When we think of Colorado towns with cool downtown pubs, Alamosa doesn’t typically come to mind. But given our recent experience with the San Luis Valley Brewing Co., maybe it should.
The brewery, which opened in March 2006, was the valley’s first, at least according to the newspaper-styled menus they’re currently using. Even before we sat down, we were impressed by how cool the place looks.
The building was apparently built in 1897 and was a bank in 1912. Its 5,000-pound vault door is now a part of the back bar. Since then, though, it has all been transformed into a brewpub with the help of local artist and sausage-maker Kris Gosar. It has tall windows and a cool turn-of-the-century feel, but it’s also full of local art, it seems, at any given time.
But enough about the architecture, we visited the brewery for the beer.
The first brew we ordered was the Alamosa Amber. We like the alliteration, we love amber ales, and it never hurts to try the beer named after town you’re in (unless you’re in Booger Hole, West Virginia). The beer itself was true to its name — a deep red color — and it was perfectly balanced between hoppy and malty flavors. It was also quite crushable, and we can imagine enjoying it in virtually any context, summer or winter.
We followed that up with the Valle Caliente, which is Valle Especial, the brewery’s Mexican lager, flavored with Hatch green chiles. We’re fans of both Mexican lager (who isn’t?) and green chile, but as followers of the Colorado-New Mexico chile war, we found it interesting that the beer is specifically flavored with Hatch chiles. Alamosa is about 390 miles from Hatch, New Mexico, but only 120 miles from Pueblo, the chile capital of Colorado. Just sayin’.
Anyway, the beer definitely carried the flavor and a bit of the bite of the chiles, but more so than many green chile beers, you could very much taste the underlying brew. It was quite refreshing, with a strong taste of lager-iness.
Gosar Ranch sausages are somewhat famous for their quality, at least in Southern Colorado, so when we saw a sampler of them offered as an appetizer, we had to supplement our beers with it. What can we say? We were feeling Bavarian.
Speaking of which, it came with a Bavarian sausage, an andouille sausage, and a green chile sausage served with sauerkraut, pita bread, and mustard. The way we just listed those sausages also doubles as our rankings of them. The andouille and green chile ones were great, but in a twist, the one that wasn’t spicy allowed the most meat flavor to come through.
The appetizer did its job, making us hungry for another course. They always say that the best thing to pair a sweet wine with is a sweet dessert, and by this point we were drinking a green chile beer, so we got the Green Chile Guacamole Burger. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. If anything particularly stood out about it, it was the delicious Angus beef patty. If we’ve learned anything about food in the region, it’s that the San Luis Valley really knows its meats.
If and when we find ourselves in Alamosa again, we’ll probably be back. We’re still very curious about SLVBC’s oatmeal stout and American wheat brews, and we didn’t even get the chance to look at the brewery’s seasonal beers.