Finding our way to all 80-plus New Mexico craft breweries

Posted: April 29, 2019 by cjax33 in Beercation Destinations, Out-of-Town Brews
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It can be fun to go outside the ABQ metro area and visit small-town breweries like Hub City in Belen.

Recently over on Facebook, the website Brew to Do shared a full list of all the active breweries in New Mexico. The goal is to give beer lovers in this state, and beyond, a checklist for some fun in-state pub crawls and road trips.

That got all of us thinking about how many of the breweries on there (87, including the as-yet-unopened Brew Lab 101 and Ex Novo, the still-not-yet-brewing-their-own-beer Beer Creek, and Context Brewing, which is planned for a spot near Third Street and Slate but does not yet even have a pending small brewer license) that we in the Crew have managed to visit.

We all pretty much have the ABQ metro area and Santa Fe covered. My only exceptions are Casa Vieja in Corrales, 1933 Brewing in Rio Rancho, and Chili Line and HoneyMoon in Santa Fe. Overall, I have now been to 58 breweries in the state, including an impromptu “why not?” trip down to Hub City Brewing in Belen on Saturday afternoon (more on that below). Other Crew members who added up their personal totals were current front-runner AmyO (62), plus Brandon (47), Kristi (44), Reid (44), Jerrad (43), Luke (41), Franz Solo (37), and Maureen (27).

This is a handy list for your future travels. (Courtesy of Brew to Do)

As a beer writer/editor, it is sort of my duty to hit up as many of these breweries as possible. I have gone on past lengthy road trips to the breweries around the Taos area, as well as the breweries in the southeastern part of the state. More have opened in those areas since my last trips, showing how easy it is to fall behind as more and more of New Mexico’s smaller towns gain breweries of their own.

Before anyone asks, here are the 25 breweries I have left to visit, though I have to attach asterisks to Abbey Brewing, since while you can visit the Monastery of Christ in the Desert in Abiquiu, you cannot drink the beer there (they formulate recipes at the monastery; the beer is brewed for distribution at Sierra Blanca in Moriarty), and as of our last check, Route 66 Junkyard Brewery in Grants was not brewing its own beer due to problems with its equipment. That might have changed. So here are the 23 places I know are brewing beer, and you can drink it there, grouped geographically for future trips.

Northern New Mexico (7): 550 Brewing, Aztec; Blü Dragonfly, Cimarron; Callahan West, Mosquero; Colfax Ale Cellar, Raton; Enchanted Circle, Angel Fire; Second Alarm Brewhouse, Jemez Springs; Taos Trail Inn, Ojo Caliente

ABQ/Santa Fe metro areas (4): 1933 Brewing, Casa Vieja, Chili Line, HoneyMoon

Southeastern New Mexico (4): Black Cock Brewery, Roswell; Drylands, Lovington; Guadalupe Mountain, Carlsbad; Hopscotch, Artesia

Southern Mountains (4): Bonito Valley, Lincoln; Cloudcroft Brewing; Lost Hiker, Ruidoso Downs; Tall Pines Beer and Wine Garden, Ruidoso

Las Cruces metro area (4): Icebox, Pecan Grill, Picacho Peak, Spotted Dog

Admittedly, that northern trip would be pretty unwieldy to do in a single run (it is far from Aztec to Mosquero), but hey, these are good goals to aim for as a beer writer, or even just a beer lover who does not write about the industry.

The little brewing system at Hub City can’t churn out beer fast enough to keep up with customer demand.

Spurred on by that list and with that aforementioned free time on a Saturday, as there were no sporting events, metal concerts, or any other beer-related events going down in ABQ, I did the 40-minute trek to Belen to check out Hub City. Like a lot of the other small-town breweries, it had its own little charm. Unfortunately, much like it was when AmyO stopped by long ago, Hub City did not have its own beers on tap. Technically, then, I will probably have to go back to count this to my total.

Owner Tom Greer and his wife Cindy told me that the 1-barrel brewing system does not keep up with the brewery’s mug club, a long list of names posted on one of the walls near the bar. Tom said every time he does have a beer ready to go, he will share it on Facebook, but the mug club gets the news a day earlier, and oftentimes they wipe out that supply overnight. Hey, it is a good thing to have that sort of loyal local following. For all of us traveling beer drinkers, we are but a tiny drop in the bucket when it comes to attendance. Still, Tom and Cindy were kind and welcoming to all of us visiting for the first time, while also taking care of a couple of their regulars who had shown up for a green chile cheeseburger special.

The little pub is located next to the Rail Runner stop in Belen. They have different events every day, be it food or music or other entertainment, and a good supply of guest taps. I am not sure how things will work out for them once the new regulations for small brewer license holders go into effect in the second half of the year, which require a minimum of 50 barrels brewed or 50 percent of all beer sales to come from beers brewed on site. Tom handles the brewing now, so he may have to upgrade his system or add some full-time help (former Bathtub Row brewer Hector Sanchez is no longer employed at Hub City).

Check out the old-school labels on the two bottles on the left, found on the Hub City shelves.

Hopefully everything works out for Hub City. It is a charming spot owned by good people. The old building is filled with all sorts of fascinating items, from some old-school beer bottles that Tom has collected over the years, to a foosball table and a record player with stacks of vinyl nearby.

So where will your next beer trip take you? We are curious among all our readers as to who has been to the most different breweries in the state. Leave us your travel records in the comments here or on social media, or drop us a line at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

I might just have to combine a Las Cruces beer tour with the upcoming Blazin’ Brewfest on May 17, in case anyone was wondering where my next destination may be, though I can always hit up those nearby places in the interim. See you around the breweries near and far.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Comments
  1. […] or active licenses, we did learn more about the mysterious Context Brewing that popped up on the Brew to Do list that we wrote about recently. It is apparently the brewery going into a space at 816 Third Street […]

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