There is an ancient Celtic axiom that says good people drink good beer. Which is true, then as now. Just look around you in any public barroom and you will quickly see: bad people drink bad beer. Think about it.
— Hunter S Thompson
How lucky we are to have a splendid assortment of dedicated beer and hard-cider producers here to keep us from becoming one of Dr. Gonzo’s “bad people.” Although good beer and hard cider are certainly subjective passions, Thompson may have been on to something: Whether you’re a taproom snob or a casual appreciator of well-crafted local libations, Santa Fe’s micro-brewing community is strong, ambitious, friendly and filled with opportunities beyond the mega-industrial pale (ale).
In 2012, New Mexico was home to around 30 microbreweries. Four years later, that number hovers around 60, according to "New Mexico Craft Brewing Update and Legislative Agenda," a report released by the New Mexico Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy Committee in October 2015. In Santa Fe, the number of breweries and cideries is humble compared to the exploding Albuquerque market. However, if you choose to be a good beer or hard-cider person, this town does not disappoint. From taprooms to bottles to cans to growlers, our scene is resplendent. Peep their websites for food offerings and special pairing dinners. Let's follow Thompson's lead and take a look around, shall we?
Blue Corn Café & Brewery
4056 Cerrillos Road, 438-1800 133 Water St., 984-1800
Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2017, Blue Corn Café & Brewery also has a long-standing restaurant outpost downtown with the same beer but a different menu. Both locations are passionately food-focused in their beer offerings, with brewer Kyle Yonan at the beer helm. Favorites among locals include the Atomic Blonde Ale, Road Runner IPA and a rotating selection of seasonal brews.
Chili Line Brewery
204 N Guadalupe St., at Pizzeria da Lino, 500-7903, 982-8474
The newest kid on the beer block announced in early February that it finally procured its local and federal brewing licenses. This small-batch producer tucked inside legendary local restaurateur Lino Pertusini's pizzeria/trattoria space offers up some cleverly named brews on tap, including El Jefeweizen, Dañada Dunkel, Socorro Stout and Pinche Guey IPA. And it's a family affair: Lino's son Alexander is in charge of the brewing operation and also manages the pizzeria.
1228 Parkway Drive, Ste. D, 474-5301
All hail the king of locally made Belgian-style beers, which tend to lean more heavily on yeast science and experimentation than on hoppy or malty indulgence. From the Whistler Blonde Ale to the evasive Goya Imperial Stout, Duel has been a Southside favorite since opening in 2013.
Falcon Meadery and Winery
1572 Center Drive, Ste. E, 819-8323
You can find Falcon's new Enchanted Sunset Natural Hard Apple Cider at Duel Brewing and the New Mexico Hard Cider Taproom, but a visit to their facility off Camino Entrada is a treat. Call for details.
New Mexico Hard Cider
505 Cerrillos Road, in the Luna retail complex, 231-0632
New Mexico Hard Cider is the local farmer's friend, using New Mexico-grown apples whenever possible. Its space in the Luna complex is the state's first hard-cider taproom. Their slightly sweet, barely effervescent Doña Tules cider and special-reserve, barrel-aged Crab Apple Blend cider are good to the last drop.
Santa Fe Brewing Co.
35 Fire Place, off NM 14, 424-3333; Eldorado Taphouse, 7 Caliente Road, Ste. A9, 466-6938
Santa Fe's oldest brewery (it began as a small brewery in 1988) is expanding its barrelage to 200,000 barrels in the coming years, and its bottling and canning endeavors reach far beyond the state. Flagship selections include Nut Brown Ale, Happy Camper IPA, Santa Fe Pale Ale and the dangerously addictive (and strong) Chicken Killer Barley Wine Ale.
Santa Sidra Hard Cider
1730 Camino Carlos Rey, Ste. 103, 424-6122
Dedicated to using only New Mexico-grown apples, Santa Sidra's dry and sweet ciders are hand-pressed in Santa Fe and are available at numerous restaurants and retail outlets, from Dr. Field Goods Kitchen to Violet Crown Cinema.
Second Street Brewery
1814 2nd St., 982-3030; Second Street in the Railyard, 1607 Paseo de Peralta, Ste. 10, 989-3278
When brewer Rod Tweet opened the original Second Street Brewery and restaurant in 1996, he probably couldn't have imagined how much his business would grow over the next two decades. Today, Tweet is also focused on a 20,000-square-foot brewing expansion on Rufina Street that will take the business's barrelage from 1,800 barrels to between 8,000 and 12,000 barrels. A taproom and a canning operation are also slated for the space. In the meantime, hit up the original and Railyard locations for a 4-Hour Lunch IPA or one of Tweet's many seasonal brews.
Out on the Town
There are plenty of places around Santa Fe that carry a generous and diverse selection of local and regional beers and ciders in bottles, in cans and on tap, and these three standouts never disappoint:
319 S Guadalupe St., 982-2565
Offering 12 beers on tap in the main bar, Santa Fe's favorite Western-themed watering hole is dedicated to maintaining a rotating selection of beers and ciders that have the made-in-New Mexico stamp of approval.
60 E San Francisco St., 983-6443
Boasting 14 beers and ciders on tap, this joint is seriously dedicated to showcasing New Mexico brewers only. Draft Station, which overlooks the historic Plaza in the Santa Fe Arcade, is as good for the tourist-watching as it is for the brew.
Fire & Hops
222 N Guadalupe St., 954-1635
Sporting more than 20 brews on a list that embraces local and regional selections, while also bringing in some heavy hitters from around the country, Fire & Hops had better be serious about its pours and food pairings: The place is co-owned (along with chef Joel Coleman) by Josh Johns, who helped launch Santa Fe Hard Cider before getting into the gastropub biz.