Editor’s note: While I was battling a cold last week, I dispatched Franz Solo and Porter Pounder to the West Side to check out Albuquerque’s newest brewery-restaurant. Their report has helped me get healthier faster. — Stoutmeister
The Stumbling Steer has arrived at long last and holds quite a bit of promise for great things to come. When last I visited the space it was still very much under construction. There was exposed concrete with lines for water and more, all clear to see. What a change in just a few months. In short, the entrance, the bar, and the dining area are gorgeous. The place has a wonderfully open feel with some neat lighting fixtures on the ceiling as well as the cow skull lamps which adorn the walls, giving it a good New Mexican charm.
But enough about the decor, this is a beer blog! We had the pleasure of sharing our flights with head brewer Kirk Roberts. In all we sampled the nine beers on tap at the moment and one really special extra beer.
I enjoyed the two beers run through the Randall infusion, which gave some extra kick to the IPA and the Red. The Red was run through Amarillo hops, giving a bit more bite to the overall sweetness and caramel undertones of the solo red. The IPA was run through Centennial hops, which really helped to balance an IPA that left me feeling like I wanted a bit more. The Double IPA did not disappoint, either; this one is going to be great when the brewery proper is completed and I can see it maturing into an IPA to rival the best that Albuquerque has to offer.
On to our mutual favorite beer of the evening. We had the distinct pleasure of tasting Manhattan Project, which is a Scotch ale aged in barrels to, what else, but taste like a good Manhattan. This was like drinking an elixir of the gods, sweet, peaty, with cherries at the back. It was just wonderful. I definitely look forward to having more of this recipe in the future as it was simply outstanding all around.
On the subject of the brewery itself, at this point beers are being brewed off-site based off of Kirk’s recipes owing to the fact that the brewery is still very much in the stages of construction. The pit for fermenting barrels has been dug to the proper depth and is awaiting concrete. The location of the brewhouse and mash tuns have been laid out and, what’s more, there is a ton of room in the old Quarters building for lots of expansion. I was certainly struck by the enthusiasm for what is to come in this other half of the Steer and from what we heard there are some bold and sweet ideas being brewed up (pun intended).
Here is what Porter Pounder had to say.
“I also loved the Double IPA, which really stands out and says something as I rarely drink them, favoring more towards the darker side of life. The Red was a bit sweet up front, but as you keep drinking it layers would build up on your palate. It will definitely be a high-selling mainstay of everything we tried.
“I agree with Franz Solo on the Manhattan Project. We were lucky enough to be given a special tasting of this. It was actually the very first thing handed to us, and we both saved it for the end after that first sip. There were pronounced cherry and nutty flavors that mellow you out after the initial alcohol flavors pounce on you. It is just perfectly balanced like a fine meal, where you get a little bit of everything on your fork at once, but still are able to distinctly taste every single element.
“Many of the NMDSBC are also foodies, love trying new foods, and creating our own, so anytime a new brewery opens up with a full kitchen, or one opens up with some great new mainstay food trucks, we’re all about it. The Stumbling Steer burger was also excellent. House-made sauces on a perfectly cooked burger with pastrami and a Challah bun were just stupendous. Also, their pork belly and polenta with tomato jam will make you sing inside.
“The whole menu is pretty unique and everything is house made, so it’s worth the stop for the food as well. Every single item as you read down the menu will make your mouth water. It’s always nice to know you have a stop where you can not only get some really amazing unique beer, but also have a full menu in house with enough options to satisfy any craving you may ever have.”
I would be remiss if I also didn’t say something about the food we tried because it was just too good not to mention. I tried a green chile cheeseburger and fries and was impressed with the quality of ingredients, the preparation, the attention to detail and above all how damn good everything tasted!
So if you have a chance, stop by the Steer for some good brews (the guest taps looked really good), some excellent food and a really neat new venue for beer.
— Franz Solo