Monday, October 4, 2010

ABQ Brew Fest

Beer. The man's drink. But also sometimes can be enjoyed by a lady. Not Stef though. The most you'll get out of her is "Oh, this is tolerable." I then comfort her with, "Beer can only be tolerated. No one actually likes it." I then cry inside because I believe it's the truth.

But there are a few beers that I can slightly more than tolerate for the sake of being inebriated. My favorites are stouts because they tend to be flavorful (not in the bitterly hoppy way of pale ales) and smooth (more or less). I also like some reds because they lack the traditional beer taste. Browns are good too. 

I like infusion beers too. By this, I mean beers that combine other ingredients and flavors to add something to the beer. Oatmeal stouts are rather tasty, and the Portland brewery McMenamins has the Ruby which to my memory is a raspberry infusion that is too delicious to be beer.

Yesterday I got to sample lots of beer at the ABQ Brew Fest. Click the jump for some notes about the festival:
The Fest was held at the State Fair grounds which was good to go to because I didn't get to go to the fair this year (I almost went but it rained the date we planned on attending). They built some newer pavilions and the festival was held in one of these new venues. Tickets were pricey, but we managed to get half price tickets through a local promotion.

Brew Fest started at noon and I was ancy to get there by then (even though the event would go till 7pm). Stef didn't wake up till 12 even though I was bugging her to get up every 15 min from 10am onward. It turned out there was almost no one there and so there was no need to rush. I'm a little surprised and saddened by the poor showing of people, but alas this is New Mexico and these things happen.

I definitely have to give the event two thumbs up as well. I really enjoy the fact that this half of the country is rich in microbreweries (versus the East Coast, or at least where I'm from which is not ripe in that regard). I love going to the local places that serve local beer and trying what the land of enchantment has to offer. Twenty New Mexican microbreweries (I was surprised there were even that many) supported the event and each brewery had tons to sample. Another reason to like the event was green and red chile themed tasting cups, that reflected the big sponsors of the event.

Marble Brewery and Santa Fe Brewing Company were the biggest players in the event, but surprisingly they weren't the best in show. Marble provided exactly what I've come to expect from them which is quality beer, but I expected them to bring something new since they were the big sponsors of the event. 

Santa Fe on the other hand did bring a seasonal flavor, an Oktoberfest beer, but it turned out flavorless. Actually it tasted like carbonated water with a hint of beer. I was a little disappointed since I really like their Nut Brown beer, and I thought they would bring something new and awesome. Stef tried a lighter beer that tasted exactly the same as my Oktoberfest, so I think it must have been something with their taps.

My favorite beer of the day was Rio Grande Brewing Company's Green Chile beer. That's right, they infused the flavor of green chile into the beer. I was shocked that it both tasted like green chile (it had a great odor that I didn't think would translate to taste) and tasted good. Another brewer, Eske's from Taos, had a green chile beer but it didn't add much flavor to the beer except that it made the beer spicy which was interesting to have in a drink. In this case, the beer didn't taste like green chile but had the scent of it. Rio Grande had a nut brown that was pretty tasty as well. 

A local (ABQ local) brewery/restuarant Kelly's Brew Pub supplied an Apricot beer that Stef loved. It had such a wonderful aroma and it reminded me a lot of the Ruby I spoke of earlier (except this is apricot instead of raspberry). I was quite surprised with the flavor and thought it would be a great summer beer. Too bad that season is over. Still worth getting in the full glass.

The Tractor Brewing Company, which has the best url name (click the link to find out), provided the best and most fun experience. They had a few choices of beer which they poured from portable tractors. I honestly don't remember which beer I tried (probably a stout), but Stef had a honey wheat which had both a great aroma and a nice flavor. This was the first beer (of only like 4, her best in show was the aforementioned apricot beer from Kelly's) that she had deemed drinkable. 

As we were walking away from the table, we were asked if we wanted to play a game. Both of us courteously declined thinking it would be some silly promotion that you need to sign up for. We stood nearby to chat and drink our samples, but I faced in the direction of the Tractor tables and I watched some people play the game. The object was to fling some bottle caps through the faces of NFL players on a poster about 10 feet away. 

The guys I watched perform failed miserably and their incapabilities inspired me to try my luck. I went back over to the game table and told the girl that I was in! The girl warned me that this was no easy feat and hinted that no one had accomplished this yet. I grabbed a bottle cap and sized up the poster. I wanted to aim at Eli Manning (QB for the NY Giants) but decided to throw at his brother Peyton because he was a good 5 feet closer. I flung the bottle cap, it grazed off the side of Peyton's face and deflected in! The girl yelled "We have a winner," in complete shock. She ran over and grabbed a Tractor Brewing Company pint glass and gave it to me as a prize. It was pretty sweet.

As I celebrated my victory, Stef had decided to also try her luck. I didn't have any chance to give her any tips for throwing technique or anything. Without warning she threw her bottle cap, and it went in in the exact same manner that mine did! The best part is the people who threw before us were complaining that we both won and that we made it look so easy. I only mention this because their cap landed a good 5 feet short (yes, that is five feet from where they threw). Stef was given a cup to match mine and we both celebrated our victory.

After getting to the event around 1, we left about 2 hours later, a little after 3. We tried everything the Brew Fest had to offer and we even tasted Albuquerque Bratwurst and sauerkraut from a local German restaurant. It was a fun afternoon of boozing. The locals usually come out in large numbers for the wine tasting events, and hopefully next time they come out for the beer tasting too!

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