In order for the beer bubble to continue expanding, breweries will have to orient themselves away from the novelty of the beer itself and toward the community that supports it.
Beer Town: The View from Barley Peak
BY TY BANNERMAN
How many more breweries and tap rooms can our city handle? I’ve heard people asking that question and have asked it myself for a couple years now; so far, the answer has repeatedly come back as “More, more, more!”
That’s no problem from where I’m sitting, somewhere near the top of balmy Barley Peak. But while taking in the hop-scented breeze, I’ve stumbled upon a theory. In order for the beer bubble to continue expanding, breweries will have to orient themselves away from the novelty of the beer itself and toward the community that supports it.
We’re long past the point where most people will drive across town for the sheer excitement of trying a microbrewed ale. Instead, as the taprooms anchor themselves in new neighborhoods, let them adapt to serve those neighborhoods and become comfortable, family friendly gathering spots, with clientele that actually reflects the neighborhood.
With that in mind, it makes perfect sense that this issue’s offerings start with Quarter Celtic Brewpub (1100 San Mateo Blvd. NE), a place I’m sure to frequent, as it offers all the precise qualities I extolled above.
The warmly appointed interior design, an expansive patio, boasts friendly staff and a casual atmosphere. The semihidden location, inside the ACE Hardware Courtyard in the spot previously occupied by Fremont’s Fine Foods, reinforces the relaxed outdoor seating by providing a buffer from the bane of patio dining everywhere: the stink and roar of nearby traffic.
It doesn’t hurt that the beer and food here are excellent as well. Pair the fish and chips with a pint of Scottish ale to really soak in the Celtic vibe.
Meanwhile, Firkin Brew House has quietly opened at 3351 Columbia NE. The prohibition-themed joint has been slinging brews since Feb. 5, though they only just appeared on my radar. Come on, guys, hit me up at the email at the bottom of the column.
In their defense, the grand opening isn’t until March 19, when you can show up in your best roaring ’20s duds for a chance at winning prizes. Get more info at trissell.wix.com/thefirkinbrewhouse.
On the horizon, we’ve got Monk’s Lab Brewery, Ale Republic and, oh, about 238 more breweries set to open sometime this spring.
On a less cheerful note, Chama River’s Downtown Microbar, located in the Sunshine Theater Building for the past decade, closed in early March. What? Why? That place was always packed. According to Chama River President Jim Hargrove, the plan is to use the bar’s license for a new location of its more substantial Draft Station concept.
The fighting hop-heads
Our city’s love of hops is making waves on the national stage. The word from the tireless reporters at Darkside Brew Crew (nmdarksidebrewcrew.com) is that Turtle Mountain’s Adrift IPA, Bosque Brewing’s Scale Tipper IPA and Boxing Bear’s Bear Knuckle IPA have advanced to Round 4 of Brewing News’ National IPA challenge, beating rivals from all over the country. Check out brewingnews.com to cheer for our brewing brawlers.
Brew of the fortnight
The beer that tantalized my taste buds this time around is a rye offering from Chama River. Smooth and crisp, with a touch of fruit and a beautiful red luster, Rye-kus is a fine, 6.3 percent ABV beverage for enjoying a gentle spring breeze on the Chama River Draft Station‘s patio (1720 Central Ave. SW). Tip one back to the memory of the Downtown Microbar.
If you’re a fan not only of beer but all things fermentable, you’re probably already aware of the kombucha craze. This lumpy, slightly bubbly tea has been ascribed a wide variety of healing properties by its proponents, ranging from gastrointestinal relief to, well, immortality.
The scientific and medical communities haven’t exactly endorsed these claims, but you can get a draft pint of the mystery liquid at Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. (608 McKnight NW). Why not? It probably won’t kill you.
That’s more than 200 beers that you can start brewing up right away, from simple pale ales to oak-aged barley wines. Each recipe has been scaled down to homebrew proportions, and the booklet, available for download at brewdog.com, includes instructions for all-grain brewing.
That’s it for now, Albuquerque. Until next time, I’ll see you, in spirit if naught else, at your neighborhood or backyard taproom.
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.