In the latest Beer Town, Ty Bannerman reflects on ABQ Beer Week and makes a Pub Stop at Kaktus Brewing in Nob Hill.
BY TY BANNERMAN
ABQ Beer Week is over, and all you have to show for it is the afterglow of celebrating our burg’s barley-based niche. Nurse your “afterglow” — hydrate and pop your choice of buffered analgesics — and meditate on how lucky you are to live in a “beer town.” Albuquerque prioritizes production of the libation you love. Beer Week’s frenetic free-for-all pace has relaxed, so let’s embrace a more relaxed take on enjoying our very own beer town. A pub stop is clearly in order.
Pub Stop: Kaktus Brewing Company — Nob Hill (2929 Monte Vista NE)
Kaktus Brewing Co. — Nob Hill is an outpost of the Bernalillo-based brewery. The Albuquerque metro’s Kaktus colony occupies a three-story tower in an ancient strip mall just east of UNM. The space previously housed Amoré Pizza and The Beach, which left its mark with Ernest Doty’s shark-man mural.
Both businesses struggled to effectively use the strange layout. Two glass-doored main dining rooms are spaced out on the first floor and divided by a short hallway. The spread-out design results in patrons’ confusion on stepping inside. Should you go left, right, or up the stairs? Without a central anteroom, every direction seems like it might be “wrong.”
Now, the beer: Ranging from a “GuyPA” to an Irish stout, Kaktus offers the usual range of styles. My favorites are an exemplary London porter with strong chocolate overtones and a thirst-quenching Helles lager with a light body and a bitter finish.
Especially on cool summer nights, I prefer the stairs. It’s an odd trip up: While the second floor is inhabited by entirely unrelated offices, the third boasts an outdoor patio that’s the perfect place for sipping local beer. Avoid the patio during the heat of the day; as the sun descends, it’s a relaxing place to imbibe.
Food-wise, I was pleasantly surprised. I ordered the buffalo frito pie, made with lean buffalo meat that’s been cuminized and sautéed. My kids went for a pepperoni pizza. The pie’s thin crust was crispy, and the cured meat was full of flavor and spice without proving too hot. The menu isn’t gourmet food or anything, but it was totally appropriate for a casual patio dinner.
Kaktus’ service is more than adequate. If you decide to ascend the staircase, let someone on the staff know, and your beer and food will still arrive promptly. The Kaktus folks plan to open a coffee shop in the extra dining area. Kaktus is an odd joint, with a perfect patio, a fine beer selection and genuinely good food.
Ain’t this America?
In observance of election season, Budweiser is changing the name on its label to “America” this summer. The rebranding effort has received lots of attention because people like me can’t resist writing about it.
I will simply point out that Budweiser is a product of the Anheuser-Busch InBev company, a multinational beer conglomerate based in Belgium; InBev has owned the Budweiser brand since 2008. I satirically applaud InBev’s marketing. What could be more apropos for election season than lying about how American you are?
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 feature and food editor at Weekly Alibi.
Featured photo courtesy of Kaktus Brewing Company – Nob Hill
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