The craft beer phenomenon is exploding all over the country and it’s changing the landscape of not only beer drinking, but adult beverage consumption as a whole. With increasing popularity and demand, more and more tap rooms and breweries are popping up all over the country, proving that craft brewing is not just a trend, but a thriving business.
“Craft beer drinkers are passionate about their beer,” says Sindi Zeller, manager of The Side Door Liquor Store in Sunland Park. “They aren’t necessarily brand loyal either, so long as it’s new or interesting, they want it. The demand is so high, we have people on waiting lists for some of our allocated brews.”
With the hot days a Las Cruces summer can bring fast approaching, I decided to venture into our local craft beer scene, and every brewery I stepped in had a crowd that seemed to double in the short time I was in there doing my “research.” Added bonus: Every staff member I spoke to was friendly, accessible, and knowledgeable about the beers on their menus.
High Desert Brewing Co.
In business since July 1997, High Desert is the elder statesman of our local breweries, and is still doing great business according to patrons sitting around the bar when I visited just before the lunch rush. “I got here early today, so I wouldn’t have to wait for a beer,” says Ronald, a local who says he’s been coming to High Desert since it first opened.
Andres Obregon, one of the brewers at High Desert, worked his way up the food chain since he was 21 years old. He started cleaning the front patio all the while learning everything he could about the beer craft. Now, he is creating and brewing new and interesting beers, like the German-style Kolsch Ale (right) he has planned for this upcoming summer.
Light in color and malt character, and slightly dry, the Kolsch has a crisp clean finish. This beer is definitely different in taste and feel, but it is a pleasure sip on while the warm, summer night breeze pushes past the beautiful Las Cruces sky.
1201 W. Hadley Ave.
PICACHO PEAK BREWING COMPANY
Las Cruces’s newest brewing company opened in July 2015 at the Grapevine Plaza on the west end of Picacho Avenue. Strolling around the property, there is nothing I would rather do than enjoy the beautiful scenery with a nice refreshing beer in my hand. General Manager Mike Layton gave me a quick tour of the brewing program that brewmaster Jim Fulkerson has had in operation for the past couple of years. “We have great times out here, some of our favorites are the dinners we have with paired beer,” Mike says. “Our chef will use our beers in the food, like in our St. Patrick’s dinner, where we are featuring all Irish food.”
For any Las Crucen (of legal drinking age of course) looking for some respite from the blazing sun, Mike prescribes their Dirty Blonde Ale (above), describing it as “a light floral beer that quenches your thirst.” It’s the perfect pick to sip on while enjoying summer’s late sunsets.
3900 W. Picacho Ave.
Pecan Grill & Brewery
With outdoor seating and a large indoor bar, the Pecan Grill & Brewery is a great place to gather with friends for a craft beer tasting. While their Pecan Beer is their most recognizable brew, brewmaster David Allan had some tricks up his sleeve for the upcoming warm season.
The Springer Blonde is an American blonde ale. “It’s a very drinkable beer,” David says, “Perfect for refreshing while working in the yard or spending time outdoors.” Very light-bodied and low alcohol, you can enjoy a few and still complete your “honey do” list.
Also in the works and slated for addition to the Pecan Grill brew list in late spring or early summer, is the Straight Shot American Pale Ale. It has an edge of bitterness, but is not overly hopped. “We wanted this to be a delightful beer that is kindly leaning on the shoulders of bitterness,” David notes. Expect a soft malt presence with a balancing act toward bitterness, for an overall refreshing beer with tremendous complexity.
Macallan’s Scottish Ale is also scheduled for release in the upcoming months. “Scottish Ales come in multiple alcohol strengths, body, and darkness,” David explains. “Macallan’s will be easy-drinking and light-bodied.” Though all of the brews David offered me were worth a taste, the Macallan’s was my favorite of the day.
500 S. Telshor Ave.
Spotted Dog Brewery
Once a week, a bunch of old friends gather to play basketball for a couple hours, then we head over to Spotted Dog to lick our wounds, and have some good laughs and even better brews. Most of the guys tolerate the basketball just to have a couple frosties. When I caught up with Assistant Brewer Garrett Denmark he educated me on a couple of his favorite summer ales.
“Our IPA (Indian Pale Ale, pictured) is always a favorite,” Garrett said, and the customers and bartenders nearby couldn’t refute his claim. I even got an affirmative nod and raise of the glass from the two patrons sitting at the bar, holding a freshly poured IPA. Bottom line: You can’t go wrong with a classic.
But if you’re looking to step outside your comfort zone, Garrett, a self-proclaimed “seasonal beer drinker” says his favorite year-round brew is Spotted Dog’s 80 Shilling. “The special thing about this Scottish-style Ale is the way we caramelize the wort in our boil kettle,” he explains, adding that the brewing process for the 80 Shilling takes quite a bit longer, ultimately setting it apart from others and creating a special brew that you won’t want to pass up.
2900 Avenida de Mesilla
Posted by LasCruces.com