On a recent work trip to Artesia, my coworkers and I stopped in at The Wellhead Restaurant and Brewpub. It had been a couple years since any of us had been there, and we were curious to see how things were going for this small, southeastern New Mexico town’s only brewery.
Walking in, everything looked the same as it always had, down to the oilfield-themed artwork covering the walls. Then, we were handed the beer list. Many of the usual suspects were listed as on tap, but they weren’t from The Wellhead. Instead, brews from places like Marble and Tractor were featured.
We asked our server about it, and she explained that much of the beer previously brewed had spoiled as a result of the pandemic and subsequent shutdown. The Wellhead had no patio for patrons to enjoy when only outdoor seating was allowed. When things opened up again for indoor dining, they initially outsourced to other in-state breweries with the plan to work their own brews back in over time.
When we went, there happened to be two house brews on tap, an IPA and a blonde. My coworker chose the IPA and said that it was not as good as Deschutes (which is apparently his gold standard for IPA), but still pretty good. It was good enough for him to order a second one. I went with the blonde, and found it to be surprisingly tasty and refreshing, with the perfect balance of malt notes on the finish.
In years past, I had always thought The Wellhead’s house brews had been OK, but nothing special, and they were frequently sold out of many of them. This new model of brewing just a few of their own, along with serving other local beers that Artesia residents and visitors may not have on-tap access to otherwise, was a pleasant surprise.
We had just spent the day hiking and working outside in the desert, so it’s possible we were just especially thirsty, but based on that visit, it appears the pandemic may have been a blessing in disguise for the quality of beer that The Wellhead now offers.
Keep up the good work, Wellhead crew! We’ll be back soon.