ABQ Beer Geek
Nine all-star New Mexico drafts, two homebrewers and one unlikely location
Aaron and Lisa Prunier
The only reasons I’ve ever visited the industrial wasteland around Jefferson and Osuna were to pick up an obscure part for a vacuum cleaner and to dispose of trash I had forgotten to put out for two weeks straight. The opening of Hallenbrick Brewery gave me a whole new incentive to actually drive north of Osuna. Of course a beer freak like me would. The question is, would anyone else?
Judging from a recent visit, it seems that Hallenbrick has caught on with an interesting variety of drinking types. There was a guy in hospital scrubs talking to two guys in Pep Boys uniforms, a table of serious-looking business people, and others who were dressed like me, so I couldn’t tell you what they did for a living. Maybe they just drink. According to co-owner Jeff Brick, this is a typical scene nowadays at the brewery, a welcome change from the quiet months after the brewpub’s October opening. He partly credits the eclectic crowds to live music six days a week. In a typical week there’s an open mic night with Rex Warren, as well as nights for bluegrass, singer-songwriters and alt.country. “I feel that the combination of craft-brewed beer and Americana music go hand in hand,” Brick explains.
My favorite feature may be the “buy your buddy a beer” board that keeps a running track of who has a free beer waiting for them.
But why the remote location? It turns out that Scott Hallenbeck, the other half of Hallenbrick Brewery, already owned the space, and his plans to expand a water and soil testing business somehow morphed into a brewery. Makes sense. If you’ve been to a brewpub or beer fest, you’ve probably seen Hallenbeck. When I go to Il Vicino for cask night, he’s there. When I get a growler at Chama, he’s getting a keg. If I’m drinking a 40 in the parking lot of Castle Superstore, he’s pushing a cart of beer cans down the street.
Hallenbeck was an avid homebrewer, and he and Brick made an immediate splash locally when their Green Zia IPA took third place at the 2009 N.M. IPA Challenge. But of Hallenbrick’s nine taps, there’s usually only two of their own beers. The rest are a mix of other New Mexico favorites. On my visit, there were two Santa Fe, three Chama River, an Il Vicino and a Turtle Mountain tap along with the house beers. An excellent idea: a one-stop shop for the best draft beers in the state!
You can bring your growler and fill it for $9 or pay $12 for a new growler filled with beer. There’s also a mug club, which for $20 annually gets you 20-ounce pours for $4 and a dollar off growler fills. My favorite feature may be the “buy your buddy a beer” board that keeps a running track of who has a free beer waiting for them. You could go in today and buy a few rounds for me in advance. I’ll see you there for open mic Tuesday, where I’ll be doing my drunken-hack-passes-out-behind-microphone routine.