During a road trip through Southwest Colorado at the end of June, I was fortunate enough to stop in and say hello to our friends at Three Rivers Brewery in Farmington.
It had been about five months since I had previously visited as part of our Look Back/Look Ahead Series. This time, I spent the night in Farmington, which allowed me to really get the full Three Rivers experience. It was the first night of my three-night road trip, and I did not hold back. As a matter of fact, I have to give a shout out to Lou Go’s Taxi Service in Farmington for providing me with a safe and dependable transportation option. I was disappointed to see that neither Uber nor Lyft were available in the area, but Lou Go’s filled the void well with 24-hour service, clean vehicles, and friendly drivers.
I started at the Three Rivers Brewery Restaurant on the corner of the block. It was a Friday night and the place was packed, but I was able to find a spot at the bar, conveniently located next to the taps. It was my third time eating dinner at this bar, and I was returning with a high expectations for food quality after the previous visits. I ordered the dinner special for the week, which was Rock Shrimp & Andouille Jambalaya. It was excellent. Each element tasted fresh and savory, and was tied together with a flavorful, but not overpowering level of spiciness.
Of course, my food was accompanied by a flight of beers, which carried the same high standards as the food, again as expected. My personal favorites on the flight were The Black (stout) and the Arroyo Amber. I also sampled others that were not in my flight. The Raspberry Wheat was exceptionally refreshing, and one of the most well-balanced fruity wheat beers I have had in recent memory. Personally, I would pick this beer on a hot summer day over most of the Gose options that seem to have exploded in ABQ this summer.
After finishing dinner, I walked further down the block (past the Tap Room and Pizzeria, both of which were also a buzzing with activity) to the Three Rivers Brewstillery, which had been under construction during my previous visit. It was exciting to see the finished product.
I sat at the bar, examined the menu, and was drawn to the ‘Beer Geek Bottle List,’ as well as the fridge containing said bottles … some even in boxes… yeah, I definitely nerded out on this. It was at this point that head brewer (really, we can call him head of beverage operations, with the addition of the distillery), Brandon Beard joined me. I hadn’t given him much notice on my visit, so it was great that Brandon was able to meet up. Unfortunately, assistant brewer (now really head brewer), Patrick Liessmann, was out of town.
After popping a bottle of Kasteel Barista, a Belgian quad with chocolate and coffee, Brandon and I discussed the upcoming 20th anniversary of Three Rivers Brewery, which will be celebrated with a party this Friday, starting at 5:30 p.m.
Let me be clear, if I was not going to be at a wedding event in Chicago on that day … I would be attending this anniversary party (He is not the only one missing this for a wedding. — S). Just hearing about the treats that will be available is enough to make any true beer lover salivate. If there are two things (in my mind) that set Three Rivers apart, it has been their success in, 1) incorporating exciting and rich ingredients such as peanut butter and coconut, and 2) barrel aging. Building on what they do best, Three Rivers will be releasing their 20th anniversary limited edition Black Lily Barrel Aged Stout in four variations — Bourbon Barrel, Bourbon Barrel & Peanut Butter, Rum Barrel, and Rum Barrel & Coconut.
Assistant Brewer Austin Jacobs brought out some samples of the Rum Barrel & Coconut, and I was in heaven. I won’t attempt to describe it in too much detail, aside from saying it’s an easy-to-drink barrel-aged beer; you can taste the alcohol content, but nothing like, say, a Marble Reserve (not hating on Marble Reserve, it has its place, too). The coconut is unabashedly present and delicious. It complements the beer in the same way a scoop of vanilla ice cream complements a mug of root beer.
Don’t take my word for it; try it while it lasts. Only a 100-count of 750mL bottles of each variation will be available.
Just when I thought that I had seen and tasted it all, executive chef Jay brought out three of the tapas dishes that are on the menu in the Brewstillery. After I was done complimenting him on the jambalaya that I had for dinner, I happily munched on what he had set in front of me. My pictures do not do this food justice. It’s much easier to take a good picture of a glass of beer then a platter of food.
Please go to the Three Rivers website to see the menu and specific descriptions. It was the perfect food to snack on after a night of beer drinking. Along with the tapas, I sampled a few of the craft cocktails that are available and they, too, were top notch. The Brewstillery drink menu could satisfy any preference at the highest level of quality.
Much thanks to Three Rivers Brewery staff for their continued hard work and success at providing high-quality, local products to the community — the food, the beer, the spirits, the whole package. The passion is visible in the people, and you can taste it in the products. On a more personal note, thanks to Brandon and Austin for hanging out with me and showing me a fun time.
I encourage all NM craft beer lovers to plan a visit to Three Rivers Brewery, and enjoy what they have to offer. The upcoming anniversary party would be a great opportunity, but any time is a good time.
Furthermore, Three Rivers is a great place to grab a meal, or a drink, or just hang out, for anyone who might be spending a night near Farmington, or traveling through.
On behalf of the NM Dark Side Brew Crew, I want to say congratulations to Three Rivers Brewery on their upcoming 20th anniversary, and we look forward to another 20 years!