Enchanted Circle Brewing plays with their food and their beer

Enchanted Circle is making itself at home in Albuquerque.

Anyone who knows Enchanted Circle’s owners, Steve and Shelley Larson, is already aware of how much they want to please their customers. The first evidence of that is the sheer number of taps they have at each of their locations (Angel Fire and Albuquerque). Their original place is a pub in Angel Fire that they opened prior to opening the brewery; the pub is actually what spun off the brewery. The Pub ‘n Grub is open seasonally, and Steve said there are about 20 taps. In fact, I had to rush over and interview Steve because he will be up in Angel Fire for a few weeks reopening the pub for the ski season.

People have different tastes and loyalties to styles, and there is likely no better place to satisfy just about any beer preference than at Enchanted Circle. Steve said the patrons at the different locations want different things. Fruit beers are not big sellers in Angel Fire. They cannot brew enough lagers and pilsners for that crowd. The Glory Hole IPA sells best in Albuquerque. Steve likes to brew beer, and he likes to give people what they want whenever possible. At the Albuquerque taproom, they have 31 taps (the brewery in Angel Fire officially has 24). And yet, every time I go in, there are a few more new beers that Steve insists I try. It’s a tough job, I know.

This year was mostly about getting the Albuquerque taproom up and running. The last time I was in, they had just completed the patio. Shelley said that they enjoyed having music on the patio when it was open, because if people wanted to hear the music they could choose to be outside. If not, they came in.

The fabric coverings for the patio did not survive a recent snowstorm, but a new permanent shade structure will be built for 2020.

Unfortunately, the unexpected happened and the amount of snow we got in town on Thanksgiving surprised everyone, including the staff at Enchanted Circle. The fabric sails covering the patio could not withstand the weight of eight inches (!) of snow, and they came down. When the weather warms up, the patio will get a new permanent, non-fabric cover. Up in Angel Fire, Steve said he is playing catch-up on brewing, doing roof repairs, and barrel aging a doppelbock.

Beer-wise, they continue to get creative. Steve said he is starting to work with CO2 hop resin extracts/hop oils. They are expensive, but concentrated, and are supposed to extend the life of the hop aromas. This is beneficial when pairing their beers with their food, which is pretty much my favorite thing to do at Enchanted Circle. In fact, I am meeting up with friends at the next Thursday ribeye night, one of their most popular draws, so I can play some more with my food and beer pairings, that is.

I am already contemplating whether or not I can predict what beer will go best with their steak. However, I am still dreaming of the G.C.B.L.T. that I had during this interview. I love B.L.T.s, and this one — with whole green chile strips and lots of black pepper mayo — is one of the best I have ever had, seriously. For fun, I paired it with their Hatch 19 Smoked Green Chile IPA, though that would not be a beer I would usually order. In this case, I felt I scored a perfect match.

The Enchanted Circle Albuquerque taproom has a neighborhood pub vibe, and Steve and Shelley said they get a lot of regulars from the area. That may be part of the reason they report that their growler sales are way up here in Albuquerque.

The neighborhood pub vibe is strong inside Enchanted Circle.

They would like to cast a wider net to get more people to discover them, so they are in the process of adding more events. One current holiday-related event is a Christmas movie clips trivia night. Their trivia nights are very popular, Steve said.

Steve and Shelley are discussing the possibility of eventually having firkin Fridays. They have an option on the space next door if events take off and they need the room. That could be another area for a stage for music and comedy entertainment. They already have comedy nights every third Friday of the month, 21 and over only, and monthly paint nights. Steve and Shelley said they are also thinking about adding more entrees to the dinner menu. Oh boy, more things to pair!

If you haven’t been to their location at 6001 San Mateo NE (the northwest corner of Osuna and San Mateo), stop in and order a sampler flight of some of their many beers. And, if you happen to be getting food as well, try some pairings. Have fun with it, and let us know what your favorite combinations are.

A happy and safe remainder of the holiday season to all.


— AmyO

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