Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Beer travels: A look at the Albuquerque beer scene

Image credit: La Cumbre Brewing, Turtle Mountain Brewing, ABQ Brew Pub
Bosque Brewing, Tractor Brewing, Rock & Brews
I'll admit that on a recent trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico, a certain phrase from the old Bugs Bunny cartoons kept sounding off in my head. Not knowing what to expect of the craft beer offerings in the city, I couldn't help but wonder if I too would be thinking I should have had taken a left turn at Albuquerque.

It turns out I need not have worried, since if you include satellite taprooms and multiple brewery restaurant locations (Il Vicino, Chama River), there are just over a dozen places to enjoy local brews from the source. Not only that, but another five or so breweries exist in adjacent cities that are no more than a thirty minute drive away.

I ended up choosing to visit breweries and taprooms both inside and outside the city. Among those I didn't make it to were the Marble and Broken Bottle breweries, the Red Door Brewing Company (which held its grand opening while I was there) and the Stumbling Steer Brewery & Gastropub (which I just happened to pass while driving, as it doesn't show up on Google Maps when you search for breweries near Albuquerque).

As for where I did end up, here's a taste of what the local scene has to offer:

ABQ Brewpub (restaurant, growlers to go): Set up in Uptown Albuquerque, this is a joint venture between an adjacent sports bar and the Sierra Blanca & Rio Grande Brewing Company in Moriarty, New Mexico. Props here go to their Nut Brown Ale, an earthy brew of English influence with hints of chocolate and roast that won medals at the 2012 and 2013 Great American Beer Festival (GABF).

Bosque Brewing Company (cafe menu, growlers to go): This brewery is nestled away in a strip mall development in the northern part of the city. It's a smallish kind of place, but they do offer a light food menu which reminded me a lot of the sort of fare you might get at the Flying Saucer. Selections were split evenly between seasonal and year-round brews, and there was a nice variety of styles among the dozen or so beers on tap. I started with an enjoyable sour called Fade to Blackberry, then moved on to the tasty Bosque's Burnin' Red Rye, the chewy Scotia Scotch Ale and the bright and refreshing Acequia Fresh Hop IPA.

Turtle Mountain Brewing Company (restaurant, growlers to go): Located outside of Albuquerque in the city of Rio Rancho, a roughly thirty minute drive to this spot takes you past Intel's sizable New Mexico site. The house beers are for the most part solid and stylistic (such as Pork 'n Brew Brown and Hopshell IPA), but if you ask me it's the wood-fired pizza that is the star of the show. I had the Adam Bomb, minus the pine nuts, which brought together pepperoni, Italian sausage, fresh spinach, green chile and some of the creamiest mozzarella I've had in recent memory.

Tractor Brewing Company (bottle and growlers to go)The actual brewery is located on the west side of town, but the taproom in the Historic Nob Hill district was a little closer to where I was staying. This place had an interesting mix of brews, ranging from a mild seasonal Berliner Weisse to what I considered to be the best beer on the board, Mustachio Milk Stout. Plus, there was the added bonus of a rather inebriated fellow seated nearby who insisted on convincing me America was doomed.

La Cumbre Brewing Company (bottle and growlers to go): When you first turn down the road to La Cumbre, you might wonder if you've made a wrong turn somewhere (and yes, I did turn "left" down this particular road). Once you get your bearings, though, you quickly learn that the IPA is king here...literally. Hopheads will surely enjoy Elevated IPA (the 2011 GABF gold medal winner), Project Dank (the 2014 National IPA Champion) and the Full Nelson (a DIPA with a final gravity that is actually lower than the others).

Rock  & Brews: No, this isn't a brewery, nor is it a brewpub, but I grew up listening to the band KISS (the money men behind this operation) and the restaurant just so happened to have its grand opening while I was in town. And, honestly, it was a more than pleasant surprise. Great food, quality tap list and wide-screen TVs devoted to classic rock videos. Not only that, they had a taste of home in cans of Cedar Creek Dankosaurus. My only complaint? Merchandise. How can you have a theme restaurant like this and not offer some kind of logo glassware?

For more on craft beer in Albuquerque, check out the websites of the New Mexico Brewers Guild and Albuquerque Beer Scene.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cedar Creek to release Clover Kicker

Image credit: Cedar Creek Brewery

The Cedar Creek Brewery announced today the latest beer in their Special Release series. Clover Kicker Saison follows Spinning Mule and their award-winning Belgian Style Dubbel in becoming the third product in this limited line of brews.

According to a press release, Clover Kicker is a rustic farmhouse ale brewed with traditional Belgian malt and fermented with a Belgian yeast strain. The latter provides "spicy, earthy [and] fruity notes," resulting in a beer with complex aromas and a "dry, satisfying finish."

Clover Kicker will begin hitting tap walls in Dallas within the next few days, with package products expected to arrive at area retailers as early as next week. Markets outside the Metroplex should start seeing deliveries during the second week of October. As with other beers in the series, Clover Kicker will be sold as a boxed four-pack of 16-ounce cans.

Try Clover Kicker this Friday, September 26, at the Whole Foods in Colleyville during a tasting with the brewery from 5-8 p.m. The beer will also be on tap Tuesday, September 30, at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Richardson. That night Cedar Creek will be the featured brewery for Alamo's monthly Hopped Up Cinema series. In addition to Clover Kicker, the brewery will also bring along a special one-time release as an exclusive for the event. Danker Zone, as it's being called, will be a version of Dankosaurus IPA brewed with additional hops and fresh rosemary.

Clover Kicker
Style: Saison
ABV: 6.8%
IBU: 27
SRM: 5.0
Hops: Apollo, Willamette
Malts: Belgian Pilsner, Belgian Munich

Friday, September 12, 2014

Stephen Beaumont to headline week of events at Flying Saucer/Bird Café

Image credit: Sterling Epicure, Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, Bird Café

Those desiring an audience with author and world-renowned craft beer expert, Stephen Beaumont, will want to set aside time on the calendar during the second week of October. Beaumont will be visiting the Metroplex in support of his new book, Pocket Beer Guide 2015: The World's Best Craft and Traditional Beers, and he'll be stopping at Bird Café and area Flying Saucer locations for a series of unique tasting and book signing events happening October 7-11.

All of the events noted below will include meet and greet opportunities, as well as a chance to purchase the 2015 guide or Beaumont's other highly acclaimed work, The World Atlas of Beer. Beerknurds are also encouraged to bring copies of their own to be signed.

Tuesday, October 7 at 6 p.m., Flying Saucer on the Lake:

Brewers Foursome: Beaumont will lead a tasting featuring one beer each from Deschutes, Founders, Real Ale and Rahr & Sons. Brewery representatives will be on hand to join in the discussion, and six-ounce servings of each beer will be paired with small plates ($30pp, call 972-226-0725 to reserve).

Wednesday, October 8 at 6 p.m., Flying Saucer Addison:

Beer Tasting & Book Signing: Beaumont will lead a tasting of rare beers to include 2012 North Coast Old Stock Ale, Community Trinity Tripel, Prairie Artisan Ales Coffee Noir, Aecht Schlenkerla Oak Smoke, and Del Ducato Nuova Mattina. Small plates will be served to complement the beers ($40pp, call 972-991-7093 to reserve).

Thursday, October 9 at 6:30 p.m., Bird Café in Fort Worth:

Five-course Pairdiné ($75pp, call 817-332-2473 or visit to reserve).

First Course
Dalwhinnie 15-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch
Smoked oyster vichyssoise

Second Course
Trappistes Rochefort 6
Slow-scrambled duck eggs with smoked butte and brioche pretzel

Third Course
Château de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone Valley, France 2009
Slice of stuffed trotter, prunes and chestnuts

Fourth Course
Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin
Double American lamb chop, roasted pumpkin grits and cranberry pickle

Fifth Course
Schneider Weisse Aventinus Eisbock
Coconut banana cream chia seed

Friday, October 10 at 7 p.m., Fort Worth Flying Saucer

Local Brewers Summit: Beaumont will lead a tasting and discussion with local brewers to include Wim Bens of Lakewood, Jamie Fulton of Community, Grant Wood of Revolver, Cody Martin of Martin House and Craig Mycoskie of Rahr & Sons. Six-ounce servings of one beer from each brewery will be paired with small plates ($45pp, call 817-336-7470 to reserve).

Saturday, October 11 from 4-5 p.m., Fort Worth Flying Saucer

BeerFeast 2014:  Beaumont will host a meet and greet book signing for festival attendees (purchase tickets at