ABQ Beer Geek
Gas Station Beer
Yeah, it makes me cringe, too. I’ve got bad memories of cross-country road trips where I wasn’t smart enough to plan ahead and have good beers at the ready. The low point may have been the time I had to buy 3-2 beer (that’s half-strength 3.2 percent alcohol beer—and this was Dos Equis, no less!) from a Wal-Mart in El Reno, Okla. I learned that it is biologically impossible to get drunk from 3-2 beer. Dry counties also seem to haunt my road trips. One otherwise forgettable journey, I was ready to stop for the night after a 13-hour drive took me to Nowhere, Ark. When I pulled into a gas station for my own personal fuel, I was told that there was no beer to be had for another 60 miles. I hastily drove to the next sane county. (Unfortunately, I had to settle for Icehouse, which left me feeling kind of dirty in the morning. Like if I stayed at a motel on Central and agreed to some “entertainment.”)
So I like to play a game with myself (besides the one where I pretend I’ve become a success). I go to an Albuquerque brewpub or liquor store and think about how happy I’d be if I were a road-tripper who decided to stay in Albuquerque for the night, and I stumbled upon one of these places. But I’ve never used a local gas station for my little pastime. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Fat Tire are usually the most exciting choices (besides 7-Eleven’s selection of “Late Night” Doritos flavors, of course). I had just found myself thinking, What if I was driving from Poughkeepsie to Needles ... when I saw the sign at the Phillips 66 station at 1200 Wyoming NE, just north of I-40: “Check Out Our Craft Beer.” A skeptical Southwest-phobe might think that a New Mexican’s idea of craft beer is Corona. Or 3-2 Dos Equis.
A cooler formerly reserved for sandwiches now holds 22-ounce craft beers from Stone, Rogue, Left Hand and New Belgium.
But the emergence of Albuquerque as a metropolis (c’mon, we have our own glossy magazine!) has brought with it a greater awareness of beer choices, and this Phillips 66 puts a wide gap between itself and the competition. It carries plenty of choices for a hop-lover, including Dale’s Pale Ale, Inversion and Ranger IPAs, and Marble Red and IPA. There’s also a cooler formerly reserved for sandwiches that now holds 22-ounce craft beers from Stone, Rogue, Left Hand and New Belgium. Station owner Janet Moya tells me, “My husband and I both love good beer, and we see the craft beer movement growing in the future.” She says that the defunct Subway in the building will become a fine wine and spirits shop with an expanded craft beer selection. Moya hopes to have this ready by July. She says the craft beer’s addition to the usual Olde English 800 and, yes, Icehouse has been very well received.
You don’t have to be a traveler to take advantage of the selection here. When you find yourself with a beerless fridge at 10:30 p.m. and all the good beer stores are closed, hit up this Phillips 66 for real beer, and support our growing craft scene. (Sorry, I didn’t check out the Doritos selection.)