So once upon a time I asked all of our writers, new and old, if they could please send me their picks for the best beers they had during ABQ Beer Week that were still available for purchase either on tap or in bottles/cans/bombers around the metro area. After waiting a long time for people to send in their picks … I realized I had never written up my own picks. Thank the Beer Gods for Untappd, or otherwise I would be babbling away on here with no idea of what I was talking about.
Basically it would be like any other weekday. (Can you zing yourself? Because I think I just did.)
Here is everyone else. And yeah, I guess this is a preview of who is joining our Brew Crew Bullpen (full bios/intros pending in a separate story).
Also, if you sense a theme here, people kinda liked that one certain IPA from a certain San Diego-based brewery.
Left Hand Oak Aged Wake Up Dead (2014) (10.2% ABV, 44 IBU) Enjoyed this at a special taping at Nob Hill Bar & Grill. Like its un-oaked cousin, still a huge beer, but rounded vanilla notes calm it somewhat. Winey goodness, dangerously drinkable!
Oskar Blues Different Stiles (GUBNA Imperial IPA with Blood Orange and Passionfruit) (10% ABV, 100 IBU) Stumbled across this beer one night at Rock & Brews and enjoyed it so much I had to go back for more later in the week. The fruit combines with the massive hop profile to start it off tasting like fresh grapefruit juice, through to a large fruity hop finish. Outstanding beer, I hope it continues to be available.
Mother Road Lost Highway Black IPA (8% ABV, 100 IBU) Don’t let this “little” beer fool you. With those stats, it shouldn’t feel sessionable. But, to me it kind of did. That could be pretty dangerous. I could still taste the roasted malt characteristics and a bit of java. A pretty well-rounded, hoppy beer. Another reason to visit the brewery the next time I am in Flagstaff. Until then, I can be thankful Mother Road is now here in NM.
Grapefruit Sculpin IPA, Ballast Point (7% ABV, 70 IBU) We here in Albuquerque have been deprived of Ballast Point’s amazing lineup of beers long enough, but that all changed during the beginning of ABQ Beer Week. This seasonal variant of their award-winning Sculpin IPA brings all of the fresh citrus notes with a slight catty burst and floral notes, but with the tart addition of fresh grapefruit added in. The pairing results in a lupulin and fresh fruit explosion that is remarkably refreshing in the summer months. Find a six-pack at your local craft beer retailer and quench your thirst during the warm weather months.
Hoppy Birthday Pale Ale, Alpine Brewing (5.25% ABV, 60 IBU) Alpine Brewing also made their 505 debut during ABQ Beer Week, and Hoppy Birthday is not to be trifled with. This thing is dry-hopped like you would find in one of our dank modern-day IPAs, lending plenty of grapefruit, dank resiny notes, and bursts of lime and other citrus notes. However, it still possesses a solid pale malt bill to balance the beer out and keep it from being overwhelming or crossing into palate-wrecking territory. Mild ABV makes this a very tasty and sessionable beer. Although Alpine has yet to stock the shelves of our local stores yet, they are on their way very soon; for now, stop in at Nob Hill Bar & Grill for a pint!
Franz Solo’s picks
Note: He had a hell of a day Monday, so this is what he sent in one paragraph. Beers are highlighted in bold.
St. Bernardus Abt 12 from Heimat House is amazing. This version of (Chama River’s) Radioactive IPA that I had at BearFest was equally outstanding and an excellent preview of the IPA Challenge. Also, Turtle Mountain’s Wilde Jagd is just wonderfully distinct and I can’t wait to do a full review. The advent of the age of Ballast Point is stupendous. Tractor’s Maibock (Barnstorm Ale) was a wonderful accompaniment to Battle of the Beer Geeks. I adore (Boxing Bear’s) Body Czech Pilsner and am very happy that it garnered a recent medal, for good reason, I might add.
Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin IPA (7% ABV, 70 IBU) I’ll admit, I’ve been stuffing my suitcase with this brew when traveling home from other states since I discovered it back in January. To have it readily available in New Mexico is nothing short of a hops miracle, and the kickoff for welcoming Ballast Point to the state launched this year’s Albuquerque Beer Week. Even if you’re not an IPA fan, give it a try. This beer’s light, crisp body walks the line between bitter hops and tart grapefruit and finishes incredibly smooth. Grapefruit Sculpin IPA’s hello is the scent of grapefruit, and the citrus kick is also the last thing lingering in your mouth. Scared? Don’t be. Friends of mine who are sworn enemies of grapefruit have embraced this beer wholeheartedly because of its balance — and collectively, we have stalked every last tap of it and drank it dry. Word is that Sister will soon have it on tap, and it’s sure to stay in rotation at Nob Hill Bar & Grill. Buy it in six-packs at various locations in New Mexico.
Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin (7% ABV, 70 IBU) Tried this beauty at the Nob Hill Bar & Grill Ballast Point Tap Takeover. It is currently available at Jubilation and Total Wine. This could possibly be one of the best IPAs I have ever tried. Poured clear golden orange with a big white head. Big citrus nose of grapefruit, oranges and lemons. For a big ipa, the citrus flavor on top of a light caramel malt back backbone was perfectly balanced. Grapefruit aftertaste. Pretty much a perfect summer beer.
Ballast Point Indra Kunindra (7% ABV, 50 IBU) I tried this beer at the Nob Hill Bar & Grill Ballast Point Tap Takeover. Indiastyle Export stout is a new style for me, this might be the only one. Poured a dark brown with and off-white head. Brewed with curry, cumin, cayenne, coconut, and Kaffir lime leaf! All of the spices in a coconut stout. Beers like this make this hobby so much fun. (Note: It should come back at some point, but we cannot guarantee this beer is still available anywhere in ABQ.)
Mother Road Lost Highway Imperial Black IPA (8% ABV, 100 IBUs) I tried this for the second time at ABQ Blues & Brews. Poured a dark brown, almost black, with a light tan head. Mouthfeel and roastiness of an Imperial Stout along with the resiny bitterness of a Black IPA. Heavy, but not too heavy to enjoy a couple in the same evening.
Marble Brewing Brett IPA (6.8% ABV, 93 IBUs) I tried this at the Marble Westside Taproom during the Beer, Cheese, & More event. It is available there on tap and in bottles. I have been struggling to get the hype of the brett and sour beers, but loved the blend of the flavors in this beer. Order one on tap and slowly let the temperature increase to bring out the complexities in this beer. The brett is more dominant with the increase. Great crossover beer that I highly recommend.
Ballast Point Victory at Sea (10% ABV, 60 IBU) There were so many good beers on BP night at Nob Hill Bar & Grill, but not all of them involved a certain fruit I am allergic to put into an otherwise great IPA. Anyway, instead I indulged in this massive blast of malty goodness. Think one of the strongest coffees you have ever had, with a copious amount of vanilla cream dumped in there, then thickened up to the point of where your spoon stands straight up. Yeah, that is this beer. At last check, NHBG still had some left on tap. Whenever bombers appear at Jubilation, I fully expect the staff to warn me in advance. Otherwise I’m charging in there like Franz and Brandon into a Slayer mosh pit, elbows up, to make sure I get some.
Left Hand Oak Aged Wake Up Dead: See Adam’s entry above, he got it right.
Santa Fe Ever Changing Series #3 Highland Heath (9% ABV, 20 IBU) Fear not, the third entry in the ECS is heading our way soon on tap and in bottles. I will be buying many of them. The folks at SFBC took a Scottish ale, aged in barrels for six months, and tossed in copious amounts of heather, chamomile, and rose hips. It’s flowery and boozy and malty and that’s just what hits you right off the bat. A dominating debut at Blues & Brews. Here’s hoping I get to a festival this summer where they go even crazier and run this one through R2Beer2. Not that I’m suggesting anything here, Silas. But good ahead if you want.
Bosque/Canteen Hoppiness Envy (7.2% ABV, 100 IBU) A truly beautiful collaboration IPA, I sincerely hope some is still available at Canteen (not sure about Bosque). This is a big, mean hop bomb, the brainchild of the men who finished first and second at the National IPA Challenge this year and at the New Mexico IPA Challenge last summer. It is bitter, sharp, resinous, yet with that maltier backbone that is more common to Mr. Bullard’s big IPAs. In many ways this is the best of both worlds, but no one has to be assimilated. (Sorry, geek moment there, couldn’t resist.) Here is hoping more of our breweries have the time and energy to collaborate in the future. Anyone else want to see Bosque, Canteen, and La Cumbre make a Triple IPA together? I sure do.
Avery Uncle’s Jacob’s Stout (16.9% ABV, N/A IBU) There may still be some of this epic, barrel-aged imperial available on tap at Nob Hill Bar & Grill and in bottles at Jubilation. If there is, GO GET IT NOW. Seriously, this is one of the best beers I have ever had in my life. Yes, I am saying that. About a stout. Do you doubt its power? DO YOU?! I do not care how warm it is getting outside, you need this beer in your life if you have never had it before. Huge bourbon notes, that wonderful vanilla, massive dark malt blast, all wrapped up in one beautiful beer. Just note the ABV, please, and do not do anything stupid afterward. Like try to talk. It will leave you speechless.
Honorable mentions (a.k.a. editor’s privilege): Ballast Point Dorado DIPA, Ballast Point Black Marlin Porter, Nexus T.N.G. Porter, Deschutes Mirror Mirror Barley Wine, New Mexico Craft Brewing Rye Stout (available up in Las Vegas), Ponderosa Brunch Stout, Cazuela’s Primo Brown Ale, Duel’s amber sour of mystery (you had to be there), Rio Grande/Sierra Blanca Alien Milk Stout, Sandia Chile Grill Dirty Steve Mead, Monks’ Tripel Reserve, St. Bernardus Abt 12 (at Heimat House!), Widmer Bros. Raspberry Chocolate Russian Imperial Stout, Odell Barrel Thief Oak Aged Imperial IPA.
All right, that is all from us. Had a few favorites that we overlooked? Email us your picks at firstname.lastname@example.org or just send us stuff via the usual social media outlets.