The Year in Beer: The Crew picks our favorites from the last 12 months

There was some consensus that the final day at Second Street’s original location was the most memorable of the year.

Back before the holidays, I sent an email out to the rest of the Crew to start making their picks for some best of the year elements in the world of craft beer. I did not follow that up with a text, so then I had to email them again, because that is what happens around the holiday season.

So anyway, most of the others were able to respond when not on vacation and the like, and here is what they had to say. Some simply went by the bullet point suggestions that I made, others preferred a straight narrative.

Here was my random set of suggestions for the Crew to consider:

  • Favorite local beer of the year
  • Favorite new brewery that opened in 2022
  • Best brewery food (overall/individual item)
  • Favorite whimsical beer name of the year
  • Favorite beer event/festival
  • Most random brewery experience
  • Favorite patio
  • Favorite place to see live music
  • Favorite weird/fun event of the year
  • Best beer trip in-state/out-of-state
  • The one brewery to visit in 2023 (in-state/out-of-state)

Here is what the others had to say. I’ll go last.

AmyO’s picks

If you follow us on Instagram, you probably saw some of AmyO’s photos from her brewery trip to Mexico, including this one of a very content Dave preparing to enjoy his flight.

Favorite local beer of the year: Cask-conditioned salted caramel stout at Sidetrack.

Favorite new brewery that opened in 2022: Hard to say because they all opened at the end of the year, and really haven’t gotten established yet. I guess I would say Unhinged if it wasn’t so far out for us.

Best brewery food (overall/individual item): Always Nexus overall, but also Sobremesa for their tacos and their calabacitas.

Favorite whimsical beer name of the year: Dude. Dude? Dude! hazy IPA from Thirsty Eye.

Favorite beer event/festival: NM Brew Fest. It’s back, baby!

Most random brewery experience: Getting the ride back to our hotel from the owner at Guaymas Brewing Company in Mexico.

Favorite patio: Beer Creek 

Favorite place to see live music: Marble or Canteen

Favorite weird/fun event of the year: Didn’t do any weird or different ones that I can remember.

Best beer trip in-state/out-of-state: Colorado road tripping beer adventure.

The one brewery to visit in 2023: (In state) Cloudcroft. (Out of state) A tie between Outer Range in Frisco, Colo., and Mike Hess in Seaport Village San Diego.

Andrew’s picks

If you’re gonna go all-in, dress the part.

Here are the things that caught mine and Nat’s eyes when we look back on the year.

OG Second Street Closing — Very sad but amazing night. Marathon of a day, but so worth it to be part of this. I believe we arrived shortly after they opened at noonish and drank until closing when nobody wanted to leave.

Gravity Bound World Cup Finals — Arrived just a few minutes before game time at 8 a.m. and didn’t get my voice back until the following weekend. Unbelievable game and such a fun group of people.

Marblefest — This has definitely turned into an annual tradition. Lots of fun getting dressed up in Oktoberfest attire this time around.

Marble Westside Anniversary pairing — Marble Westside will shears be my home spot. Their pairing of Westside Coast IPA with spicy Red and Green Chile Beef Jerky was out of this world. Best pairing I have had since the Acid Trip Triple IPA with Brooke’s Carryout stuffed carne adovada sopapilla from a few years ago.

Trip to Cali NPs and Breweries and the bestest of the breweries (very isolated and a total accidental discovery) was Around The Horn Brewery. If Luke has any ballsack, he will write you a blurb about this little nugget of a story. Great DIPA up in this joint.

Franz’s picks

Best I could manage to think of from this year, didn’t get out much really.

Favorite beer of the year: La Negra

Best Brewery Food: Nexus Hot Chicken and waffles

Favorite beer event/festival: NM Brew Fest

Favorite Patio: Canteen

Luke’s picks

Around the Horn Brewery, a little gem of a place near Yosemite National Park in California.

2022 was certainly a great and terrible year for many reasons, but a memorable one as far as beer goes. As Andrew mentioned, we were all there for the end of an era as Second Street’s OG location closed. We certainly did our best to send it out in true Brew Crew fashion. I believe I was one of the last to leave.

It was nice to see a big return of large events as we continue to slip a bit further away from COVID’s cruel grasp. I had a great time at Marblefest, though now I regret not donning my lederhosen, or buying some, rather.

In October, Red River once again hosted Oktoberfest. I took a new group of friends for their first visit, and I’m sure they’ll be back, as we had a blast trying all the Oktoberfest biers we could find.

And now for a few of my best of’s for 2022:  

As for most memorable/best surprise brewery of the year for me, and I think Andrew would agree, would be Around the Horn Brewery in Groveland, Calif. This little gem is only 25 miles away from Yosemite National Park, and has a surprisingly great list of creative beers, all of them well-brewed, clean, and balanced. And, to think, we very nearly passed it.

Best beer trip out of state is a toss-up between Denver and California. On the one hand, Denver. You all know Denver and Denver beer bars and taprooms. And, on the other hand, we went to around 10 different breweries from Fresno to Lake Tahoe during our Yosemite trip, and tried so many new beers. It’s hard not to be jazzed about new experiences, so I’ll give best beer trip to California this year. Denver is always a tough contender.

As for favorite local beer, well it’s another toss-up between Rowley Farmhouse Ales’ gold-medal-winning Grandissant Flor Montmorency Cherry and Ex Novo’s Nevermore ’22 Barleywine, both of which I had at RFA. During an interview, the RFA team generously shared a bottle with me, which is one of my favorite styles I can never get anywhere. And, it was done, very, very well.

Ex Novo’s Barleywine made me remember why I love and miss the style, it’s just monstrous and good, and we were lucky that our own New Mexico Brewers Guild Executive Director, Ebbie Edmonston (bar manager at the time) secured a keg of it for us.

My most random brewery experience? Getting hired to make beer at one.

That’s it for me! I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year filled with great memories with great friends, and of course, great beer!

Maureen’s picks

Both Canteen locations were among Maureen’s favorites.

Best brewery food (overall/individual item): My boyfriend and I are kind of addicted to the fondue and pretzel bites at Canteen Taproom. The servers have even started asking if we want it either before or just after we order beers. We always add green chile to the fondue and it makes it awesome. I like pairing it with something malty like Oktoberfest or Vienna or whatever is in season at the time.

Favorite patio: I have to go with Canteen again on this one. The Taproom is great year round because of the cozy fire pit and sliding windows that can be opened or closed, and the mountain view is the cherry on top. The Brewhouse is also really nice as well. I love that it has a variety of seating options. Runner up is Boxing Bear on Tramway — also for the views.

Favorite place to see live music: This past season, I went to see live music almost exclusively at Rio Bravo. Our friends’ reggae band played there about once a month, and it’s just a really great venue for outdoor music. Lots of room to spread out, and a variety of really good beer and food.

Best beer trip in-state/out-of-state: I took a road trip up to Colorado for work, and stopped at Steamworks in Durango on the way there and back. Highly recommend both the beer and the food. It was my first time in Durango and it’s just beautiful there. I stayed in Delta, and there is a tiny little brewery up there called Stoik. It’s cute, and has a decent variety of beer for a small town brewery. 

The one brewery to visit in 2023 (in-state/out-of-state): Personally, I’d like to venture out of my beer comfort zone a little in 2023, and try some places outside of my little NE Heights bubble. More locally, I’d love to get over to Ex Novo and/or Sobremesa at some point. And, farther away … maybe Cloudcroft is in my future for this year.

Reid’s picks

Not the best photo of Bathtub Row’s awesome patio, but our most recent, from the 2022 Stout Invitational.

Favorite local beer of the year: We stayed home New Year’s Eve, so I made it somewhat special by popping open a La Negra from La Cumbre.  I’ll call that my favorite, and it might even be true.

Favorite new brewery that opened in 2022: Sadly, I don’t think I’ve been to one.

Best brewery food (overall/individual item): Boese in Los Alamos has outstanding sandwiches.

Favorite beer event/festival: I’m going to go with the Beer Premier, even though I’m not sure it happened in 2022, because I always want to try new brews.

Favorite patio: Beer Creek and Tumbleroot (both in Santa Fe) have great ones, but I have to go with Bathtub Row in Los Alamos. They’ve done a great job with their outside area.

Favorite place to see live music: Tumbleroot. Great stage and dance floor, plus it’s big and has a nice patio if you need relief from the noise.

Best beer trip in-state/out-of-state: Again going with recent events, since I can’t remember anything from more than a few weeks ago. We took a quick trip to Tucson recently and visited several good breweries.

The one brewery to visit in 2023 (in-state/out-of-state): We visited Pueblo Vida in Tucson, and the quality and styles floored me. Some of the best beers I’ve had. They even had a Triple IPA, which typically is a bit of a silly marketing thing, but it was delicious. In-state, we have so many good choices, but if I had to pick just one, I’d say La Cumbre. They’re always releasing interesting seasonals, and the quality is top-notch.

Stoutmeister’s picks

This is the face of someone after the Rare Beer Festival. And Wes’ and Sarah’s faces, too. That was a very, very good day.

What a whirlwind of a year. Let’s see if I can recap it.

Favorite local beer of the year: I’m splitting this three ways. For best malty/sessionable beer, I’ll go with the one we helped create, Spring of Deception Maibock, at Steel Bender. For best hop-forward beer, La Cumbre’s epic collaboration with Denver’s Comrade Brewing, Outstanding Achievements in the Field of Excellence, gets my vote. For high ABV beer, I’d have to drink them side-by-side to break the tie between this year’s batch of La Negra and La Negra Reserve.

Favorite new brewery that opened in 2022: I’ve only been to two, and once each, so I can’t break the tie yet between Echoes and Unhinged. Outside of New Mexico, the best new-to-me breweries were Levante Brewing in West Chester, Penn., and Cohesion Brewing in Denver.

Best brewery food: It’s still Nexus, but others are getting awfully close to matching its excellence.

Favorite whimsical beer name of the year: There were so, so many choices. But I gotta go with My Bock is Killing Me by Quarter Celtic.

Favorite beer event/festival: Locally, I gotta go with the grand farewell to Second Street’s original location. But, if you insist on a festival, then NM Brew Fest at the state fairgrounds tops my list. And yet, the best of the best was up in Denver, and no, not GABF. I lucked out and got a comped ticket to the Rare Beer Festival.

Most random brewery experience: Attending the delightful, off-the-wall, always-fun creation of the NM chapter of the Pink Boots Society’s collaboration beer, held this year at Steel Bender.

Favorite patio: Comanche Creek’s alpine meadow of a patio.

Favorite place to see live music: Tumbleroot, because they’re the only brewery that hosts metal shows.

Favorite weird/fun event of the year: Drink Beer, Save Turtles at Canteen was the best fundraiser, while the Stranger Things Arcade Carnival at Tractor Wells Park was the biggest party.

Best beer trip in-state: We visited Comanche Creek, and later Taos Mesa’s downtown taproom, as part of a weekend in Northern NM at our friend’s family cabin.

Best beer trip out-of-state: A Denver trip that included the aforementioned Rare Beer Festival, plus an Avalanche game, plus several brewery visits, plus a Revocation show … yeah, that was worth it.

The one brewery to visit in 2023: (In-state) I’ve seen the pictures of what’s coming at The Nuckolls Brewing in Santa Fe, so I can’t wait until it opens. (Out-of-state) Everyone keeps telling me to visit MotoSonora Brewing in Tucson, so I guess that I will do that in March.

That is all from us. Sound off on your favorites of the year in the comments of our social media posts for this story. We would especially take any additional suggestions for breweries to visit in 2023.

And, as always, keep supporting local!

— The Brew Crew

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