Posts Tagged ‘Sister Bar’

There are still plenty of places to enjoy a beer today before you gear up for Blues & Brews.

Just in case anyone missed it Friday, we already previewed today’s biggest event, ABQ Blues & Brews. Therefore, it’s not actually listed here, as these are just the smaller events happening around town (mostly before the festival). We just didn’t want to confuse anyone or make ourselves seem strangely forgetful.

Anyway, as one might expect, it’s a pretty light day for events considering most of the brewery folks will be pouring at Sandia Casino. Still, there are some nice options to get the day started.

Featured Event

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

What: La Cumbre Tap Takeover and Beer Brunch. Where: Sister. When: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Cost: No cover charge.

Details: Enjoy the delicious brunch menu at Sister with beers from La Cumbre. There will be five or more LC beers on tap (if we ever get word what those are, we will update this post). Brunch items range from breakfast burritos to huevos rancheros to brunch burger to brisket bowl and so on.

Why you should go: If you’re reading this story, we pretty much know that you are a La Cumbre fan, and by the accounts of many of our trusted friends, Sister makes a legit brunch. Go enjoy both together!

All the other great events

What: Seventh Anniversary Party. Where: Nexus Brewery. When: All day. Cost: No cover charge. Details: The fun continues at Nexus with the Fried Pork Chop being served alongside all the other great dishes, plus Raven & Her Sweet Potato Pie Band will perform from 2 to 5 p.m. Why you should go: If you did not feast Saturday, feast today.

What: Goose Island Brunch. Where: Nob Hill Bar & Grill. When: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: There are none online, but presumably there will be GI beers and beermosas and you can have them with your brunch. Why you should go: If you’re hungry and don’t want to go downtown, here’s another option.

What: Odell Tap Takeover. Where: Gecko’s Nob Hill. When: All day. Cost: No cover charge. Details: There will be Odell beers on tap, and per the poster those will be 90 Shilling, Rupture, IPA, and St. Lupulin Extra Pale Ale. Why you should go: Odell makes good beer and Gecko’s has good food.

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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

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

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

Featured Event

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

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

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

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

All the other great events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

A slew of specialty brews will be arriving at Sister a week from today.

When just glancing at the name, the 21 and Over event at Sister sounds kind of odd. After all, of course one has to be 21 and over to go drink beer at the downtown bar next Friday, May 25, from 6 to 8 p.m. What the title actually refers to, however, is the age of the breweries involved. Only breweries that have been around 21 years or more are participating, and rather than bring us the same old stuff, each is bringing a wildly different and unique offering. This is one of those ABQ Beer Week events that demanded a little more detail in a separate preview, so without further ado …

Bell’s Brewery: 30th Anniversary Cherry Stout Reserve. This is the only keg to come to New Mexico. If anyone had the barrel-aged Cherry Stout before, you know how good this classic beer can be. This reserve batch checks in at 9-percent ABV.

Firestone Walker: ’17 Helldorado. This blonde barleywine comes from the California brewery that just cleaned up at the World Beer Cup, with four medals including three golds. This batch checks in at 12.8-percent ABV, so you might want to leave the car at home and take an Uber/Lyft/taxi.

Four Peaks: Green Tea Lager. The June seasonal release from the Tempe, Arizona brewery arrives a few days early. Much lighter (5.2% ABV) than the rest of the lineup, this was brewed with green tea (natch) and a heap of Chinook hops.

Left Hand: Chai Milk Stout Nitro. By now, everyone but the lactose-intolerant has probably tried Left Hand’s classic Milk Stout, either CO2 or nitro. This version has a whole lot of Chai spice added to the mix, for a creamy-yet-zesty brew that checks in at a sessionable 5-percent ABV.

New Belgium: Clutch Sour Stout. Pucker up for this offering from Fort Collins, Colorado. Originally brewed back in 2011, this Lips of Faith Series beer checks in at 9-percent ABV. It is described as “an iron fist wrapped in a velvet glove.”

Odell: ‘16 Meddler. An aged Oud Bruin, this is a big (8.6% ABV) sour. Made with lacto and other wild yeasts, it is not for the faint of palate.

Rogue: Combat Wombat. This might be the most bonkers beer of the bunch, and that’s saying something. Described as a Northeast-style IPA made with grapefruit and blood orange, this is the citrus haze bomb you’ve been craving. The Australian hops are present throughout this 7.2-percent ABV ale.

Sierra Nevada: Kolsch German-Style Ale. Only available in variety packs, this is Sierra Nevada’s interpretation of the classic light German beer. They added a little wheat malt to give it a bit of an American character as well. At only 5-percent ABV, this is the best beer to start your evening.

We will see many of you at Sister next Friday.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

In a little more than two weeks, the madness returns!

After a rather epic 40th birthday party for yours truly on Friday night, the rest of the weekend was spent in reflection of times gone by, and what is still to come. Namely, what have we already written on and what do we still need to put here on the site. It occurred to me that we have not done our annual early preview of ABQ Beer Week, where the Crew tries to pick out one top event per day of the upcoming craft beer extravaganza.

Well, with ABQ Beer Week kicking off two weeks from this Thursday on May 24 (running until June 3), we are not as early as usual. Of course, this does mean a lot of the schedule is more set in stone, so that should keep us from looking back on this later and going “whoops, that was the wrong day/that event did not happen.”

Thursday, May 24

There are a whole lot of tastings on this day, plus one event to get you off the barstool and on your feet, but in the end we still have to go with tradition. Marble is bringing back its Beer, Cheese & More at the downtown brewery. Head over to get some of the best Marble beers paired up with all sorts of delectable finger foods. When tickets go on sale at the taproom, we will let everyone know, since it sells out every year.

Friday, May 25

At first glance, the 21 and Over Tap Takeover at Sister did not seem to make much sense. After all, to drink beer, you gotta be 21 and over, right? Well, it actually refers to the participating breweries, all of whom are 21 and over in terms of their years of operation. Old-school favorites like Bell’s, Firestone Walker, Four Peaks, Left Hand, New Belgium, Odell, Rogue, and Sierra Nevada will each be bringing a unique one-off beer. When we get closer to the event, we will reveal said list.

Saturday, May 26

There are 10 listed events, so this is one of the busiest days. We gotta go with Nexus’ anniversary party, which runs all day. There will be the infamous red chile ribs, plus the previous two days saw the release of a new IPA and Beam Me Up Scotty, so those will both be available as well. There will also be live music. As always, Uber/Lyft are your best options because that parking lot fills up fast.

Sunday, May 27

Of course we have to pick ABQ Blues & Brews at Sandia Casino, one of the biggest beer festivals in our state. Tickets are on sale now. The long preliminary list includes New Mexico breweries like Bathtub Row, Bosque, Broken Trail, Canteen, Duel, Enchanted Circle, Eske’s, Flix Brewhouse, Hops Brewery, Kellys, Kilt Check, Lava Rock, Marble, Nexus, Ponderosa, Quarter Celtic, Rio Bravo, Santa Fe, Sierra Blanca, Steel Bender, Tractor, and Tumbleroot, plus of course the Dukes of Ale will be on hand.

Monday, May 28

If you do not feel like firing up the grill, but would still like some charred meats, then head over to Steel Bender for the smoke-out. There will be mucho meats, plus sides, and beers, and live music, too.

Tuesday, May 29

Remember when the Crew helped make Obey the Darkside, our beastly stout, over at Canteen? Well, it turns out it is not all gone. No, some was put into a Two Fools Whiskey Barrel, and now it will be transferred to a cask and served all day at Canteen’s main location. See you all when the doors open at noon!

Wednesday, May 30

A chunk of the Crew will be making one of our crazy there-and-back trips to Denver to catch one of our favorite Nordic melodic death metal bands, Insomnium, so you will not see us on this day. For the rest of you staying here, might we suggest a saunter over to Quarter Celtic? The mini-cask fest, a huge hit last year, will be back with a selection of delightful special beers. It’s also Wing Wednesday, if you actually needed any additional incentive.

Thursday, May 31

This day is a killer, because not only we will be racing back from Denver, but we have to choose between two events that look epic. Of course, we have to be at Battle of the Beer Geeks at Tractor Wells Park to see if we can finally reclaim the title from the Babes in Brewland. For those looking for something different this year, head over to Flix Brewhouse for a special showing of the cinematic classic Beerfest (which was filmed here in ABQ). There will be a special collaboration beer release with Steel Bender, plus other fun activities for fans of the movie.

Friday, June 1

Nob Hill Bar & Grill is hosting a Firestone Walker Barrelworks tap takeover. Um, if you insist. I mean, that was just one of the holy beer pilgrimages of a lifetime and all. FW just won four medals (three gold, one silver) at the World Beer Cup, too. When we have the tap list, we will share it. Then we will drink them all.

Saturday, June 2

The second-to-last day is packed, as one would expect, so there are a lot of options. After some hemming and hawing, we will head for the Mini Lager Fest at Ponderosa. The hosts are bringing together multiple breweries to offer up their best lagers. A slew of sessionable beers on what will probably be a scorcher of a day? Sign us up!

Sunday, June 3

Ready for another cask festival? Head to Steel Bender for Le Cask Lunatique, which brings together a flock of firkins with local jazz icons Le Chat Lunatique. Once again, when we know the identities of the cask beers, we will share them.

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Those are our early picks, but we reserve the right to change our minds, or of course to attend multiple events. As we do every year, please remember not to overdo it out there. Lyft and Uber are your friends, as are your actual friends who are willing to be designated drivers.

We will have a lot more on ABQ Beer Week in the days ahead, from focusing on specific events to running down everything at the breweries participating for multiple days. Until then, head to the official website to see some of the other events that are listed so far, and see if there are any that pique your interest more than what we listed above.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

It was a festive atmosphere at Tart at Heart last year.

Sour lovers can rejoice for the fourth time as Tart at Heart is set to return to Sister on April 14 from 2 to 5 p.m. To get the scoop, I sat down with organizer Angelo Orona of Craft King Consulting over beers this week.

“It’s going to be a similar approach as the (three) last years,” Angelo said. “Of course, we have a couple tricks up our sleeve. We’ve got really great beers. We’ve got some local breweries, some regional breweries, and of course we’ve got some stuff from Europe as well. We’ve got some ringers.”

VIP tickets are $50 apiece and available online only. That is so customers can order the right size commemorative T-shirt that comes with the ticket. VIP gets customers in one hour early at 1 p.m. with a custom beer glass and unlimited tastings.

General admission tickets cost $35 apiece and can also be purchased online, or at Sister itself or Jubilation. Angelo said that if there are any tickets remaining on the day of the event they will be sold at the door, but Tart at Heart is limited to 300 tickets total. Last year, only about two tickets were available at the door.

One complaint from last year was how jammed it felt inside, so Angelo said they will correct that this time around.

“Last year we got some feedback about how crowded it was,” he said. “Obviously Sister Bar has limited space. They’re known for being a pretty intimate concert venue that has great beer and great food now. But, what we noticed is last year we invited 300 people to Tart at Heart, we’re going to have the same number of tickets, but we’re going to spread the breweries out over a larger area so they’re not all in that U-shape inside the dance floor. Hopefully that will get some better flow in there, spread the crowd out a little bit, so everyone is not bumping while mingling. That was probably the most consistent feedback I heard from last year.”

Fans should expect a little more elbow room at Sister this year.

The popularity of sours has not ebbed since the first Tart at Heart in 2015, and if anything the availability of the style has increased significantly, especially on a local level. Angelo said it would be nice to believe that has event has helped broaden the palates of local beer drinkers, but he explained that it probably goes beyond that.

“We’d like to think so, but honestly it’s really about I think the beer IQ of the common craft beer drinker is way higher than it was when we started,” he said. “I think people go through phases of wanting the highest ABV, hoppiest IPA that they could find. Eventually I noticed a lot of them end up at sours as they progress at stuff. I think the natural evolution of a craft beer drinkers’ palate is to gravitate towards more esoteric and unique beers as they get more experienced.”

The rise of dedicated sour programs at local breweries means more local entries will be present this year.

“This year Dialogue is sending us some beer,” Angelo said. “They’re going to send us a blood orange gose. We have Rowley Farmhouse (and) they’re going to send us three separate beers. They’re going to be pouring out of bottles. They’ll have one beer that’s exclusive to VIP. They’re keeping some of those under wraps, they’re pretty special, (and) they want to keep it a surprise until the event. Marble is going to send us two archived beers that they’re being a little tight-lipped about as well, which is good for us, we like the surprise element of that.”

Angelo said that Steel Bender is also confirmed to attend, and others are lined up, but have yet to confirm.

Among the international entries, one of note is Brewski’s Beet Me With Passion, Honey!, a Berliner Weisse from Sweden made with beets, passionfruit, and honey. Some of the others that have been confirmed are as follows (we will update this list as more beers are announced).

  • Goose Island Madame Rose and Foudre Project #2
  • Bell’s La Pianiste
  • New Belgium Apple Felix (Love Series)
  • Birra Toccalmato’s Salty Angel (from Italy)

There will also be a charity component to the event, with a portion of the proceeds going to a local family that has two children who have been diagnosed with Gaucher disease, a genetic disorder.

Get those tickets fast before they are gone.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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

Time to clear out the old beer notebook once again …

Tap That offers up a different approach

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

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

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

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

Tastings, tappings, and more

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

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

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

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

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

New brewery/taproom updates

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Nom nom barleywine!

Thanks to our friends at Ska Brewing in Durango, we in the crew were delighted recipients of a bottle of their barrel-aged Ska Face Barleywine. A quorum of Stoutmeister, myself (Franz Solo), and Cryptogrind gathered to enjoy this lovely winter warmer.

Take note, Ska Face will be available today (Friday) from 5 to 8 p.m. at Sister as part of a tap takeover by the brewery. Also available are Sour Apple Gose, Pink Vapor Stew, True Blonde, and Bad Hop Contract.

To help everyone make up their minds as to whether or not to attend, we present our rambling discourse from Tuesday evening.

Crypt: I can smell the booze on this from here.

Solo: Holy hell! Bourbon!

Crypt: Bourbon, dried fruit, you get raisin right away.

Solo: Oh yeah, that tart, whiskey sour mash kind of flavor. It’s a little floral initially, too.

Crypt: Smells like corn!

(Laughter ensues.)

Stout: Korn!

Solo: Delicious creamed corn!

Crypt: Not the corn! Ah, Willie’s gonna have his legs broke!

(Further laughter ensues.)

Stout: That’s delicious.

Crypt: On a different level, layers of sweetness.

Solo: You get tart, and then sweet, and then earthy, and then yummy.

Crypt: So the booze I don’t get a lot on the palate, honestly. It’s not overly hot like it kind of smells like it should be. But, it’s pretty complex in the flavor, because there’s a ton of whiskey right up front, but it doesn’t burn. You get a ton of oak and sour whiskey comes through.

Solo: Vanilla is starting to come through a lot as well.

Crypt: There’s like five different kinds of sweetness there with a little bit of caramel, and it’s like if the huckleberries were too tart, you just dust them with confectioner’s sugar, that kind of thing.

Stout: It is not overly chewy, but I still like the mouthfeel.

Solo: Yeah, it fills the mouth, but it is not a single blast at any spot. Rather, it coats everything.

Stout: It does linger and in a good way; there’s not a bad aftertaste to this at all.

Crypt: It has this light toffee and caramel sweetness light coating that’s really nice.

Stout: It’s more the beer itself and not necessarily the barrel.

Solo: And, it just warms you so nicely. It gives me that little bit of chest burn like you get from a good whiskey or strong winter ale.

Crypt: What kind of yeast did they use in this? I’m getting different kind of fruity notes in the finish that are just really neat.

Stout: Well, it’s an English-style yeast that they use up there.

Crypt: It is pretty unique as far as the finish goes.

Solo: Yeah, it is kind of like the dried cherries that my dad has from his yard, but sweeter like they were injected with huckleberries.

Crypt: We should put that on a banana splice, er split.

(We proceed to discuss excellent sci-fi movies including Blade Runner 2049 and The Cell before returning to the task at hand.)

The bottle even came with this handy sheet of fun facts.

Stout: Thank you, Ska.

Solo: Yes, thank you, Ska. The beer smells sweeter than it actually tastes, likely from the slight tart sourness of the whiskey barrel that balances with what would be otherwise a very, very sweet beer.

Stout: Agreed.

Crypt: Purple monkey dishwasher.

Stout: Drink this while skiing Purgatory! This is very much a winter skiing beer.

Crypt: I’d wash it down with a tall, cool glass of hot dog. Wait …

(The late, great Harry Caray then enters discussion, as is typical of these gatherings, and we rambled a bit about the delicious brews and food available in Chicago.)

In conclusion, among barrel-aged barleywines this one is a strong and unique example of a tart and medium sweet, English-style winter warmer, with many distinct and delightful notes of vanilla, sour whiskey, and various dried fruits. The flavor and aroma linger with the best of ’em and the mouthfeel is excellent. We heartily recommend you seek this quintessential winter skiing/snowboarding beer.

Thanks, once again, to our friends at Ska Brewing for sending us a sample!

Skål!

— Solo, Stoutmeister, Cryptogrind

Cheers to the BA for all it does.

Yeah, it is definitely that time of year. The recaps and top 10 lists are being posted, the year-in-review stories are rolling along (like, uh, our Look Back/Look Ahead Series). When it comes to recapping the year in craft beer for the entire country, no one sums it up best quite like the Brewers Association.

It was another big year for craft beer, to say the least.

“Craft brewers continue to thrive, if at a slower pace, fueled by a passionate community dedicated to bringing innovation, jobs and beer across America—on Main Street and beyond,” said Bart Watson, the chief economist of the Brewers Association, in a press release. “Today, 83 percent of the population lives within 10 miles of a local brewery, meaning that the positive impact of breweries is being felt in communities all over the country.”

OK, that is pretty cool. What other stats does the BA have for us?

  • The number of breweries nationwide has now surpassed 6,000, with 98 percent of those falling under the craft banner. By the Crew’s count, 68 of those are in New Mexico, with at least six more active licenses for places that have yet to open their doors, but should in the next couple months (more on that down below).
  • All those breweries have created 456,373 jobs, a 7.5-percent increase from 2014. In turn, that has generated $67.8 billion for the U.S. economy, a 21.7-percent increase. Craft breweries in turn donated $73.4 million to charities.
  • The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act has support from both parties and will potentially pass through both houses of Congress and become law during this current session. So, yeah, I guess we will have to say that Congress will do one good thing.
  • It appears the term “beercation” is becoming more and more of a reality. The average craft beer drinker visits 3.5 breweries near home and 2.5 breweries within two hours driving distance (take note: the press release did not say whether this was 3.5 per week, per month, or per year; for the Crew, it would certainly be per week, sometimes even per day, when we are feeling frisky with our Lyft/Uber accounts). A survey by the BA found that 64 percent of craft drinkers like to visit breweries to try new beers on a regular basis. We will raise one to that.
  • The New Mexico stats on the BA website are for 2016, but they still tell a positive story. By the end of that year, there 57 breweries, ranking 26th in the country. More notably, the 3.9 breweries per capita (100,000 adults) ranks 11th nationwide. Breweries had an economic impact of $333 million (40th) or $226.26 per capita (35th). A total of 111,237 barrels (32nd) were produced, amounting to 2.3 gallons consumed per adult (21st).

Yeah, it is still a good era for craft beer. Here is hoping it continues into 2018 and beyond.

Embrace the darkness at beer bars, too

The quality of dark beers around town is straight fire.

Our friends over Rock & Brews wanted you all to know that the current dark beer lineup is fairly epic. As fun as it is to hit up the breweries first, don’t forget the beer bars, as they often pull in some exclusive styles from out of state that you can usually only get in bottles or cans.

Rock & Brews currently has Dogfish Head’s Vanilla Oak-Aged Worldwide Stout, which is otherwise a pricey purchase in four-pack bottles. The ubiquitous Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout lines up next to Worldwide. There is also the most recent iteration of the ultimate beer geek beer, Stone’s Imperial Farking Wootstout. The real surprise gem, though, is Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout. No, really, it is on tap. If that hefty price tag for a bomber is scaring you off, but you really want to know if it is worth it (we think so, but we’re biased), head over to Rock & Brews to try it first before you commit to a 22-ounce bottle or two.

Down at Sister Bar, at least as of the Gatecreeper show this past Monday (gotta say, impressive crowd showing, ABQ-area metalheads), there is still some of La Cumbre’s La Negra on tap. It has been out at the brewery for a while, so get some while it lasts (if it’s even still there, we apologize if it is gone by now).

Nob Hill Bar & Grill has a strong lineup, which you can find anytime via Untappd. The current black beasts of ahhh available are Bell’s Black Note and Kalamazoo Stout, plus 2016 and 2017 Bourbon County Brand Stout, and two old favorites in Oskar Blues Ten FIDY and Stone Xocoveza.

So much dark beer, so little time.

New breweries update

Hello to a new small town brewery!

Sticking with tradition in beer notes, here are the most recent updates on all the forthcoming breweries across New Mexico. As always, we only list breweries with pending or active small brewer licenses with the State.

  • BLUE (Albuquerque): Nothing new on this small brewery located somewhere near Broadway and Lead/Coal.
  • Bonito Valley Brewing (Lincoln): A newcomer to the list located in a small, historic town west of Roswell along Highway 380. There is a Facebook page that says the owners are aiming for a summer 2018 opening.
  • Brewstillery (Albuquerque): We still have no info on this combo operation in the Southeast.
  • Callahan West Brewery (Mosquero): The small town brewery has been in touch with the NM Brewers Guild about joining up in 2018, so it appears to be a go.
  • Cantero Brewing (Albuquerque): Now armed with an active license, the final parts of construction are underway.
  • Elkins Brewing (Grants): We have no new info on this business.
  • Glencoe Distillery and Brewery (Ruidoso): The license is active, but there is still no website that we can find, nor any social media. It remains a mystery.
  • Guadalupe Mountain Brewing (Carlsbad): The license is active here, too, and beer is now being brewed. We await the announcement of opening, which could come any week now.
  • High and Dry Brewing (Albuquerque): Construction appears to be mostly complete down near Adams and Lomas. The Crew is in touch with the ownership and we are working to set up an advance tour when they are ready.
  • Hollow Spirits (Albuquerque): Construction continues on this new combo spot in the Wells Park neighborhood. It is the brainchild of former Red Door co-owner Frank Holloway.
  • Lava Rock Brewing (Albuquerque): The West Side brewery is getting closer and closer to opening on Unser just north of Ladera.
  • Lost Hiker Brewing (Ruidoso): Yes, the license is active, now only a few final touches must be completed and there will be local beer in the mountains down south. Keep track of the progress on the Lost Hiker Facebook page.
  • 1933 Brewing (Rio Rancho): Another newcomer to the list, we have no info beyond a name and a zip code for RR. It is unknown if this brewery is related in any way to the former 1933 Brewing of Fort Collins, Colo., which closed at the end of 2016.
  • Red River Brewing: All this mild winter is not helping the ski industry up north, but it should enable RRB to finish construction and remain on track for an early 2018 opening.
  • Switchback Brewery (Cloudcroft): There is still no info online on this place. We would like to remind everyone, though, that there is a Switchback Brewing in Vermont, so a name change may ultimately be necessary.
  • Toltec Brewing (Albuquerque): The forthcoming West Side brewery took a big step by hiring a head brewer, but we have been asked not to reveal the identity of this individual just yet. Let us just say, however, that we are excited.
  • Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery (Santa Fe): There are lots of construction photos on Facebook, so it looks like a good bet to open sooner than later. The small brewer license is now active.
  • The pending licenses for off-site taprooms remains as follows — Little Toad Creek in Las Cruces (new!); Ponderosa at El Vado Motel redevelopment (getting close); Santa Fe Downtown Taproom; Starr Brothers Alehouse (location TBA); Tumbleroot in Santa Fe (they will not sell beer out of the production facility down the street). Also, the Milton’s taproom in Roswell has an active license, but it is not yet open as far as we know.

That is all for now. As always, if you know anything about anything, please drop us a line at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com or contact us via direct message on Facebook or Twitter.

Have a great weekend, and good luck with any last-minute Christmas shopping!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Party time with Great Divide in a couple weeks!

Lots of stuff can fall through the cracks as far as beer news goes, especially when an editor goes on a road trip, so here is pretty much everything I know we missed over the last couple weeks.

Anniversaries and grand openings and soft openings

Today (Friday) is going to be a busy one. First up, Chile Line Brewing is celebrating the official grand opening of its new taproom, which is right next to Pizzeria Da Lino, at 204 N. Guadalupe St. in Santa Fe. There will be live music, special food samples, and of course plenty of beer starting at 4 p.m.

Duel Brewing has been celebrating its fourth anniversary all week long in Santa Fe. The party comes to Albuquerque tonight at 8 p.m. James Whiton will bring his solo loop bass, with a number of burlesque dancers performing. All sours will be $1 off all night.

Also, a reader has informed us that Colfax Ale Cellars in Raton will be quietly having a soft opening. New Mexico’s northernmost brewery had hoped to open last fall, but hit a few more bumps in the road. At last, they will open today at 3 p.m. The Run to Raton Bike Rally & Car Show is also in town, so a lot of the motels are already booked. Take note if you plan to drive up, you will have to designate a driver. The grand opening date will be announced soon.

Exclusive beers en route

Our buddy Thomas DeCaro, now representing Great Divide, is bringing some special new IPAs to town for a two-night tapping at two locations. They will happen at Sister Bar on August 4 at 5 p.m., and then at Nob Hill Bar & Grill the following night. The beers en route are Hazy, a New England-style IPA, Tea Ski IPA, brewed with black tea, and All the Buzz Words, a special collaboration with Weldworks. ABW is described as a “kettle sour session New England-style IPA.” It debuted back at the brewery in Denver on July 1.

Boxing Bear to the Heights

We are working on a time to go more in-depth on this, but yes, it appears that Boxing Bear is the brewery targeted to move into the forthcoming taproom space being built at the new Snow Heights Promenade at Eubank and Menaul. Head brewer Justin Hamilton pretty much confirmed it to the Albuquerque Journal. That’s official enough for us.

More taprooms and breweries?

That mystery taproom coming to Menaul just east of Louisiana has now been confirmed as Broken Trail, which will have beer and spirits available (unlike just spirits at Green Jeans). Owner Matt Simonds asked us to keep quiet until it was more official, but the word got out and now we can say, yeah, that’s Broken Trail.

Elsewhere, Hollow Spirits, the new venture from former Red Door co-owner Frank Holloway, has a pending small brewer license as well. Taking a similar path to Broken Trail is not a bad idea.

Down south, Lost Hiker Brewing has a pending license as well. It will be located in Ruidoso Downs. That mountainous region also has the Glencoe Distillery and Brewery coming east of Ruidoso, and Switchback Brewery in Cloudcroft. Unlike the others, Lost Hiker does have a Facebook page so everyone can keep track of the progress.

* * * * *

That is all the news we missed (that we know of). As always, if you know anything you feel we and the craft beer community should know, drop us a line via social media or at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister