Let’s Grab a Beer August 2015: Summer Suds

Summer: It’s a beer drinkers’ season if ever there was one. I mean, no one heads out to the lake with a cooler full of wine! No one rewards themselves for an afternoon of yardwork by enjoying a shot of bourbon! And when it comes to firing up the grill, nothing compliments a summer barbecue quite like a pint shared with friends.

Beer is the very substance of summer, and thanks to the craft-brewing boom, seasonal beers are enjoying a real heyday. We’re not talking a watery corporate lager spiked with citrus and called a “summer beer.” We’re talking brews in hues of gold, pink and summer hay, inspired by ice cream, cherry pie and raspberries, and made to pair with green-chile cheeseburgers and red-chile barbecue sauce. There are more than enough seasonally appropriate options coming out of New Mexico microbreweries, so we rounded up a few favorites. Stock your cooler and start savoring the height of beer-drinking season! Continue reading

Let’s Grab A Beer – July 2015

New Mexico BeerGood News! There has never been a better time to be a beer drinker in New Mexico. That may seem like a bold statement, considering there were people living around what we call Clovis some 13,000 years ago, but let’s say it again … beer drinkers have never had it this good. Twenty years ago, New Mexico had no breweries at all. Today, there are close to 40, with more on the way. Many of the world’s finest beers are distributed on shelves and in kegs all over New Mexico, and some of the very best beers are being made right here in the 505. Friends, now’s the time to get involved in this burgeoning craft beer scene. Step right up, don’t be afraid. This column is your invitation to the party. We’ll get you up to speed with your beer taxonomy and teach you to navigate the frothy seas of delicious beer. This first article is your crash course, laying a foundation to understand what you’re drinking. In future columns we’ll pick a beer style or two and explain them. Then we’ll talk about who’s brewing those beers locally, and compare the local brews to classic examples from all over the globe. We’ll let you know who’s touting the best taps, and where to buy the hard-to-find bottles. It’s time to shake off your suds routine, and be reborn as a bonafide beer geek… welcome to the beer revival! Continue reading

Live from Civic Plaza! Albuquerque Reinvents Downtown

Civic Plaza AlbuquerqueWhatever else you may imagine when you think of a city, you probably visualize a surge of high-rise buildings, a network of one-way streets, an intricate mosaic of glass, neon, cement. Perhaps a fountain or two. In this respect, Downtown Albuquerque is about as urban as New Mexico gets. Situated just southwest of our busiest intersection, where the arteries of I-25 and I-40 cross, it is—geographically speaking—the city center of the entire state. A growing conversation among Albuquerque residents concerned with urban revitalization focuses on how to make Downtown the city center—the heart—of the city itself. Through collaboration with DowntownABQ MainStreet and UNM’s CityLab, Civic Plaza Presents hopes to help bring the urban heart of this community back to life by reinventing Albuquerque’s Civic Plaza.

Historically, Civic Plaza has fluctuated between dearth and deluge—during the big annual events like Summerfest the plaza overflowed with people, but the rest of the time it sat relatively empty, an unfortunately underutilized public space. When the Vortex Theater held its first annual Shakespeare-on-the-Plaza there last spring, however, that began to change, and later in the year the idea of “placemaking” took flight when Lola Bird of DowntownABQ MainStreet successfully applied for a Heart of the Community placemaking grant from Southwest Airlines. With the help of the Project for Public Spaces, DowntownABQ MainStreet initiated the collaborative placemaking process through which its vision of Civic Plaza can be achieved: to transform this “square block of concrete into a civic living room, central park and community gathering place.”

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Chef Johnny Vee Wants to Know

Fire & Hops

slider Fire and Hops

As a longtime fan of Chef Joel Coleman’s cooking, I remember my disappointment when I heard he was leaving town after running into owner problems at his downtown venture Koi. Prior to that, Coleman had made a splash with Mauka in the Guadalupe district, serving his unique spin on Japanese and Asian inspired cooking. His frustration is one that many talented chefs feel; finding your culinary footing in this fickle industry can be tricky. I was glad to hear he was back in town and eager to check out his new gastro pub, an idea he had been playing with in his head for years. As I wrote in my round-up in the September issue of Local Flavor, when I visit a restaurant three times in a week, you know I’m intrigued. Fire & Hops has become my new “local favorite” so I was curious to hear from the chef himself, and partner Josh Johns, just how this new gamble is panning out … and to talk Spam. Continue reading

Albuquerque: The Frontier of Beer

Il Vicino

When I began this story, I set out to visit all the Albuquerque breweries. “No problem,” I thought, “it’ll only take me a few days!” Little did I realize that the number of establishments crafting locally produced, small-batch beers has positively skyrocketed in the past few years and Albuquerque is now home to some 25 or 30 microbreweries. Simply put, Albuquerque craft beer is exploding. But what’s behind this brewery boom? Continue reading

Up the Road a Piece

Here you are in Albuquerque for the International Balloon Fiesta. You got up early and went to the balloon glow, walked among the balloons, oohed and aahed over the mass ascension and posted enough photos on Facebook and Instagram that your friends are not only no longer “liking” them, they’re on the verge of blocking all further posts from you. You look at your watch at 9 a.m. and think, “What now?” You could stick around for the chainsaw carving (do you really want to?); you could go visit the other attractions in Albuquerque, of which there are many, but the other 100,000 people you were rubbing elbows with this morning will be crowding the Bio Park and the museums; or you could just go to your hotel and spend the day at the pool, thereby missing anything that the Land of Enchantment has to offer.

Visit Santa Fe

The United States is the most vacation poor country in the world. Do you really want to spend your few, precious days away from the office fighting the masses or wasting the day emulating the vultures from “The Jungle Book”? If it’s further amusement you’re seeking, there’s an option: hop in your car and travel the fifty miles up I-25 to Santa Fe. Continue reading