I’ll be real. This one caught me by surprise. I remember when High and Dry Brewing opened up because they were literally a 30-second walk from my place. Driving by constantly, it was always full of people drinking and having a good time. It’s hard to argue with the power and sway that craft breweries hold in this city, and even harder to be so loved by the people to grab first place when you’re still so new to the scene. There are truly large breweries who have been in the game much longer, so it’s good to see the relative newcomers on the block take a win in this category.
2) Marble Brewery
3) Bosque Brewing Co.
Best Locally Brewed IPA
La Cumbre Elevated IPA
This one was no surprise to me. If you’ve spent any time working in a bar in the last six years in this city, you’ll know this is the definitive IPA of Albuquerque. Not to say others aren’t deserving, but La Cumbre does something with hops that no other bar quite manages to replicate. With their ultra hoppy IPA, they have managed to hold the hearts of the city in their hands, keeping the populace happy and in love. Every local brewery has a certain beer that is the iconic centerpiece to the rest of their drinking catalog, and in this case, Elevated IPA by La Cumbre is theirs, no question.
2) Marble IPA
3) Skull Bucket IPA, Steel Bender
Best Locally Brewed Sour
Steel Bender Raspberry Dynamite
Steel Bender Raspberry Dynamite is arguably the coolest name for a beer, and even more so, it fits the taste perfectly. The explosion of sour in your mouth with the gentle raspberry hints give it the sweetness it needs to not crush your taste buds, all while going down smooth. That’s why this beer is so beloved. Sours are certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but for those of us that cherish that tart sting, we’re salivating just thinking about it. Steel Bender Raspberry Dynamite is just plain amazing and has well earned its spot on this list.
2) Bow & Arrow Strawberry Amigo Fruited Sour
3) Quarter Celtic Brewery Mangose
Best Locally Brewed Lager
Marble Cerveza could be argued to be the most straightforward beer, both in terms of name and taste. Lager is the beer for the everyman. No frills, no big complex flavor profile. It’s beer the way beer was intended to be: A simple relaxing drink that didn’t require your attention. Marble feels like they’ve always been here, for as long as we can remember, but the fact is, they’re 11 years old. It’s impressive how rapidly Marble has grown in that much time and how iconic their lineup is. Even with straightforward beers, they manage to exceed the norm and create something you can enjoy no matter what your tastes.
2) Bosque Brewing Bosque Lager
3) Steel Bender Compa Los Ranchos Lager
Best Locally Brewed Amber
Boxing Bear Ambear Ale
The most fascinating part of this voting process is that in the drinks category, we can truly see the diversity of our craft beer culture come to life. Not one single brewery won on here more than once, each having their own specialty that they’re known and loved for. Boxing Bear Ambear Ale is the Boxing Bear iconic drink (though their Chocolate Milk Stout is my personal all-time favorite anywhere) and with amber ales, you get something a little darker than a normal lager, but still not so robust that you feel you need to sit an analyze it. With multiple taprooms and an impressive lineup of beers worth trying, Boxing Bear is deserving of their spot on this list, especially with their Ambear Ale.
2) Marble Amber Ale
3) Steel Bender Brewyard Sparkfitter Amber
Casa Rondeña Winery
Casa Rondeña Winery
Eric Williams Photography
Casa Rondeña Winery has a lot going for it, as I learned from my trip there last month. With an estate that just screams “local vineyard,” you get to see the process all in one place. They’ve got more wine than you can shake a stick at and a thorough history to back it up. Add on to the fact that the multiple clubs and memberships they offer that leave the door open for anyone to be a part of the experience they want to have, and you can see why Casa Rondeña Winery is sitting high up on the list. My personal favorite is the Animante, a dark port with a lot of sweet notes.
2) Sheehan Winery
3) Gruet Winery
Best Locally Brewed Cider
Tractor Brewing Company
Tractor Brewing Company
Tractor Brewing Company has always been the go-to for ciders. With an ever-changing rotation of interesting styles you wouldn’t normally think of, they manage to push the boundaries and give bold risks a try, creating ciders that don’t just taste like alcoholic apple juice. With their berry, delicious red, blood orange, rose and newly launched thai basil mint ciders, choice is the name of the game, and Tractor Brewing Company is playing to win. With four taprooms open all across the different spaces of the city, your cider-loving heart has no excuse for not getting down on some of the sweeter things in life, as long as those sweet things are in a glass.
2) Steel Bender
3) Boxing Bear
Hollow Spirits Distillery
Hollow Spirits Distillery has only been around for two years, yet the impact they’ve made is very noticeable, with craft distilleries now starting to pop up left and right. With their line of vodka, rum and gin, they’ve managed to already begin the process of the distilling revolution, showing the city that we don’t need the big corporate spirits in our life, we can stay New Mexico True with our own creations. In five years, this category is going to be filled with competition, but we’ll all remember who came in and kicked it off. Hollow Spirits Distillery is set to be a dominant force for many years to come because of their headstart, and damn did they get it right early on.
2) Left Turn Distilling
3) Still Spirits
Best Locally Distilled Spirit
Hollow Spirits Red 96
Hollow Spirits Red 96 is the bourbon you drink when you feel on top of the world, because that’s the feeling it reinforces. There’s always the image of bourbon being the drink you have when you hate yourself, but Hollow Spirits has taken that feeling out of it, leaving you filled with warm joy instead. Bourbon is no easy drink to do right, with so many bottom-shelf liquors being pain makers in the field. Hollow Spirits Red 96 is far and away above them, earning its spot high on the top shelf with a smooth finish, clean flavor and a gentle hint of woody smoke that is absolutely perfect for the fall months to come.
2) Broken Trail Horsethief Rum
3) Left Turn Old Tomcat Gin
There was a time when Sister Bar first opened that I wondered exactly who the bar was for. So many of our Downtown watering holes catered to specific crowds, and that was just the norm we accepted. I couldn’t pinpoint the crowd Sister was going for at launch, and that’s because they weren’t. Sister Bar wanted to cater to people who enjoy themselves, and that’s not any one clique out there. Their list of cocktails is always a sight for sore eyes in a city where some bars are lucky to pull together a drinkable rum and coke. Add to that a brunch cocktail menu that leaves you crying because you can’t spend the whole day lazing on a patio and drinking because eventually responsibility calls, and you can see why they took first place.
2) The Copper Lounge
3) M'tucci's Lounge
Best Coffee Roaster
New Mexico Piñon Coffee
Just because New Mexico Piñon Coffee isn’t at Albuquerqe International Balloon Fiesta this year doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy them. With one of the largest install bases within restaurants in the city, it’s easy to see why they grabbed first. Most local restaurants carry their product with high success, because it’s seriously solid good coffee. New Mexico Piñon Coffee is just plain enjoyable, and with how fresh it is when you have it, there’s an extra layer of love to add. Hun down a cup yourself (a fairly easy task as long as you’re getting breakfast most anywhere) and feel a bit of that warm joy in your life.