In the Southwest, it’s an automatic assumption that you’re going to test out the local brewery when visiting another town. We pride ourselves on being amateur craft beer connoisseurs, so we go in ready to judge on the atmosphere, number of selections, flavor, and what kind of food pairings they offer. There’s a lot to consider and we don’t envy the pressure these businesses face to meet our high expectations. When you find a brewery that hits all of these sweet spots, you know you’re in for a killer time. That sweet spot scenario was our experience at Taos Mesa Brewing during a short trip to Taos, N.M.
We tend to visit quite a few breweries in the Four Corners, so we’re always looking for something to surprise us, whether that be flavor, personality, or the best dang nachos we’ve ever had.
We ended up at Taos Mesa Brewing while were staying at Hotel Luna Mystica for another story and were lucky enough to be within walking distance of the brewery. Taos Mesa, in fact, was the reason the hotel owner, Ryan Irion, decided to set up his vintage trailer hotel business in its resting spot.
“The brewery being there was the reason we decided to go in there in the first place,” Irion said. “It’s a nice feature so that instead of just hanging out at the campground, you have this venue where you can drink beer, eat food, and meet with a larger social group.”
After we unpacked and got settled in at the trailer we were staying in for the night, we wandered over to Taos Mesa Brewing, eager to see if the establishment lived up to its rep.
It’s important to know that the brewery isn’t short on the assortment of suds it has to offer. The self-described “10-barrel all-grain infusion mash brewhouse” has 12 house beers on draft, including lighter options like the Kolsch 45 and Wayne Grodziskie, and darker, heavier beers like the Black Widow Porter or Mothership Milk Stout. For those who like their beers a little hoppier, they’ve also got a Three Peaks IPA, and for the fruitier crowd, they’ve got Mr. Pink Guava/Cranberry Wheat.
Aside from their in-house brews, they also have some killer ciders, like Blood Orange Cider and Delicious Golden Dry Cider from Tractor Brewing in Albuquerque. It was love at first sip with Blood Orange Cider, and we even took some back home with us in a growler. The sweet, citrus tones in that cider tasted like sunset and had us running back and forth for second, third (and maybe even fourth) servings. The crispness was just subtle enough to set it apart from most ciders.
The food menu was your classic smattering of bar food – nachos, fries, burgers – but also offered dishes with a distinct New Mexico kick, like elote, tacos, Frito pie, and Tex Mex chili.
We went with the TMB Nachos with chicken, Frito pie, a pulled pork sandwich, and some elote, a dish we hadn’t been able to track down in the Four Corners.
Perhaps it was because we’d skipped lunch, but the food on our plates was not long for this world. It quickly disappeared.
The nachos came with a thick cheddar ale sauce that provided a delicate balance between the crispy chips and the heavy cheese. As it got down to the wire, we started scraping the bottom of the plate to get the last bits.
The pulled pork sandwich was a hearty stack of meat that made the carnivore sitting at our table more than happy. His accompanying fries had a perfect crispy texture, which made it impossible not to reach across the table and steal a handful when he wasn’t looking. They were packed with flavor, so much so that they didn’t require a squirt of ketchup – a magical feat in itself, as we are big fans of condiments.
The Frito pie was another win for dinner, with the chips buried underneath a rich layer of Tex Mex chili, mixed greens, cheese, tomatoes, onion, and sour cream. The person who ordered this is a firm believer in the superiority of Tex Mex above all other food groups, so it was impressive to see this Frito pie win her over.
And, following the rule of best for last, we saved the elote for dessert. The grilled cob was covered in dark char, giving it a perfect, smoky look. It was slathered in mayonnaise, butter, chile powder, and cotija cheese, which made for a messy, but fulfilling, experience.
Taos is truly a place of riches, and establishments like Taos Mesa Brewing contribute to that bewitched feeling. Thankfully, anyone visiting the area is welcome to appreciate the perfect atmosphere, like sipping down a beer and watching the sunset as the trombone wail from a jazz band adds the soundtrack.