Eric Williams Photography
Latest Article|September 3, 2020|Free::
Making Grown Men Cry Since 1992
There has long been the thought that craft breweries as a whole here in New Mexico are a bubble waiting to burst. The explosion of the craft scene was shocking, sweeping over the city like a rampant wildfire, taking up space left and right, leaving neighborhoods with a new watering hole for beers every time you turned around. Yet every year, without fail, it felt like 10 more breweries would pop up and thrive in their location, adding more value to their neighborhoods. In a way, every new brewery that comes to Albuquerque specifically has to feel like a roll of the dice, hoping this isn’t the one that will eventually start a chain reaction of people getting tired of new breweries. With Enchanted Circle Brewing (6001 San Mateo Blvd. NE Ste. F3) expanding out of Angel Fire into Albuquerque, they had one distinct advantage going in: They’ve done this before, and they know their beer list is not only functional, but also well liked. The space itself is beautiful. Filled with televisions and wood, it feels like the kind of brewery that was tailor-made to stop by after work with friends to destress after a rough day. It has the kind of laidback vibe you expect from a brewery, but with a very solid design that helps accentuate the strengths of that mood. Additionally, the layout and materials help soften the overall noise, meaning your conversations aren’t in danger of being drowned out by the sound around you.But here’s what matters most to you: How do those beers hold up in Albuquerque? The good news is that they hold up extraordinarily well, in fact surpassing some local favorites in many ways. Before I go into the beers, I want to briefly touch on the food. They have a pretty diverse menu, and I tried quite a few things, but ultimately, the food isn’t the strength here. The food menu is the complement to the dedication and love that go into these beers, and for pub food, it’s good. There’s nothing crazy or inventive that is worth the trip just to eat but rest assured that your drinking will have a variety of good snacks and meals to accompany it, if you wish. I will note that the chicken pot pie ($12.95) should be given a chance if you visit, due to how unique and visually appeasing it is, and the fact that chicken pot pie is rare to see on menus. I snagged a flight of four beers to help get a good baseline, trying to reach a range of different tastes. The first one up was the Hells Bells Helles Lager ($5 a pint). Helles means pale in color, which is true for this beer. With a golden color that’s just light enough to see through, the Hells Bells is a touch sweeter than a traditional lager but has significantly more taste. The hop taste isn’t strong, and it goes down very smoothly. The second brew I tried was the Back Seat Blonde ($5 a pint), a blonde beer that was slightly darker than the Helles Lager. Here, the notes of hops were a little more pronounced, giving the beer a more traditional taste, but it too was light and easy on the stomach. A hint of earthy floral-ness on the finish helped make this beer stand out among other blondes in the field, allowing it taste, flavor and attitude without sacrificing the tradition.My third bev was the Black Lake Bourbon Vanilla Porter ($5 a pint). Simple, clean, direct and refreshing. I love darker beers, and the vanilla porter was a wonderful fit for my own flavor profile. With the lighter vanilla hints allowing the brown malt notes to do their work, this beer managed not to be heavy, but to still carry the weight of a typical porter. It was easily my second-favorite beer here. But then, what is my top beer from Enchanted Circle Brewing Co.? That would be the big daddy of the beer list, the Belgian Quad ($8 for 10 ounces), which is barrel aged. With a 13.3 percent ABV and a limit of two per customer, I just knew this beer would be immense. The rich, dark color is used to help conceal the monster that lies within its depths. A powerful aroma hits the senses as you raise it to your lips, and then you are washed off the shore and into the storm. This beer is a powerhouse of taste and sensation, without the drawback of a bitter alcoholic aftertaste that is typical of high-ABV beers. The barrel-aging process allows it to truly settle into the magical notes you’d expect in a quad, leaving something eloquently smooth on the tongue. If you have only one chance to try a beer here, you’re really going to miss out on something beyond all expectations if you don’t try this one. Enchanted Circle Brewing is easily at home in our city, fitting nicely into its neighborhood while offering both familiar and new styles. It’s worth the trip to check out their extensive beer list (at the time of publishing, there isn’t an easily accessible list of their beers on tap locally, though they offer, at our count, 22 beers on tap), and to break free of the regular expectations of your normal hangout for something more adventurous. “Fortune favors the bold” as the old proverb goes, and in this case, there’s a ton of fortune to be found in the beer selection of Enchanted Circle Brewing Co.