By Scott Gerdes
The craft brewing industry in New Mexico is growing, and Taos has joined the party known as “liquid tourism.” From the Taos institution, Eske’s Brew Pub, to the popular Taos Mesa Brewery to the newest brewery on the scene, the Red River Brewing Company, there are excellent handcrafted beers around these parts that will make any palette smile. Beer lovers also converge on Red River May 19 for the Bacon & Brews event with beers from all over the state there for the tasting. Taos Ski Valley holds its Bacon & Brews celebration July 7.
Abbey Brewing Co. (Monks’)
Monastery of Christ in the Desert
1305 Forest Service Road, #151, Abiquiú
European monasteries have a 1,300-year tradition of brewing craft beers, so it should come as no shock that a Benedictine order in the American Southwest produces a range of European monastic styles of suds. The small “made with care and prayer” operation started as a means to generate revenue, so the monastery could be self-sufficient. Its first beer, Monk Ale, was produced in 2005. The monastery produces five year-round, award-winning ales and seasonal brews. The brewery is not open to tours and there is no tasting room at the monastery. However, Black Mesa Winery at 1408 State Road 68 in Velarde and Bode’s General Store at 21196 U.S. Highway 84 in Abiquiú have Monks’ brew on tap. Locally, you can find some of Monk’s flavors at Smith’s, Walgreen’s, The Cellar behind Cid’s Food Market and Del Norte Liquors.
Blue Heron Brewing Co.
2214 State Road 68, Rinconada
A popular beer at Blue Heron gets its name from an ancient Hispanic legend. La llorona (pronounced “LAH yoh ROH nah”) Scottish Ale is a dark beer. La llorona is loosely translated from Spanish as “weeping woman.” This dark story passed down for generations describes her as tall and thin with flowing black hair. Wearing a white gown, la llorona roams rivers and creeks, wailing into the still of the night while searching for children to drag screaming to a watery grave. On the other side of the less dark beer spectrum at Blue Heron is the Ladybug IPA with a hint of citrus.
This family-owned brewery and tap room on the banks of the Río Grande was established in 2009. Check the website for live music and other special events.
Comanche Creek Brewing Co.
225 Comanche Creek Road, Eagle Nest
Think small-batch ambers, IPAs, porters, Kölsch and more made with pristine water flowing from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Comanche Creek Brewing Company, located just 2 miles north of Eagle Nest in the Moreno Valley, is family-owned. The outdoor patio is open year-round (weather permitting) Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.
This brewery produces small batches, with only four taps in the tasting room. A number of varieties are consistently rotated. The Homestead Amber Ale can also be found at local restaurants.
Enchanted Circle Brewing Co.
20 Sage Lane, Angel Fire
The Enchanted Circle Brewing Company located along the Enchanted Circle is a split 10/20-bbl production brewery with a 75-seat tasting room that attracts beer fans seasonally at this beautiful Rocky Mountain ski, golf and award-winning mountain bike resort town. Try the Maxwell’s Grant Porter or Hell’s Bells brew. Lunch and dinner are also served.
Eske’s Brew Pub
106 Des Georges Place, Taos
A Taos classic for more than 25 years, this popular and well-established hangout, set back from the main drag and extending into a year-round beer garden, rotates small-batch microbrews, such as Taos Green Chile Beer, Victory Bitter and the local favorite Artist Ale. Oozing with local color, Eske’s is housed in a 100-year-old adobe building and offers pub fare from green chile stew to a grilled bratwurst and sauerkraut sandwich, live music and other special events.
Red River Brewing Company
217 West Main Street, Red River
Red River’s first and only brewery opened just this April. RRBC is a brewery, bar and full-service restaurant open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. The onsite-crafted brew styles range from a light and easy-drinking blonde ale to a dark and robust oatmeal stout, and everything in between. The initial summer line-up includes a Belgium wheat beer, a porter, awesome IPAs, amber ales, brown ales and a Belgium Tripel — 12 or more different beers on tap all the time. Plus house-made root beer.
RRBC boasts indoor and outdoor bars, live music on most weekends, and the patios are dog-friendly for friendly dogs. RRBC is a snowball’s throw from the base of Red River Ski and Summer Area in a brand new, purpose-built 9,300-square-foot building. At 8,750 feet, RRBC is the highest elevation brewery in New Mexico. RRBC is not only another place to have a beer and eat while in Red River but also another reason to visit this old mining town.
Taos Mesa Brewing Co.
20 ABC Mesa Road, El Prado
The brewmasters at Taos Mesa Brewing have the goal of producing beers as iconic as Taos. Twelve distinct house beers are on tap at all times from thirst quenchers to full-bodied dark porters.
From Altbier to fruit beers to Schwarzbier, TMB beers are crafted on-site in a 10 barrel, all-grain infusion mash brewhouse. Called “The Mothership,” TMB’s flagship location features an outdoor amphitheater, indoor entertainment stage, dance floor and lunch and dinner menus. It is a live music hot spot and the site for the annual, three-day Music on the Mothership festival (past headliners include Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle). TMB has a second Taos location: the Taos Tap Room near Taos Plaza on Paseo del Pueblo Sur, which also serves lunch and dinner, including killer pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven.