at Nob Hill Bar & Grill on Oct. 7.

Of course we are referring to KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout), one of the most sought-after beers in America. It can be hard if not impossible to acquire. Over the years the Crew has had a mere handful of bottles of this wonderful elixir, where the already excellent Breakfast Stout is aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels. Yet, we have never had the pleasure of enjoying the epic epicness on tap.

Drum roll …

Please don't drool on your computer.

Please don’t drool on your computer.

Oh, Oct. 14 is so far away, is it not? We all need things to look forward to in life, so at least we have this event.

To keep us satiated through September, though, NHBG and bar manager/craft lover extraordinaire Thomas DeCaro has lined up some serious goodness every Wednesday night.

Sept. 2: Avery Special Tapping featuring The Beast, The Maharaja, Samael’s, and The Reverend. The Beast (15-17% ABV, 63 IBU) is a Grand Cru. The Maharaja (10-12% ABV, 102 IBU) is a monstrous imperial IPA. Samael’s (15-17% ABV, 41 IBU) is an oak-aged English-style strong ale.  The Reverend (10% ABV, 24 IBU) is a decadent Belgian quad.

Sept. 9: Green Flash/Apline Tap Takeover featuring Hoppy Birthday, Pacific Gem Single Hop, Styrian Golding Single Hop, Green Bullet, Double Stout, and Hop Head Red. The Green Bullet (10.1% ABV, 100+ IBU) is a specialty release from Green Flash.

Sept. 16: Special tapping of a 2014 Alaskan Smoked Porter keg

Sept. 23: Special tapping of Odell Oak Haven (Peach Ale aged in whiskey barrels)

Sept. 30: Double Bourbon Barrel Tapping of Pumpkin Barrel Ale and Kentucky Barrel Ale from Lexington Brewing

That should keep everyone more than satisfied until KBS night.

Got any questions? Ask us and we will do our best to answer, or we will pass it along to Thomas and get back to you via the usual channels (Facebook, Twitter, this site, email, in person, etc.).

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Susan's Fine Wine & Spirits in Santa Fe

Susan’s Fine Wine & Spirits is one of the best beer stores in Santa Fe.

In honor of IPA Day, I went in search of the best out-of-state session IPAs that can be found in Santa Fe. Susan’s Fine Wine and Spirits (1005 S. St. Francis Drive) is my go-to place, conveniently located between home and office. I found the beer manager, Matt Zehnder, who was likely afraid I’d repeat my offense when I went in search of new-to-us Evil Twin brews a couple of weeks ago. Yeah, I took all the beer out of the boxes. Two hours old and not in your system? Don’t care. Here’s some money, I’m running out of the store with my spoils.

When he realized I wasn’t going to pillage his nicely arranged shelves, I asked him to weigh in on what he thought were the top session IPAs coming in from points elsewhere. Luckily, we agreed on all of them. Here are our top three picks for non-New Mexico session IPAs.

Green Flash Mosaic Session IPA

Green Flash Mosaic Session IPA

Green Flash Mosaic Session IPA
(4.5% ABV, 65 IBU, 100% Mosaic Hops)

Green Flash has executed a near-perfect score with their Mosaic Session IPA. If you are an IPA fan, you are likely familiar with that hoppy kick and heady scent that their brews have. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it held true with their session IPA, as it doesn’t always translate. On a side note, Zehnder told me that Green Flash made their session IPA as one of their cost-conscious offerings because people were complaining their beer was too expensive (normally they are sold in four-packs for about $10). I happily paid $8.99 for a six-pack at Susan’s of Mosaic Session IPA — well done, Green Flash.

Appearance: Golden-hued with a clean body and nice head.

Scent: When you first open the bottle, you immediately are hit with a complex hop aroma. No traces of skunk or syrup, just clean hops. For scent alone, the Mosaic wins hands down among the brews reviewed here.

Taste: The hops profile is complex and dense, but not overpowering. The citrus notes are tampered by deep, earthy underpinnings. It’s balanced, crisp, and lets the hops shine. It has a bitter finish, but doesn’t overpower the hops profile when you are done swallowing.

Mouthfeel: Because it’s only 4.5-percent ABV, the feel remains light. This feels like a summer beer in your mouth.

Overall: Balanced, clean, and crisp, it doesn’t skimp on classic hops flavor. The clear winner of the group, this brew is going to be a staple in this girl’s repertoire for the remainder of the summer.

Full Sail's Session IPA

Full Sail’s Session IPA

Full Sail Session IPA
(5.1% ABV)

Admittedly, I was wary about this one. In the other Session (or Full Sail) beers, I haven’t found a personality trait that seems to help distinguish them from others. Yes, the stubby bottle is cute. What surprised me was the orange scent wafting from the bottle when I first opened it. The scent translated into taste, as I soon found out.

Appearance: Clear, deep gold body with a very low amount of head. No lacing.

Scent: The orange scent is light at first, but intensifies when you pour it. Overall, the scent is on the lighter side and not very bold, but is definitely there.

Taste: The orange remains on the back end, but it’s even-tempered and accompanied by hints of tangerine and melon. It’s a fairly modest taste — not over the top, and definitely not showy like the Mosaic.

Mouthfeel: High carbonation for a beer that weighs in at only 5.1-percent ABV. And, I believe the feel is a little on the thick and syrupy side to be called a true sessionable ale.

Overall: This could almost be classified as a citrus-inspired pale ale. With the carbonation and slightly syrupy feel, it definitely clocks in as a heavyweight compared to the others in this review.

Oskar Blues' Pinner Throwback IPA is the perfect summer beer.

Oskar Blues’ Pinner Throwback IPA is the perfect summer beer.

Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback IPA
(4.9% ABV, 35 IBU)

I found this crushable summer ale in Durango this past spring after mountain biking there, and have been buying it regularly ever since. I love it because it’s supremely refreshing, light, and perfect for the summer heat. While not as forward on its hops profile as the other two, it reads as an interesting mix of hoppy pale ale and pilsner.

Appearance: Very light, clean, yellow-gold body. Decent amount of head and lacing after settling.

Scent: Fruity nose that includes peach, mango, and tangerine balanced by a very slight hint of hops.

Taste: It’s like your session IPA went and hooked up with your favorite pilsner. If that doesn’t do it for you, I urge you to try it anyhow. This is the go-to beer on that super hot day. It’s the beer you grab after a mountain bike ride to cool down. It’s light on hops and bitterness, but very well balanced. It finishes with a light, toasted aftertaste that is quickly washed away by your next sip.

Mouthfeel: Low to moderate carbonation with an exceptionally light feel in your mouth.

Overall: This beer is built for speed. It’s completely refreshing to find a style that seems to marry two very separate profiles into one stand-out summer brew.

Bonus from the cutting room floor:

Che has a very discerning sensibility when it comes to IPAs. He decided to check out one of the beers that didn't make our top-three cut.

Che has a very discerning sensibility when it comes to IPAs. He decided to check out one of the beers that didn’t make our top-three cut.

Honorable Mention: New Belgium’s Slow Ride Session IPA kept me hydrated while in Fort Worth this past weekend. Crisp, balanced and hoppy, it quenches your thirst when the heat index is triple digits.

Feel I left something out? Find me on Instagram: @craftwhores and ask me to follow up with more reviews.

Cheers!

— Julie

Owing to the fact that I (Franz Solo) had a birthday on Monday, my review of 2014’s ABQ Blues and Brews was a tad delayed (This is Brew Crew-speak for “I was really, really hungover” — Stoutmeister), so without further ado:

The crowd was huge at ABQ Blues & Brews.

The crowd was huge at ABQ Blues & Brews.

On a rainy Sunday (perfect beer weather, in my opinion), Mrs. Solo and I headed over to Sandia Casino and Resort for this year’s edition of ABQ Blues and Brews. We arrived a tad later than anticipated and were greeted with what looked to be a very long line waiting to get in. Fortunately, we had purchased VIP tickets and our line was essentially non-existent. We moved quickly inside to the galaxy of beer awaiting us.

The decision to switch from an outdoor back to an indoor venue for the event was quite welcome, given that last year we roasted in 90-degree heat in the sun (Don’t remind me. — S) and this year we would have been drenched from a day-long storm. An added bonus to the venue change was that our musical accompaniment for sampling all of these great brews was far easier to hear throughout the venue and certainly kept the overall vibe very relaxed and fun.

Always get VIP tickets to avoid the longer lines later.

Always get VIP tickets to avoid the longer lines later.

We were lucky enough to have made nearly halfway round the venue before general admission goers entered, so we had a good chance to try many, many new beers before the lines got too terribly long. Standouts from the local offerings were Chama River’s Pecan Porter, The Stumbling Steer’s Imperial Coffee Stout and Double IPA, NM Craft Brewing Co’s Sebastian Canyon Foreign Extra Stout, and Santa Fe Brewing’s Double Dry Hopped Bourbon Barrel Aged Chicken Killer Barleywine.

Chama River’s Pecan Porter was a beer I would pair with a pancake breakfast. There were loads of pecan and maple flavors and a wonderful, sweet profile that kept me coming back for more samples. The porter should be available at Chama in the coming weeks and we definitely look forward to enjoying a few pints and probably a growler or two as well.

NM Craft Brewing had a fine showing.

NM Craft Brewing had a fine showing.

The Steer’s Imperial Coffee Stout was bold and delicious all around with a great profile that had a good deal better balance than previous versions we had tried. We hope that this will continue once brew operations are fully running in-house at the Steer. The Steer’s Double IPA was extremely hoppy and drinkable for a beer pushing 10-percent ABV, definitely a beer for the IPA lovers in the Duke City.

Sebastian Canyon was a standout among the many good offerings from NM Craft Brewing, with a great malty profile and exceptional drinkability. Santa Fe Brewing really brought us something special and unique just for the tasting; we were assured that this particular version of Chicken Killer would quite likely never be made again and man alive, was it great. I had enjoyed an aged bomber of the bourbon barrel Chicken Killer previously, but the double dry hopping for this particular batch made for a real show-stopper of a beer. Sweet and strong layers of malts and bourbon were perfectly balanced from the dry hopping processes. We sincerely hope that this will not be just a one-time beer because it honestly blows the regular Killer out of the water.

A good time was had by all, including Dr. Brews Banner, left, Crew correspondent Adam Auden, center, and Franz Solo himself.

A good time was had by all, including Dr. Brews Banner, left, Crew correspondent Adam Auden, center, and Franz Solo himself.

As for the out-of-state beers that we particularly enjoyed, the best were Fresh Squeezed IPA from Deschutes, Lost Highway Black IPA from Mother Road brewing out of Flagstaff, Arizona, Jamaica Red Ale from Mad River Brewing, and West Coast IPA from Green Flash. Of these four, Fresh Squeezed IPA and West Coast IPA can be found here in town, while the other two are not yet available in the state at this point but we hope that that will change. (We’ve heard that Mother Road will soon be distributing here. In the meantime, we’re planning an excursion to Flagstaff in June to try all six of the breweries there, Mother Road included. — S)

As the crowd inside grew to full capacity, it did become a bit difficult to obtain samples at any reasonable rate as the lines just grew and grew. I would maybe suggest that for future Blues and Brews a second day be added to accommodate increasing demand. The venue itself was wonderful for the event, being that we were safely ensconced from the elements and able to fully enjoy some really great blues bands while we sampled away.

On the whole I would call this event a grand success, filled with happy beer and blues aficionados and a great time all around. A huge thank you as well to all of the volunteers and breweries who made this event possible. We are sincerely grateful for your efforts and the result!

So until next year, sayonara Blues and Brews, it was a damn fine day indeed!

Prost!

— Franz and Mrs. Solo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stoutmeister’s favorites (besides Labyrinth)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brandon’s favorite beers (besides Labyrinth)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Porter Pounder’s favorite beers (besides Labyrinth)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * *

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Well, that was fun.

We're just happy to have survived you, oh wonderful event.

We’re just happy to have survived you, oh wonderful event.

ABQ Beer Week 2013 has come and gone, and now that a certain baseball team is on the road, ol’ Stoutmeister here has a chance to catch up and recap the last two days of events, Friday and Saturday. These were a couple of big days for the Brew Crew with our Dark Ages show on Friday and Blues & Brews on Saturday. Oh, yeah, and I turned 35, so I guess it was big for me personally. I’ve never had a beer festival on my birthday before. It was, shall we say, a tad insane.

First up, a huge thank you to everybody involved in Beer Week. From Marne Gaston and her staff at Feel Good Festivals,  all the local brewery staffs and local bar staffs who participated, all the people who generously volunteered their time instead of just drinking beer, and to all the folks in the general public who came out to all the events, thank you for all your hard work, your kindness, and for just being the best bunch of folks on the planet for 10 days.

So anyway, onto the last couple of events.

* * * *

For not exactly being the kind of guys who have ever put on an event before, we got through pretty unscathed.

For not exactly being the kind of guys who have ever put on an event before, we got through pretty unscathed.

The Dark Ages was a blast. For an event that we conceived in about a month, I feared it would be completely disorganized and haphazard. Thankfully, we had the awesome Lauren Poole in charge of producing, plus Skye and her staff at Tractor working hard to help procure the beers and set up ArtBar for our event.

As for the Crew, well, we rehearsed our Monty Python inspired opening about 30 minutes before the event. Poor E-Rock got there just in time from his earlier gig to follow us in the line of Beer Monks; he didn’t have a chance to learn the chant we came up with:

Pie jesu domine, we prefer the darker beers (pause, drink)

Pie jesu domine, we like our malts roasted black

Pie jesu domine, we do not like the hoppy

The audience laughed, so I guess we did something right there. From there Lauren and I introduced the various acts, which ranged from Red Light Cameras’ Barney Lopez playing a song on a ukelele atop a ladder to Sam Tynker drinking a beer from eight feet away via a tube through his nose to E-Rock leading his friends in a series of covers from Dark Side of the Moon. Lauren led the band House of Wine into action, while two of our the Crew’s friends did a belly-dancing routine.

The talented Morgan Harris was one of our favorite acts during Dark Ages.

The talented Morgan Harris was one of our favorite acts during Dark Ages.

Oh, and there was also a lovely, extremely flexible young lady silencing us all with her amazing acrobatic routine. We were so blown away I think I was the only one to bother to snap a photo. Thank you, Ms. Morgan Harris, you were amazing.

In between the acts we kept everyone guessing with some beer trivia, with prizes from us (we gave away some of our T-shirts that you may have spotted us wearing all week), Bosque Brewing, Broken Bottle, and more. Heck, we even gave away two free VIP tickets to Blues & Brews that were handed to us during the show. Thank you to Alan Markey from Premier Distributing. We also gave away a free brewery tour with the Crew to our newest follower on Facebook, Matthew Schleyer. He started following us during the show and we pulled his name out of Shilling’s hat just minutes later. His wife also won a prize during the trivia rounds.

So what were the trivia questions? Test your own knowledge here. The answers will be at the bottom of the post.

1. Why do the bubbles in Guinness go down?

A) It’s a visual illusion; B) It’s an effect of being made with nitrogen instead of CO2; C) It’s created by the secret malts Guinness uses

Stoutmeister, left, writes down the trivia answers while Porter Pounder does, um, something important.

Stoutmeister, left, writes down the trivia answers while Porter Pounder does, um, something important.

2. Where did La Cumbre’s Jeff Erway get his start as a brewer?

A) Chama River; B) Turtle Mountain; C) Il Vicino

3. Where was the original location of Il Vicino’s brewery?

A) Downtown; B) Off Comanche near I-25; C) Nob Hill

4. What ingredient gives a milk stout its creamy body and sweetness?

A) Lactic sugar/lactose; B) Chocolate malts; C) A special type of hops

5. Which of the following was NOT a beer from Broken Bottle?

A) Rob Van Winkle Vanilla Stout; B) Fat Willie’s Smoke Stout; C) Pied Piper Porter

6. What was the most read Brew Crew story of all time?

A) Our in-depth interview with Jeff Erway; B) Our explanation of how Tractor briefly lost the ability to sell growlers; C) The review of our second Super Bowl Stout Challenge

E-Rock, left, wore his Spartan helmet and played the oud alongside his friends Sam, center, and Stephen.

E-Rock, left, wore his Spartan helmet and played the oud alongside his friends Sam, center, and Stephen.

We closed the night with a jam session by E-Rock and the many other musicians we had in the house. We also had a total of nine dark beers on tap including Odell’s Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout (a huge thanks to Ryan Bogart from the Colorado brewery for the last-minute donation!), Bosque’s Olde Bosky porter, Broken Bottle’s The Incident Black IPA, Il Vicino’s Black IPA, La Cumbre’s Baltic Porter, Marble’s Stout Americano, and Tractor’s Double Plow Oatmeal Stout, Nut Brown, and Milk Stout.

Thank you to all of our performers, everyone from Tractor and Blackout Theater Company who helped us out, and of course to all the cool people we met in the audience, including some who came from as far away as San Diego. We’ll be sure to do another Dark Ages show for Beer Week 2014 that will be even bigger and better. Don’t miss out next time!

* * * *

The crowd was great with all the space to move around in at Blues & Brews.

The crowd was great with all the space to move around in at Blues & Brews.

So after some stroke-of-midnight birthday shenanigans over at Anodyne with fellow May 4ther Sam Tynker and our friends, I made it home around 4:30 a.m. I may be older, but I’m not wiser. After about 5 hours of sleep, Franz Solo rolled by and we headed out to lunch/brunch with Porter Pounder. From there, it was off to Blues & Brews, which was held outdoors for the first time at the Isleta Amphitheater. The location had its pluses (plenty of room to maneuver) and minuses (the location is a tad remote), but overall things went very well. Heck, I was only sunburned on one small part of my neck that I missed with the sunscreen. That alone is a miracle for this Scottish-Irish-Polish-American.

We stopped by to talk to old friends at Tractor, Bosque, Broken Bottle, Back Alley Draft House, and more of the local booths. We also introduced ourselves to the staff at New Mexico Craft Brewing Co., which is opening soon in Las Vegas. Others we talked to included the owners of the Grain Hopper, Rio Rancho’s homebrewing store, and the folks who are bringing Utah’s Uinta Brewing into the state at long last.

We implore you all to find this awesome beer from Uinta. Just be careful with it, tis a monster.

We implore you all to find this awesome beer from Uinta. Just be careful with it, tis a monster.

For Franz Solo and I, our favorite three out-of-state beers were Lagunitas’ aptly named Hop Stoopid, Green Flash’s Double Stout Golden, and Uinta’s monstrous (13.2% ABV) Labyrinth Imperial Black Ale. Others that stood out to me were Butte Creek’s Organic Porter, Durango Brewing’s Hop Hugger IPA, Mad River’s Steelhead Extra Stout, Pagosa’s super sweet Peach Ale, Ska’s Vernal Minthe Stout, Stone’s Smoked Porter, and Uinta’s Dubhe Imperial Black IPA.

In terms of New Mexico beers, we gave big thumbs up to Back Alley’s IPA, Blue Corn’s Gold Medal Stout, Bosque’s new version of the Boss Pale Ale (it’s sweeter, but with a hoppy bite still present), Broken Bottle’s The Incident, Cazuela’s Inebriator Dopplebock, Chama River’s White Elephant (for Franz) and Summer Ale (for myself), NM Craft Brewing’s Roundhouse (Nitro) Stout, Sandia Chile Grill’s (Nitro) Milk Stout, Santa Fe’s Imperial Java Stout, and Tractor’s Maibock. I do not want to pick just one favorite out of the bunch. They are all worth seeking out, along with the many other great beers brewed all across this great state of ours. Beer Week may be over, but please, don’t stop supporting our local breweries!

The birthday boy closed his day at Blues & Brews with Tractor. What, you're shocked by this? Have you not been paying attention?

The birthday boy closed his day at Blues & Brews with Tractor. What, you’re shocked by this? Have you not been paying attention?

There was a lot of beer that we did not try, but we had to try and stay somewhat lucid. Well, Franz did, I was not quite as lucky (again, older, not wiser). We also had a conversation with Tractor about a little something that might be pretty big for the Crew in the future. We’ll have more on that once we talk some more and transition from theory to actual plan.

Anyway, I again want to say thank you to everyone involved with Blues & Brews. Especially Marne, who does an incredible job of organizing all of this. Marne, you have earned the right to do absolutely nothing for a week but kick back and relax! Blues & Brews was a splendid event and just about the best birthday present this old guy could ever ask for.

So until we’ve all recovered in time next week’s American Craft Beer Week, I bid you adieu from all of us in the Crew. We’ll be back out there soon enough supporting our local breweries. We have (at least) three more beer festivals in June to prepare for!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

(Trivia answers: 1. B, 2. A, 3. C, 4. A, 5. C, 6. B)