Given the surge in lo­cal brew­eries — New Mex­ico is home to nearly 50 small brew­ing com­pa­nies, which works out to be more than two for ev­ery 100,000 of us — it seems that beer could be on the verge of be­com­ing, if not our “spirit an­i­mal,” then at least our

Pasatiempo - - AMUSE-BOUCHE -

they changed to avoid trade­mark is­sues); the Brewer’s Boot Am­ber is solid, and the Ele­phants on Pa­rade wheat ale is a fruity, col­or­ful treat.

Sev­eral new tap­rooms have opened in Al­bu­querque’s still-re­ju­ve­nat­ing down­town. Red Door Brew­ing Com­pany, whose orig­i­nal lo­ca­tion and ac­tual brew­ery is in a more in­dus­trial area of town, of­fers a clean, well-lit — and sleekly, mod­ernly out­fit­ted — tap­room on the cor­ner of 4th Street and Gold Av­enue. Try the Trap­door White, Thresh­old IPA, or if you’re feel­ing ad­ven­tur­ous, the Ca­lypso Smash and Ot­to­braü Pilsner. Not far off, near Al­bu­querque’s his­toric rai­l­yard and the Rail Run­ner sta­tion, is Side­track Brew­ing, a warm, invit­ing, clean-lined space (own­ers Dan Herr and Joe Sla­gle are ar­chi­tects whose of­fices are tucked above the brew­ery) with a friendly vibe and a “buy a friend a beer” chalkboard that seems to be per­pet­u­ally crammed with names. Their Pub Ale is bal­anced and easy to drink; if your tastes lean more to­ward the bit­terly cit­rus, hop on­board the Switchgear IPA. Boese Broth­ers Brew­ery hits the hip­ster vibe square on the nose (retro booths, vin­tage glass­work, ex­posed brick, Edi­son bulbs, foos­ball ta­ble). Our heads tilted back, we strolled through the court­yard of Dia­logue Brew­ing agape at the dra­matic metal sculp­tures. That par­tic­u­lar evening the brew­ery was host­ing a Hi-Phy Records pop-up, and the place was hop­ping.

Over in the Sawmill District, a largely dusty desert land­scape sur­rounds a clus­ter of sleek, col­or­ful apart­ments and busi­nesses, in­clud­ing the highly hip and well-re­garded Pris­matic Cof­fee and Pon­derosa Brew­ing Com­pany. Pon­derosa has some­thing of a cor­po­rate, fo­cus-group-tested am­bi­ence but serves re­spectable beer — like the even­handed Mo­saic Pale Ale — and of­fers a siz­able menu of bar food (some­thing many fledg­ling brew­eries cur­rently lack, point­ing you in­stead to food trucks that have likely con­gre­gated out­side their doors; sched­ules are of­ten posted on brew­ery web­sites). Food is a fo­cus at Chama River Brew­ing Com­pany (also un­der the Santa Fe Din­ing um­brella), al­though the tasty Rio Chama Am­ber Ale, Jack­a­lope IPA, and award-win­ning Class VI Golden Lager emerged from this brew­ery’s tanks.

Make a point of vis­it­ing Bow & Ar­row Brew­ing Co., an art­ful space styled af­ter a Ger­man beer hall, with vo­lu­mi­nous ceil­ings and lengthy com­mu­nal pic­nic ta­bles, and serv­ing some of the best, most sub­tly crafted and for­ward-think­ing beer I’ve had re­cently. You might be mes­mer­ized by the low light­ing, art­ful graph­ics, and lulling mu­sic, or you might find your­self dis­cussing art the­ory with a six­tysome­thing tech ge­nius who cre­ates photo col­lages in his spare time. What­ever you do, sam­ple the Au­tumn Archer Märzen and the Land of Mañana Farm­house IPA. I would gladly sip the dessert-wor­thy Storm & Hearth Vanilla Bean Stout at the end of a meal, even though that style is not nor­mally my cup of tea.

In the sprawl­ing waste­land sur­round­ing Cot­ton­wood Mall, Box­ing Bear Brew­ing Com­pany of­fers a mi­cro-brew re­prieve. It oc­cu­pies an airy, so­lar­i­um­like space that feels like it used to house a salad-bar res­tau­rant, but the beers are as se­ri­ous as a heart at­tack. We en­joyed the dark, rich Stand­ing 8 Stout and the Am­bear Ale; be on the look­out for the sea­son­ally avail­able Red Glove Dou­ble Red Ale and Rye Hard IPA.

Out in the sub­ur­ban nether­world of Rio Ran­cho, Tur­tle Moun­tain Brew­ery is a stal­wart and an ev­er­pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for brews, food, and sports on TV. If you find your­self in Taos, par­tic­u­larly if you’re headed out to­ward the gorge and its breath­tak­ing bridge, plan a stop at Taos Mesa Brew­ing, where they also have a lively en­ter­tain­ment cal­en­dar. We re­cently sam­pled a sur­pris­ingly de­light­ful spearmint stout from Bath­tub Row Brew­ing Co-op in Los Alamos and a lovely golden ale from Abbey Brew­ing Com­pany in Abiquiú (which has been pro­duc­ing the widely re­garded and widely avail­able Monk’s Ale for years). Three Rivers Brew­ery Block in Farm­ing­ton and Mil­ton’s Brew­ing in Carls­bad keep those good peo­ple in suds, and Lit­tle Toad Creek Brew­ery & Dis­tillery is an an­chor of down­town Sil­ver City, craft­ing beer and spir­its and of­fer­ing food and live en­ter­tain­ment.

As you ex­plore the ex­cit­ing and var­ied brew­eries pop­ping up across our state, please be smart about it. Choose a des­ig­nated driver, call a cab, or hire an Über where that ser­vice is avail­able. Sláinte!

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