If you’re stuck at home on trick-or-treater duty tonight, make sure you stock up on some ABQ Beer Geek-recommended brewskies first. (For you, not the children.) They’re frighteningly goooooood!
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ABQ Beer Geek
Portland may be considered beer heaven, but forgive me if I spend eternity in beer purgatory here in Albuquerque. Portland (the hipster city, not the lobster city) is reputed to have 30 breweries in a city of 580,000 residents. Albuquerque is catching up quickly with three more breweries looking to open in the coming months. The only question is whether our city has enough craft drinkers to support that growth.
Drink Beer the Way the Queen Mum Does
No, not in a keg stand—from a 10-gallon cask called a "firkin." At Saturday's Cask Ale Festival, nine New Mexico breweries will pour 14 of these selections. Cask ale is also called “real ale” or “live ale” because active yeast is added to the firkin, which allows for a secondary fermentation that produces a soft, natural carbonation without the use of CO2. The beers are also served at a higher temperature, enhancing the flavor and aroma. Join the New Mexico Brewers Guild in experiencing Britain's old-standard serving method but with our own New Mexican brewers’ interpretations. $20 covers all the samples, plus a pint of your favorite, from noon to 4 p.m. at La Cumbre Brewing (3313 Girard NE).
ABQ Beer Geek
The 2010 New Mexico IPA Challenge
From 10 breweries and hundreds of judges, one beer emerged victorious
Thanks to my nightly ritual of “adult NyQuil,” also known as beer, I rarely have a hard time sleeping. But the eve of the New Mexico IPA Challenge always brings an uncomfortable night of rest. Mixed with humid weather that left my swamp cooler helpless, the looming challenge had me tossing and turning all night. Last year’s judging in Albuquerque was held at Il Vicino Tap Room, and seating was scarce—most people sat on empty kegs. I was afraid if I didn’t get to this year’s competition early enough, I wouldn’t be able to get my fill of the best IPAs our state has to offer.
Beer here: Tomorrow is the Albuquerque leg of the N.M. IPA Challenge!
New Mexico’s ninth annual cage fight de hops (¿cómo se dice “cage fight” en español?) started at High Desert Brewing in Las Cruces on Tuesday, traveled up to Santa Fe Brewing company Thursday, and settles in for the final stop in Albuquerque tomorrow. The gloves come off at Chama River Brewing (4939 Pan American W Fwy NE, 342-1800) from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
You, citizen drinker, just pay $20 for a tray of samples from all the participating local brewers—11 of em!—and vote on your favorite. The exciting twist is that the tasting and judging is done blind: You won’t know who’s who until all the votes are in and tallied. There are some extra niceties as well, but let’s get right to the breweries (copied and pasted from nmbeer.org, which flickered on again after an almost yearlong hiatus. Welcome back!):
Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery, Santa Fe
Chama River Brewing, Albuquerque
Hallenbrick Brewing, Albuquerque
High Desert Brewing, Las Cruces
Il Vicino Brewing, Albuquerque
Marble Brewery, Albuquerque
Santa Fe Brewing, Santa Fe
Second Street Brewery, Santa Fe
Rio Grande Brewing, Moriarity
Three Rivers Brewing, Farmington
Turtle Mountain Brewing, Rio Rancho
Even if you can’t make it, pick up next week’s Alibi for ABQ Beer Geek’s recap of the challenge and its bitter winners and losers (hops are bitter, you see, so the winners and the losers ... oh, never mind). And be sure to check www.ABQBeerGeek.com for even more constantly updated beer wisdom. On tap right now: The Beer Geek reports that it’s Il Vicino Tap Room’s last night at their current location. (Look for the new place at 2381 Aztec NE sometime in or after September.) He has pictures, too.
Fourth of Jul-IPA Beer Challenge!
Have a hoppy 4th of July? We sure did at the ABQBeerGeek compound, where the third annual 4th of JulIPA Challenge took place. Nine IPAs competed IPAs this time around. Last year we did thirteen beers, but felt that was a bit too many to judge, as people were missing their mouths by the thirteenth beers. Here's how it worked: it was a blind tasting of the all the beers by a panel of near twenty drinkers with good taste in beer. Beers were judged on a scale from 1-5 overall. I didn't bother with different judging for color, smell, or mouthfeel. That's just too much for me to calculate when all is said and done. Besides, IPAs range in color from straw to caramel to black, so it turns into a what's your favorite color contest. And mouthfeel? That sounds dirty.
While watching everyone enjoy the beers, I noticed nobody enjoying the burgers I bought for the event. That's because I picked the cheapest, gnarliest burgers to grill (Flanders brand) and it turns out one of the main ingredients is beef hearts. Not to mention the color of the meat ranged from straw to caramel to black. And don't even ask me about the mouthfeel.
Let's get to the results. I can't take the thought of another hearty meal. I do have to say in advance that last year's number 4, Turtle Mountain IPA, is not represented this year. Sorry. My one friend who lives near there could not make it this year, and I was too busy pouring beer from bottles into growlers to drive over there. You try filling 18 growlers and cooking up Flander heart and driving to Rio Rancho.
I judged this way higher than the other drinkers. I know it isn't a coveted IPA but I liked it.
This is a popular IPA but I think it varies in batches from good to just bitter tasting.
Not too surprised at this ranking. People like or hate Ranger.
Well, that's too bad. Local Il Vicino doesn't fare that well this year. I gave it a 4.1. It smells great, tastes great, but people felt the finish died off too quickly.
Modus is very popular in town right now, but I feel it could be just a little less malty.
Wow, last year's winner goes down. And I wasn't the biggest fan initially because it needed time to warm and open up, but was excellent when it did. Some may not have waited long enough to rate it.
Two people gave this a 4.75, which I thought was too high. It had the best finish of all the beers.
Odell was my inaugural IPA Challenge winner. This may have been the consensus favorite smelling beer, though I don't know how you could judge that when the smell of grilled beef hearts are competing with hop smell.
Albuquerque favorite comes through with the big win! Every year, one IPA stands out to me in our challenge, and this one made me look in the mirror and say, "ARRRGGGHHH! I HATE MYSELF!"
Wait, that is a different issue I have. This was the one that rose above the rest and deserved my 4.8 rating. Great smell that didn’t disappoint in the mouthfeel or finish. The local success story gets another notch in its belt. Congratulations to the hard working crew over at Marble Brewery!