Recently I, Porter Pounder, was invited to an advance tasting at a new brewery under construction while working down south in Las Cruces. Spotted Dog Brewery is the name, and wheat beer is their very specific game. Jerry Grandle, owner and operator, was kind enough to let me in to watch them brew their first official batch, and give me some insight to their new brewery. Spotted Dog is holding a soft opening this Friday, according to their Facebook page, and will have a grand opening in the weeks to come “after we get all the kinks worked out.”
Having been home brewing for over 14 years, and having strong ties to Southern New Mexico history, Jerry explained that wheat beer is actually quite common in local history. Located at 2920 S. Avenida de Mesilla in old Mesilla, it’s actually a really great location, close to lots of great food, music, and art. True old New Mexico, so even the location says something about the forthcoming styles of beer.
On that note, that’s why you’re all here, lets talk beer menu! Spotted Dog will be opening boasting six mainstay beers: Belgian Wit (6.5% ABV), Milk Stout (7% ABV), IPA (6.5% ABV), Pale Ale (6.5% ABV), Hefeweizen (6% ABV), and a Red (6.5% ABV). They will also be having themed, seasonal, or specialty beers on rotations, which includes small batch beers, like their 13-percent Imperial Wheat, or the Braggart, which I was lucky enough to get to taste.
The two beers that were available during my visit were the aforementioned Braggart, and their mainstay key beer, the Belgian Wit. The Wit was super crisp, with light hop tones to start, and finished with some bitterness that stemmed from the zest from tangerines, grapefruit, and even the hint of coriander. There are four types of hops in it, too, which play really nicely off the zest for the finish. When you get that first scent on the nose of this Wit, you really notice the grapefruit, and that typical Belgian funk that you know and love from the yeast of this beer style. The Wit was still very cloudy, with a decently thick head as well upon pouring that had excellent tight bubble grouping. Once I let it open up to room temperature a lot of flavor came out to play in wonderful harmony. It may not be the boldest Belgian beer you’ll taste all year, but it will make a great summer and fall beer for something a little different and unique.
The Braggart, which was at a much stronger 13 percent ABV, is one of their small batch specialties. This is one that I certainly would be coming back for every tapping before I miss out. The Braggart is somewhere in between beer and mead. I also recommend letting it open up just a touch, then really experience its chewy, heavy glory. The additives are candy ginger and fresh honey, which are perfect for a simple flavor profile to add to this specialty. It had a gorgeous nose up front, especially just hinting at the ginger, and a light, cloudy, caramel color. There really are no hop profiles in this style, and you can expect a very sweet, not alcohol finish. Because of the sweetness, you’ll never quite realize how heavy of a pint you’re actually experiencing. It will definitely remind you of something along the lines of a wee heavy.
And that was my experience at Spotted Dog. They certainly are a much-needed, unique brewery located in a small college town, and we can’t wait to get back down there after opening and give em a taste and see how the other beers fare.
— Porter Pounder