Monday, April 11, 2016

Beer Town: Welcome to Flight Club

And There's Only One Rule . . .

BY TY BANNERMAN For this issue, I’m rolling out a new feature for this column; I call it Flight Club. The first rule of Flight Club is that you must keep the Chuck Palahniuk jokes to a minimum. Actually, that’s the only rule.

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

So here’s how Flight Club works: Even in a town as hop-crazed as Burque, there are weeks when beer news is slow. During these brief respites, I’ll partake in a drinkable tour of a couple local breweries and report my findings to the residents of Beer Town. Ordering and reporting on these offerings may assist readers in seeking out the beer(s) of their dreams. I’ll also anoint my favorite beer from each establishment with the Beer Town Stamp of Awesomeness. Knowing my own predilections, I won’t bother with wheat beers or cider. I already know I hate them, so you’re on your own with those categories. 

Behind the Red Door

The first-ever Flight Club went down at Red Door Brewing Company (1001 Candelaria NE). When you picture a microbrewery, the imaginary facility that comes to mind looks just like Red Door. This is a no-frills joint with a concrete floor and a cavernous interior that’s redolent of hops and barley. It’s the kind of place where the beer’s quality comes before any and all other considerations.

Gateway Blonde:

Straw-colored and crystal clear. A sweet floral aroma hits the nose before translating to an apple-y crispness on the tongue. Gateway Blonde is a light, thirst-quenching ale. With a relatively low 4.9 percent ABV, you can enjoy another glassful.

Strong Scotch Ale:

A garnet-red wee heavy. A wisp of smoke followed by an intensely peaty, whiskey-like flavor that enlivens the taste buds. A touch of honeyed sweetness is Strong Scotch Ale’s end note. This highly drinkable beast comes in at 8.1 ABV, so pace yourself.

Roamer Red Ale:

Ruby-colored with a dank and grassy hops aroma. A heavy, satiating caramel malt flavor contrasts neatly with bitter hops and a biscuit-like finish. Every sip of Roamer Red demands another swallow, and so on and on. This satisfying brew occupies mid-range ABV at 6.2 percent.

Threshold IPA:

Burnt orange with a lingering head. The nose is rife with the piney punch of Northwestern hops, and the first taste is super bitter (this is a 100 IBU beer) with a positively grapefruity aftertaste and a lingering woody flavor. 6.6 percent ABV

Bad Moon Ryesing Black RyePA:

Vampy port-like color with a brandy aroma. Smooth and velvety, Bad Moon slips right down the back of the tongue. It finishes with a warm, lingering coffee accent. This RyePA (6.3 percent ABV) is wonderful and unique.

Paint It Black Milk Stout:

The name says it all: this is an ultra-black milk stout. Its malty body has woody and chocolatey notes. Paint It Black is solid, true-to-style beer with a ripple of coffee. Served on nitro, the pour cascades, resulting in an impossibly thick, creamy head. 5.6 percent ABV The Beer Town Stamp of Awesomeness is hereby awarded to: Roamer Red.

Make tracks to Sidetrack

Situated Downtown, Sidetrack Brewing Co. (413 Second Street SW) shares an aesthetic philosophy with Zendo, the coffee shop/art gallery next door. The warm minimalist ambiance of Sidetrack is the perfect vibe for a first date drink or a heart-to-heart with a close friend. When I visited, it was too chilly to sit outside, but the patio looks promising for warmer weather. But enough about the design, it’s time for Flight Club.

Pub Ale: 

Minimal aroma in a light, sweet malt-forward ale that’s super easy to drink. According to my bartender, it’s even better as a traditional cask ale; unfortunately, they ran out right before we ordered a sample.

Railhead Red:

This sucker is intensely malty and quite sweet. There’s a touch of golden citrus to its aroma, and its finish is pleasantly bitter.

Switchgear IPA 1:

The malt in this IPA is quite assertive, with the piney hops washing in second. A much more balanced IPA than Railhead, with a satisfying tang on completion.

Switchgear IPA 2:

Watch out! These hops come on hard and shoot right up your nose. The malt character is overpowered by the hops, which continue to linger long after your final sip. If you like hops, and only hops, this is your beer. If not, stick with IPA 1.

Dark Engine Stout:

A liqueur-like aroma, sweet and heavy. There’s a touch of smoke to this stout and a vaguely oily mouthfeel.

310 to Belen Brown:

Sweet and malty on first taste, touches of coffee and grapefruit on second. Drink, repeat. The Beer Town Stamp of Awesomeness is hereby awarded to: Pub Ale. Until next time, dear readers, keep drinking and brewing. Ty Bannerman is a beer drinker, co-host of 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.

Beer Town: Welcome to Flight Club is available on ABQ Free Press

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