Archive for the ‘Beer in Las Cruces’ Category

The newest brewery in Las Cruces is located in one of the older buildings in town.

Icebox Brewing might just be the most modern, and yet the most historic brewery in Las Cruces. While the brewery has only been open since January, the building it occupies has been around for more than 50 years.

General manager and co-founder Brian Weidauer said that the former home of Sierra Ice and Water at 2825 W. Picacho Ave. seemed to be a natural fit for a brewery.

“We obviously, first and foremost, enjoy beer,” Brian said. “We like the community that craft beer represents, and especially the camaraderie between all the businesses and all the breweries. The owner (John Wright) had an industrial supply business for a long time, a family business, and he recently sold that. I’ve known him for a long time, so we were working together. We paired up with (brewer) Garrett Denmark and started throwing around ideas of what we could build and what we wanted to do.” 

The connections that Wright had to the industrial community led them to a building with a long history.

“We found this building, it used to be an old ice (making) plant,” Brian said. “That’s where the name Icebox comes from. Since Miller has Icehouse, we didn’t want a cease-and-desist letter from them.“ 

Icebox is already one of the largest breweries in Las Cruces by square footage.

The first major brewery in Albuquerque was the Southwestern Brewery and Ice Company, which lasted from 1889 to 1917, and combined both brewing and ice-making. It remained open as an ice plant until the 1970s, though brewing never resumed after Prohibition.

Sierra Ice and Water was never a brewery before, and it certainly does not have a history dating back to the 19th Century, but it does make for a unique setting for a modern brewery.

“We worked hard over the past year or two to repurpose at least this front warehouse and get our brewhouse built, get all the equipment in place, get some recipes developed,” Brian said. “I think our approach to the beers is we kind of make sure most of the styles are very approachable to the general public, but also good enough for the real beer connoisseur.” 

The interior combines a comfortable vibe with the industrial aesthetic.

That approach fits the bulk of the local customers, as well as visitors from nearby El Paso, who are not as well versed in the more eclectic beer styles like people in Albuquerque and Santa Fe are used to these days.

“With the beers that we have, (I) just try to have the styles that are classic and basic, and we can continue to teach people what craft beer is,” said Garrett, who came from nearby Spotted Dog Brewing. “We want to throw some new stuff in there and start working on some kettle sours, and some of the trending beers that are out there, but we also really want to focus on what craft beer is and educate people on that.” 

Icebox has an open brewing area, visible to the entire seating area for its customers. There is a sizable patio out front, facing north toward Picacho Avenue. The bar inside is quite large, but there are plenty of tables as well. There is a small stage for music, and the SoHo food truck is permanently parked outside.

“There’s lots of room for expansion if we need it,” Brian said. “I can show you our walk-in cooler and what we did with that. We had to put everything in (ourselves). We put the sprinkler system in so we could keep the brewing equipment open (for viewing), just separated by the railing. That was very important to us. The investment was made to bring all of that in. Pretty much all of the electrical had to be redone, all the HVAC work is brand new, there wasn’t anything in here. It was kind of a shell of a warehouse.” 

The brewing area is visible from the entire seating area.

There were a few businesses that occupied the building in between the closing of Sierra Ice and Water, but none of them did much to modernize the building.

“We tried to keep the warehouse feel for sure, but make it feel comfortable enough with some little touches,” Brian said. “The big bar was part of our plan, the design from the beginning. We wanted it to be a place where people could sit and talk, make new friends.

“We have two more TVs when we originally even thought we were going to have. There was debate whether we were even going to have TVs for a long time. But, we kind of caved to the fact there’s events on from time-to-time that people are going to want to see. We put four on, but we’re tapped out.” 

Brian said the process of opening Icebox was not all that difficult in terms of dealing with the City of Las Cruces or the State of New Mexico, but he did not have a way to compare it to the struggles that many new breweries face in Albuquerque.

“I can’t relate it to Albuquerque, but I’d say the process overall was fairly smooth,” he said. “There were things we had to change to meet codes, obviously. We had a unique deal where we’re taking a pretty old building and when you repurpose it like that, you have to bring everything up to code. A lot of the things we ran into before we got our final inspection approval had to do with this particular building. It’s just the process, it takes long to come down from Santa Fe and then back to the city.” 

The storage area in the back definitely has the ice plant theme.

The immediate success for Icebox has already led the staff to make the decision to open an offsite taproom.

“We were hoping to really be into some remodeling projects and stuff by June, but it looks we’ll be July,” Brian said. “It’s public knowledge. It’s a Burger Time location up on North Main, 3231 North Main, it’s across from the Lowe’s Home Improvement, right by the I-25/Main Street exchange there.

“Over the years there used to be several neighborhood bars around that area. The liquor license laws and everything over the last 10 to 15 years, it’s disappeared. Right now you have a bar-restaurant up on Sonoma Ranch that’s pretty high up on Highway 70, (and from there to) all the way down to downtown, there’s nothing on Main Street anymore. We feel like it’s a great location for a neighborhood taproom/restaurant, just that local place to go and serve that side of town.” 

If you don’t get the joke here, there is nothing we can do for you.

The Shivering Scotsman (6.4% ABV, 24 IBU) and Black Ice Lager (5.1% ABV, 20 IBU) were both solid malt-forward beers. There are still many more to try, so rest assured that the Crew will return to Icebox on our next trip to Las Cruces.

A big thanks to Brian and Garrett for the beer and the interview on a busy day (Blazin’ Brewfest was just five hours away when we sat down).

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Welcome to Icebox Brewing, the newest addition to the Las Cruces craft beer scene.

Las Cruces is the second largest city in New Mexico, but for years, its craft beer scene was far behind Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and even some smaller towns.

There was High Desert Brewing, which had followed in the footsteps of O’Ryan’s Tavern (closed in 2000), and the Pecan Grill was contract brewing with Sierra Blanca, and that was about it. Then along came Spotted Dog Brewing, Picacho Peak Brewing, and most recently Icebox Brewing.

The north came south when Bosque Brewing opened a taproom across the street from New Mexico State, the alma mater of its owners. Bosque has since expanded to two locations in the same complex, with rumors of a third location now in the works. Silver City’s Little Toad Creek Brewing and Distilling saw an opportunity and pounced, putting a taproom on Main Street. Truth or Consequences Brewing now has plans to open a taproom in town, and Icebox is already eyeing its first offsite taproom.

Craft beer real estate is filling up fast in the city with a metro area population of 200,000 (and counting). Prior to ABQ Beer Week, when I was already in town for the Blazin’ Brewfest, I stopped to chat with representatives of High Desert, Icebox, and Spotted Dog about how their scene is evolving, how a sense of local camaraderie has already taken hold, and what the future portends.

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Head down to Las Cruces this weekend for good beer for a good purpose.

Having a charity as a component of a beer festival is a fairly common occurrence in New Mexico. Having that charity be a brewer battling cancer is not common, but that is the case at Beer for a Cause, a special festival taking place this Sunday in Las Cruces.

Pecan Grill head brewer David Allan has been diagnosed with brain cancer, and the medical bills are understandably quite hefty. His fellow brewers are joining forces to help him out by hosting the festival at Picacho Peak from 3 to 8 p.m. For those who have not been down to visit a brewery in Las Cruces, this is a good opportunity for a good cause to do so (Picacho Peak is located at 3900 W. Picacho Ave., to further help you out).

“He is not only a great brewer and mentor but a genuinely amazing person to have in your life,” High Desert brewer David White said in a press release. “Family and friends are raising money to help in this fight. … Every little bit makes a difference.”

Tickets are just $5 apiece and available at the door. The first 500 people get a commemorative pint glass. This is not a traditional no-limit sampling event, so all pints are $5, though we are fairly certain most of the beers can be tasted before you buy (ask politely). There will also be food trucks, a silent auction, and live music from Jackson Lane, The Smokin’ Blue Band, Triple Jack, and the Derrick Harris Band. All of the proceeds will go to help David in his fight against cancer.

“You should be there, because if you are lucky enough to truly call Dr. Wackadoodle Dave your friend, then you are lucky enough,” his friend, homebrewer Dennis Talley, wrote to us in an email. “I’ve called him that for years because he’s never brewed a ‘normal’ beer in his life! Just like Dave, his beers are truly unique and brewed with passion and detail. My brother without DNA.”

A total of 15 New Mexico breweries are sending one or more kegs to the event. We will update the list as more are identified.

  • Bosque: Elephants on Parade, IPA
  • Cloudcroft: Railspike Imperial Red, Sahti Finnish Ale
  • High Desert: White Walker Stout, Cerveza
  • Icebox: TBA
  • La Cumbre: Elevated IPA, A Slice of Hefen
  • Little Toad Creek: Hop-a-Long Rye IPA
  • Lost Hiker: Ruidoso Blonde
  • Marble: Double White, Cerveza
  • Pecan Grill: Peanut Butter Pecan Porter
  • Picacho Peak: Bitchin Brown
  • Ponderosa: Schwarzbier
  • Sierra Blanca: American Style Lager
  • Spotted Dog: Bier de Chien (Farmhouse Ale), and second beer TBA
  • Tractor: TBA
  • Truth or Consequences: Good Juju (American Brown Ale)

For anyone in the Albuquerque or Santa Fe areas, this is a good opportunity for a quick trip south to try some beers unique to the area, while also supporting a worthy cause.

A big thanks to Deanna Green for sending us the information and for helping to organize this festival on David’s behalf.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Festival season begins now!

The annual Blazin’ Brewfest is set for today (Friday) along Main Street in downtown Las Cruces. A total of 18 breweries will be present, some from as far away as Abiquiu, Clovis, Santa Fe, and Taos, to many of the Albuquerque breweries and the locals down south.

Things kick off at 5 p.m., with tickets costing $20 per person. There may still be some online and more available at the gate while supplies last.

This is a NM Brewers Guild event, so if you are in Southern New Mexico/West Texas, or are willing to make the drive down, please show up and support the Guild.

Need any final convincing? How about knowing what’s on tap? We have 15 of the 18 breweries’ lists, and will add the others if they pop into our inbox.

  • UPDATED—>Abbey: Monks’ Wit, Monks’ Ale, Monks’ Dark, Monks’ Golden, Monks’ Dubbel, Monks’ Tripel Reserve
  • Bosque: Lager, IPA, Elephants on Parade, Brewers Boot Amber Ale, Scotia Scotch Ale, Pistol Pete’s 1888 Blonde Ale, Driftwood Oatmeal Stout, Citronic Sessions
  • Canteen: Exodus IPA, Raspberry Wheat, Laid Back Lager, Dougie-Style Amber
  • High Desert: Rio Rift IPA, Cerveza, Saison, Peach Wheat, Dark Bock
  • Kaktus: TBA
  • La Cumbre: BEER, A Slice of Hefen, Elevated IPA, Project Dank IPA, Snafued Hazy IPA (special tapping at 7 p.m.)
  • Little Toad Creek: Smarte Blonde, Copper Ale, Grumpy Old Troll IPA, Pendejo Porter
  • Marble: Double White, Passionate Gose, Cholo Stout, Pilsner, DIPA (cans), Imperial Red (cans)
  • Pecan Grill: TBA
  • Picacho Peak: Picacho Lite, Cafe Negro Black IPA, Dukes Reserve, Mandarina Nugget, Keller Hefe, Dry Bones Irish Xtra Stout
  • Red Door: Unhinged Cider, Roamer Red, Threshold IPA, Vanilla Cream Ale
  • Roosevelt: Eleanor’s Blonde Ale, Portales Pale Ale, Full Stop Amber Ale, Clovis Point IPA
  • Santa Fe: Reluctant IPA (Hazy Imperial), 7K IPA, Twisted Root
  • Second Street: Red and Yellow Armadillo (Imperial Red), 2920 IPA, Agua Fria Pilsner, Kolsch, Rod’s Best Bitter
  • Spotted Dog: Raspberry Truffle Ale, Chien de la Passion (Sour Farmhouse), SD IPA, Dunkelweizen, Kolsch, Spring Thing (Belgian Farmhouse)
  • Steel Bender: Manana Tropical IPA, Red Iron Red, Steel Bender Lager, Raspberry Dynamite, Ingenio (bottles)
  • Taos Mesa: TBA
  • Tractor: Thai Basil Mint Cider, Apricot Wheat, Coloring Night (Fruited Wheat)

We put some of our favorites in bold from the breweries we visit regularly here in the ABQ and Santa Fe areas. Try those, try different ones, just do whatever makes you a happy beer lover.

If you head out tonight and have some pictures you would like to share far and wide on social media, send them over to nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com, or to any of our pages on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Just stay safe and have a great time. Here’s to supporting local beer!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Editor’s note: The Crew cannot be everywhere in New Mexico, so from time to time we have to call upon a new contributor to help us out when news is breaking in the outlying parts of the state. When we got word a new brewery was opening in Las Cruces, we put the call out for a correspondent to do a write-up. Phil Stofanak answered the call and sent us this write-up on the newest addition to the craft beer scene in Southern New Mexico.  — Stoutmeister

The outdoor stage is one of the most unique features of Picacho Peak. (Courtesy of their Facebook page)

The outdoor stage is one of the most unique features of Picacho Peak. (Courtesy of their Facebook page)

Picacho Peak Brewing is one of the newest breweries to hit the Borderlands, specifically Las Cruces. It’s tough to find as the area sits back off the road, but you will be looking for Grapevine Plaza and the gate will be on your right. Walking up to the place you notice that there is a lot of room to grow with numerous building on the property. They even have a large stage and chairs set up outside that you can move together or into the shade if needed. Dogs are welcome to Picahco and the grassy area was a welcome feeling to our pooch after a day at the lake. They were very accommodating and even brought out some water for him.

Another view of the space for beer drinkers to relax and have a good time. The stage is off to the left outside the picture.

The amount of space is great for hanging out with a bunch of people.

Once outside and after moving the table to the shade, we were met by our waitress, the daughter of the owner. It truly is a family affair. His son, Derrick, poured the beers behind the bar and took the check when we left. Even the grandparents had stopped in for a drink. They do have food on the menu and they were very open to making just about anything you could ask for if they had the ingredients. We had the chips and queso dip just to hold us over until dinner. The queso dip had just enough kick for us to know it was there. It was most likely not enough for people who enjoy hot stuff, but for us it was enough. It looked to be homemade and the price wasn’t bad, either. The queso paired well with most of the beers. I don’t really recommend queso dip and the smooth and stout though, I think that threw some taste buds off.

Just some queso and chips for a late lunch.

Just some queso and chips for a late lunch.

Picacho Peak serves five beers right now. None of the beers are particularly summery, but the IPA was light enough that it was decently refreshing for the 100-degree heat Las Cruces had when we visited. The Road Runner IPA comes in at 7.8-percent ABV and was not very hoppy for an IPA, so even a non-hophead would enjoy it.

Four of the five beers were on the list along with wine by the glass for those non-beer drinkers who still want to have some fun.

Four of the five beers were on the list along with wine by the glass for those non-beer drinkers who still want to have some fun.

The Javelina Black IPA has more of a malty base and is just as dark as the Smooth and Stout. My wife had to help out and tell me which was which, because they looked so similar. It was smooth to drink and overall not a bad black IPA. There was not much hop bite, but it does shine through just enough to know it’s an IPA.

Rojo Grande has a great reddish hue and is a very drinkable lager type of beer. Angelic Amber lives up to the name of Angelic, as it truly is heavenly. Overall, it has great body and the drinkability is high. The amber coloring and good taste would make this a great fall beer for sitting out and listening to some music at Picacho Peak.

The Smooth and Stout is just how it sounds. This type of beer is not my go-to choice on a 100-degree day, however it is still a solid choice for maybe when it gets to 40 or 50 degrees.

Picahco Peak Brewing would be a great place to hang out and catch some live music, which seems to be an ongoing theme judging by their Facebook page and the amount of events they are planning. They have plenty of seats and they also have sand bags, so you can play a game while drinking one of your favorite brews. Picacho has plenty of room to grow on their property and I wish them all the luck in their newest endeavor.

Another view of the space for beer drinkers to relax and have a good time. The stage is off to the left outside the picture.

Another view of the space for beer drinkers to relax and have a good time. The stage is off to the left outside the picture.

So if you are hanging out in the Las Cruces area and just want a chill place to have a beer and hang out with friends, then try out the newest brewery in the Borderlands.

Cheers!

— Phil

Las Cruces' biggest beer festival is back. (Image courtesy of the NM Brewers Guild)

Las Cruces’ biggest beer festival is back. (Image courtesy of the NM Brewers Guild)

The third annual Blazin’ Brewfest will hit Las Cruces this Saturday from 4 to 9 p.m., officially kicking off festival season in New Mexico. The event will be held again on Main Street, with plenty of food trucks and live music to go with the offerings from 15 different breweries, including the event’s four host breweries — Bosque, High Desert, Pecan Grill & Brewery, and Spotted Dog. It will mark the second New Mexico Brewers Guild event of the year, following WinterBrew in Santa Fe back in January. You can buy tickets online or at the breweries/taprooms in Las Cruces, or they will be $20 at the gate. The ticket gets you a souvenir glass and sample tickets.

As we try to do for every major festival, especially those supported by the Guild, we put out the call for beer lists so those attending have advance notice of what they are in for this weekend. Unfortunately, we have not gotten many lists yet, but we will keep updating this post and letting you know when it is updated via social media right up until the event starts. None of the Crew can make the trek southward again this year (it falls on a double birthday weekend, for one thing), but keep an eye out for friend of the Crew and possible future Las Cruces correspondent Eric Dust, who hopefully (HINT) will write up something on the event.

The beer lists, as provided by the breweries.

Bosque: Pale Ryder, Brewer’s Boot Amber Ale, Scotia Scotch Ale, Bosque Pale Lager, Equinox SMASH, Bosque Lager. That’s four quality house beers, plus two seasonals in the Pale Lager (had it Wednesday, should be perfect in the afternoon heat) and the new Equinox SMASH, a single-hop and single-malt ale.

High Desert: IPA, Peach Wheat, Hefeweizen, Bohemian Pilsner, ESB, Brown Ale, Stout, Oktoberfest. Those beers will be there for sure, plus they teased that there may be some surprise beers there as well.

La Cumbre: unknown

Little Toad Creek: unknown

Marble: unknown

Monks’ Ale: unknown

Pecan Grill & Brewery: They dropped the “De La Vega’s” portion of their name, plus they are brewing on site now. All they told us was that they will be bringing a number of specialty beers created at their brewer, not contract-brewed up at Rio Grande/Sierra Blanca in Moriarty.

Ponderosa: unknown

Red Door: Gateway Blonde Ale, Unhinged Cider, Threshold IPA, Roamer Red. Seriously, Las Cruces, for those of you who love ciders, Unhinged may be the best in the state. And because it’s there, you can take your gluten-free friend(s) to the event.

Santa Fe: Happy Camper IPA, Java Stout, Black IPA, Freestyle Pilsner, Pale Ale, State Pen Porter, Nut Brown. All the crowd favorites.

Second Street: unknown

Spotted Dog: Much like Pecan, they are promising to bring some unique beers to the festival, but would not name them. So think of it all as a big surprise. Part two.

Taos Mesa: unknown

Tractor: Farmer’s Tan Red Ale and Mustachio Milk Stout in cans; Apple Cider, Branding Iron DIPA, and Cowboy Blend Coffee Pale Stout on tap. Three staples and two seasonals from opposite ends of the spectrum.

Turtle Mountain: Brohemian Pilsner, Oku Amber, Hopshell IPA, Stauffenberg Stout. In addition to those, there will be limited samples of Wilde Jagd, TMBC’s first bottled beer, plus some bombers for sale.

Sorry we could not get all the breweries’ lists this time around. Hopefully we will have better luck when Bearfest and Blues & Brews go head-to-head in late May. Oh, and for the Outside Bike & Brew Festival in Santa Fe before that. Good lord May is going to be busy.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister