The first half of ABQ Beer Week 2017 was a flavor packed adventure in Saisons, Sours and Fruit Beers!
Day 1 (Thursday)
ABQ Beer Week 2017 started out nice and easy for me. It was Thursday night and although there were many events I would have liked to attend such as the Coffee and Chocolate pairing at Rio Bravo or the Cigar and Alaskan Pairing at Jinja West, I opted to stay in. However since there was a Mother Road tasting at Total Wine and I still needed some beer, I headed over.
Seems I was the only one to get the memo about the tasting. There was no one from Mother Road and none of the Total Wine staff seemed to be aware of the tasting either. I did however get to sample some Smirnoff Ice Raspberry which taste like a some thing you’d find in the hand of a college girl. They were also sampling some fancy looking canned sparkling water. I didn’t bother trying any because…. well… it was water.
I quickly headed to the bomber cooler where they usually keep the higher end & rare craft stuff. A big, orange, wax topped bottle with no label caught my eye. I opened the cooler for a closer inspection and just as I thought, the mysterious beer was Fievre d’ Abricot. Not sure why the first bottle was missing it’s label? Did it fall off? Did someone remove it to hide a stash of delicious beer? Was someone trying to sabotage sales?! Sorry Batman, but I really didn’t care to solve this mystery. I grabbed the next bottle with a label on it and headed for the register.
It just released a few days before and I had really been looking forward to trying Fievre d’ Abricot, from La Cumbre Brewing. It is one of the seasonal releases I never miss. For those of you that don’t know it’s a saison that has been heavily fruited with Apricots. Like really HEAVY! The aroma is almost pure fruit with subtle notes of the saison style present. First sip was tart initially and finished dry like a wine. Everything in the middle is Apricot. While the flavor of the fruit is very strong the sweeter aspects of the Apricots have been removed as the yeast in beer ferments all of the sugars. What’s left is a dry tart fruit flavor which layered on top of the saison style with a heavy dose of carbonation blends into a perfect beer for me. I quite enjoyed sipping this one while I watched the sunset in my backyard.
Day 2 (Friday)
It’s Friday night and I’m feeling alright! There were several events that I would have loved to attend but since I’m only one man with limited time and money I had to pick my priorities. On top of that list was checking out the Sour Hour tasting by Rowley Farmhouse Ales hosted at Tractor Brewing – Wells Park.
The home brewing community in New Mexico is like one big family. Even though we take our competitions very seriously, all of the brewers are friends who enjoy sampling each other’s wildest and crazy brews. For those of you that don’t know John Rowley, he had been putting a whooping on us home brewers for some time. So needless to say I was glad to see him go pro and give someone else a shot at those Best of Show Medals (lol.. j/k). With the above in mind I knew his stuff would be good at the very least and most likely outstanding.
I got to Tractor about a half an hour before the event began. (Tip: If you want bar seating and a parking spot at a popular event get there early!) The bar was already filled but with good timing I arrived right as another couple was leaving. Since I was a bit early all the Rowley Farmhouses were off limits. I order a Tractor Berliner while I waited. Tractor’s Berliner Weisse was light tasting with a low to moderate sour kick. Very tasty and a perfect pick to warm up my sour taste buds with.
Once Sour Hour commenced you were allowed to order up to 4 of the 6 samples as a package deal. My only critic of this event is that I would have liked to try all of them even if it meant in smaller portions. A good response to that however would be: If your only complaint was you wanted more beer you have no complaint at all! Fair enough…
Of the 6 beers offered I tried the first 4 on the list: Germophile, Saison du Sarlacc, Ab Initio – Apricot, and Ab Initio – Boysenberry. To keep things short they were all amazing! The Germophile Berliner has a dry tart finish from an addition of Thiriez yeast. The saison is very fruity from dry hopping and finishes with the funk of Brettanomyces Bruxellensis. The two others were varieties of the Ab Initio which is a Berliner Weisse made using Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces yeast. The apricot was a very pleasant addition which I thoroughly enjoyed. My personal favorite of the group however was the Boysenberry. It exploded with berry flavor from start to finish. The sweetness from the berries did not ferment completely out which made for an interesting sweet and sour combo I absolutely loved! I highly recommend any of the four I sampled.
I caught a late addition to the beer week (either that or I missed it initially) on my twitter feed @MrHoppy505, about a limited La Cumbre Passion Fruit tapping at Sister bar. Since it’s only a hop, skip and a jump away I figured I better not miss this, and headed over. Sister was starting to fill up but not quite as busy as Tractor had gotten which was a nice switch. Once again I found a spot a the bar and ordered away. The once is a lifetime(so far) beer was my obvious choice.
Passion Fruit Wit, a simple wit beer that hosted an enormous amount of passion fruit flavor. One of the best fruit beer I have tried since.. well.. basically the day day before (Fievre d’ Abricot). I initially thought it was just a wit beer they brewed and then poured a bunch of passion fruit juice over. Which would have been perfectly acceptably and tasty, however not the case. I found out that this beer was brewed specifically for this event on a new smaller 2 barrel system. Half the brew was Passion Fruit (1 barrel = 2 kegs) the other half mango. Mmmm mangoes!
Theses two fruited wits are the beginning of a new one-off Ultra Rare category of beers that will be brewed by La Cumbre specifically for special events like this. Me being the rare beer head that I am, I love the idea of special brewed beers available only once (or until they’re gone). It works to the favor of both the brewery and the establishment tapping said beers. Also not bad for the beer drinker! So yeah, cheers that and I look forward to the mangoes edition!
I headed home and once again finished my day in the backyard watching the sun set. The theme of the day seemed to be farmhouse ales and sours. I search my beer cooler and found a Farmhouse 111 from Marble I had stashed away a few weeks ago. This topped my day off perfectly as the flavor was amazing and had a champagne like carbonation quality. The only downside was that after all my eew and ahhing over the first sip I had to share with MrsHoppy. 😉
Day 3 (Saturday)
Off to the races! Literally there was so much happening Saturday. This was my main day for beer week events and I wanted to get on it early. It should also be noted that I’m not a big fan of crowds or lines and tend to do my tasting during the day hours.
I started out by heading over to the Santa Fe tap room and Green Jeans Farmery. It’s a super cool place with lots of other shops and eateries on the premise.
It was only just after 12 noon and the parking lot was already full and barely any seats left in the tap room. I found myself a parking spot and ordered a Western Block IPA from the bar. I was under the impression that the whole property was licensed so I stepped out and began to wander. Not a few steps out of the brewery and I was told I had to stay inside the gated area with my beer. Bummer! I walked back in, sat down and finished my pint. The seats outside where already filled up and I didn’t feel like sitting at a table inside on such a beautiful day. Solid IPA.
I next headed over to Steel Bender Brewyard for a tasting of this year’s 505 Collaboration, a Golden Strong ale. I wanted to try the beer week special and I figured there was no better place than the source; Steel Bender, where it was brewed. My brewtender warned me it was strong and I still had a few beers ahead of me so I opted for a small sample sized glass. Just as the name implies the beer is a big golden ale. While very tasty it’s hard for me to appreciate a beer that big mid day. Probably would have been a better beer to take home and drink later.
Next on my list was the Founders tasting but I still had some time to kill so I made my way to Red Door Brewing. They had released a Blackberry Hefe the previous day and I was eager to try it. Very tasty indeed! A solid Hefe with a good amount of berry flavor. A good easy drinking warm weather beer that I slowly enjoyed on the back patio soaking up the rays of the mid day sun.
After relaxing for while I headed uptown to Jubilation Wine and Spirits for their Founders tasting event. I sampled a few new beers I hadn’t ever seen before which is always nice. Founders never disappoints delivering solid beers in any category. The sample list included: Centennial IPA, All Day IPA, Rubaes, Sumatra Mountain Brown, and Doom. My favorite was Doom, an Imperial IPA aged in bourbon barrels. A close second for me was the Sumatra Mountain that was full of coffee flavors.
My beer week adventures were officially done for the day but I was hungry from all that sampling. I was in Nob Hill and decide to stop by one of my favorite spots in the area, Bosque. I ordered a Caprese sandwich and a pint of Exotic Elephants: Guava . The Elephants was full of guava flavor and my first beer I had tasted using guava. If you are into fruit beer I highly recommend trying this one before it’s gone.
By the time my sandwich arrived my beer was gone (I drink fast) and I order a small glass of Crimson and Clover. The sandwich was amazing and I literally inhaled it. The Crimson + Clover was brewed to represent cherry pie and was also very good!
Day 4 (Sunday)
I took a bit of a break from the official beer week on Sunday and attended a BBQ with family friends for the day. Missing the Big Sipper 16oz can release at Tractor a few nights before I decided to snag a 4 pack of cans while at Jubilation on Saturday. They paired well with my spicy black bean veggie burger as well as the rest of the BBQ (I’m told). Overall a great easy drinking session IPA that I’m glad I chose for the day. I’ll definitely be getting a few more of these limited release cans before they are gone.
A few other beers I drank that day included: HopShock by SanTan Brewing, Tangerine Express IPA from Stone and a Doubleganger by Tree House Brewing.
Day 5 and 6 (Monday & Tuesday)
I spent Memorial Day relaxing with family. I took my boys on a hike down to the river and drank a few beers in the afternoon. Nothing worth noting, no beer events or anything.
Tuesday I was back to work and trying to catch up from the long weekend. I didn’t get out to any events although I was really looking forward to the Social Capital release at Canteen. I will stop by this week for a taste and report back in part 2!
Check out our Beer Week Top Picks here: http://abqbeer.com/beer-blog/news-updates/abq-beer-week-2017-top-picks-part-3/
Look for a link to Part 2 of MrHoppy’s ABQ Beer Week Recap here: http://abqbeer.com/beer-blog/news-updates/mrhoppys-beer-week-recap-part-2/