The Dark Side guide to local craft beer for Balloon Fiesta tourists

Posted: October 5, 2018 by cjax33 in Beer Guide to ABQ

Albuquerque’s High and Dry Brewing even incorporates balloons into its logo.

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a huge draw for people from all over the world. It kicks off this weekend, just in case you have been in a self-imposed media blackout and did not know, which means there are gonna be a lot of thirsty newcomers to our fair desert city. To help out all the locals who are gonna be inundated with friends and family visiting, we did the work for you when it comes to telling all those folks where to go for beer.

We split up the city in geographic terms, relating everything to the location of the Fiesta grounds. If this is your first visit to Albuquerque, just remember the Sandia Mountains are on the east. You can figure out the rest from that.

The majority of our breweries are family friendly, but they all are vigilant when it comes to checking IDs. You can look 70 and they are required by state law to still ask to see your license, so please, do not get offended.

West Side

This is the area west of the Rio Grande. You can reach it via several bridges, all of which are horribly jammed up eastbound in the morning and westbound in the afternoon. The closest bridge to the Fiesta is Alameda. Paseo del Norte is usually faster since it does not have traffic lights, and yes, people drive way over the speed limit on that road. We are including Albuquerque’s largest suburb, Rio Rancho, in these listings. The ‘burb-built-by-Intel is on the northwest side of the metro area.

The Boxing Bear team was all smiles after winning the Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year award at the Great American Beer Festival in 2016.

Boxing Bear Brewing

The first non-Rio Rancho impact brewery west of the river has captured national awards and twice won the New Mexico IPA Challenge (2016, 2017).

Exact location: In a shopping center on the northeast corner of Alameda and Coors/Corrales, just west of the Rio Grande bridge. Food: A menu of mostly sandwiches. Patio: Big and spacious. Parking: Plenty of it, especially after the other businesses in the shopping center close. Awards and honors: 2016 Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival. Best beers: Uppercut IPA is one of the most consistent hop bombs around town. Standing 8 Stout is a burly favorite of ours, while you can buy bottles of Chocolate Milk Stout to take home.

One of the newest brewpubs in town is located right near the westside parking area for folks who want to ride the shuttles to the Balloon Fiesta.

Toltec Brewing

One of the newest brewpubs in town, helmed by Kaylynn McKnight, the award-winning brewer formerly of Nexus.

Exact location: At the corner of Old Airport Road and Cottonwood, just a block west of Coors, and a block south of Alameda, within walking distance of the Fiesta’s Park-and-Ride location at Cottonwood Mall. Food: Full menu specializing in burgers and pizzas. Patio: A small one on the west side of the building. Parking: The lot is small, so please carpool. Awards and honors: They opened this year, so give ’em some time, but their biggest burger, The Royale, has already been honored. Best beers: The Agave Wheat is quite popular, but we also dig the Oatmeal Stout and the malty Altbier.

Desert Valley keeps the beers flowing.

Desert Valley Brewing

A popular brewpub with some truly unique takes on how to serve food with a flourish.

Exact location: On Ellison just south of Alameda. Food: A full menu of some unique dishes, including the staff bringing skillets of gooey goodness to pour over your plate. Patio: A small one on the south side. Parking: Pretty substantial. Awards and honors: None yet. Best beers: The ciders from sister company Sandia tend to steal the show.

Marble has to keep expanding its Westside Taproom due to customer demand. (Photo courtesy of Marble)

Marble Westside Taproom

The biggest brewery in town’s first local taproom has expanded three times already due to popular demand.

Exact location: The actual side street is called Night Whisper, which is west of Unser, just north of McMahon. Food: They rely on food trucks, but also have Ohana Hut as their in-house independent eatery. Patio: A spacious one facing south. Parking: A good number of spaces, but this joint gets really crowded at peak hours. Awards and honors: See the main brewery entry below. Best beers: There are usually up to 20 on tap; see the main brewery entry for which ones you should get.

Tractor just opened its Westside Taproom.

Tractor Westside Taproom

A brand-new spot from the popular local brewery, always mixing it up with beer, art, and local entertainment.

Exact location: On the south side of McMahon just east of Unser. Food: They rely on food trucks and a neighboring restaurant. Patio: There is a nice one on the east side of the building, which looks toward the Fiesta and the Sandia Mountains. Parking: Pretty decent, though shared with a number of other businesses. Awards and honors: See the main brewery entry below. Best beers: See the main brewery entry below.

Turtle Mountain is a Rio Rancho institution.

Turtle Mountain Brewing

At nearly 20 years old, Rio Rancho’s anchor brewpub is one of the most popular and well-regarded in the state.

Exact location: Along the currently-under-construction Southern Boulevard, just west of Rio Rancho Boulevard/Highway 528. Food: The awesome pizzas and calzones are just the tip of the culinary iceberg here. TMBC wins best restaurant in Rio Rancho almost every year for a reason. Patio: A small one that faces north and east. Parking: After years of a tiny lot, there is a lot more now, but it fills up quickly at peak hours. Awards and honors: TMBC just claimed a gold medal at the 2018 Great American Beer Festival for its house lager, Wooden Teeth. Best beers: Besides the Wooden Teeth, we recommend the rotating seasonals, plus Parasol White IPA and Stauffenberg Stout.

La Cumbre’s second location still has that new taproom smell.

La Cumbre Westside Taproom

The beer geek’s brewery has only recently opened its second location to serve customers west of the Rio Grande.

Exact location: In the shopping center with Sprouts Market on the southeast corner of Coors and Montaño. Food: None. Patio: A spacious one wraps around the east and north sides. Parking: It is a big shopping center, so there is plenty. Awards and honors: See the main brewery entry below. Best beers: See the main brewery entry below.

Enjoy a beer with your matinee at Flix.

Flix Brewhouse

A national chain of movie theaters with a built-in brewery, all the house beers are made on site.

Exact location: At La Orilla and Coors, just north of Montaño. Food: There is a full menu beyond just popcorn and snacks. Patio: None. Parking: There is quite a lot. Awards and honors: Flix has snagged 10 medals from four different competitions this year, including a bronze medal from the U.S. Open Beer Championship. Best beers: We have always been partial to the Umbra Chocostout, but make sure to check out the seasonals, many of which are tied into the current box office hits.

They have just a few beers at the Blue Grasshopper on Coors.

Blue Grasshopper (2 locations)

These popular brewpubs feature local music, games, and more.

Exact location: The original brewery is in Rio Rancho at Ridgecrest and Arrowhead Ridge, which is just west of Highway 528; the taproom in Albuquerque is off Coors, pretty much straight across the road from Flix towards the east. Food: The wood-fired pizzas are the highlight. Patio: None. Parking: Somewhat limited at the original, but there is quite a bit more at the taproom. Awards and honors: None yet. Best beers: They are in the process of building a new brewing location, so for now it is almost all guest taps.

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Bernalillo

This little town just north of Albuquerque has a couple beer options you should know about. Just take Interstate 25 a few miles past the city limits and look for the exit for Highway 550.

The new Bosque North is hard to miss, day or night.

Bosque Brewing North

The massive new production facility for the award-winning local brewery, with its own unique taproom attached.

Exact location: On Highway 550 just west of the Rio Grande bridge, it’s a huge white building on a hilltop, so you can’t miss it. Food: There is a full menu with some unique dishes, like Yucca Fries and fried pork belly tacos. Patio: There are two, one covered on the first floor, and the other on the second deck, with incredible views of the Sandias to the southeast, the river to the east, and the Fiesta grounds far to the south. Parking: They have a pretty big lot, but it fills up fast, and take note that the 550 bridge backs up badly at rush hour. Awards and honors: See the main brewery entry below. Best beers: See the main brewery entry below.

Kaktus owner Dana Koller is always happy to greet new customers.

Kaktus Brewing

One of the quirkiest, coolest little breweries makes you feel like you are even further from a big city, and that’s a good thing sometimes.

Exact location: On South Hill Road, about midway between the two freeway exits, next to the KOA Kampground. Food: There is a fun, quirky menu, built largely around pizzas. Patio: A small, cozy covered space on the north side of the quaint brewery building. Parking: There are only a few spaces, but the brewery is fairly small, there is usually enough for everyone. Awards and honors: None. Best beers: The menu is constantly changing due to the small brewhouse, but it can lead to some fun, innovative flavors.

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North Side

These are actually the breweries closest to the Fiesta grounds. That also means they will likely be the most crowded.

A lot has changed since Bosque opened in its original location in 2013.

Bosque Brewing

The original location of the former little brewpub that could, now grown into one of the most recognized brands in the state.

Exact location: Right next to the Fiesta grounds on San Mateo, just north of Alameda. Food: There is a full menu with items ranging from New Mexican dishes to burgers to fish & chips and a whole lot more. Patio: None. Parking: There are a fair number of spaces in the strip mall, but they fill up fast, especially at peak times. Awards and honors: Bosque has won multiple big medals, including most recently a bronze for Pistol Pete’s 1888 golden ale at the 2018 GABF. Best beers: The IPA and Scotia Scotch Ale are tremendous, while the Lager is a past medal winner. Elephants on Parade, a fruited wheat, is also hugely popular.

The patio at Steel Bender is an excellent place to watch a mass ascension without the mass crowd.

Steel Bender Brewyard

The Village of Los Ranchos needed a brewpub of its own, so the Chant family answered, bringing forth the varied creations of brewmaster Bob Haggerty.

Exact location: On Second Street just south of Paseo del Norte, west side of the road. Food: An excellent and varied menu, with daily specials that must be tried. Patio: A spacious one on the east side of the building, from which SBB will be throwing Balloons & Brews every morning of the Fiesta, with breakfast foods, coffee, hot cocoa, and of course beer, all starting at 7 a.m. (beer sales at noon on Sundays, due to a dumb state law). Parking: They have a huge lot on the north side of the brewery that extends far to the west, though at peak hours, even it can fill up. Awards and honors: None yet, but they have been open for only a little over a year. Best beers: The patio just screams for the Compa Los Ranchos Lager and the Lloyd’s 3 O’Clock Kolsch.

Catch a game in the friendly confines of Starr Brothers.

Starr Brothers Brewing

One of the best brewpubs to catch a sporting event at, but beware that weekend mornings are the property of the local Liverpool FC fan club. (They are actually a friendly, fun bunch, unless you’re a Manchester United fan.)

Exact location: On San Antonio just east of I-25. Food: A terrific selection of bar food, including an awarded green chile cheeseburger, the Starr Burger. Patio: There is a small one on the west side of the brewery, but it should have great views of the mass ascensions. Parking: They have a lot that wraps all the way around the building, but be warned, it fills up fast. Awards and honors: The Lampshade Porter just won a bronze medal at the 2018 GABF. Best beers: Starrstruck IPA and L.A. Woman Blonde are the top sellers, but don’t overlook the Lampshade or Brown Chicken Brown Cow, an English-style brown ale.

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Brewery District

No, really, folks in the State Legislature actually designated part of Albuquerque under this name. It runs between the Montgomery and Comanche/Candelaria exits along I-25, with many of the breweries nestled in an industrial park.

Canteen has been churning out quality beers since before any of us were old enough to drink.

Canteen Brewhouse

The oldest brewery in town (1994), they have moved locations a few times, but the beer has remained consistently among the best in town.

Exact location: Along Aztec near Stanford, just south of Comanche. Food: There is a small menu of sandwiches, salads, and more. Patio: Theirs is a covered one on the south side of the building, with big tables, a music stage, and games for kids and grownups. Parking: They have a sizable lot on the east side, plus there is street parking on Aztec. Awards and honors: With 12 GABF medals, Canteen is one of the most awarded in town, plus it took home a silver medal at the 2016 World Beer Cup for High Plains Pils, which is on tap year-round. Best beers: You can go light with High Plains or Laid Back Lager, or go hoppy with Flashback and Exodus IPAs, or stay in the middle with Dougie-Style Amber. The Dark ‘n Lusty Stout won the Brew Crew’s annual Stout Challenge back on Super Bowl Sunday.

You can’t miss this sign if you’re looking for La Cumbre.

La Cumbre Brewing

The ultimate beer geek’s brewery, master brewer Jeff Erway’s creation is one of the most popular and well-regarded breweries not only in the state, but in the entire Southwest.

Exact location: On Girard north of Candelaria. Food: None, but there is almost always one or more food trucks out front (this is another popular joint). Patio: There is a small one on the east side of the building, which is almost always full of beer lovers. Parking: There are small lots along Girard that you can park in, just watch for the signage. Otherwise it’s all street parking. Awards and honors: La Cumbre’s Malpais Stout claimed its second GABF silver medal at this year’s event. Best beers: Elevated IPA may be the perfect definition of what a New Mexico IPA really is, but you can also mix it up with the constantly shuffling recipes of its brother, Project Dank. Or stay light with some BEER or Slice of Hefen.

We dig the vibe at Nexus.

Nexus Brewery

Take one of the most unique food menus in town and combine with delicious beer and a bit of a Star Trek theme, and you have this top-notch brewpub.

Exact location: Along the I-25 northbound frontage road, just north of Montgomery. Food: Only some of the best dishes in the city, dubbed New Mexican Soul Food, including chicken and waffles, green chile mac ‘n cheese, and much, much more. Come hungry, leave stuffed. Patio: There is a small one on the north side of the building. Parking: There is a sizable lot, but it fills up fast at dinnertime, and there is little else nearby, so consider Uber/Lyft at peak hours. Awards and honors: The Honey Chamomile Wheat won gold at the 2016 World Beer Cup and the Imperial Cream took gold at the 2017 GABF. Best beers: Go big with the Imperial Cream Ale, or stay smaller with the Scottish Ale or the Chocolate Porter.

The beer remains top-notch at Red Door.

Red Door Brewing

A laid-back, no-frills brewery that always keeps things fun from local music to having a video game system on hand for folks to play.

Exact location: On Candelaria just west of I-25. Food: There is a brewery-owned food truck always parked outside, plus sometimes an additional truck. Patio: There is a small one on the west side of the building. Parking: They have a very small parking area that partly wraps around the building, but nothing else too close, so you might want to Uber/Lyft here at peak hours. Awards and honors: None yet, but they just got an excellent new head brewer, Matt Meier. Best beers: Sing along to Paint it Black, a nitro milk stout, or just snag some Vanilla Cream Ale and kick back on the patio.

A brewery and a distillery share a taproom and we all benefit.

Palmer Brewery and Ciderhouse

Sharing a space with Left Turn Distilling, this is the chill space you flock to when everywhere else is overrun with beer geeks.

Exact location: On Girard just south of Candelaria. Food: There are some snacks, but make sure to stop by for Taco Tuesday. Patio: None. Parking: There is a lot out front and plenty of parking along Girard. Awards and honors: Brewer/owner Rob Palmer just got to share a bronze medal in the collaboration category at the 2018 GABF with his friends at Quarter Celtic for their Mocha Hipster Bomb. Best beers: We cannot guarantee the Mocha Hipster Bomb will last much longer, but you can still enjoy the MWA (Malt With Attitude) and Cockness Monster (Scotch Ale).

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Uptown/Northeast Heights

We just lumped some places together that are pretty far east of I-25, even though they are pretty spread out. This is mostly a residential area, but with a good mix of some of the top eateries in the city and plenty of shopping/retail areas, including the Coronado Mall.

Kick back with some history at Kilt Check, formerly Drafty Kilt.

Kilt Check Brewing

A throwback to the small breweries of old, with history seeping from the walls and more stories to tell.

Exact location: On Hardware south of McLeod/west of San Mateo, right near Movies 8 (a.k.a. “the dollar theater”). Food: None, but there is often a food truck. Patio: None. Parking: There is a lot out front, plus street parking. Awards and honors: None yet, but brewer Mike Campbell did win a gold at the World Beer Cup once for his stout at a prior brewery. Best Beers: The Groundskeeper Willie Cream Ale is the big seller, but don’t pass up the Obliviscaris Oatmeal Stout.

Marble Heights is a crowd favorite.

Marble Heights Taproom

The big boys in town went east and opened this swanky, upscale joint, that still has that fun and funky Marble feel. Complete with its own brewhouse where the seasonal beers are made for all three Marble locations.

Exact location: On Montgomery east of Eubank. Food: None, but there is always a food truck, and Slice Parlor is next door. Patio: The arguably swankiest patio in town is on the south side of the building. Parking: There is a shared lot that fills up quickly; mind the spaces reserved during the daytime hours for other businesses. Awards and honors: See the main brewery entry below. Best beers: See the main brewery entry below.

Lizard Tail keeps the beers fresh and varied.

Lizard Tail Brewing

Another old-school small brewery, with nothing fancy, just good beer in a comfortable atmosphere to escape the hustle and bustle.

Exact location: In a shopping center on the southeast corner of Montgomery and Eubank. Food: Just a few snacks. Patio: None. Parking: They share a lot with the other businesses in the shopping center, and it gets most crowded late at night when country music fans are piled into the neighboring dance hall, the Dirty Bourbon. Awards and honors: None yet. Best beers: There is a constant rotation of beers with, you guessed it, lizard-themed names.

Broken Trail makes its own spirits and beer.

Broken Trail Uptown Taproom

With the original location now just a production facility, this combined brewery/distillery opened up this little neighborhood pub just blocks from one of the busiest shopping districts in town.

Exact location: On Menaul just east of Louisiana. Food: None, but neighboring restaurants don’t mind if you take your food over to get a beer or a cocktail. Patio: There is one on the east side of the building, facing the restaurant across the walkway. Parking: There is a tiny amount of parking out front, and a bigger lot around back to the south. Awards and honors: None yet. Best beers: The Otero ESB and Lone Pine Pilsner were designed for kicking back on a quiet afternoon.

Alien Brew Pub in Albuquerque, NM

The Alien Brew Pub is out of this world, but still located in Uptown.

Alien Brew Pub

Parent brewery Sierra Blanca co-owns this brewpub with a decidedly out-of-this-world theme.

Exact location: On Uptown just west of Louisiana, south of Coronado Mall. Food: There is a full menu of upscale bar food. Patio: None. Parking: They share a mid-sized lot with a Bank of America and the Uptown Sports Bar. Awards and honors: Sierra Blanca just won a bronze medal at the 2018 GABF for Cherry Wheat, which also won a gold medal in 2017. Best beers: The Alien Amber is one you gotta try at least once, but also check out the award-winning Bone Chiller Brown, plus the Pancho Green Chile Cerveza.

The second floor deck at the Santa Fe taproom has all the great views.

Santa Fe Brewing ABQ Taproom

The oldest brewery in New Mexico (1988) opened its first location down here to rave reviews in one of the most unique settings you’ll find in the state.

Exact location: The anchor tenant of the Green Jeans Farmery, a complex made of re-purposed shipping containers, at the corner of Carlisle and I-40 next to the Hampton Inn. Food: None, but you can order food at any of the restaurants in the complex and have it delivered to the taproom. Patio: There are two, one that wraps around the ground level, and another on the second floor with great views of the surrounding area. Parking: There are a limited number of spaces wrapping around the complex, plus street parking on Cutler. Awards and honors: The main brewery in Santa Fe has won numerous awards over the years. Best beers: The Java Stout is always a favorite of ours, but 7K IPA is the current top seller, along with Happy Camper IPA and many more classics.

Because folks in the Foothills need beer, too.

Canteen Taproom

People in the Foothills were far from craft beer until Canteen went east and opened this cozy little space.

Exact location: On Tramway just a block north of I-40. Food: There is a small menu of sandwiches and pizzas. Patio: There is a small covered patio on the north side. Parking: They have a mid-sized lot shared with other businesses. Awards and honors: See the main brewery entry. Best beers: See the main brewery entry.

If you have a Tractor taproom, it must have a great patio.

Tractor Four Hills Taproom

Take that same Tractor fun and transport it up near the Four Hills and Foothills areas.

Exact location: At the intersection of Tramway and Central, in the same shopping center as Icon Cinemas. Food: There is a small menu of sandwiches and finger foods. Patio: There is a small one on the west side. Parking: They share a large lot with the rest of the shopping center. Awards and honors: See the main brewery entry below. Best beers: See the main brewery entry below.

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Southeast/Nob Hill

A sprawling area that contains the New Mexico State Fairgrounds, Kirtland Air Force Base, the Albuquerque Sunport, and the University of New Mexico, it has recently become dotted with breweries and taprooms amid all the restaurants and boutique shops. Soak in some culture while you enjoy a pint.

The new Bombs Away patio sticks with the theme.

Bombs Away Beer Company

Air Force veterans founded this tough-but-fun brewery, which caters to civilians, too, with a wide range of outstanding beers.

Exact location: Tucked away in an industrial area on Acoma, between Moon to the west and Eubank to the east. Food: There is a small menu of sandwiches, plus the occasional food truck. Patio: There is a sizable covered patio on the east side. Parking: They have a small lot on the east side, plus there is a fair amount of street parking along Acoma. Awards and honors: None yet, as the brewery only opened late last year. Best beers: Our friends love the Hazy Chain Double IPA, but if that ABV is too high, then try the Proximity Pilsner or the Low Order Porter.

Our friends refer to Quarter Celtic as “The Winchester.” If you get the movie reference, we like you, too.

Quarter Celtic Brewpub

Former Canteen brewer Brady McKeown and his associates set out on their own and created this fun-filled pub, which may seemingly be located underground, but keeps its beers far above.

Exact location: In a shopping center on the northeast corner of Lomas and San Mateo, down on the “ground” level below the street. Food: There is a full menu of American and Celtic-style food. Patio: They have a patio the wraps around the west and north side in the courtyard of the sunken shopping center. Parking: They have one of the biggest parking lots imaginable, sloping down from street level toward the brewery, most of it covered. Awards and honors: QC was the lone New Mexico brewery to medal at the 2018 World Beer Cup, taking bronze for its Pedro O’Flannigan Mexican Lager. Best beers: Relax with a Pedro, or if you’re feeling particularly Irish, snag a Crimson Lass or a MacLomas Dry Stout, or stick local with some Mor-buck IPA.

It looks small from the outside, but High and Dry has plenty of space for all.

High and Dry Brewing

A quaint neighborhood pub, similar to those found in beer towns like Austin, just opened this year in the area east of UNM.

Exact location: Just south of Lomas on Adams, a block east of the light at Washington. Food: None, but there is usually a food truck out front. Patio: There is a small one on the east side, plus they often open the big garage door to give most of the pub a patio feel. Parking: They have a small lot on the south side, but most folks park along Adams. Awards and honors: None, but they have only been open since the spring. Best beers: The beers rotate constantly as they have just a 1-barrel system, but they are all pretty tasty, and there is always a “guest brewery of the month,” which for October is The 377 (see below).

One of the oldest pubs in town, Kellys has recently been renovated.

Kellys Brewpub

Another veteran of the local beer scene since 1997, Kellys recently got a new owner (Santa Fe Dining Co.), and now its beers match its charming location along old Route 66.

Exact location: In the heart of Nob Hill at Central and Wellesley. Food: There is a full menu of classic bar food with a New Mexico twist. Patio: One of the bigest and most popular in town, around the north end of the building, facing Central. Parking: They share a small lot on Wellesley, but for the most part its all street parking in an area that gets really crowded at night. Awards and honors: None yet. Best beers: They moved several of the beers from Chama River over here, including Sleeping Dog Stout. Also check out the outstanding American Pilsner.

Hops Brewing does a lot in a small space.

Hops Brewery

A little sports bar with its own beer, gently tucked away in a small but lively space along Central.

Exact location: In Nob Hill on Central just west of Carlisle on the north side of the road. Food: There is a small menu of sandwiches. Patio: There are a few tables outside the garage doors that are kept open on warm days and nights. Parking: Street parking only, with most of the spaces along Copper to the north. Awards and honors: None yet. Best beers: We would go with the Tipsy Cow milk stout, but there are also guest taps galore.

The original Tractor location in Albuquerque, with a photo from back in 2012.

Tractor Nob Hill Taproom

When the brewery was still in Los Lunas to the south of town, it opened this no-frills taproom in 2011 to huge crowds that convinced the owners it was time to move the whole operation north.

Exact location: In Nob Hill on Tulane just a block south of Central, behind the Starbucks. Food: None, but there are usually food trucks out front, and you can order from nearby Slice Parlor and have the pizza brought to you. Patio: The patio wraps around the west and north sides of the taproom. Parking: They share a small lot with the other businesses, so you may have to rely on street parking in the neighborhood to the south. Awards and honors: See the main brewery entry below. Best beers: See the main brewery entry below.

Bosque’s second location got a major expansion recently.

Bosque Public House

The first Bosque taproom remains a classic, with a recent expansion giving it a full kitchen to go along with its excellent beers and patio.

Exact location: In Nob Hill on Girard just south of Central, behind Mannie’s Restaurant and next to Walgreens. Food: This location shares the same menu as the main brewery. Patio: There is a popular north-facing patio that looks toward UNM’s Johnson Field across Central. Parking: They share a lot with Mannie’s and Walgreens, which can fill up fast. Awards and honors: See the main brewery entry. Best beers: See the main brewery entry.

The 377 keeps the flights coming.

The 377 Brewery

Before or after a Lobo game, make sure to stop at this nearby brewery that honors the local Air Force wing.

Exact location: On Yale, just north of Gibson, west side of the road. Food: There is a small food menu with burgers and more. Patio: There is a small one on the west side of the building. Parking: They have a small lot to the west of the building. Awards and honors: The 377 just won bronze for American beers at the 2018 Great British Beer Festival for its Schwartzbier, plus brewer Lyna Waggoner picked up a gold at the U.S. Open Beer Championship for her Belgian Sour Quad. Best beers: The lineup is constantly changing, but if you can get your hands on the Schwartzbier or whatever Belgian-style specialty is available, do it.

(We would also be remiss if we did not note that Jubilation Beer Wine & Spirits, the best bottle shop in the city, is located in this area at the intersection of Lomas and Monte Vista.)

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Downtown/Wells Park/Sawmill District

This area is generally defined as east of the Rio Grande, west of I-25, and south of I-40. The Wells Park neighborhood is a mainly industrial area filled with breweries north of the downtown high rises. The Sawmill District is located just west of that, near Old Town, a major tourist attraction. You can also visit the ABQ Biopark, Explora Science Museum, the Museum of Natural History and Science, and the Albuquerque Museum.

The colorful exterior will guide you to Ponderosa.

Ponderosa Brewing

From the same folks that created PINTS Brewery in Portland, Oregon, comes this western-themed brewpub not far from Old Town.

Exact location: The lone brewery in the Sawmill District, at the corner of Bellamah and 18th Street, north of the museums at the base of a colorful, multistory apartment building. Food: There is a full menu. Patio: There is a spacious one on the north side of the building. Parking: There is a sizable paved lot out front, and a dirt lot for overflow. Awards and honors: None yet. Best beers: The Ripsaw Red and Crosscut Kolsch are always good choices, along the rotating seasonals.

We do enjoy the pub atmosphere at Sidetrack.

Sidetrack Brewing

Even downtown needs a neighborhood pub, with English-style ales on tap and a laid-back vibe to drive away the stress.

Exact location: Across from the Gertrude Zachary castle (no, really) on Second Street midway between Lead and Coal. Food: None, but there is usually a food truck outside. Patio: The patio is tucked away in the “back,” through the taproom, and is shared with neighboring Zendo Coffee. Parking: There is only street parking in the area. Awards and honors: None yet. Best beers: Snag whatever is in the cask and take a (metaphorical) trip to a neighborhood pub in jolly old England.

Boese Brothers is a quick escape from the madness of downtown.

Boese Brothers Brewing

One only has to go a block south of Central to escape the music and bar crowds at this relaxed little brewery.

Exact location: At the corner of Gold and Sixth Street. Food: None, but there are sometimes special events with food on the patio. Patio: There is one on the west side of the building. Parking: There is only street parking along Gold, Sixth, and other nearby streets. Awards and honors: None yet. Best beers: The Duke City Lager is a big hit, while the rest of the lineup changes frequently.

The downtown taproom remains a popular happy hour spot. (Courtesy of Red Door)

Red Door Downtown Taproom

The modern yet retro setting jibes with this taproom, set inside a former bank, with the vault now converted into a video game room.

Exact location: Inside the ground floor of the Simms Building, the first modern high rise in town, at Gold and Fourth Street. Food: None, but there are eateries in the building. Patio: None. Parking: There is only street parking along Gold, Fourth, and other nearby streets. Awards and honors: See the main brewery entry. Best beers: See the main brewery entry.

The towering fermentation hall dominates Marble’s main location.

Marble Brewery

The brewery that launched the modern craft revolution in New Mexico in 2008, it now produces close to 20,000 barrels of beer per year, while also hosting some of the most popular and packed events in town.

Exact location: At 111 Marble Avenue (see how they got the name?), along First Street just two blocks north of Lomas. Food: None, but there is usually more than one food truck outside (the joint is popular). Patio: There is the main patio, which faces south and includes the sizable music stage, which is booked pretty much every night Thursday through Saturday, plus often Sunday afternoon. There is also the epic rooftop deck, where you can attend the Marble Balloon Brunch on Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon. Parking: There is a dirt lot on the east side of First, but it fills up quickly, and so do all the street spots. This is the brewery with the biggest crowds in town. Awards and honors: Marble has racked up 11 GABF medals, including gold for Cholo Stout in 2017, plus it was the 2014 GABF Small Brewery of the Year. Best beers: The Double White is the most popular, followed by the IPA and Red Ale, but the constantly changing lineup of seasonals is where the real fun beings.

The patio at Dialogue is hard to miss.

Dialogue Brewing

The arts come alive, on the walls, in the sculpture garden, with the varied performers, and of course in the wide array of unique beers.

Exact location: At the corner of First Street and Kinley, right next to the huge Napa Auto Parts Warehouse. Food: None, but there is usually a food truck. Patio: One of the most unique patios in town features modern art towers of metal and light, with the tables wrapping around the bottom of these artificial trees. Parking: They share a lot across Kinley, but street parking is available as well. Awards and honors: None yet. Best beers: The lineup changes frequently, but there is usually a Belgian Citrus IPA and Berliner Weisse to quench your thirst.

The main Tractor location is a hub for events and fun.

Tractor Brewing Wells Park

The name of the game at Tractor is to have fun, all while supporting the community, through the arts and various charitable endeavors. Oh, and there is beer, cider, and now cocktails, too.

Exact location: At the corner of Fourth Street and Hannett, three blocks south of I-40. Food: There is a small menu of sandwiches and other finger foods. Patio: There is an L-shaped patio that runs along the south and west walls of the L-shaped brewery building. Parking: There are lots on the west and east sides of the building, but those spots fill up fast during the many, many music and arts events, so you may have to rely on street parking in the area. Awards and honors: Tractor earned gold at the 2018 North American Beer Awards with its Thai Basil Mint Cider, plus it won two other medals the year before for Berry Cider and Farmer’s Tan Red Ale. Best beers: We do love the award-winning Double Plow Oatmeal Stout, plus the Milk Mustachio Stout comes in cans in addition to being on tap.

Events are always going down at Rio Bravo.

Rio Bravo Brewing

One of the most spacious taprooms in town leads out to the beer garden, a hub of live music and events, all while the huge beer menu keeps everyone happy.

Exact location: At the corner of Second Street and McKnight, just a block south of I-40. Food: There is a full menu of burgers and sandwiches. Patio: There is a small patio on the west side of the building, but the real attraction is the expansive beer garden on the east side, which is walled in and features a music stage and more. Parking: There is a small lot on the west side, a larger one on the south side along Haines, and then after that you have a fair amount of street parking in the area. Awards and honors: The Grab ’em by the Putin, a barrel-aged Russian imperial stout, won the bronze medal among American beers at the 2017 Great British Beer Festival. Best beers: The Level 3 IPA has emerged as a favorite of ours, while there are usually plenty of big, malty beers to chew on as the nights cool down.

Owner Shyla Sheppard has seen Bow & Arrow blossom into one of the top breweries in town.

Bow & Arrow Brewing

This unique brewery is filled with art, culture, and a wide array of fun and funky beers, all celebrating Native American and New Mexico culture.

Exact location: At the corner of Sixth Street and McKnight, just a block south of I-40. Food: None, but there is almost always a food truck outside. Patio: There is a small, comfy patio on the east side of the building. Parking: The lot out front only has a few spaces, so most people park along McKnight, but the spaces can fill up fast. Awards and honors: None yet. Best beers: The many funky sours are worth checking out, including the Savage Times Sour IPA, or you can check out the house beers with many of the ingredients locally sourced.

* * * * *

All right, that should cover just about every place in town. We also highly recommend side trips to breweries from Ale Republic in the East Mountains, to all seven breweries in Santa Fe (Blue Corn Brewery, Chili Line Brewing, Duel Brewing, Rowley Farmhouse Ales, Santa Fe Brewing, Second Street Brewery, Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery), and if you really feel adventurous, head all the way to Taos and visit Taos Mesa Brewing.

Just please adhere to the three-beer limit at our breweries, and be careful on the roads. When in doubt, order a Lyft, Uber, or taxi. We want you to come back to our city more than once.

Have fun out there! If there are any other questions you have about local craft beer, search our site or email us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com. You can also reach us via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Comments
  1. stephen j sorgel says:

    In your food comments for the Marble Westside location you failed to note the in house offerings of Ohana Hut. A truly terrific Sushi and Asian menu!

    • cjax33 says:

      Whoops, sorry about that. It was a lot of info to jam into one story, and I figured I’d miss something. The good news is I can go back and add it! Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Greg says:

    This is an awesome article for tourists and locals alike! Very thorough and useful information. Thanks!

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