Three of us in the Crew launched our trip to Southern New Mexico on Friday with a change from the original plan. Rather than head straight for the mountain towns of Cloudcroft, Lincoln, and Ruidoso, we instead went to Las Cruces first, saving the rest for Saturday.
The reason was fairly simple: we had no clear idea of when we were leaving Albuquerque, so it would have been impossible to set up a time to interview the owners of any of those mountain breweries on Friday. So we just figured head straight down I-25 to Las Cruces, and visit whichever places were staying open later.
Our first stop ended up being through a minor twist of fate. Luke’s navigation system told him to get off the freeway onto the Highway 70 exit, but about 10 seconds after we were passing said exit. As we got off at the next exit (Lohman), I recalled that Truth or Consequences Brewing had its taproom on that street. Since I had never been to that location, and neither Luke nor Andrew had ever visited either TorC taproom, we parked the car and walked over for a quick pint.
Located specifically at 2001 E. Lohman Ave., Suite 115, the taproom was fairly easy to reach for us, and anyone else going westbound. The exterior was a colorful series of murals, with a wraparound patio outside. The wind wasn’t too bad, though it did chase one large group inside, which has a very small number of available tables (even in pre-Covid times, there would not be as much room as the original brewery location). We grabbed our pints and snagged a patio table.
Luke and Andrew indulged their hopheadedness (we’re declaring that to be a new word) with some Buckhorn IPA, the flagship West Coast offering from TorC. I went a bit lighter with some Alivio Lager. All the beers were tasting quite good, the patio was comfortable, and it truly felt like it was a perfect start to the evening.
Before we left, though, after sharing a picture on Instagram, we got a direct message from the folks at the brewery. We were asked to sample the just-tapped Mango Bloom, a fruited wheat ale. It lived up to what they wanted, a little sweet-yet-tart, with a chewy wheat malt backbone.
We continued on to our under-renovation hotel (at one point I was deeply perplexed by the lack of actual numbers on the doors), and from there snagged a Lyft to downtown. Having heard horror stories of interminable waits for Lyft or Uber drivers in Albuquerque, I feared the worst, but within about 15-to-20 minutes, we were on our way.
Back when I visited Las Cruces for the Blazin’ Brewfest in May 2019, I noted that there was a concerted effort to get the little downtown area to become more of a draw for locals and tourists alike. One of the first pieces of that revitalization was the Little Toad Creek taproom, and now just two doors down is the Boneyard Cantina by Icebox Brewing. It actually feels like Las Cruces is developing a nice little nightlife district, which is something just about every New Mexico State graduate used to complain that the city lacked.
We went to Little Toad Creek first, in part to make sure we got some food in our bellies. Between a nosh plate, giant pretzel, small pizza, and a four-cheese grilled cheese (with bacon, of course), we were well taken care of by our wonderful server on a very busy evening.
LTC only had their core beers on tap, so we each took a different one. Andrew grabbed a Lucky Toad Lager, which was light-yet-flavorful, Luke went with a nice and roasty Pendejo Porter, and I chewed on some hops and rye with Grumpy Old Troll IPA. The cool thing is that all three beers are available in six-pack cans, and we certainly recommend that they are worth trying out at some point, whether you visit the Las Cruces taproom, the main location in Silver City, or just want to grab some cans from stores like Jubilation.
With the clock ticking closer to the mandatory 10 p.m. closing time, we hopped over to Icebox’s newest taproom. The interior artwork was eye-popping, and while much of the crowd had already departed, we were told that we just made it for last call.
A quick glance at the menu revealed the first unanimous beer choice of our trip — Super Bad Ass Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout. No, really, that was its name, and it lived up to that moniker. We were stunned, though perhaps we should not have been considering Icebox’s upward trajectory with its beers, at the sheer quality of this beer. It hit every single note that you would want in a BBA imperial stout.
After we finished, it was time to head back to the hotel, where we opened some beers that Luke brought down, including a mixed four-pack from Milton’s Brewing (which was courtesy of Beer Creek Brewing, which passed those beers along). It was a good night, overall, and we were well set up to then head on to 575 Brewing in Alamogordo, Cloudcroft Brewing, and Lost Hiker Brewing in Ruidoso the following day.
If you do visit Las Cruces this year, we highly recommend all three of those taprooms, though you can also stop at the other two Icebox locations in town, or just about any of the other breweries in New Mexico’s second biggest city. It has been great to see the development of a legitimate craft beer scene down south, and we will have to come back again in the future.
Keep supporting local!