Monday, April 29, 2013

Four-and-a-half miles to the pint (your ppg may vary!)

Those two stickers say it all: This blog post is about BEER! It was time for Albuquerque Beer Week, and with a place in the Nob Hill area to stay there was no good reason not to make the 5 1/2-hour drive west. My good friend Jerred had bestowed upon me his no-longer-used Van Dessel Country Road Bob fixed gear bike (which I modified into a single-speed), and somehow I managed to pack the Bob into the passenger seat of the Miata so that I would have two-wheeled transportation while in Albuquerque.
Yes, that's a bike in the passenger seat—arriving at Liz's pretty house in ABQ
After I had rolled into town on Thursday afternoon, Liz and I started the weekend's festivities with tapas and classical guitar at Casa de Benavides; we were joined by Chad, who used to be our IT guy in the English Department. For dinner, it was superior pizza at Il Vicino's around the corner from Liz's place.
A black IPA at the IVB Cantina

On Friday, I first met up with Lee and FeFi, who are temporarily living in NM as their house in Dallas is still under reconstruction after some major flooding damage last August. Later that night, the four of us would have a Greek dinner at Yanni's. What a treat to see four buddies on one trip! But the real reason for coming to Albuquerque was Beer Week, and so I took Bob out for a first spin on Friday afternoon, taking me to three breweries in about 20 miles—somehow managing to not being able to locate a fourth, Nexus. I'm not exactly sure how many pints I had, but the ppm in the title is conservative.
The second number is the alcohol content, and the third indicates hoppiness (IBUs)
Have a close look at the beer menu in the above picture, taken at La Cumbre. For Beer Week, five of Albuquerque’s finest breweries (Marble, La Cumbre, Nexus, Il Vicino's, and Rio Chama) had collaborated in creating an out-of-this world IPA, the 505-13.  Hoppiness is generally expressed in IBUs (International Bittering Units), and some IPAs will hit 80, or 90, or even 100. When I saw that the 505-13’s IBUs were simply listed as “stupid” I knew that I had found what I had come looking for. The balance of this beer equaled that of my all-time favorite, Russian River’s Pliny the Elder, if it didn’t even surpass it. The 505-13 is simply in a category of its own.
The Bob at IVB's Cantina
On Saturday, Liz accompanied me on a similar beer run on her little townie. I made a point to not only introduce her to the 505-13 (“creating a monster,” as she later said, not believing herself that she could love a non-Guinness beer as much as she did this IPA) but also new breweries for her as well as myself. I had never been to Nexus, and Bosque Brewing Company had opened just a few months ago. We rode 22 easy (well, for me) miles and visited a fair number of breweries.
Liz has finally found the love of her life: 505-13. Too bad it won't last...
Albuquerque’s beer scene is on par with that of better-known places on the West and East coasts. It is now home to more than 10 microbreweries, and for the most part they produce outstanding beers. Why can’t Lubbock support something similar? The places that we went to (except Bosque, which is maybe still too new and a bit too far on the north side of town) were packed, even at mid-afternoon. The crowds are superbly diverse, ethnically as well as socially. No loud talk, just a mutual enjoyment of craft beers and decent bar food. Some come on bicycles, others on skateboards, many drive, and some show off their custom creations. This particular machine must have cost many, many tens of thousands of dollars to pimp out like that. It deserves more than just one photo.

Just don't drive through muddy puddles...
The most beautiful steerer/bar I have ever seen
Turquoise inlays with real bullets; the hand grenade is not visible
Revolver-themed gas cap with Zia symbol on the tank

A man can’t drink beer all the time (well, I might but I didn’t want to put it to the test), so on Saturday morning I accompanied Liz to her yoga class. Earlier this year, she had gone to a retreat in Mexico with her local teacher, and she wanted me to at least give yoga a try. Well, let me tell you: I had fun stretching my hamstrings and hearing the groaning around me (I was the only guy), but all the moves that involved my buggered-up right shoulder were pure hell. I don’t think that yoga is written in capital letters in my future; only when it came to the final slowing down of one’s thoughts and breathing I felt in my element: I almost fell asleep. I’ve always been the master of the four-minute power nap.

I felt much more in tune with the world on Sunday morning when I took my single-speed Bob out for a circumnavigation of the city, on the Las Montañas trail up to the foothills, then on Tramway down to Fourth Street and back through the downtown area up to Nob Hill. The lack of wind, the bicycle infrastructure, the pretty houses—it all made for the perfect morning. So how does one top that? Well, one throws on a regular shirt and hops back on the bike and heads down the hill to First Street and Marble Ave, to catch the bluegrass festival!
Some danced ...
... and some made music

The place was packed with people and dogs (BTW, Beer Week offered a seminar for canines and their keepers on how to behave properly in a brew setting!), the music was infectious, and the beer kept flowing. I can’t think of a better way to end such a perfect mini vacation than that. I can’t wait for next year’s Beer Week and the 505-14.
Perfection lies in the hops
Thanks for indulging my weakness.


No comments:

Post a Comment