Food, New Mexico

Chama Beer Dinner

Chama River Brewery has great beer. They also have great food. My wife and I can always agree on a date night at Chama. She loves the atmosphere and food and I love the beer and food – the atmosphere is good too. For a brewer they have fancy food – duck legs in red chile or goat cheese stuffed zucchini- as well as favorites like fish and chips, burger and ribs.

Chama River Brewery

Every so often they have a beer dinner. I have never been and will probably miss this one, but I am going to one someday! Check out this menu.

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Homebrewing, Smoked, Wheat

Smoked Wheat Brewday

Batch #2: Smoked Wheat from Brooklyn Brew Shop. I told myself I would make some changes in this batch – hydrate the yeast, more water, and better fermentation temperature control. I did two of these. I added an extra 16 ounces to my mash and used a thicker walled pot. The temperature held much better than my first batch in an aluminum pot.
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Sparging went well, but it looked like a lot of wort. And it turned out to be. I don’t know if the boil was not as high as the first batch or if the addition of wheat reduced the amount of water lost to the grain or a combination of both.

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After pouring in the carboy we had what looked like 32 ounces of wort left. So sad to see it dumped down the drain. A little for my hommies I guess. It was at this point I felt things were taking a turn for the worst. Side note: limit your alcohol consumption while brewing. My Brother In Law and I may have had a few too many. It didn’t seem like too many but forgot to account for the average ABV of 6.5-7.5 of the brews we bought.

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Because of the high fill, I used a blowoff tube. This made me very nervous. For one, how do I replace the hose with my airlock? If I pull the hose, air will get in, right? I decided to leave the blowoff hose on permanently. This makes sense since the end of the tube is in sterilizer it should be the same as an airlock. Thank goodness I did because the tube is full of gunk. But I did not lose any beer! Here it is, in my messy closet, with the blowoff tube. I put the cup of sanitizer in a bucket so if it makes a mess my wife doesn’t kill me. I placed the carboy in a pot and filled it with cool water and a thermometer. I check it constantly and add ice if necessary. It has always read between 69-72.

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I didn’t rehydrate the yeast. It worked so well last time I figured why mess with it. After my initial fear that this beer would be a disaster, watching the fermentation has put my mind at ease. Bottling this weekend – I wrote this post almost 2 weeks late – and will take a taste to kill the last lingering doubts I have.

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Porter, Smoked

Rauchbier and Stone Smoked Porter

In preparation and anticipation of my next homebrew – smoked wheat – I thought it a good idea to try a smoked beer – or maybe even two. I started with a Rauchbier, because like my first experience with Saison, go for the standard then branch out. And while I am trying a rauchbier, why not get the biggest and baddest? This beer smelled of a campfire, and not in the sitting by one having a beer with a clear sky good way but the I just got home from a 3 day camping trip and my clothes reek of campfires past bad way. Getting past this, you can taste the smoke. The beer is also a bit sweet. After a few sips, it starts to go down much smoother. I can understand how all the reviews are either love or hate. I liked it. It is by no means a beer for every weekend, but I am glad I tried it and it will be in my mind for special occasions – like while camping or getting my grub on with a rack of ribs.

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On a lighter note, I tried Stone’s Smoked Porter. It did not compare to the rauchbier, but it brought back lingering memories. I wonder, if I never had the rauchbier, would the porter have tasted smoky? It was a good beer nonetheless. A tad bitter but i’m guessing that’s from the smoked grains. This is only my second beer by Stone and I have enjoyed them both – Arrogant Bastard Ale being the other.

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I am sure my homebrew will be nowhere near as smoky or dark as the rauchbier or the Stone Porter, but am now salivating to try it.

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New Mexico

Happy Hour

Albuquerque has some great restaurants, some of which are fairly pricey. But most of these places have happy hour at their lounge/bar. My wife loves Yannis so we went to their new Lemoni Lounge. They have a Lounge menu with some good beer – I got a La Cumbre Elevated IPA and my wife had a Stella Artois – and you can order off the full menu if you want – which is great because the appetizer sampler makes for great snacking.

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Great beer and food.

For great food, beer (wine and cocktails as well) and atmosphere at a great price you have to come to Lemoni – and get the flaming cheese dish.

Try some other places for happy hour like Nick and Jimmy’s or Artichoke Cafe.

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Saison

Tis the Season for Saison

It’s interesting how beer styles become popular. Right now, everywhere I look I’m running in to some form of IPA – Imperial, Double, Dark – and Saison. I’ve never had a Saison , which is odd because I love Belgian beers. For my first Saison, I went with the gold standard, the one by which all others are measured: Saison DUPONT. It is a dry, refreshing beer. Perfect for the summer. I now get the appeal.

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Having a good Saison under my belt – in my tummy – I stumbled across a local Santa Fe 25th Anniversary Saison 88. For $1.50 I had to get it. I loved the graphic on the can. Is it blasphemy to say I liked this one more than the Dupont? I did. A touch sweeter and with hints of grapefruit. My wife picked up on the citrus notes immediately and she was not a fan of the Dupont.

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I’ve put Saison on my list of beers to brew. Besides being a delicious style of beer, Saison yeast likes a warm temperature, which in New Mexico is perfect. I don’t have to run my AC all day to protect my fermenting beer. It’s also a broad style which people seem to run with by adding hints of fruits or herbs. New Mexico lavender in a Saison? Maybe.

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