By William Brand
Saturday, October 28th, 2006 at 10:55 am in Uncategorized.
I’m on a brief trip to Santa Fe, NM this week and of course I’ve checked out the local beer scene.
First visit this trip was to the Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery, which is inside one of the tourist trap developments that have changed the Santa Fe Plaza into well, mostly a tourist trap, selling everything from cheap trinkets to high art. It’s hard to imagine that this was once the center of life in Santa Fe, and the plaza was lined with real stores. There was even a Woolworth’s.
But Santa Fe has grown – estimated population 70,631, up 13.5 percent from the 2000 census – and commerce has moved out into the sprawl.
So I never expect much around the plaza these days. The Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery is always a pleasant surprise. It actually fronts on Water Street, which is a block off the plaza, although you can get there from the plaza by walking through the maze of tourist-oriented shops.
The Water Street location is one of two; the other is out in the sprawl on Cerrillos Road, where as the pub’s website states:“This is where you can put your finger on the pulse of the real Santa Fe, as the natives live it.”
Prices at the plaza location are reasonable (from my San Francisco Bay Area perspective). I ordered New Mexico Green Chile Stew (as they call it these days). It’s a kind of pozole, made with potatoes, chunks of pork and lots of New Mexico green chiles: $7.75. Spicy and good and served with a couple of sopaipillas _ a light fluffy, New Mexico version of fry bread.
Head brewer is Daniel Jaramillo. Blue Corn offers a sampler set of their beers, eight beers in four ounce glasses, $6. Their beers, all ales, were fresh and decent. As one often finds in dry, high, American climates like Santa Fe (elev. 7,300 feet), beer tends toward the light end.
Natually, I find myself gravitating toward the other end. I especially liked Plaza Porter***+, made with roast malts and a touch of smoked malt, which gave it an interesting nose and taste. The smoke made it a perfect beer to pair with spicy green chile stew.
I also like End of the Trail Brown Ale***+, a 5.4 percenter with a light, roast malt nose. High Altitude Pale Ale *** made with Centennial hops, had a true hoppy nose and a dry taste that made me wish for a bit more malt. Still very drinkable beer.
Ditto Road Runner IPA. A 4.0 score for hoppy nose.
Forget what I said about tourist traps. If you’re stuck with a black belt shopper in downtown Santa Fe, NM, get thee to the Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery.
Locations: Downtown: 133 Water St., (505) 984-1800
SOUTHSIDE: 4056 Cerrillos Rd., (505) 438.1800