Breweries in New Mexico make great beer.
New Mexico has won 54 total medals at the Great American Beer Festival since 1991. That may not seem too impressive, until you discover that 8 medals were earned in 2013 and 9 medals in 2014. Let’s break down the winners from the 2014 GABF.
- Canteen Brew House in Albuquerque won silver for Saint Bob’s Imperial Stout ‘07 and gold for Dougie Style Amber.
- Chama River Brewing Company in Albuquerque won gold for Class VI Golden Lager.
- Bosque Brewing Company, also in Albuquerque won bronze for Acequia IPA.
- Blue Corn Café and Brewery in Santa Fe won gold for Gold Medal Oatmeal Stout.
- Santa Fe Brewing Company won bronze for Los Innovadores Kriek.
- Big winners, Marble Brewery based in Albuquerque, won gold for both the Imperial Red and Double White. Marble Brewery also won Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year.
So now that I’ve provided some evidence for my earlier statement, you should experience for yourself the breweries in New Mexico that make great beer.
Marble Brewery is named after Marble Avenue, which is in the warehouse district at Albuquerque’s northernmost boundary. In addition to the downtown location on Marble Avenue in Albuquerque, there are two taprooms, one on Albuquerque’s Westside and one in Santa Fe.
Marble offers a line up of eight house beers and a variety of seasonals. Try the Red Ale, brewed with caramel malts and balanced with a blend of Crystal, Cascade and Simcoe hops, or the Oatmeal Stout, brewed with a blend of three roasted malts and flaked oats for an espresso-like flavor and a creamy mouth feel.
Other impressive stand-outs from Marble include the 9.0% ABV Imperial Red, brewed with generous hop additions blended with dark caramel malt, or the 11% ABV Imperial Stout, a pitch black winter stout swirls with aromas and lavors of vanilla, bourbon, molasses, and espresso. A real treat is catching this brew in a firkin during one of Marble’s Firkin Friday events.
Santa Fe Brewing Company
Santa Fe Brewing Company, New Mexico’s oldest microbrewery, offers two tasting rooms. The main tasting room is at the brewery off Highway 14 in Santa Fe. The Eldorado Taphouse is the newly opened tasting room in the Eldorado suburb of Santa Fe, about 15 minutes from downtown Santa Fe.
Be sure to have the Kriek. The beer is aged in American Oak barrels for two years with a blend of wild yeasts, then undergoing a secondary fermentation with Michigan tart cherries and sake yeast. Another standout is the Imperial Java Stout. The 8% ABV stout is brewed with organic East Timor coffee beans blended with New Guinea coffee beans, roasted locally by O’hori’s Coffee House. Oh yeah, and you can buy it in cans.
Something unique about Santa Fe Brewing is the Small Batch Saturdays. Members of the local homebrew clubs who win club competitions are invited to brew a 10-gallon batch of beer at the brewery. These small batches are put on tap every Saturday at 2 PM. Past batches have included a Blueberry Porter, Cactus Stout, Pinon Brown, Rosehip Mead, Green Chile Pale, Rye Porter, and Saison.
Second Street Brewery
Second Street Brewery opened in 1996, brewing rich and complex beers on a 10 barrel system. Most of their ingredients come from the Pacific Northwest, while some come from Germany and England. Second Street offers two locations in Santa Fe, the first location on Second Street and the newest location at The Railyard.
Check out Anniversary Ale, a 6.9% ABV dark, deep ale with flavors of dried fruit, caramel, and spice from the use of seven different hops. The 4.3% ABV British Mild offers deep flavors from caramel, chocolate, and black patent malts with a subdued hop character. If you’re lucky enough to visit while the Barleywine is one tap, don’t miss it.
There is live music at both locations every Friday and Saturday night. The food is also quite delicious here. Enjoy the Brewpub Nachos, Lamont’s Buffalo Patty Melt, or the New Mexico Style Enchiladas. Don’t forget to grab some cans of Pivotal IPA to go.
Blue Corn Cafe and Brewery
Blue Corn Cafe and Brewery opened in 1997, offering New Mexican specialties and contemporary food along side handcrafted beers using locally-grown and seasonal ingredients. Blue offers two locations, the downtown cafe on Water Street in Santa Fe and the Brewery Southside on Cerrillos Road.
Head Brewer James Warren brews on a 7 barrel system with four 7 barrel fermenters and one 15 barrel fermenter. The larger one is exclusively for the Road Runner IPA, Blue Corn’s most popular beer. They have 6 house beers and 4 rotating specialty beers.
The 5.8% ABV Gold Medal Oatmeal Stout is rich and full-bodied with notes of coffee and chocolate. Toro Blanco, a 9.1% ABV White Double IPA, is brewed with generous amounts of wheat, classic American hops and a touch of lemon peel. Enjoy some sopapillas, then fill your growler with Road Runner IPA and call it a night!
La Cumbre Brewing Company
If you only have time for one brewery during your trip to New Mexico, make it La Cumbre Brewing Company. Master Brewer Jeff Erway is a former music teacher and graduate of the American Brewers Guild. He opened La Cumbre after brewing at Chama River Brewing Company in Albuquerque.
The beers here are superb. Three of my favorites, A Slice of Hefen, Elevated IPA, and Malpais Stout are all available in cans. Some other delicious beers on tap included Project Dank, an ever changing expression of their hoppiest endeavors; Gracias Por Fumar, a smoked porter aged in thrice used Petit Syrah and Zinfandel barrels; and Mind Phoq, an American Pale Ale brewed with 20 pounds of lightly roasted Ethiopian beans.
La Cumbre has recently begun a $1.6 million expansion that will not only improve their facility, but nearly double the beer production in 2015. They are graduating from a 15-barrel system to a 30-barrel system, as well as adding more fermenters and a new 80,000-pound silo.
Are you thirsty yet? You could also check out Nexus Brewery in Albuquerque for craft beer and soul food, Blue Heron Brewing Company in Española for delicious pizza and wings, or Chama River Brewing Company in Albuquerque for a more elegant dining experience.
Let me know when you book your flight to Albuquerque, and be sure to save some for me! Cheers!