Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Ahoy ahoy - thar be a stout in these here waters

The Active 20-30 Club held their meeting at Total Wine in Uptown tonight and afterwards, I wandered over to the beer aisle to see what new stuff had landed in Albuquerque.  As of late, I sorta look for something that stands out as different.  With all of the new breweries being distributed out here, it's been fun finding new things.

Don't ask me why a bomber with a bright purple galleon seemed like a good choice...but it sure did.  The Ipswich Oatmeal Stout out of Ipswish, MA does stand out for me as a somewhat different style of oatmeal stout.  I like me a good stout, but most of the ones designated as an "oatmeal" stout lean much more to a mellow flavor than I found with the Ipswich.  Not that this is bad - you got a big ol' hit of coffee at first taste.  This beer is thick and sticks to your mouth a bit, really coating it with flavors of bold coffee, tart dark chocolate and a whole lotta malt.  Without reading the brewmaster's recipe card, I also believe they use a lot of roasted malt - there is a heavy smoke flavor to this brew.  It definitely meets the visual and aromatic qualities of an oatmeal stout - good luck seeing anything on the other side of this glass.

Would I get this beer again?  Yes, but it's not one I would probably pick up on a routine basis.  I checked it out on BeerAdvocate and I can't say I agree with the overwhelmingly good reviews.  While good, I have found a lot of other beers that I think better embody the style - check out my posts on the Marble Oatmeal Stout and the Four Peaks Oatmeal Stout.

Emerging next from the fridge will be a pumpkin beer from Samuel Adams.  'Tis the season for pumpkin beers, so only seems right to review one...or a few.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Fridge is open for business!

Holy crap, has it been that long since I posted? 

So, before we get back into more beer bidness...let's see what has been happening in the world of the Beer Fridge since the last post...
  • Tina and I welcomed Baby Levi Jackson into the world.  I am disappointed I have to wait 21 years to share a beer with him.  Who knows what we'll be drinking then (space beer?  Venus Pale Ale?), but I certainly hope he enjoys a good stout like his papa!
  • We've seen a bunch of new breweries open up
    • Il Vicino's Canteen (sorta a revival of the old tap room)
    • Bosque Brewing
    • Broken Bottle
    • Marble opened a West Side tap room
    • Sierra Blanca opened a grill/taproom in the Sunport.  Now you can suck down a imperial stout when you have 5 minutes to get to the gate
    • BJ's Brewhouse opened up in ABQ Uptown (it's a chain, but enough good taps that I don't complain)
  • The west side found two new beer paradises - Latitudes and Total Wine.  Both have a fantastic selection at really good prices. 
  • Total Wine took over the old Morgan Stanley office - now all of the alcohol that was there is just out in public and not hidden in a desk.
  • Beers we get in Nuevo Mexico now...
    • Green Flash
    • Pike Street
    • Clown Shoes
    • Alaskan

So, I'm taking any special requests!  Let me know and I will hunt it down to try it!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I'll take a Tall Skinny Mocha Java Stout, with some La Cumbre on top

Two things on tap for today - a review of Santa Fe Brewing's newest addition to their line of cans - the Imperial Java Stout, then a debrief on our trip to La Cumbre Brewing from Saturday.

Appearance - Thick black body with a foamy, mocha colored head. Head is pretty sticky too, as it coats the glass substantially. 4.0/5.0

Smell - Coffee coffee coffee. The aroma is like sticking your nose right into a bin of coffee beans. Not just any coffee beans, but the uber-dark ones that will literally put hair on your chest. Any other smell is overpowered by the coffee. You get a hit of that coffee each time that you taste it too. 3.5/5.0

Taste - Like the aroma, coffee dominates the flavor, but it starts to smooth out a bit. The first time I had this beer, I was taken aback by the coffee flavor and almost had trouble finishing it. 2nd go around was much better with the toasted malt coming out. Very little sweetness, as the coffee's bitterness takes priority. It's like having a strong cup of Starbucks bold sugar. 3.5/5.0

Feel - 1st taste is strong until your mouth adjusts to the beer. After that, you start to get some more of the flavor notes. 3.0/5.0

Drinkability - Jury is out. 1st time, probably wouldn't have bought it again. 2nd time, enjoying it. I'm guessing the 3rd time, I'll want to get a six pack or two for the fridge. 3.0/5.0

As for La Cumbre Brewing - I had a great time there! Myself, plus Mrs. Beer Fridge and a number of guys from the Active 20-30 Club headed over there after we did some charity work at the Children's Hospital. As you know, studies have proven nothing makes you more thirsty than doing charity work. Between the 5 or 6 of us, we were able to try all five of their "standard" drafts. I personally loved the Malpais Stout (as I hoped I would) and surprising, the South Peak Pilsner (I'm not normally a fan of pilsners). Good comments were made about the Pyramid Rock Pale Ale, plus the holiday seasonal they had on tap. So, outside the 7 beers that La Cumbre made, they had 4 other local beers (1 Marble, 2 Chama River and 1 Turtle Mountain if memory serves me correctly).

Outside the beer, the vibe of the place was amazing. Jeff did a fantastic job with the tour of the brewery itself - it made my homebrewer buddy Lou almost have a moment. The environment reminded me of a neighborhood pub that you see on TV where 4-5 of your closest friends get together, have a few beers and talk crap to each other. Bombers from all over the place and tin "plates" adorn the walls, with old barrel-like tables scattered around. There's a pool table upstairs too - so bonus!

I would highly recommend checking out La Cumbre and seeing what all of the fuss is about. The passion for the craft is evident in the brewery, but it doesn't overshadow the chillness of the atmosphere.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

La Cumbre! Open for bidness!

Haazha! A new brewery is opening its doors this weekend - La Cumbre Brewing Company. Headed up by Jeff Erway, former brewer of Chama River Brewing, this new business venture is located at 3313 Girard (basically Candeleria and Girard).

Given Jeff's great history at Chama River, where he won 2 Silver medals at the World Beer Cup and 2 Bronze medals at the Great American Beer Festival, I can only imagine the brews coming out of La Cumbre will be pretty tasty. Looking at their menu, I'm very excited for the Malpais Stout and the Pyramid Rock Pale Ale. The Elevated IPA looks like it's going to be a hoppy concoction that will be interesting to try out.

The grand opening is Friday, December 17th, but they are doing a soft opening on Saturday, December 11th. Thanks to the power of Social Networking Competitions (i.e. Facebook contests), I called the date they'd actually open and won a free mug club membership. So, I'll be there Saturday around 2ish if anyone wants to grab a pint!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I didn't care for 14...13 was WAY better.

And I'm not talking about puberty, where the acne attack kicked in...yikes. I'm referring to Stone's 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA. This English-style IPA is the result of Stone going across the pond and finding all sorts of historical English ingredients and creating a beer out of it. I will admit that I'm not a big fan of English style beers - they just rub me a bit the wrong way. It could just be the way they they add a "u" to a lot of words, I dunno.

Appearance - Lighter than your average IPA with cloudiness that is remenscent of a hefeweizen. Frothy and sticky white head. Definitely gets points for uniqueness. 4.5/5.0

Smell - Sour citrus with a focus on grapefruit. 3.0/5.0

Taste - Sweet malt with a prominent hoppy bitterness at the end. Earthy, piney hops. Lighter bodied with a solid flavor. The use of the British hops (mostly Kent) isn't my cup of tea. 4.0/5.0

Feel - Good mouth coverage, aftertaste is primarily in the back of your mouth and very tart. 3.5/5.0

Drinkability - Not sure if I'd get this one again, given my preference for American style IPAs. Good flavor and not bad after a long day, though. 3.0/5.0

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tan, Refreshed and Properly "Hydrated" from the Caribbean!

Yikes, that's two long gaps in beer posts! Part of it was due to a nice week long cruise to the Caribbean. I wasn't sure what to expect beer-wise in the land of pirates and rum. When we did the Alaskan cruise, I got to enjoy a bunch of Alaskan beers plus stuff from Canada and Washington state. A very different type of beer in the land of beaches and sun!

Princess Cruises seems to favor the Europeans, so Spaten Premium and Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse were the "fancy" beers on the boat. Boddingtons and Guiness were featured during the pub lunches, but other than that - lots of Coors Light, big cans of Fosters and the like.

The best deal of the trip was on St. Martin/St. Maarten, where we found Carib Lager for a buck a can. Now, it wasn't some fantastical beer brewed in bourbon barrels or ancient Mayan gold, but for a buck - it got the job done and was really tasty when sitting on a beach or strolling the overly-shoppy boardwalk area. I tried a Presidente while I was there, but it was a "lot" more expensive (I think $2.50 a bottle).

Friday, October 15, 2010

Is it 10-10-10 already?

The first Vertical Epic I tried was last year's 09-09-09, which was a Belgian style Porter. Definitely one of my favorite beers, as it took a style I love (porter) and added some nice custom tweaks to it. This year's edition is a Belgian Tripel with some wine grapes incorporated into the brew - specifically Musct, Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc.

Appearance - Appropriately golden, with a frothy almond head. The light bubbles make the beer look really inviting - my mouth is watering! Nice and clear too. 4.0/5.0

Smell - Flowery sweetness and sugar. Lemon, banana and honey too. 3.0/5.0

Taste - The belgian taste is dominant - all of the spice, coriander and lemon are really potent and easy to pick up on. I don't mind the sweetness and it masks the alcohol extremely well (and at 9.5% ABV, this one will sock it to ya). The use of wine grapes is different - it adds some tartness to it that you don't normally see in a tripel. The taste changed a bit as the beer warmed. - 3.5/5.0

Feel - A clean beer - there is a little aftertaste, but it's very mild. Flavor is predominately on the tongue. 3.5/5.0

Drinkability - I gotta say, I enjoyed the beer, but I didn't really think it was so amazing that I would buy this by the case. I could get a bottle of New Belgium Tripel for about 1/2 the price. 2.5/5.0