Over the past decade, Albuquerque has become an honest-to-goodness “beer town.” As a guy possessing a certain, shall we say, appreciation for that old, bubbled barley nectar, I couldn’t be happier.
BY TY BANNERMAN
Over the past decade, Albuquerque has become an honest-to-goodness “beer town.” As a guy possessing a certain, shall we say, appreciation for that old, bubbled barley nectar, I couldn’t be happier. Sure, I’ve gone on record expressing trepidation over the vast number of breweries springing up in town — a trend that shows no sign of abating — but that stems more from concern about upstart breweries competing in an already crowded marketplace. From a consumer point of view, I’m thrilled.
So welcome to “Beer Town,” my regular ABQ Free Press column chronicling valiant attempts to get a handle on our ever-expanding brewery scene. I anticipate the challenge with a certain, well, thirst. Sometimes Beer Town will cover breaking and industry news. It’ll also delve into aspects of our local brewery scene and examine big-picture issues affecting the burgeoning American microbrew environment as a whole. Most importantly, I intend to drink beer … and write about it.
Here’s some government action hopheads will approve of: The Bernalillo County Commission has approved a $5 million bond to fund Rio Bravo Brewery‘s expansion and implementation of its canning and shipping operation. Before you cry government overreach, know this bond must be repaid in its entirety.
Tractor + Tinder = ❤
Beer has always been something of a matchmaker. Tractor Brewing Company – Nob Hill (118 Tulane) puts this theory to the test on Valentine’s Day, when they host Tinder Swipe Right Night.
Emboldened by a lineup of ciders, beer and modern technology, mingle with members of your preferred gender on Saturday, Feb. 13. Homegirls Records expertly curates vinyl tuneage. Even if your romantic ideal doesn’t materialize, you’ll enjoy prime cuts as you google “Singles’ Awareness Day” on your smartphone.
The same day, at 6:00 p.m. at Tractor’s Wells Park location, they have Speed Dating hosted by ABQ Hot Single Jeremy Kinter and music by Jeff Jones – that’s 1800 4th Street.
Pursuit of hoppiness
One of the best things about a lively beer scene is taprooms constantly experimenting with new flavors and releasing limited runs of seasonal beers. Boese Brothers Brewing (601 Gold SW) — they of the nuclear bomb logo — has launched a fresh fusion of flavors known as Double Dead Red Ale. It promises a major hop punch, with 33 percent more of the perennial plant than most IPAs.
In Double Dead Red Ale, fruity and bitter flavors commingle in a danse macabre. (Did you know that hops and cannabis share a taxonomic family?) Meanwhile, Santa Fe Brewery’s taproom at Green Jeans (3600 Cutler NE) serves up maltier, cold weather seasonal Adobe Igloo; this sweet treat stars the subtle bite of dark chocolate and red chile’s dazzle.
Kaktus, Nexus and beyond
Our neighbors to the north in Bernalillo have long enjoyed their own world-class brewery. At last, Kaktus Brewing Company is spreading the love southerly with their new taproom at 2929 Monte Vista NE. The charmingly odd space, previously rented by Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria — which you can now find at Green Jeans Farmery, FYI — is divided into a main dining area and two bars. Come springtime, the rooftop patio is perfect for people-watching in Nob Hill.
In the former Fremont’s Fine Foods space at the Courtyard Shopping Center (1100 San Mateo NE), renovations at Quarter Celtic Brewery are ongoing. The location may be out of your way, but it will undoubtedly be worth seeking out when it opens. Co-owners Brady and Ror McKeown have been giants in the Albuquerque microbrew scene since the mid ’90s — when there barely even was a microbrew scene. Pre-press inquiries went unanswered, so I’m not sure when it’s opening, but there’s a “coming soon” sign in plain sight.
Along the six degrees of the Brothers McKeown, their old employer Canteen Brewhouse (formerly Il Vicino taproom) branches out with a new location in a neighborhood currently dominated by Genericana restaurants like Pei Wei. In the “Albuquerque Journal,” co-owner Rick Post noted that a lack of local competition in the area was a factor in location selection. “There’s nothing else up there,” Post said. Look for Canteen Brewhouse soon at 417 Tramway NE.
On Tuesday, Jan. 19, Santa Fe-based Duel Brewing hosted a soft opening for its new taproom in downtown Burque (606 Central SW). The company specializes in Belgian-style ales, a nice addition to hop-heavy local offerings.
Meanwhile, hometown faves Nexus and Marble plan to grow their respective operations at opposite ends of the Duke City. Nexus — named for a “Star Trek” concept — heads west to 2641 Coors NW while Marble embeds itself in the “lifestyle center” at Montgomery and Eubank (9904 Montgomery NE). I’m not sure what a “lifestyle center” is, but if they serve beer, I’m there.
That’s it for now from Beer Town. As for myself, I’m doing some beer-making of my own; my first all-grain beer — crafted via the easy yet exemplary brew-in-bag system — is currently bottle conditioning. It’s slated to debut soon on the local scene encompassed by my home.
Want to try your hand at brewing your own beer? Visit one of our excellent, local homebrew supply stores, Victor’s Home Brew (2436 San Mateo NE) or Southwest Grape & Grain (2801 Eubank NE), where staffers are happy to advise you on becoming a full-fledged, contributing constituent of Beer Town, New Mexico.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ty Bannerman is a beer drinker, co-host of the 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.