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Beer Town: Flight Club vs. Draft News

Beer Town: Flight Club vs. Draft News

Mayor of Beer Town Ty Bannerman pours readers another flight of brewery news:

Bottoms Up!


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 beertownabq@gmail.com.

Draft Station ABQ (1720 Central SW) sometimes feels like Albuquerque’s forgotten taproom. Situated on Central just east of Old Town, it occupies a part of town where beer havens are in short supply. Yet there’s never a crowd. Why?

My theory involves two things: First, the name ‟Draft Station” is a bit generic and doesn’t promote the fact that it’s a Chama River taproom. Second, the business’ sign is nearly invisible, disappearing between the bright banner for Five Star Burgers and the classic neon blaze of Garcia’s.

If people don’t know you’re there, they can’t drop in. The place is definitely worth a visit, especially if you want to get your drink on amid serenity. For this issue’s Flight Club, I decided to pop in and sample the Chama offerings. Here’s what I found:

Class VI Golden Lager (5.0 ABV):

This lager features a light, straw-colored luster and a bitter finish. Especially on a spring afternoon, Class VI’s smidge of apricot-like fruitiness makes it a lovely patio-sipping beer, but the moderate ABV means you may need a nap afterward.

Rio Chama (5.0 ABV):

Malty sweetness melts to a lingering bitterness on the back of the tongue, while the faintest aroma of hops beckons. This is one of Chama’s signature offerings, and for good reason.

Jackalope IPA (6.2 ABV):

Bring this draught to your lips, and a sage-like hop scent hits your nose, calling to mind arid prairies where legendary jackalopes are said to play. It comes on with a metallic tang that gives way to the heavily hopped bitterness the style is known for. The mouth-feel is dense, almost syrupy.

Copper John (5.3 ABV):

This golden pale ale asserts itself with a thick malty flavor that downplays its sweetness. Hops are hardly there and balance perfectly with the malt, bestowing a high drinkability. A faint metallic taste follows the swallow. Perhaps it’s copper?

Vermillion Red (6.0 ABV):

This heavy ale boasts a liquor-like assertiveness and a touch of citrus. It’s a bolstering drink with a hint of smoke.

Islay Chaser (3.3 ABV):

There’s a strong, piney smokiness to this one. It feels lighter in the mouth than most ales, and the cherry accent gives you another reason to take a drink.

And the Beer Town Seal of Awesomeness goes to: Class VI Golden Lager, perfect for whiling away a sunny afternoon.

Bosque bites on horizon

Word has come down the pike that the Bosque Brewery will soon add a full kitchen. Details are scant at the moment, but I’ll have more for you soon.

New distillery on Marble

The craft beer movement continues to expand, and the craft spirit movement follows suit. Our city’s newest distillery makes that connection obvious by opening just down the street from the original Marble Brewery. The dream child of entrepreneurs Peter Arathoon and Zach Hulme, Still Spirits is expected to open this summer and offer house-made vodka and whiskey. The owners chose the location due to the area’s pedestrian-friendly vibe.

Distillery 365 renamed

Photo credit: Broken Trail Spirits + Brew

Photo credit: Broken Trail Spirits + Brew

Speaking of synergy between distilleries and breweries, the outfit formerly known as Distillery 365 has adopted a name change that reflects its new focus on both beer and spirits. Broken Trail Spirits + Brew the name references its origin as an idea between two friends hiking the Sandias now has five taps alongside its lineup of 365 spirits, including Holy Ghost vodka and Tres Pistolas whiskey.

Hops headed for opening?

“Coming soon” for about a year, the long-rumored Hops Brewery may finally be on its way to opening. According to the Albuquerque Journal, owner Jim Shull expects a grand opening sometime this summer. The brewery will occupy 3507 Central NE, a storefront that formerly housed Revolver Vintage.

Goblet of … wine?

Chris Goblet, considered the state’s ambassador of craft beer during his tenure as executive director of the New Mexico Brewers’ Guild, has officially turned traitor to the barley revolution by casting his lot with the pinky-extending glass sniffers at the New Mexico Wine and Grape Growers Association.

As the new executive director for that collective of regressive fruit stompers, Goblet will work with New Mexico’s 45 wineries to raise the profile of local vintners, even as craft beer captures the lion’s share of attention. His crime will never be forgiven.

Drinking & jogging

Apparently, there’s a subset of runners who enjoy beer and beer drinkers who enjoy running. No judgment, but that sounds like sheer lunacy to me. The ABQ Brew Dash is a 5K race that caters to these weirdos.

It sounds worth checking out even if “fun run” isn’t in your vocabulary. This year, organizers expect the race to attract some 2,000 entrants; the event will begin at 1 p.m. on May 14 at the Civic Plaza and follow Route 66. There will be food trucks galore and prizes for costumes.

The Ale Trail returns

Now this is more my speed. Instead of running with, like, your legs and muscles, the Ale Trail offers a luxury climate-controlled trolley to transport drinkers to three breweries for behind-the-scenes tours and samples.

It happens on Saturday, May 7, at the Albuquerque Hotel (800 Rio Grande Blvd. NW), starting at noon and ending around 3 p.m. Tickets are $50 and include a complementary pint at each brewery as well as souvenir swag.

Kelly’s does Santa Fe

Santa Fe Dining, the New Mexico-based behemoth behind Chama River Brewing Co., Blue Corn Brewing, Rio Chama and The Draft Station, has set its sights on venerable Nob Hill institution Kelly’s Brewpub.

The plan is in its initial phase, but the company hopes to complete the transition by the end of the summer. Santa Fe Dining President Jim Hargrove has stated that the company does not intend to make any major changes to Kelly’s.

Big Brew goin’ down

The Dukes of Ale, Albuquerque’s oldest homebrewing club, will demonstrate homebrew techniques at Broken Trail Spirits + Brew (2921 Stanford NE) at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 7. Attendees can observe the brewing process and ask questions of the Dukes themselves.

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 feature and food editor at Weekly Alibi.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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