There really isn't a whole lot in this world that rises to the level of pretension and snootiness of a "hop-head"—or, in the common tongue, a beer-drinker who scoffs at anything not brewed as an India pale ale. Alas, I am among the legions of those ensorceled by the bitter beauties that have overtaken the nation's beer landscape. As fortune would have it, Santa Fe is now home to a handful of local breweries that are churning out quality versions of these hoppy wonders. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but what follows is a trio of beers around town that are worth quaffing.
Blue Corn Brewery's
Road Runner IPA
I visited Blue Corn Brewery's downtown location (133 Water St., 984-1800) to sample the Road Runner, which features Citra, Simcoe and Centennial hops. The latter is most prevalent which, for me, makes this beer a bit tame on the palate—it almost feels like a lager on the tongue. What most recommends this IPA is the Citra finish, with little notes of grapefruit shining through. The Road Runner is better to have drunk than to drink. I paired it with the crab dip, billed as "blue crab in spicy molten cheese," which actually improved the beer experience.
Brewery's 2920 IPA
Second Street's OG location (1814 Second St., 982-3030) is my favorite of the three, so that's where I went in search of hops. Because I love Second Street's Reuben sandwich, I ordered one with my 2920. This was a mistake. The menu makes quite a thing of the "sevvven varieties of hops" in this beer and is honest about the heavy malts that accompany them. I picked up a little bit of melon on the nose, which always pleases me, but my taste buds got a little confused after that. (I blame the Reuben, in part.) The 2920 finishes like a champ, though: Bright, uncomplicated and clean. Next time, I'm eating before I head to the brewery.
Santa Fe Brewing
I slugged this one down at the Albuquerque location (yes, toss those stones at me now) at the Green Jeans Farmery (3600 Cutler Ave., 505-401-1000). As legend and the bartender have it, the Western Bloc is the "mother" of the more famous and ubiquitous 7K IPA, one of my favorites in the state. So I had to try it. And I had to do it without getting food involved—and I'm so glad I did. This beer punched me straight in the nose with Citra, then finished me off with a heavy, though not heavy-handed, dose of Mosaic hops. The Liberty hops are less noticeable, as this thing is just sticky, citrusy goodness from the first sip to the overwhelming desire to lick the innards of the pint glass after the last. Instead, I just ordered a second one.