New Mexico is full of people who love to hike. It’s also full of people who love good beer. In my experience, there’s quite a bit of overlap between those two groups. Who doesn’t enjoy a good beer or two after hiking 14 miles? OK, you can still have a beer or two after hiking a few miles, but after 14, you’ve really earned those beers! That’s great, but last weekend, my eyes were opened to the concept of drinking during the hike. I’m sure this isn’t anything new, and apparently it’s a common pastime in Germany.
Former Chamber of Commerce head, and now retired, full-time hiker, Kevin Holsapple is attempting to bring the activity here to New Mexico. He’s started a business in leading folks on hikes with modest stops for, ahem, carbo-loading and thirst-quenching. As a resident of Los Alamos, his tours naturally take place in the scenic canyons and mountains around the town. Several months ago, he contacted the Brew Crew about this new venture, and I, being the Los Alamos rep, signed up. Because of various commitments on both sides, we only now were able to take part. It worked out fine, though, because it was a perfect, cool fall day, with fall colors in abundance.
Los Alamos is a small town, so the concept of a “beer crawl/hike” is one that would have been laughable a few years ago. Now, we have our own microbrewery and what is quite possibly the only grocery store in the state with a bar. In addition, our golf course was recently completely remodeled, and the new restaurant inside has a respectable selection of beers. Our adventure started at Smith’s. We met at 11 a.m. in the parking lot, got through some introductions, and headed inside to the bar.
Smith’s keeps 12 beers on tap and rotates them regularly. How they select the beers is a bit of a mystery, but you’ll always find something good available.
Not only did we get a flight of four beer samples, but Smith’s also provided us with some pretzels and cheeses. It was a delicious way to get things started! My favorite was Founders Breakfast Stout, which seemed appropriate, though at 8-percent ABV you have to wonder about the wisdom of the choice. At least it was only 4 ounces, and Cecilia and I split a single flight. Bear in mind, I am an IPA guy at heart.
At this stop, we also met Harvey from Abiquiu and Lynne from Santa Fe, our fellow travelers on the tour. A few others were supposed to join us but had to cancel. Interestingly, Lynne was nursing an injury and didn’t participate in the hiking part, and Harvey also wasn’t 100 percent and only did the first leg of the 6-mile hike. I felt a bit envious … all of the beer with none/some of the agony?
After some sampling and noshing, we gathered our things and drove over to Bathtub Row Brewing. This would be our last stop, so we parked the cars there and hiked down into the canyons to our second stop, Cottonwood on the Green. That’s the fancy name for the restaurant at our local golf course. The place is brand new and quite impressive.
Here, we had a similar range of beers to choose from, though there were a few more mainstream choices than at Smith’s.
Again, we were provided pretzels and had the option of getting an appetizer, but we declined. I ordered an espresso to keep the blood flowing for the return trip.
The trip back to the “Tub” was similar, but along slightly different canyon trails. Los Alamos is mostly on top of mesas, and the canyons can provide a maze of trails to get lost in. Fortunately, Kevin seems to know them all. (In addition to knowing all of the trails in the area, he has also been to Europe many times and is knowledgeable about and happy to discuss the beers of Germany and the surrounding area.)
We reached Bathtub Row Brewing feeling tired, but happy. We ordered take-out from Rigoberto’s, the Mexican restaurant next door, and enjoyed local beers this time.
You never know who you’re going to meet on one of these things, but Harvey and Lynne were interesting and very cool people to talk to, so we got lucky.
All in all, this was a very fun event and is highly recommended. Kevin is excited about his fledgling business, and he’s even considering other ideas, like hosting beer crawls in Albuquerque. If you’d like more info or to sign up for a hike, visit his web site: The craft beer hike tour of Los Alamos NM. He can also be contacted directly at email@example.com.