Posts Tagged ‘Lagunitas Brewing Company’

The 16th annual San Juan Brewfest took place on Saturday, August 23, in beautiful downtown Durango. Benefiting the United Way of SW Colorado, the brewfest had a great turnout, despite the rain that threatened to dampen the mood. Held at Buckley Park near the northern tip of Main Street, there couldn’t be an easier event to find, or find your way home from.

There was quite the crowd at the San Juan Brewfest.

There was quite the crowd at the San Juan Brewfest.

There were over 50 breweries, with 35 from Colorado, six from New Mexico, and nine were from breweries ranging from the east coast to the west coast, including a few macrobreweries. Macros always reminded me of the old guy at the college parties. “Dude are you like, a professor or something?” But I kid the big guys. With all that the San Juan Brewfest had to offer, you could sample a beer poured by a familiar face from the likes of Turtle Mountain or Taos Mesa, you could get to know your northern neighbors’ beers a bit better, or you could try a few swallows from far away lands like Boston, Juneau, or Petaluma. (A full list of breweries is below.)

As far as brewfesters go, everyone was very friendly and laid back in that Colorado kinda way. On occasion, there were those folks who were a bit over-excited to talk about their interests, like trail-riding or ciders. Where did that cider guy come from? But there’s nothing wrong with that. Passion is what fuels the craft beer industry, am I right? So keep on keepin’ on, cider guy!

Fans dance to the Hill Stompers.

Fans dance to the Hill Stompers, a band from Los Alamos.

Everyone enjoyed themselves, sampling, noshing on German sausages straight from the grill, and dancing wildly inappropriately (in front of children) to the rockin’ local bands. One of those local bands happened to be local to New Mexico. Have you guys heard the Hill Stompers from Los Alamos? Well do it, already! They’re like a circus marching band fueled by candy corn and cerveza.

Getting to the beer, there were over a hundred beers to try at the brewfest, including some breweries bringing more than the promised two. It was impossible to try them all, or maybe we didn’t try hard enough. With the free taster glass and a handy notepad, we set out to pulverize our palates. And boy did we! My Untappd App sure got a workout the next day. As for my personal favorites, Great Divide had a fantastic dark, roasted, powerful warrior of a beer called the Claymore Scotch Ale (7.7% ABV) that just knocked my hop-socks off. I also really enjoyed Upslope Brewing Co.’s Belgian Style Pale Ale (7.5% ABV), the Face Down Brown by Telluride Brewing Co. (5.7% ABV), and of course the Kriek from Santa Fe Brewing was way up there on my list.

Marble's tent was a popular spot for beer lovers.

Marble’s tent was a popular spot for beer lovers.

There was also a beer that I won’t name that I really liked but couldn’t put my finger on why. Then it dawned on me as I finished that last swig; it REALLY reminded me of something racked from one of La Cumbre’s tanks. Was it one of Elevated IPAs long-lost sisters? I couldn’t tell! I could, however, go on and on about the beers, but there were so many different styles. Most breweries brought an IPA and a pale ale, others brought reds, Belgians, and there were a handful of saisons and sours. But why not just grab my Untappd name and take a look at my journey? LukeDukeSF. Now, I’ll try not to say too much more about this, but after sampling so many IPAs, I can definitely say I prefer New Mexico IPAs to Colorado IPAs. Nuff said.

The competition that day was as hot as the sun, when it did decide to come out. For the Judge’s Choice, Left Hand Brewing Company won third place for their Milk Stout Nitro. Our very own Marble Brewery won second place with their already-award-winning Pilsner. “505! 505!” I chanted silently in my head as I heard the news. Best beer of the fest went to Elevation Beer Company’s Avis IV. And finally, winning People’s Choice for best beer was the Brown Bear Ale from Aspen Brewing Co.

With great weather, great beers, and great company, it was a brewfest to remember, or try REALLY hard to remember. Thanks, Durango, for a great time. See you next year!

Cheers,

Luke!

Everyone was left smiling at the end of the brewfest.

Everyone was left smiling at the end of the brewfest.

2014 San Juan Brewfest Breweries

AC Golden (Golden, CO), Alaskan Brewing (Juneau), Aspen Brewing (CO), Avalanche Brewing (Silverton, CO), Blue Moon Brewing (Golden, CO), Boston Beer, Bottom Shelf Brewery (Bayfield, CO), Boulder Beer (CO), Breckenridge Brewery (CO), Brew Pub and Kitchen (Durango), Bristol Brewing (Colorado Springs), Carver Brewing (Durango), Durango Brewing, Elevation Beer (Poncha Springs, CO), Eske’s Brew Pub & Eatery (Taos), Fort Collins Brewery (CO), Great Divide Brewery (Denver), Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing (Chippewa Falls, WI), Kannah Creek Brewing (Grand Junction, CO), Lagunitas Brewing (Petaluma, CA), Left Hand Brewing (Longmont, CO), Lumberyard Brewing (Flagstaff, AZ), Marble Brewery, Moab Brewery (UT), Mr. Grumpy Pants Brewing (Ouray, CO), New Belguim Brewing (Fort Collins, CO), Oak Creek Brewing (Sedona, AZ), Odell Brewing (Fort Collins, CO), Oskar Blues Brewery (Longmont, CO), Ouray Brewery (CO), Pagosa Brewing and Grill (Pagosa Springs, CO), Palisade Brewing (Palisade, CO), Riff Raff Brewing (Pagosa Springs, CO), Roaring Fork Beer (Carbondale, CO), Rocky Mountain Brewery (Colorado Springs, CO), San Luis Valley Brewing (Alamosa, CO), Santa Fe Brewing, Shock Top Brewing (St. Louis), Sierra Nevada Brewing (Chico, CA), Ska Brewing (Durango), Steamworks Brewing (Durango), Strange Craft Beer (Denver), Taos Mesa Brewing, Telluride Brewing (CO), Three Barrel Brewing (Del Norte, CO), Three Rivers Brewery, Turtle Mountain Brewing, Two Rascals Brewing (Montrose, CO), Upslope Brewing (Boulder, CO), Wolfe Brewing (Pagosa Springs, CO)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rio Negro is big and burly, yet very smooth.

Rio Negro is big and burly, yet very smooth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Beer festival season hits its highpoint in October both in New Mexico and nearby, starting with the fourth annual New Mexico Brew Fest this Saturday at the Villa Hispana on the state fairgrounds. With Valhalla (aka The Great American Beer Festival) and then Hopfest later in the month, beer drinkers will be kept awfully busy long before they pick out their Halloween costumes.

Twenty New Mexico breweries will be pouring their beers for our enjoyment this weekend.

Twenty New Mexico breweries will be pouring their beers for our enjoyment this weekend.

Brew Fest is the brainchild of the team over at Local iQ, bringing together your standard unlimited-samples-style festival with some food trucks and other unique elements. Still need tickets? Click here or hope they are still available at the door on Saturday when gates open at 1 p.m. (unless you have VIP tickets like Brandon and I, then it starts at noon).

Anyway, any good beer event preview must answer the following question: What beers are going to be on tap? Well, I contacted as many of the participating breweries as I could and here was what they had to say. I will continue to update this post if breweries make contact later today or Friday to give us their listings.

Oh, and as always, all beer lineups are subject to change.

Abbey Brewing: The monks don’t have an email or phone number because, well, they’re monks. We imagine they will be bringing some of their staples such as Monk’s Wit and Monk’s Ale, plus maybe their Tripel.

Back Alley Draft House: Addison is bringing back his White Ryeno that debuted at Beer Premier back in the summer. He will also have his IPA, Belgian White, and Imperial Russian Stout, the latter of which I am personally looking forward to finally trying.

Blue Corn: If you can’t make it up to Santa Fe on Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. for its debut, BC’s Pumpkin Ale will coming down, along with “maybe” an Oktoberfest and “some house beers” from the regular lineup, John said. I’ll take some Smoked Plaza Porter and Scottish Export, please.

Bosque: Four house favorites will be on hand in the Olde Bosky Porter, Ember IPA, Cumulus Wheat IPA, Scotia Scotch Ale, and Kindling Golden Ale. If you’ve never tried Olde Bosky before, shame on you. And here’s your chance to erase that shame.

Chama River: One of the only breweries bringing just seasonals, no regular beers, is Chama. (Thanks, Justin!) Prepare your tastebuds for Hop Slap, a special IPA, plus Apricot Wheat and the spicy Punkin Drublic. You can all enjoy those, but clearly the Porter for Pyros, a delicious smoked porter, is only for the Crew? Wait, it’s not? Oh, well, you’ll have to beat us to the Chama booth if you don’t want us to drink it all up.

Duel: I sent them an email but have not heard back. I am now sending them telepathic suggestions to bring down their Grunewald imperial porter and Night Watch, a barrel-aged porter. They can bring lighter-colored beers, too, but hey, it’s me. I am the Old Faithful of beer writers.

Il Vicino: If it’s a dessert beer you want, the mad scientists at the Canteen have just what you’re looking for in the Milk Chocolate Cherry Stout. Besides that lovely annual concoction, they will also have the Caliente IPA, Hell(y)es, Slowdown Brown, and the new Face First Pale Ale. Let us all sample in moderation so we do not end up face first on the ground of the fairgrounds.

La Cumbre: Brace yourselves, Jeff could be bringing up to eight of his beers, including the aged Barley’s Wine ’12. LC’s latest seasonals — Witch’s Tit, VMO #3, Project Dank, Hell Froze Over — will also be on hand along with staples such as the Malpais Stout, A Slice of Hefen, and Pyramid Rock Amber Ale.

Las Cazuelas: The Rio Rancho-based brewery will provide three of its beers for people to try, the La Jefe Hefeweizen, Panama Red, and Chupacabra IPA. I’ve never had the Red before, so I’m intrigued to see where it falls on the red ale spectrum (with Marble’s hoppy red on one end, Il Vicino’s Irish red on the other).

Little Toad Creek: This is a place we want to check out in person eventually (they’re down near Silver City). Until then, we’ll settle for trying their beer up here. Amber Ale, Stout, and IPA will be served Saturday. LTC also has a distillery, so they will bring their vodka, silver rum, and spiced rum, for those who want more than just beer. They will be making some mixed drinks, too, including Mojitos (somewhere, Sam Axe approves), Lavender Vodka Lemonade, Spiced Cuba, and more.

Marble: At last check, they are still putting their lineup together.

The crowd gathered at the Villa Hispana for last year's New Mexico Brew Fest.

The crowd gathered at the Villa Hispana for last year’s New Mexico Brew Fest.

Mimbres Valley: We contacted the Deming brewery via Facebook and attempted to call (number did not work) and send them a message on their site (also no bueno), but no dice on finding out the beers they are bringing north. Clearly an objective this Saturday will be to secure a line of future communication, if nothing else than to help E-Rock with The Week Ahead in Beer.

Nexus: Manuel will have some of the usual suspects available, such as the IPA, Scottish Ale, and Cream Ale. He is also hoping to bring some two-years-aged Barley Wine, because as he pointed out, this festival is all about having at least one big beer. And then drinking that big beer and regretting it the following day.

Rio Grande/Sierra Blanca: There are no surprises here as the team from Moriarity is bringing its Oktoberfest, plus stalwarts like the Rio Grande IPA, Rio Grande Green Chile Cerveza, and Roswell Alien Amber.

Sandia Chile Grill: The odds are they will not be attending (I would add why, but it was told to me off the record). It’s a shame, too, because Clint just brewed up a new stout that is a wondrous hybrid of an Irish dry stout and a cream/milk stout. So instead we’ll all just have to visit them at SCG and drink it there. Oh, darn.

Santa Fe Brewing: Two mainstays and two seasonals will be tapped from SFBC. The Happy Camper IPA and Imperial Java Stout will be there for those who like the beer version of flavorful comfort food. Hefeweizen and Oktoberfest will be tapped in the spirit of the season. I am curious to see if Oktoberfest is back to its good old self after we had what tasted like an off-batch at Son of Septemberfest.

Second Street: I left Rod a voicemail, but he’s busy brewing beer right now. Second Street just posted on their Facebook page that it’s time for their Oktoberfest beers. Please, oh please, bring some of those down to us this Saturday.

Taos Mesa: We have been over the whole (assumed) TMBC-doesn’t-like-the-Crew thing. This might be an opportunity to bury the hatchet. And of course an opportunity to try more of their beers.

Tractor: I have always enjoyed Tractoberfest in the past and it will make its long-awaited return at Brew Fest. In fact, I think we’re almost at the point where there will be enough Oktoberfest-style beers in town to have a Mini-Beer Battle to determine whose is best. That will be in the near future. Also expected to be on hand are the Hard Cider, Double Plow Oatmeal Stout, Haymaker Honey Wheat, and Farmer’s Tan Red.

Turtle Mountain: With so many beers to choose from, the Turtle team is still working on their list.

* * * *

Another shot from last year's Brew Fest. The crowd only gets bigger as the day goes along, so get there early.

Another shot from last year’s Brew Fest. The crowd only gets bigger as the day goes along, so get there early.

In addition to all that, there will be a VIP tent with lots of Belgian beers on tap (not my style, but I’ll give ’em a whirl), plus Whole Foods will have their Beer Village featuring craft beer heavyweights Deschutes, Lagunitas, Left Hand, New Belgium, Oskar Blues, Sierra Nevada, and Stone. Hopefully they bring something besides their regular beers that you can find all over town.

There will also be lots of food provided by Whole Foods, as well as The Supper Truck, Rustic, and The Last Call. I imagine many will go with the Oktoberfest theme food-wise, though having been to the actual event (in 1981 and 1982, so no beer for me, sadly, as I was just a little kinder), I always preferred the rotisserie chicken to the brats. If anyone brings the former, I’ll polka dance all over the place.

For the music lovers out there, Todd and the Fox, Mondo Vibrations, and the Keltic Cowboys will be on stage. If you prefer traditional German music, Die Polka-schlingel will bust out the classic Oktoberfest tunes.

Brandon and I will be among the crowd (odds are the rest of the Crew will be unable to attend due to lack of finances or having to work/play music that day), so if you see us in our Brew Crew shirts, say hello. We don’t bite. Well, except when fighting over hockey, but Pens-Flyers Round 1 isn’t until Oct. 17, so we should be fine.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brewery beers

Nexus’ Chocolate Porter

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

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

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

Tractor’s Milk Stout

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

Take-home beers

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

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

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

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

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

Stone’s RuinTen

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

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

Lagunitas Lucky 13 Imperial Red Ale

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

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

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

Rogue’s Dad’s Little Helper

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

Anderson Valley Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout

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

Sierra Nevada Barrel-Aged Bigfoot Barleywine Ale

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

Rogue’s Captain Sig’s Northwestern Ale

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

* * * *

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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)

Greetings beer aficionados, Brandon here with another edition of the Saturday Night Sixer! As always the Sixer is here to help you at those times where you just seem to be staring at coolers of beer, unsure of which is going to best please your palate. Well, look no further than our weekly recommendation found right here; remember that all the brews here can be found at your local fine packaged liquor store. Now, onward to beer!

Finally, a beer that screams "good morning!": Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout

Finally, a beer that screams “good morning!”: Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout

We here in New Mexico have been spoiled by our plethora of wonderful craft breweries around the state, so sometimes we forget about the wonderful beers from out of state that we might not have access to … hey, we’re only human, OK? That being said, we’ve been somewhat deprived of the beers from Lagunitas Brewing Company until recently. They have been absent from the shelves of Albuquerque’s retail beer establishments for a while. Well, lo and behold, an e-mail came across the NMDSBC account, advising us that the folks at one of our local liquor stores finally had Lagunitas beers in stock!

After setting up shop back in 1993, the Petaluma, Calif.-based brewery has been winning over craft beer fans all over the country with their stable of awesome beers and enjoyably quirky beer labels. They currently have distribution in over 30 states and are poised to expand even further in time. I was personally quite excited for their Albuquerque arrival, as it had been a while since I’d been able to indulge in one of their beers. Currently their famous IPA, its hopped-up-a-level big brother Maximus IPA, the easy-drinking Pils, and others can be found in town; you can also get yourself bombers of this week’s Sixer feature, the Cappuccino Stout. This big beer is the product of stout brewing combined with local coffee beans. According to the website, “We get some help from our friends/neighbors at Sebastopol’s Hardcore Coffee just up the road. The coffee beans are freshly ground when we drop them into the brew kettle and whirlpool, giving that deep coffee flavor without taking away from that even deeper beer flavor.” Thirsty yet? Read on and you will be.

The Cappuccino Stout has all the typical stout qualities one looks for right off the bat. It pours rich with a thick, tan head that is akin to that of a milk or cream stout, and possesses the deep brown/near-jet-black (coffee bean) colors as well. The head sticks around for a bit then dissipates to a thin coating with subtle lacing underneath. Aroma-wise, it is fairly mild. The coffee smells wonderful and is certainly prominent, with a slight earthy spice hop profile.

When you get to the palate and taste this beer it gets a bit different than what you might expect. It has a very rich mouthfeel that coats the whole palate, which again feels similar to a cream or possibly an oatmeal stout. Those tastes are quite awesome; the coffee beans are certainly there all through this beer, but they aren’t overwhelming at all. The chocolate and caramel malts play well with the beans and give it the “cappuccino” that is on the label. There is a subtle sweetness in the middle, along with those earthy hops in the back, and it finishes with more coffee. There is a bitterness from the hops and roasted malt in the back, but the sweetness in the beer balances this perfectly and keeps it from being overpowering. I could ramble on more about how balanced this beer is; the coffee beans are not overpowering and are an excellent complement with the chocolate and roasted malts.

Lagunitas, New Mexico is happy to have you.

Lagunitas, New Mexico is happy to have you.

The Cappuccino Stout is a big beer at 9.2-percent ABV, but it has almost no alcohol bite, making it one to enjoy with caution. It is quite rich, and as such you probably will want to enjoy only one as it is. Although you may be tempted to pour another one, as it is simply so full of flavor that you will want to enjoy again and again.

Overall this is one of the most delicious stouts I’ve had the pleasure of tasting this season … and believe me, I’ve tried a lot of stouts this year! I would wager that this is a stout that most will enjoy; it has the creaminess that someone just warming up to dark beers would appreciate, with enough malts and complex flavors elsewhere to keep everyone else happy. For those in the Albuquerque area, you can currently find Lagunitas exclusively at Jubilation Wine & Spirits. The Cappuccino Stout is a limited release, though, so make sure to get it while it lasts. Lagunitas certainly lit the lamp with this brew, and it will certainly put a jolt in your system, so enjoy!

Until next time …

Prost!

— Brandon Daniel