A beer trip along old Highway 14 brings back memories of past times

Despite the wind, a pint of Ducks in a Row Dark Lager tasted great at Beer Creek the other day.

With vaccines now being administered, and many of our counties now at the yellow level or better, the urge to get out of the house and onto the road has begun to take hold with many of us in the Crew.

Last week, with nothing else to do (the day job is kaput, FYI), I elected to head up Highway 14 to visit Beer Creek Brewing, followed by a stop at Second Street Rufina in Santa Fe. The main reason was to grab some of the new imperial-strength beers now in cans at both places. The other reason was just to get out of Burque, even for a short while.

Luke recently covered a lot of what is going on over at Beer Creek in our Look Back/Look Ahead story. Progress continues on the remodeling/expansion of the interior since that story ran in early March.

What was once an outdoor, unused area has now been filled in and will soon become a new indoor bar.

The best news is the pizza is still ridiculously good, and the Ducks in a Row Dark Lager was a delight. Once both were consumed, I put on my mask and wandered about with co-owner Rich Headley and head brewer Jami Nordby, checking out everything from the new barrel room, the fermentation room, and more.

There was more New Mexico-grown bags of grain from Schwebach Farms on hand, so look for even more all-NM beers in the future. And yes, there will be more collaborations with other breweries using those locally-grown ingredients.

We sampled some additional beers, talked about what is coming soon (a couple of the barrels will be ready to release their aged brews to the world sooner than later), and mused about life, the universe and everything.

(Ducks in a Row, Pecos Brown, and Lone Butte Lager all tasted good, in case anyone was wondering.)

It was, dare I say it, like the before times, just wandering a brewery that I haven’t been to in a while, learning about all that has changed, and what changes are to come. There is a tremendous comfort in all of it, even though we all know we are far from the end of this pandemic and the many restrictions that come with it.

It’s pretty meta to edit a story on Second Street while at Second Street.

Eventually, the staff had to get back to work, and I was off to Rufina, where in a twist of timing and fate, I ended up editing Luke’s Second Street entry for Look Back/Look Ahead. That was probably a first for me, in terms of editing someone else’s story, though I have at times written on a brewery while still at said brewery.

There were beer people about, like Bill Heimann of Steel Bender’s sales team, and Dominic Crandall, now back at work as assistant brewer at Hidden Mountain. Second Steet’s Rod Tweet and Mariah Scee stopped by to say hello and chat for a minute. Again, it was like old times, seeing friends again in person for the first time in so long.

And yet, the tables were still far apart. Customers and staff still wore masks as they moved about the taproom area. The kitchen was not yet buzzing (though it will be by the end of this week).

There were smiling faces behind those masks, lots of thank-yous for coming up to buy the cans of The Lion and The Cobra imperial stouts, just like there were at Beer Creek for grabbing some Dragon King Imperial Stout and Red Racer Imperial Red four-packs.

Mariah knocked it out of the park, again, with the can labels for Second Street’s new imperial stouts.

All of it served as a reminder that as much as we thirst for that return to normalcy, it is not here yet. It is a little safer out there, but we are far from being out of the proverbial woods.

I have rambled long enough. We will have more sensible, topical stories coming up this week. We are again highlighting the women working in the industry, so look for those features soon, as well as an update on the High and Dry/Red Mesa collaboration beer, and whatever else pops to the surface this week.

Keep supporting local!

— Stoutmeister

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