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AUG/SEP 2005 | REGIONAL | SOUTHWEST

Southwestern Thirst
By Pete Ricks
 


Eske’s Brew Pub & Eatery
106 Des Georges Lane
Taos, NM 87571
(505) 758-1517

Socorro Springs Brewing Co.
1012 N. California St.
Socorro, NM 87801
(505) 838-0650

High Desert Brewing Co.
1201 W. Hadley Ave.
Las Cruces, NM 88005
(505) 525-6752

Prescott Brewing Co.
130 W. Gurley St., Suite A
Prescott, AZ 86301
(928) 771-2795

Oak Creek Brewing Co.
2050 Yavapai Dr.
Sedona, AZ 86336
(928) 204-1300

 

This time we are going to cover some breweries in Arizona and New Mexico that might be a little off the beaten path. Starting at the top of New Mexico, Eske’s Brew Pub & Eatery is a nice treat at just about any time of year. Eske’s is located in the heart of downtown Taos, N.M., where there is plenty to do, whether it be hitting the slopes during winter or taking in some summer sports during the warmer months. Of course, sampling Eske’s great beer could be considered a sport, and Head Brewer Steve Eskeback makes sure that there is always a varied lineup of tasty beers to serve with the great food.

Some of the lighter beers include Rio Refresco, a refreshing 3.75% wheat beer; OL’ 43 Blonde Ale; and Taos Green Chile Beer, a 4% vegetable beer brewed with — you guessed it — green chilies during fermentation. The number of beers brewed throughout the year varies, so it is a good idea to check the Web site or call ahead to get the current offerings. Other notable beers brewed at Eske’s include Organic Bitter, brewed with 95% organic grains; Eske Bock, Mesa Pale Ale, and Bert & Ernie Barley Wine.

Towards the middle of the state is another one of New Mexico’s gems, Socorro Springs Brewery, at the junction of Highway 60 and I-25 in Socorro. You will find a bustling local crowd at this eatery, as it is one of the favorite local hangouts. The menu consists of wood-fired pizzas, calzones and sandwiches served both hot or cold. Brewer KC McFadden brews many fine beers, including the Brown-Eyed Molley’s Brown Ale, which uses hand-roasted grains from the wood-fired oven, and Prohibition Stout, which claims to be the first stout brewed in Socorro since Prohibition. (We’ll take your word for that one, Socorro.)

Other regulars include the Park City Porter, a robust beer with a nice chocolate profile, and the Pick Axe IPA, a nicely balanced IPA and the most popular craft beer in Socorro. We love a town that loves hops! Other seasonals and out-of-the-ordinary beers include the Santaberry Bog Ale, brewed with cranberries, orange and other spices; Raspberry Wheat, brewed with fresh raspberries and honey; and the Pumpkin Patch Pale Ale. Hey, every town needs a good pumpkin beer for October.

Farther south in New Mexico is Las Cruces and High Desert Brewing, whose slogan is “None of Our Beers Suck!” Brewmaster Bob Gosselin works hard to make sure that mantra holds true, having a wide variety of beers on tap, both lagers and ales. I had the pleasure of sampling one of Bob’s barley wines at a beer dinner, and it was an outstanding example of the style. Some of the standouts at High Desert include the Barley Wine, Imperial Stout, Higher Hop Bitterness, the Bohemian Pilsener, and Peach Wheat Ale. Gosselin is constantly rotating seasonals in and out of the lineup, so you never know what malty, hoppy treats might be in store when you visit the pub.

Not many breweries can boast as much hardware for the trophy/medal case in such a short period of time as Prescott Brewing.

Two great craft-beer destinations to visit in Arizona during the summer months — or anytime, really — include Prescott Brewing Company in Prescott and Oak Creek Brewing in Sedona. Prescott Brewing has a long tradition of excellence, winning countless medals for its craft lagers and ales. It is located in historic downtown Prescott along Whiskey Row. Owner and brewer John Nielsen, along with his wife, Roxane, operate one of the premier craft beer destinations in the entire Southwest. Head Brewer Jan Brown makes sure the beer is up to Prescott standards, and those are pretty high standards to meet. Just in the past 12 months, Prescott has won medals at the GABF for Pilsner 500, the North American Beer Association Festival for Petrified Porter and Funkendunkel, and the World Beer Championships for Christmas City Ale. Not very many breweries anywhere can boast that much hardware for the trophy/medal case in such a short period of time! Located in central Arizona just west of I-17, Prescott is an easy drive from Phoenix, and the beer and hospitality at PBC make it well worth the visit.

Not too far from Prescott is the town of Sedona and another one of Arizona’s standout craft-beer destinations. Oak Creek Brewing, founded and operated by Brewmaster Fred Kraus, produces some of the best beer in Arizona, including one fine hefeweizen. Kraus trained in Germany, so he knows a good hefe! Head Brewer Jim Strelau cranks out local favorites, including the Nut Brown Ale, long one of my favorite nut brown beers anywhere, and the middle-of-the-road Oak Creek Amber Ale. Oak Creek also boasts some of the best food in Sedona at the Oak Creek Brewery and Grill, located at the Tlaquepaque Center in Sedona, not far from the actual brewery itself. Next time you are in the Sedona area, stop in at Oak Creek and tell them the Celebrator sent you.

In other Arizona beer news, Derek Osborne of BJ’s reports that the new Mesa location at Superstition Springs and Power Road is now open. Osborne is one busy dude, as he has been producing beer for all of the Arizona BJ’s locations, as well as several draft accounts. BJ’s is also planning another opening at Desert Ridge sometime in the first half of 2005.

Lastly, we’d like to remind our readers about the Made in the Shade Beer Festival on August 13 at the Coconino County Fairgrounds, just outside of Flagstaff. Should be a hoppy, good time!

Pete Ricks covers craft beer in the Southwest for the Celebrator Beer News and beerdude.com, where he’s going for .700 or better this year in the 2005 Pro Pick ’em Challenge.

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