Stumbling through the downtown district of Farmington to find the right door for the Three Rivers Brewery could not have been more embarrassing. The New Mexico brewery and restaurant takes up an entire block, and there are various parts of the business – the brewstillery lounge, the tap room, the pizzeria, and the brewery-eatery. My companion and I opened at least three doors and stuck our heads inside, making eye contact with all the patrons inside before awkwardly stepping back outside, muttering with confusion. Well, that part was mostly me as my friend shit talked my ability to read signs, and to be fair, they were not wrong about my attention skills.
Not to worry – we eventually made our way to the right door and made ourselves comfortable, our distress quickly melting away at this casual diner.
Started in 1997 by John Silva and Bob and Cindy Beckly, this historic building was once the location of the Farmington Drug Store and Farmington Times-Hustler newspaper. According to its extensive menu, the business once had to track down payment from the White House after former president Bill Clinton visited. Also, the building is haunted, which we unfortunately forgot to ask our waiter about after a couple beers.
The Three Rivers Brewery beer listing is pretty holistic, and they’ve won awards for their brews – most recently from the Beer Army Beer Wars and New Mexico Restaurant Association. You can order anything from a Papa Bear’s Golden Honey Ale – a light, golden ale brewed with honey malt – to a Sky High IPA, a West Coast IPA brewed with five different hop varieties. And, while we are not fans of barley-wine, visitors can also treat themselves to a bottle of Sleigher Santa English Style Barley-wine.
We went with the Thrivers, a hybrid amber lager and the official beer of Farmington, at least according to the menu, and a Grapefruit Wheat, a hazy American wheat brewed with grapefruit. The Thrivers was a light beer with a solid balance between malty and hoppy flavors and a toasty aftertaste. The Grapefruit Wheat was a light, sour beer – perfect for the warm weather we’d just come in from.
There’s nothing pretentious about this brewery and eatery. The walls are a hodgepodge of vintage decor and signs, and our table a display of various old and amusing photographs and pictures. My favorites in particular were the “Farming Drug Sto” (nerp, that’s right – just “sto”) sign just above the bar and two small figurines hanging upside down on a duct trailing over the bar stools. I would love to know how they got up there, but sometimes it’s more amusing not to know.
Our food arrived in a timely manner, which was perfect because beer tends to make one hungry. I went with a plate of comfort food, a Southwest burger – a slab of pepper jack cheese, green chile, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and red onions on a fresh ground patty and a toasted Telera bun – and fries, while my companion picked a grilled steak cobb salad – a mixed bowl of greens, carrots, grilled steak, bleu cheese, bacon, croutons, avocado, egg, daikon sprouts, cherry tomatoes, and onions.
The burger was spicy enough to make any New Mexico resident proud. It was also so massive that I was forced to cut the monster in half. I love a bun with good texture, and this one was grilled to perfection. It was a crunchy yang to the yin of my patty, tomato, avocado, and green chile. My friend’s cobb salad was also delicious, an even mix of all the ingredients, and, well it’s hard to screw up a cobb salad.