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
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!