Monday, November 21, 2011

Albuquerque brewery inspections

Yessir, it's a hard job, but somebody has to do it unless we want total anarchy to reign in the Land of Enchantment. And thus Carl and I embarked on the Triple B trip (boys, bikes & breweries) to Albuquerque.

For Carl it had been a year or two or ten or more since he'd been to New Mexico's largest city, and thus we packed up the bikes and his Pathfinder and left Thursday afternoon to join the local hop heads. Lucky us: The weather cooperated, and we were able to ride a total of 158 miles in two-and-a-half days. I was the planning force behind the excursion, while Carl provided the vehicle and encouragement. Together we provided the beer money.
Tractor Brewing CO in Los Lunas gave us beer and gas!

Albuquerque is a true oasis in the desert, at least when it comes to brew pubs. While Lubbock has nothing but the pathetic Triple J's when it comes to a pouring micro-brewery, Albuquerque offers about a dozen brew pubs and taprooms. Some are better than others—actually, some are top-of-the-class while we also encountered one that pours essentially undrinkable crap. So, while we're at it: Please don't go to Bad Ass Brewery, as it is home to foul, yucky, sickening brew. Just don't go. It truly sucks. Way worse than Triple J's even. Period.

Our favorites were La Cumbre, Turtle Mountain, Marble, and Il Vicinos. All four are classy operations with different characters but equally clean, crisp, well-crafted beers. Turtle Mountain and La Cumbre both had cask-conditioned IPAs, both of them outstanding. Carl wasn't too much into this unusual style but held his own sampling the regular and double IPAs. At La Cumbre we had the most enchanting evening as a band, the Odd Dog, jammed away.
Triple J's, eat your heart out!

Drawing a real beer from the cask at Turtle Mountain
No, it's not doping control—just four lovely IPAs
We rode our little hearts out, to Corrales and Rio Rancho, Isletea and Los Lunas. How could one not enjoy Albuquerque's bike trails and bike lanes plus this veritable cornucopia of drinking establishments? The growlers were the least expensive at Marble ($8), the stained glass was the prettiest at Corrales Bistro Brewery (which currently only has guest taps), and the place featuring the most farm implements (Tractor Brewing, with the memorable internet domain also provided the longest-lasting Völlegefühl thanks to a generous helping of mesquite-smoked beans. Oh well, I guess I asked for it.

Yes, there's always local artistry ...
... and true art
We didn't hit all of the establishments, despite our sincere attempts. Chama and Nexus will have to wait until next time, and Hallebrink is now closed. We sampled fare at Kelly's, ate a pizza at Il Vicinos, and missed the Meadery in the South Valley, but at least we witnessed yet another Grateful Dead group, the Odd Dog, at La Cumbre.

And if you think we were too beer addled to take in our surroundings, well, here are two beauties from along the way that deserve at least honorable mention:
Gotta love those sales! Is it Black Friday yet?
Now that's scary! BTW, the showroom window sported a 20%-off sale sign!!!
And thus we spent a beautiful weekend on the road, enjoying the sights and the brews. On the way home, we stopped over in Santa Rosa and rode 25 miles along the Pecos River, going south of town toward Ft. Sumner. Few people outside of the area know this road, and the sights gave us an inkling that Thanksgiving is just around the corner.
HWY 91, leading through the Moon Valley
With that said, have a Happy Turkey Day, and may your bird come out at least half as tasty as mine!


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