Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico, with a population over 500,000. It also has an incredible beer scene, with at least 24 breweries and brewpubs, for a per-capita number of 4.8 breweries per 100,000 people. Although well below powerhouses like Asheville and Seattle, it is still impressive, and formed the basis of our adventure there over Christmas. We stayed in walkable distance to downtown and, due to the holiday time, we didn’t get a chance to sample many. Fortunately, we did get to try all three breweries in the core downtown area.
First, downtown Albuquerque is eminently walkable, if a bit dodgy. As we were strolling, there was quite a loud argument between a fellow without a shirt (it was just above freezing) and several other men. Several of the homeless people we spotted carried baseball bats (probably as a deterrent). On Sunday night before Christmas, there were dozens of loud, flashy cars just cruising up and down Central Avenue. There was not police presence. So, if you want to go downtown Albuquerque at night, consider travelling in groups. We weren’t harassed beyond panhandlers and so got to check out Sidetrack Brewing, Red Door Brewing, and Boese Brothers Brewing.
Sidetrack Brewing was in a little storefront a bit out of downtown, so both quieter and more isolated-feeling. It was a pretty standard bar setup with a decent lineup of beers and, thankfully, quiet music. Although I was accosted by a customer with the usual question, “Woah, how tall are you?” it seemed most people were there for a quiet drink. The beer was fine to good, with the cask cocoa nib stout the standout. They seemed slightly hop-oriented with their lineup, so we skipped a growler fill.
On to Red Door Brewing, closer to the main downtown area but one street over from Central Avenue, so a little bit out of the way of the craziness. Occupying a large glass-fronted building, it had visible comfy chairs and a Christmas tree- instant pleasers for us. Their lineup was fairly extensive and included two excellent ciders. Other standouts were the wit and vanilla cream ale. Their seasonal maple brown was wonderful- nice maple character without too much sweetness. On our second visit, we discovered The Vault- a cozy separate room with comfy chairs and no music. We got growlers of their seasonal strawberry cider and the wit. This is one of the best venues to which we have been and cannot recommend it highly enough.
Boese Brothers Brewing is a short block down the street on a glass-fronted corner. It seemed a bit Spartan but they had a couple of comfortable booths. The lineup was not very impressive, and I don’t remember their beer being very distinct.
The easy walkability of downtown Albuquerque was a nice attraction for us, with a pretty high concentration of breweries. Had we been there away from the holiday, we could have easily walked to at least 5 more breweries between our AirBnB and I-40. If you are looking for a good beer destination in the southwest, Albuquerque is probably the greatest concentration of breweries you can find in a small area.