Bow & Arrow hits the mark with their initial beer lineup

Posted: February 19, 2016 by cjax33 in New Brewery Preview
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Bow & Arrow takes flight ... ouch, sorry, gotta apologize for even starting to type that cutline.

Bow & Arrow takes flight … ouch, sorry, gotta apologize for even starting to type that cutline.

While I was away in Arizona, Bow & Arrow Brewing threw open their doors and welcomed the thirsty masses up here in Albuquerque. They became the fourth new brewery to open since the start of 2016, joining an increasingly crowded scene. Once I got caught up on everything (mostly sleep), I trekked over to Bow & Arrow to get a look at things and offer up some thoughts on their first five beers on tap.

Normally I try to be prepared when I visit places, but this time around I left my digital recorder at home. So, when co-owner and CEO Shyla Sheppard spotted me and introduced me to head brewer Luke Steadman, I was unable to conduct a formal interview. Fear not, they were both great people, so I will head back when I can and give them both a full introduction to the Albuquerque craft beer community.

I did get a tour of the facility, which from an aesthetic perspective is one of the nicest new places around. The interior has a long bar and lots of long, community-style tables. The flatscreen TVs on the wall only display the current beer lineup and limited snack menus (food trucks will park outside). It’s fairly high-tech, but fear not, there are menu cards scattered about for those whose long-range vision is screaming “get new glasses/contacts!”

The brewery area is located behind glass windows on the south side. They currently have five mid-size fermenters, a full brewhouse, and plenty of space in which to conduct operations. For now they are selling only on site, but Luke said he hopes to eventually get some keg accounts for bars and/or restaurants in the future.

Luke came to Bow & Arrow from the east. He started his career in Pennsylvania and had most recently been brewing in Minnesota. Coming to the Southwest for the first time, he said he was excited to blend elements of the styles of the East Coast/Midwestern beers and some local elements. Luke is by no means a shy, reserved brewer, so if you ever get the chance to meet him, fear not, he will have plenty to say about his career and his perspective on beer.

Speaking of the beer, here is a quick recap of what I had. As always, I am not a professional beer judge, nor do I aspire to be one. This is just what I thought of the beer, and I always, ALWAYS encourage people to go and make up their own minds. I have never met two people who agree 100 percent on multiple beers, not even those of us in the Crew, so please, visit Bow & Arrow on your own and share your own thoughts. There are no wrong opinions.

Flights cost $10 at Bow & Arrow, but you get a lot more beer than on most flights, about 5 ounces of each beer. Take note, they count a flight as two beers toward your three-beer limit.

Tumbling Waters (5.2% ABV, 33 IBU): This is a simple American wheat-style beer. It’s not overly banana/clove-flavored like a hefeweizen, just rather light and simple. Basically, it’s the starter beer here, much like a lot of golden ales/light lagers are at other places.

Sun Dagger (6.7% ABV, 45 IBU): There is a bit more to this beer than I recall from Luke’s description (gotta remember to take that recorder along for every first visit), but basically it’s a farmhouse saison that hits the notes you would expect. It’s a bit spicy and tart, but not to the point you can’t drink it, even if you’re not a regular saison fan like I am. It’s listed as a Belgian saison, but I found it closer to the milder French saison style.

Flint & Grit (5.4% ABV, 22 IBU): An English mild “hybrid,” this beer grew on me as I drank it. The flavor came out a bit more as it warmed. It uses 100-percent Empire hops and blue corn as ingredients. Empire is a specialty hop grown in Michigan, one that differs from the more traditional Northwestern hops that dominate the market, though it is a bit difficult to describe. Luke said that another brewer who visited referred to the hop as “savory,” having an aroma and flavor that draws you in and gets you to drink more and more. Nothing wrong with that, right?

Crossed Arrows (7.2% ABV, 15 IBU): A dark Scotch ale, this one was (not surprisingly) my favorite of the bunch. It is far from sweet, like a lot of Scotch ales can be, but it is not overly roasted/peaty, either. I found it to be a nicely balanced beer, though I could use a little more oomph as far as the mouthfeel goes. It’s off to a promising start and should only get better as Luke hones in what he wants from this beer.

Hoka Hey (7.7% ABV, 70 IBU): The curse of being a brewery in this market is trying to create an IPA that sets itself apart and yet lives up to our ridiculously high standards for the style. In some ways, this IPA is different enough. It uses Empire and Amarillo hops in an even 50-50 split, so it’s a bit milder than that the hop bombs around town. It could use more aroma, but that seems to be the issue with just about every new brewery’s IPAs. Dry hop, dry hop, dry hop, should be the rallying cry around here. For folks who like milder, more sessionable IPAs, this is your kind of beer. For the legion of hopheads, well, revisit this one in a few months and see how it evolves.

Overall, the beers were clean, well-carbonated, and all showed varying degrees of promise. Coupled with the excellent interior surroundings, Bow & Arrow certainly made the most of all that time it took to get open. Be forewarned, there is not a lot of parking outside, so carpooling and/or biking over is not a bad idea. They are close enough to Tractor Wells Park and Rio Bravo that you could even do a sort of walking tour between the three places (after which, please, please make sure you have a DD or Uber or a taxi).

I personally look forward to what Bow & Arrow has to offer in the future, and I will return to do a formal interview with Luke and Shyla in the near future. Until then, check it out for yourselves and let us know what you think in the comments below or on social media.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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