BEER HERE: CRAFT BREW CAPITAL OF THE SOUTHWEST MARC H 2 0 1 4
REASONS TO LOVE
TRACK DINOS & FIND FOSSILS ALL AROUND THE STATE NM’S STEAMIEST ART TOWN (P.14) MINE THAT BIRD THE MOVIE (P.68) CORONADO KIVA THEN AND NOW
50 NEW MEXICO | MARCH 2014
BREW MEXICO Welcome to the craft beer capital of the Southwest.
“Our CERVEZA will blow your CABEZA!” INGA HENDRICKSON, KATE RUSSELL
BY CHERYL ALTERS JAMISON
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Mark Your Calendars
Most of the state’s top brewfests are organized by the New Mexico Brewers Guild. Find the entire schedule at nmbeer.org.
Santa Fe Bike & Brew Festival Biking, beer, food, music. May 16, 4–9 p.m, beSpoke Santa Fe (handmade bikes, handcrafted beers) takes over the Farmers’ Market Hall. nmbeer.org
Albuquerque Craft Beer Fest The Yards in downtown Albuquerque. nmbeer.org
JULY 4—6 day, I wandered New Mexico Brew Fest, at the Expo New Mexico grounds, in the heart of Albuquerque. It was like a campus devoted to craft beer, with nearly all of the state’s breweries offering pours at booths set around the lush courtyard of the Villa España. The festival drew a big crowd, but I was able to talk with each brewer and feel—and taste—the passion each brought to his craft. The ambience was as mellow and warm as the late-afternoon sun on the Sandías. No wonder livability.com named Albuquerque numero uno among “Emerging Beer Cities” in 2013—but great beer is not just a big-city thing. With brewing operations spread from Farmington in the northwest to Artesia in the southeast, visitors and residents are slaking their thirst for distinctive local suds throughout New Mexico. From pale ale to stout, pilsner to porter, Belgian-style to barley wine, New Mexico is surging forward to lay claim to the title of “Craft Beer Capital of the Southwest.” All breweries combine yeast, hops, water, and grain (most typically barley), in myriad recipes, to ferment the world’s most popular beverage. So what makes our breweries and their beers special? New Mexico breweries, now some 30 strong, share the spirit and characteristics of 52 NEW MEXICO | MARCH 2014
New Mexico Brewers Guild IPA Challenge On three different dates, NMBG hosts its IPA Challenge at four different breweries. Attendees help select the best. Buy a ticket for $20 and judge some 16 IPAs. nmbeer.org
New Mexico Brew Fest Albuquerque. Expo New Mexico in the lovely Villa España village area. Local food trucks, local music, and mostly local beers. nmbeer.org
(check website for date) Albuquerque Hopfest Isleta Resort & Casino plays host to an even larger event than Brew Fest, but with far more national than local breweries. albuquerquehopfest.com
Día de la Cerveza Las Cruces’ Day of the Dead–themed event, with music and food trucks. nmbeer.org
SIGNÉ HIGGINS, SERGIO SALVADOR
On a delicious blue-sky October
top beer destinations like Portland, Denver, and San Diego. One trait is small-scale production, the “micro” in “microbrewing.” But craft breweries share other generally agreed-upon traits, including independent ownership, select regional distribution, and—perhaps most important—robustly flavored beers in a broad range of styles. Adding to their allure, brewpubs offer tasty comfort food, often showcase live music, and cultivate a casual, hip vibe. New Mexico’s craft brewers have an irresistible combination of additional assets. Chris Goblet, executive director of the New Mexico Brewers Guild, says, “New Mexico’s brewers have an independent streak, they buck trends rather than follow them. We have, though, a cooperative attitude here, and promote each other. It’s easy to find beers from one New Mexico brewery at another down the road. Also, New Mexico law allows brewers to have up to a pair of taprooms for showcasing their production, away from their brewing facility. None of the surrounding states have that option.” He adds that craft breweries are top employers of young people, that they invigorate Main Streets as well as industrial neighborhoods, and even recycle “spent” grain to area farmers as livestock feed. What’s not to love?
Pork & Brew BBQ State Championship The 11th annual competition, at Santa Ana Star Center, in Rio Rancho. rioranchonm.org
Taos Mesa Brewing’s sign says it all—except for the food. Facing page: Southern fare from the Supper Truck complements the craft beer at Tractor Brewing Company, in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill.
The History of Beer Here Back before Prohibition, the United States had thousands of small breweries. In the mid-19th century, brewmasters were often men who had immigrated from Bavaria, like Jacob Hammel and his pal Eberhard Anheuser. Both set up brewing operations in the Midwest. In the 1880s, Hammel’s son, William, moved the family’s Illinois Brewing Company to Socorro. After the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution banned production and consumption of alcohol, Hammel’s company, like many others, tried to make a go of it as a softdrink bottling plant and ice house. Even after Prohibition’s repeal, the Socorro-based company, like most similar operations, petered out, victims of the Great Depression, the advent of home refrigeration, and changing tastes. The Illinois Brewing Company’s New Mexico facility became the Hammel Museum, home of the Socorro County Historical Society. The massive stone structure sits at 6th Street and Neal Avenue and is open the first Saturday morning of each month and for private tours. (575) 835-3183; socorrohistory.org Oh, and that family friend, Mr. Anheuser? He went on to team up with his son-in-law, a guy named Busch. Their company thought up innovations like the use of refrigerated railcars and a pasteurization system so that their beer could be shipped long distances without spoiling. Shrewd marketers, they developed the first nationally recognized brand and called it Budweiser, a name
that would sound German to other recent immigrants but that Americans could pronounce. The antithesis of the old locally brewed suds, the mild lager appealed to the masses. Not until the 1970s and ’80s did an interest in more robust and distinctive brews bubble to the surface again. Here in New Mexico, Michael Levis produced the state’s first craft beer in 1988, through a small start-up in a Galisteo farmhouse that Levis named the Santa Fe Brewing Company. Despite the excitement created among the media and consumers around the new brewery and its beer, the business of craft brewing in New Mexico didn’t take off; a few other early upstarts flamed out. In 1992, however, Steve Eskeback launched Eske’s Brew Pub in Taos, still chugging along today, and in 1994 the owners of Il Vicino in Albuquerque set out to make beer as good as their pizza. Both the Il Vicino beer and pizza are now sold in locations in several states beyond New Mexico. In the following three years came the still-thriving Kellys Brew Pub, in Albuquerque; High Desert Brewing, in Las Cruces; Sierra Blanca, in Moriarty; Three Rivers, in Farmington; and Second Street Brewery and Blue Corn Brewery, in Santa Fe. The pace just continues to accelerate. Jon Stott, author of New Mexico Beer: A History of Brewing in the Land of Enchantment (History Press, April 2014), predicts, “It’s going to get even better. The good ones are encouraging more good ones.” nmmagazine.com | MARCH 2014 53
New Mexico’s 15 Top Destination Breweries
The wealth of options is anything but pint-sized; here’s a short list to get you started along the state’s ale trail. FOR AN EXPANDED DIRECTORY OF NEW MEXICO BREWERIES, GO TO MYNM.US/NMBREW
The Pale, and Beyond
The state has become known as a producer of American as well as India pale ales, the bestselling style of craft beer in America. It’s characterized by bold hops bitterness and somewhat high alcohol. Historically, both acted as preservatives when the English sent their beer to India via a long sea journey, the source of the name. But the brewers here were following their hearts and their taste buds, not fashion, when many set out to create these ales. Goblet says, “We were way ahead of the curve on passion for the style. New Mexico’s respected annual IPA Challenge was the first of its kind in the country when it started a dozen years ago.” Perhaps that’s because IPA lends itself well to local cuisine, standing up beautifully to chile-smothered enchiladas and burritos. At New Mexico’s hard-fought 2013 IPA Challenge, the crown went to Blue Corn Cafe and Brewery’s Resurgence IPA. Il Vicino, Turtle Mountain, Chama River, and Marble all had top vote getters, too. La Cumbre came in second, and can also boast that its flagship Elevated IPA is ranked the fourth most popular beer in the Southwest, according to the respected national publication and website beeradvocate.com. 54 NEW MEXICO | MARCH 2014
It’s seriously hoppy, and goes great with curry or about anything Thai. To pair it with cheese, think peppery Jack, pungent Gorgonzola, or other sharp blues. Red Ale (with its medium hoppiness) goes well with spicy food, too; I recommend the delicious Marble Brewery Red Ale. Scotch or Scottish Ale, such as the one made by Nexus Brewery, in Albuquerque, lowers the hop bitterness and raises the toasty malt, and works with burgers, gumbo, or owner Ken Carson’s sandwiches of lightly smoked pulled pork in red chile barbecue sauce. In the cool-weather months, New Mexico’s distinctive stouts (and generally similar imperial stouts and Russian imperial stouts) are among my go-to craft beers. Big, brash, toasty, roasty, and even chewy, a good stout should almost be a meal in a glass. Some stouts are made with oats, as in Marble’s Oatmeal Stout, and typically you can pick out lots of smoky or chocolate nuances. Try Il Vicino’s Panama Joe—it trounced the competition this year at the Great American Beer Festival in the coffee beer category—and Santa Fe Brewing Company’s Imperial Java Stout, with notes of coffee. I like these big beers with nibbles, maybe some New Mexico pecans or aged cheese or fried cheese curds from
Albuquerque La Cumbre Brewing Company La Cumbre sits in a light industrial area, but offers a cozy feel inside. Definitely try the award-winning and super-hoppy Elevated Pale Ale (available in cans, too), but A Slice of Hefen and South Peak Pilsner are a couple of other worthy options. Food trucks hang out here pretty regularly. 3313 Girard Blvd. NE; (505) 872-0225, lacumbrebrewing.com Marble Brewery Marble has grown in a half-dozen years into one of New Mexico’s two largest craft breweries, and is known for bigtasting beers. IPA’s the flagship, and the Pilsner’s a recent award-winner, but try the Double IPA, the Red Ale, or even the Imperial Red Ale, with extra hoppiness to offset the layers of deep caramel. Marble serves a small in-house menu brought from the kitchen of Chama River Brewing Company. 111 Marble Ave. NW, Albuquerque; (505) 243-2739. Westside Taproom: 5740 Night Whisper Road NW; (505) 508-4368; marblebrewery.com
SERGIO SALVADOR (2)
Taste through a flight to find your fave at Nexus Brewery. Inset: Jeff Erway, brewmaster and owner of La Cumbre Brewing Company. Sign out front of Mesa brewing in Taos.
The Abbey Brewing Company Located on the grounds of the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, the brewery and taproom are open only by appointment. Make one at least 48 hours prior to your desired visit by calling between 9:30 a.m. and noon on Tuesdays through Saturdays, or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Monks’ Ale is made in a Belgian style, using a yeast strain from a Belgian monastery. The newer, stronger brown beers, Dubbel and Tripel, use the hops grown on-site to add bitter notes. Available at select retail locations. (505) 990-8581; mynm.us/abbeybrew
Tractor Brewing Company In 2014, Tractor will close its Los Lunas home base and expand into an 18,000-square-foot brewing space near I-40 in Albuquerque. The Nob Hill location nearly always has a cluster of great food trucks on the scene. Sample the Hay Maker Honey Wheat, Farmer’s Almanac IPA, or Sod Buster Pale Ale. 118 Tulane SE; (505) 443-5654; getplowed.com
From left: Add the Wellhead to your Artesia itinerary. Pulling a pint at Nexus is serious business. Suds in the sun at New Mexico Brew Fest, in Albuquerque.
Artesia The Wellhead Restaurant and Brewpub A friendly downtown landmark, the sleek Wellhead has five house beers on tap, including the popular Roughneck Red. Enjoy them with chips and queso, green chile stew, or a chicken club sandwich. 332 West Main St.; (575) 746-0640
SERGIO SALVADOR, WES NAMAN, DANIEL HULSBOS\NM BREWFEST
Deming Mimbres Valley Brewing Sample the IPA, the Porter, or the Green Chile Lager. The brewery facility and Las Cruces outpost are fairly basic barmeets-diner spots where the limited menus include items like a Southwestern Cobb salad, potato skins, and onion rings made from local onions. 200 S. Gold Ave., Deming; (575) 544-2739. Las Cruces Taproom: 901 University Ave.; (575) 618-6258; on Facebook
Farmington Three Rivers Eatery & Brewery Three Rivers occupies an attractive centuryold downtown building and has added a pizzeria and a billiards room. The brewery has a record of medal winners at the State Fair Pro-Am (Beer, Mead and Cider) Competition. The hard ciders (Red Apple Flyer Cider, Cherry Cider) are as good as the beers. The eatery serves a range of American comfort food. 101 E. Main St.; (575) 324-2187; threeriversbrewery.com
Old Windmill Dairy, available widely in the state. New Mexico brewers are becoming noted, too, for barley wine, a particularly prized ale meant for aging. As with premium wine, additional time develops complexity in the brew. Second Street Brewery and La Cumbre make fine versions, as does Santa Fe Brewing Company, with its memorably named Chicken Killer. In the last handful of years, a number of New Mexico–grown ingredients have started to appear as flavorings in the brews—pumpkins, chile, wildflower honey, and pecans. In the not too distant past, these disparate ingredients might have been used as novelties, but today’s brewmasters incorporate them in intelligent ways to make some very special beers, such as La Cumbre’s Witch’s Tit Pumpkin Ale, Sierra Blanca’s Pancho Verde Chile Cerveza, and De La Vega’s Pecan Beer (also made by Sierra Blanca). More recently, several operations, such as Blue Heron Brewing, in the north, have begun to use, and sometimes grow, local hops, the bittering agent used extensively in ale. Some of these are hops varietals from the Pacific Northwest or Europe, but the makers of Monks’ Ale—the only monk-produced beer in the country—have
isolated a true New Mexican native hops that they grow at Christ in the Desert monastery, outside Abiquiú. The Benedictine monks first planted an experimental quarter-acre along the Río Chama three years ago, and now they harvest enough native monastery-grown hops to use in their outstanding Dubbel and Tripel Ales. According to the brewing company’s layman general manager, Berkeley T. Merchant, the USDA now recognizes this New Mexican hops as an official subspecies. Visitors can help with the hop harvest; see information under the Abbey Brewing Company listing at mynm.us/ nmbrew. New Mexico State University is undertaking trials with hops too, in hopes of making them a viable crop for higher elevations in the state.
New Mexico’s breweries are small, welcoming operations, and generally family friendly. I’ve never encountered a staff person who wasn’t enthusiastic about explaining the offerings. The beers on tap typically include a handful of regularly available signature brews, as well as some that rotate in by brewmaster whim. Seasonality’s a big influence, nmmagazine.com | MARCH 2014 55
Las Cruces High Desert Brewing Company A consistent winner in the state’s annual IPA challenge, High Desert’s IPA’s are the place to start, but the brewery offers a rotating selection of some 25 ales and lagers. It offers local live music twice weekly, and a regular menu of simple pub fare. 1201 W. Hadley Ave., Las Cruces; (575) 525-6752; highdesertbrewingco.com
too, and so some of the heftier stouts and porters may be replaced in upcoming months with lighter, crisper beers, such as saison. Brewpubs sometimes offer “guest taps” where they showcase beer from another brewery, a friendly touch. Ordering samplers or flights is a nice way to sample the brewery’s offerings, and the menu will generally provide descriptions of the beers, and note the ABV, or alcohol by volume. Don’t be surprised if some approach the level of wine. A higher alcohol level gives a bigger mouthfeel, more viscous, hot complexity, and simply a bigger beer. You may also find the IBU (international bittering units), a measure of the hops’ bitterness. Feel free to ask your server for details important to you. Some of the breweries now have enough production to sell cans or bottles retail, and almost all of the breweries offer growlers— glass containers (your or theirs) of 64 ounces to take home. Some also offer kegs, but call ahead to confirm and reserve if that’s what you have in mind. Santa Fe Brewing Company stays true to the independent spirit with “Small Batch Saturdays,” each week at both the brewery and its Eldorado Taphouse, where you can sample something unusual like Imperial Smoked Rye Porter, Green Chile Pale Ale, or Piñon Brown Ale. Many of the breweries host lively release or launch parties for new beers, typically announced on their website calendars and especially to members of their “mug” clubs. If you want a brewery tour, check the 56 NEW MEXICO | MARCH 2014
website to see if it lists a time they are regularly offered. Otherwise, it’s polite to call ahead, because the staff is usually limited and engaged in multiple tasks. Breweries and brewpubs have also become among the best showcases for live local music in communities around the state. Check their websites for schedules. You can now eat well at the bulk of the breweries, as well as at the brewpubs. Places like Albuquerque’s Il Vicino and Sandia Chile Grill actually began as restaurants that expanded into brewing. Those breweries that don’t have their own kitchens sometimes partner with a nearby eatery, as Broken Bottle Brewery does with Paco’s, a nearby smokehouse. Also in Albuquerque, food truck culture has grown up around the city’s craft breweries. For instance, Tractor regulars enjoy access to eats from the Supper Truck (Southern food), Soo Bak Korean Seoul Food, Joanie & Art’s BBQ, and the Boiler Monkey (crepes). Check Tractor’s website, getplowed.com, for the schedule. In other locales, assume menus of burgers, sandwiches, fish-and-chips, hot wings, Frito pies, burritos, and other simple, substantial fare, often with some of the brewer’s beer added to dishes here and there. More and more are whipping up desserts flavored with their beers, too.
On p. 60, you’ll find four recipes that can incorporate some of our best local beers.
Moriarty Rio Grande & Sierra Blanca Brewing Company Sierra Blanca’s nutty, malty Englishstyle Nut Brown Ale won gold at the last Great American Beer Festival. They’re perhaps best known for their Alien Amber, which is a serious beer despite its cartoonish label. Try the Pale Ale, made with locally grown hops, if it’s on the menu. The ABQ Brew Pub, which serves food, exclusively serves their beers (505-884-1116; abqbrewpub .com). The brewery serves no food, but you can bring your own. 1016 Industrial Road; (505) 832-2337; sierrablancabrewery.com
Portales Roosevelt Brewing Company & Public House Opened in 2012, this outfit was featured in the February issue as a part of Tim Keller’s Portales-Clovis road-trip story, “Sisterhood Is Plentiful” (p. 17, mynm .us/cproadtrip). Try their Eleanor’s Blonde Ale or Clovis Point IPA. Roosevelt offers a good menu, with farm-to-table emphasis. Even the brewer’s yeast is grown locally. 201 S. Main St.; (575) 2262739; rooseveltbrewing.com
JEN JUDGE, MINESH BACRANIA
Monks’ Ale is “made with care and prayer.” Right: The Second Street Brewery’s Railyard location.
Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery Near Lake Roberts, this new brewery exudes the rustic charms of the Gila. You can dine locavore-style and then stay in the small inn. Kick back with the Toad Creek Blonde Ale or Amber Ale on the terrace overlooking the forest or in the downstairs tavern with pool table. 1122 Highway 35, Mimbres; (575) 536-9649; littletoadcreek.com
Santa Fe Blue Corn Cafe and Brewery Open since 1997, Blue Corn holds the distinction of being the training ground for many New Mexico brewers. Its brewmaster is award-winning John Bullard. Chef David Sundberg organizes regular beer-pairing dinners and beer socials at the southside brewery. The Gold Medal Stout and End of the Trail Brown Ale earned silver medals at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival. February 1, they opened the Draft Station taproom in the former Marble Tap Room space, at 60 E. San Francisco St., overlooking the Santa Fe Plaza. 4056 Cerrillos Road; (505) 438-1800. Blue Corn Café Downtown: 133 Water St.; (505) 984-1800; bluecorncafe.com
Clockwise from left: The taproom at Il Vicino in Albuquerque. Get your locally brewed beer to go in a growler. Burgers at De La Vega’s Pecan Grill and Brewery, in Las Cruces.
LEFT TO RIGHT: WES NAMAN (2), KATE RUSSELL, SERGIO SALVADOR.
Duel Brewing Duel became an immediate hit when the doors opened last year. Behind the garage door is an easygoing artsy environment. Todd Yocham brews up the all-Belgian-style beers. Try Fiction, the hoppy IPA, or the milder Nonfiction, or perhaps the Titian, a golden ale. The menu is short but sweet, including a worthy Reuben served on housemade rye. You’ll find some of Santa Fe’s best-known performers on the ambitious calendar of music. 1228 Parkway Dr., Unit D, off Rufina St.; (505) 474-5301; duelbrewing.com Santa Fe Brewing Company SFBC is New Mexico’s oldest brewery, producing craft beer since 1988. It runs neck and neck with Marble as the largest of the state’s craft breweries. Some of the beers, including the signature Santa Fe Pale Ale, are available in bottles and cans. Their Nut Brown Ale is a well-balanced crowd-pleaser. No food service; you’re welcome to bring your own grub. 35 Fire Place; (505) 424-3333. Eldorado Taphouse: 7 Caliente Road, #A9, (505) 4666938; santafebrewing.com
Taos Area Taos Mesa Brewing Now here’s a spot, way out by the Gorge, with heart-stopping views. The building is a green-built Quonset hut of sorts, supplemented by a beer garden. The strong music program offers acts on indoor and outdoor stages. You’ll find six to eight beers on tap here, perhaps the Lunch Pale Ale, the Kachina Kolsch, or the Black Widow Porter. Try the blackened trout, either in a po’boy or on its own with fries. 20 ABC Mesa Road, El Prado; (575) 758-1900; taosmesabrewing.com
INFO ON TAP nmbeer.org
Home of the New Mexico Brewers Guild, the website maintains the most up-todate listing of breweries, brewpubs, and taprooms, plus details on beer festivals, addresses and links to websites, and a downloadable statewide map.
Maintained by a half-dozen passionate beer geeks, this site has well-written histories on NM breweries, notes on tastings, distribution details, and even the benefits that come with mug clubs and other special offers. A gem.
new mexico beer: a history of brewing in the land of enchantment
This book, coming out in April from History Press, is by Albuquerque resident Jon Stott. Available at retail outlets and from historypress.net.
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