ABQ Beer Geek
Beer Springs Eternal
Seasonal microbrews flower around the city
This fine spring weather we’re in the midst of brings out mixed feelings in me. On one hand, I enjoy the freedom to stroll the University and Nob Hill areas without the need to dress like a Sherpa. On the other hand, I’m forced to see a parade of Don Schrader dress-alikes maneuvering their long boards down Harvard. It’s enough to make me forego the sunshine in favor of a dark corner of the nearest brewpub, where our locals are ready and waiting with new beers for the season.
Marble (111 Marble NW, 243-2739) is celebrating the warmer weather with music on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings. Friday nights will feature live acts of an eclectic nature, such as belly dancers and DJs.
I caught up with head brewer Ted Rice as he prepped barrels of his Belgian-style 111 Abbey Ale to be infused with Brettanomyces, a yeast strain notorious for killing wines but adding a complementary funkiness to some beer styles. (It’s also worth pointing out those flavor-packed barrels used to hold Woodford Reserve bourbon.) Rice also has several barrels filled with special Marble blends to create a Flanders-style red. This beer has Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus, a lactic acid bacteria strain that enhances the sour taste. (Don’t get freaked out—Lactobacillus is essential for foods like yogurt and sourdough bread.)
For all you fruit beers fans, Marble has four barrels of a cherry wheat beer with a fresh addition of raspberries. Those who are still clamoring for Marble’s long-gone apricot beer will be happy to have this one around. The surplus of barrel-aged beers will be tapped as part of the Funkified Series, helping to fill the void of some Marble styles that’ll have to be put on hold as the brewery deals with an upcoming expansion.
“Ideally, I want to have 41 different styles on tap all the time,” Rice says. “But right now, I have to focus on our core styles and keep up with distribution.”
ABQ Brew Pub (6601 Uptown NE, 884-1116) will have its usual lineup of Sierra Blanca and Rio Grande beers, as well as a variety of styles concocted by guest brewer Ben Miller. Miller will try to have his popular Black IPA on tap, and he also plans on brewing new styles for the pub like a double red and a watermelon wheat. Down the road he’ll have a chocolate imperial stout, as well as a barleywine based on the recipe that was chosen by Samuel Adams to be bottled in its Longshot series.
At Chama River Brewing Company (4939 Pan American Fwy. NE, 342-1800), head brewer Justin Hamilton will soon be tapping Big Head Imperial Red, as well as a Czech pilsner. HopSlap IPA is currently in the fermenter, and a vanilla cream ale is in the works. In a month or so he plans to debut Surly Dog Stout, Chama’s Sleeping Dog Stout that has been aged in bourbon barrels for four months.
Il Vicino’s brewers Brady McKeown and Doug Cochran are still settling into their new Canteen location (2381 Aztec NE, 881-2737) and trying to keep up with demand for four house brews. However, they’re somehow finding time for batches of brewer’s specials. Cochran tells me that patrons can look forward to Irish red and Helles lager soon. At the moment, they’ll find the Dark and Lusty Stout and a year-old Biere de Garde on tap alongside the house brews.
La Cumbre (3313 Girard NE, 872-0225) will continue its successful Wednesday and Saturday night music series, along with cask beer available daily. Owner Jeff Erway says that in the coming months, he’ll brew a pre-Prohibition lager (along the lines of a Bud or Miller type, but brewed with 100 percent malted barley rather than cheaper corn and rice adjuncts), a hefeweizen and an American pale ale. The popularity of La Cumbre is allowing Erway to plan for increased brewing freedom.
Erway is making room for about 1,800 more gallons in La Cumbre’s cellar space, as well as beefing up its fermentation capacity. That will allow him to serve eight or nine of his own beers on tap, “and carry many more offsite accounts as well,” he adds. Expect to see Erway’s massive 10.8 percent El Negro Imperial Stout hanging around for another month.
Don't forget Bad Ass Brewery's (9800 Montgomery NE, 918-2337) long list of rotating made-in-house beers. The nanobrewery is constantly experimenting with new styles, as evidenced by its recent Blues and Brews booth, where it served unusual beers like Sweet IPA and Cranberry IPA.
Finally, the brewery I would visit if I didn’t have to drive to Rio Rancho, Turtle Mountain (905 36th Place SE, 994-9497), is rolling out beers aimed at warm-weather drinking. In the works are a maibock, kolsch, alt, witbier and saison. General Manager Adam Galarneau says the brewery is bringing back its cask ales and plans to have one on their hand pump daily. Turtle Mountain will also debut Silly Yak, a gluten-free beer made with sorghum.