Blue Heron Brewing Co, Taos Mesa Brewing
I’m going to put it straight out there that we didn’t like Taos too much, it wasn’t really our type of town – very touristy and still living off a hippy aesthetic that’s long past it’s expiry date. While it’s definitely worth a visit to see the stunning, historic Taos Pueblo and the jaw-dropping views from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, we weren’t expecting much on the beer front.
Blue Heron Brewing Co.
Imagine our delight when perusing the Lonely Planet (a mere five years out of date!) to discover that we’d be passing the localest of local spots, Blue Heron Brewing, in the tiny village of Rinconada on our way into town – of course a stop was absolutely essential! Nestled just off the highway with excellent signage (rural breweries take note!) they have a lovely little taproom with glorious mountain views from the secluded beer garden. For $10 we were served a flight of all five beers on draft, ranging from a sweetly honeyed Embudo Gold Golden Ale to a full, sticky La Llorona Scotch Ale, all of which more than cut the mustard. My favourite was a light, fresh and juicy Rinconada Raspberry Rye which slipped down like a dream in the mountain sun. Staff and clientele were friendly and helpful, giving us recommendations for our visit to town, and we left with a spring in our steps.
Taos Mesa Brewing
After some frustrating tourist fails later in the day, some beer was certainly in order and on heading back from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, the Taos Mesa Brewing Mother Ship (their name, not ours!) beckoned! The Mother Ship is both brewery and music venue, although confusingly their downtown taproom has a much wider (albeit slightly different) range of their beers available. That said, the Mother Ship is well worth a visit, both for its remote location and space-age beer garden. Between the decor, surroundings and wind whipping sand around you, you could almost be on another planet.
Our flight at the Mother Ship consisted mostly of IPA variants, of which the smooth, sweet Jonesy’s Cross-Eyed Rye was my favourite, and the very tasty Hotshot Smoked Porter – just what we needed to warm us up! We were directed to their central taproom to explore their oeuvre further, which is clearly the place to be in downtown Taos. With 20+ taps, including a few local guests, a billiards room and rather phenomenal pizza, we settled in with a further two flights, neither of which disappointed. Highlights were the big, chewy Girthy DIPA, the intense, sweet and juicy Mosaic IPA and the chocolatey Great Scot Scottish Ale, and it was great to try so many different styles brewed successfully from the same brewery. Taos Mesa take their beers seriously, they aren’t just working for the sightseeing and ski crowd, and their output is much higher quality than many of the New Mexico breweries we visited in busier areas and with wider distribution. Very nicely done.