Red River brewery crushes the competition statewide
By Tamra Testerman
The silver lining of the 2020 pandemic may be an enforced slower pace of living and a deeper appreciation for simple pleasures, like leaving the house to enjoy locally made beer, wine or spirits in your favorite place or hangout.
Those whose lifeblood is entwined with bespoke distilling, craft brewing and winemaking are a tenacious bunch, and they do it for the love of the craft. Losing customers because of COVID-19 restrictions has pushed many to the financial brink, but now with new serving protocols in place, they are back with stories to tell and a libations lineup which will tantalize and satisfy the pandemic-deprived palate.
‘Best Brewery Patio’ award
Red River Brewing Company & Distillery’s full-service restaurant, brewery and distillery in Red River took the award this year for Best Brewery Patio in New Mexico, beating out 575 Brewing of Alamogordo in a contest launched by the Dark Side Brew Crew (a collective of craft-beer loving writers) in a bracket-style poll of many thousands of voters – reported by KRQE as 6,000 voters in the final round alone!
Red River Brewing Company & Distillery serves lunch and dinner year-round. They offer a wide selection of hand-crafted brews, spirits and wines.
Owner Michael Calhoun said Red River Brewing Company & Distillery is a place “where friends and family can share good times and make memories.” He said the pandemic has affected business, but they “have kept the operation going, and our staff employed, despite the governor’s restrictions on restaurants.”
He noted they were limited to takeout and delivery in late spring. “Those were dark times for us, our employees and their families. Since then we’ve been able to open our patios and dining rooms, albeit at a limited capacity, and we’re looking forward to being open again when the world gets back to normal.”
Calhoun said the community has rallied around Red River Brewing Company & Distillery. “The town of Red River is very fortunate to have a large loyal following. We love every one of them. Together we’ll make it through these hard times and come out on the other side stronger than ever.”
Calhoun continued, “Red River has grown and changed over the years, but some things never change – people still know Red River is a special place. Visitors still fall in love with these mountains and this community. People feel alive here. This powerful sense of respect for the past and belief in Red River is what inspired us to create Red River Brewing Company & Distillery. It is a place that is ‘authentic Red River’ – where families can gather to make lasting memories in this tiny mountain town we call home,” he concluded. “We hope you love this town as much as we do.”
For updates visit redriverbrewing.com.
Rolling Still Distillery ‘hometown heroes’
Here in the middle of the Taos Historic District, Liza Barret, co-owner of Rolling Still Distillery, said The Lounge, at 110 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, is still closed because of COVID-19.
“In mid-August 2020, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that distilleries could open patios at 50 percent capacity and recently added indoor service at 25 percent capacity. With this news we are planning to open our lounge soon, barring any setbacks. When we open we will offer seasonal cocktails featuring libations inspired by the holidays and cooler weather.”
Rolling Still Distillery’s production line, however, has not been idle with the onslaught of COVID-19. Like many distilleries across the nation, Rolling Still pivoted its distillery production to meet the need for hand sanitizer. Barret said the production of hand sanitizer not only helped Rolling Still Distillery stay afloat during the shutdown, but also helped our community stay safe by providing an essential product that was in short supply but also in high demand.
“We started producing hand sanitizer from our high-quality distilled alcohol,” Barret said. “In its raw form, alcohol does not have the most alluring scent so we infused ours with local and sustainably harvested oshá root and sage. This gives a unique, uplifting and herbaceous scent that users love. We created an online store and offer free shipping in the United States. We were recognized as hometown heroes by New Mexico state Sen. Martin Heinrich. Folks who live out of state and are fans of Rolling Still ordered hand sanitizer through the mail to support us and show thanks. We were just thankful we could give back to the community that has always supported us.”
Rolling Still Distillery products can be found at Del Norte Liquor in Ranchos de Taos, The Cellar behind Cid’s Food Market in Taos, Medley Wine Shop in El Prado, on the way to Arroyo Seco, and Bumps Market in the Taos Ski Valley. For updates, visit rollingstill.com.
Iconic and funky fine
Just a mile or so north of The Lounge, is the iconic Burger Stand at Taos Ale House, located at 401 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, serving gourmet burgers and craft beer in a funky brew pub atmosphere. With the onslaught of the pandemic in March, service was limited to takeout only.
Now the place is humming with the addition of dining under two tents added off the covered patio area. Burger Stand’s Pam Mussett said there are ongoing challenges to running a COVID-safe operation.
“We want to continue to provide the food and atmosphere for which the Burger Stand at Taos Ale House is known. We continue to do that while keeping both our customers and staff safe.” Mussett said by winter she hopes seating indoors will once again be allowed.
The Burger Stand at Taos Ale House menu continues to showcase the best local beers on tap. There is even a popular green chile beer. Overall, Mussett said people are content to be with family and friends, enjoying the crisp weather on the patio with a gourmet burger and a wait staff that understands customer service is everything during these times.
Visit their website at burgerstandnm.com for the latest updates.
Grapes, apples and craft beer
Black Mesa Winery, located south of the Taos County Line at 1502 State Road 68 in Velarde, makes award-winning wine and hard cider using only New Mexican grapes and apples. They also offer local craft beer.
Co-owner Jerry Burd said since opening with the new COVID-19 protocols, ”We have seen more new people from around Northern New Mexico and surrounding states.
“They say they now have more time just to stop and enjoy the wines and ciders and being outdoors,” Burd continued. “We’ve had almost no resistance to masks and distancing. We hope to see many of our new friends and others return as things open up again.”
Burd said the future looks solid. “Thanks to funds and grants available, we have been able to keep staff and maintain our facilities. If 2021 sales equal those of 2019 we will be fine. We also are looking for more ways to get people outside to enjoy the air, the sunshine and each other as they sip on their choices of wines and ciders.”
Join them in person 11 a.m.-6 p.m. for a relaxing glass of wine. Visit their virtual tasting room and easy online ordering at blackmesawinery.com.
As required of all businesses in New Mexico, six-foot distancing is required and masks must be worn unless eating and drinking in public.