Here we are, deep into February, a month that kicks off with the antics of a temperamental rodent and the feast of St. Brigid, renowned for her love of beer.
Beer Town: So Brigid
BY TY BANNERMAN
Here we are, deep into February, a month that kicks off with the antics of a temperamental rodent and the feast of St. Brigid, renowned for her love of beer — and her presumably tipsy prayer that begins with, “I’d like to give a lake of beer to God, I’d love the heavenly host to be tippling there for all eternity.”
Not only that, Brigid was renowned for miraculously ending the pregnancy of a fellow nun and sharing her life, and bed, with a young woman named Dar. And some people think she may have been a pagan goddess who got Christianized. What a cool lady! I dedicate this column to her.
Beer and companionship go hand in hand, and one story tells how Brigid happily changed bath water into beer to serve to her leper friends. She clearly knew that a pint among pals is truly one the best feelings in the world and a great way to put your troubles aside for a little while.
In honor of that spirit of camaraderie, let’s kick off this issue’s column with fun communal events at some of our favorite taprooms.
Drinkin’ and doin’
Few things go together better than Burque, beer and “Breaking Bad” spinoffs. Consume the Season 2 premiere of “Better Call Saul” with your pals at Tractor Brewing Company – Wells Park (1800 Fourth St. NW). Not only will you watch everyone’s favorite lawyer fast-talk his way out of his latest misadventure, but Tractor’s website promises prizes and special merch for lucky attendees. Get there early on Saturday, Feb. 15, a bit before the 8 p.m. showing, and see how fortune favors you.
Everybody likes to laugh — except jerks, I guess — so check out Back Alley Drafthouse at 215 Central Ave. NW behind JC’s New York Pizza Department on Monday nights for an open mic comedy lineup. The sign-up sheet goes around at 6:45 p.m., so if you’re feeling extra funny, slug back a couple pints and give it your best shot. If you miss that one, or say, chicken out, you have another chance each Wednesday at Ponderosa Brewing ‘s (1761 Bellemah Ave. NW) Draft Sessions open mic, which begins at 7:00 p.m. and is also open to musicians, whether they’re funny or not.
The Albuquerque Gears and Beers cycling club is scheduled to meet at Pi Brewing Co. (9780 Coors Blvd. NW) at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 21, for an easy, introductory ride to the Bosque Trail and back to Pi. Best part? After you work up a proper sweat, Pi extends a celebratory offer of $3.14 pints for the returning cyclers. Keep tabs on Pi at facebook.com/pibrewing.
Over at Green Jeans Farmery (3600 Cutler NE), Santa Fe Brewing Company offers its patrons a $3 Monday night where you can order a pint of pretty much anything for $3. Round it out with a pizza from just-across-the-commons Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria and maybe play a game of shuffleboard.
As the first green buds of spring begin to push their way up to the surface of the frosty ground, so too the seeds of breweries begin to sprout. Or something. Anyway, some new breweries are sprouting up.
Off the I-25 corridor, we’ve got Starr Brothers (5700 San Antonio NE), which boasts a full kitchen. In the Uptown area, strange beings have kidnapped the old Albuquerque Brew Pub and implanted a new brand, the Alien Brew Pub (6601 Uptown Blvd. NE). Expect lots of cosmically themed styles such as a Milky Way stout and Crop Circle wheat.
In the far Northeast Heights, the casual Mexican joint Sandia Chile Grill (7120 Wyoming NE, 7D) is gearing up to offer microbrews under the name Lickety Splitz Small Batch Brewing. And on the Westside, Nicky V’s Pizzeria has remade itself as Pi Brewing Co. (9780 Coors Blvd. NW, Suite B), see the Gears and Beers item above.
Plenty of seasonal brews are flowing this month. Some that caught my eye: the Canteen Brewhouse’s (2381 Aztec NE) Sweet Senderine Stout, a licorice touched malt-heavy ale with a bitter touch at the end; Chama River’s Coffee Cream Stout, a smooth, chocolatey seduction that finishes with just the right touch of coffee bean, available at the Draft Station (1720 Central Ave. SW); and Turtle Mountain Brewing Co.’s (905 36th Place SE, Rio Rancho) Adrift IPA, a citrusy hop bomb that will send you spinning.
As usual, I’m writing this as I brew up a batch of my own homebrew. This time it’s an all-grain dark mild I’m calling St. Brigid’s Brown. Feel free to try your own hand at it: it’s 6 pounds of pale malt, 2 pounds of crystal malt and 4.4 ounces of crisp chocolate malt. Plus 1 ounce of Fuggles hops for boiling, another ounce for finishing.
If you want to give this a shot but don’t know how to proceed, pick up a copy of “Super Easy Brew in a Bag” by Jon Finch. Call your local homebrew supply store or favorite bookshop, and see if it’s in stock.
Whether you brew or not, join me in a spiritual toast. Raise a glass and repeat after me, in the words of St. Brigid herself:
I’d sit with the men, the women and God
There by the lake of beer.
We’d be drinking good health forever
And every drop would be a prayer.
Got a hot tip on Albuquerque’s beer scene? Know of a seasonal draft I’ve simply got to try? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ty Bannerman is a beer drinker, co-host of the City on the Edge podcast and author of “Forgotten Albuquerque” as well as a forthcoming memoir. He most recently served as managing, feature and food editor at Weekly Alibi.