Santa Fe is a city of trails. The Dale Ball trails, the Rail Trail and even the Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail figure prominently in the lives of adventuresome Santa Feans. When it comes to beer, there isn’t a trail (yet) but there are certainly many tasty stops to make during the search for Santa Fe’s best brew.

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The Santa Fe Brewing Company
(35 Fire Place, 424-3333) is the most far-flung brewery when starting out from downtown but is popular with the busy surrounding light industry and neighborhoods on the city’s southern edge. As New Mexico’s oldest microbrewery established in 1988, Santa Fe Brewing has a large on-site brewery churning out at least 12 staples and seasonal brews, including standbys like Dirty Blonde Ale, State Pen Porter and the potent Chicken Killer Barley Wine.

You won’t be going for the views at Santa Fe Brewing (unless you like watching cars zip past on a freeway), and views aren’t part of the equation at Duel Belgian Style Brewery and Taproom (1228 Parkway Drive, 474-5301) either. However, unique Belgian-style beer and a small but interesting menu are part of the experience at this comfortable and soon-to-be-expanded newcomer to the city brewing scene. Nestled in an office park, Duel is a little hard to find but worth the effort.

Veteran beer drinkers have likely made more than one trip to the venerable Second Street Brewery (1814 Second St., 982-3030) at its original location, which tapped its first keg in 1996, or the newer Second Street at The Railyard. Standbys include Kölsch and India Pale Ales, along with a large selection of lagers and other ales. There is also a decent food menu at both locations.

Established in 1997, the city’s third oldest brewery is Blue Corn Brewery (4056 Cerrillos Road, 984-1800). With its sister location at 133 W Water Street downtown, Blue Corn serves up six house beers and four rotating specialty beers throughout the year.

For many years in Santa Fe, the downtown Blue Corn was one of the only places to get a New Mexican-born beer around the Plaza. That has changed with the newly minted Draft Station (60 E San Francisco St., 983-6443) featuring beers from throughout the state, including Marble Brewery, Rio Chama and La Cumbre.

Just across the corner of San Francisco Street is another relative newcomer to the beer-drinking scene, Thunderbird Bar and Grill (50 Lincoln Ave., 490-6550). Thunderbird has a 20-tap selection of beers from New Mexico and beyond. Its extensive selection makes it worth a visit, alongside a full bar and menu.