Beer Notes: Rio Bravo unleashes a barrel-aged behemoth in the middle of summer

Yes, you can totally enjoy a rum-barrel-aged imperial stout on nitro in the middle of the summer.

A few newsy beer-related items found their way to our proverbial desks this week. Rather than go two days in a row without a new story, here is a quick summation of what we know.

Rio Bravo says damn the season and full imperial stout ahead

Sure, it may be toasty out there these days, but there is no rule saying a brewery cannot release a barrel-aged imperial stout in the summer. At least, that is what the folks are Rio Bravo are hoping can be true, as today (Friday) marks the release of their rum-barrel-aged Grab ’em by the Putin on nitro.

With a little luck on the timing front, and some advance notice, I swung by the brewery on Wednesday afternoon to try this no-light-escapes-from-here elixir. It is a smooth, decadent monstrosity of a beer. You taste a lovely vanilla rum flavor up front, with the roasted stout notes dominating the back end. There is a bit of heat, but the nitro cuts down on that. The mouthfeel is still thick for a nitro beer. This one is kind of dangerous, because you could easily drink a couple 10-ounce pours and not realize that the ABV is north of 10 percent. But, trust me, it is worth it, especially for the nice change of pace from all the hazy IPAs and lagers that have so far dominated the half-open brewery world.

As for Rio Bravo overall, head brewer Ty Levis said things have gone fairly well, all things considered. The large beer garden on the east side of the building allows for plenty of social distancing, while out front on the west side the smaller patio there now has a permanent shade structure to protect patrons from the setting sun. Can sales are still good, Ty said, and the kitchen, one of the few in that area, has been busily churning out plenty of full meals and appetizers.

Casa Vieja plays it safe and closes temporarily

Up the road in Corrales, the folks at Casa Vieja decided out of an abundance of caution to close down this weekend. The long story made short is that the co-worker of a friend of a Casa Vieja staff member tested positive, so just in case, they opted to close and make sure the coronavirus did not make a double jump. None of this happened at Casa Vieja, so barring any positive test(s) by staff member(s), there is no reason to do an extensive deep clean of the charming event center and brewery.

When the green light to reopen is (hopefully) lit next week, we will let everyone know.

Unicorns and pickles

One special beer release we initially missed this week was Unicorn Overlord, the newest hazy DIPA in cans from La Cumbre. That releases today at noon at both taprooms, and will not be sold in stores. Based on how quickly some of the other recent hazy releases have sold out, you should probably take an early lunch break and line up outside either La Cumbre well before noon.

Meanwhile, per an article in the Albuquerque Journal, Bosque is re-releasing Pickle Down Economics on July 2. This canned pickle gose sold out in less than a day in Albuquerque and Las Cruces last time around. None of us in the Crew are big pickle fans, so this is all for the rest of you.

Canning line time

We will have a more extensive story Monday, but the good news is that Bow & Arrow’s new canning line arrived at the brewery Thursday. The plan is for the electrician to get it ready today, followed by the first test run Monday. I talked to co-owner Shyla Sheppard and head brewer Ted O’Hanlan, and both are quite excited in this next chapter for their brewery.

The first two planned can offerings are Strawberry Amigo and Denim Tux Lager. Ted added that just about any beer is on the table for future canning.

Bow & Arrow also extended its patio southward to cover much of the parking lot. Shyla said she still has not decided when they will reopen the interior to guests, but the furniture was already rearranged quite a bit when I stopped by. Again, look for a more detailed story Monday on all the goings-on at Bow & Arrow.

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That is all for now. If anyone has more info on the breweries that you think we should know about, send us a message through social media, or send an email to

Enjoy your weekends, and remember, keep supporting local!

— Stoutmeister

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