Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Santa Fe Brewing Company: The Best Tour of a Dispenser of Spirits Ever

In New Mexico with Volkswagen this week I was reacquainted with Santa Fe Pale Ale.

From its name you may not be surprised to learn it's crafted by a small New Mexican brewery: the Santa Fe Brewing Company. It's the state's oldest microbrewery.

Before they moved it to Santa Fe proper, the brewery was in a metal building in a tiny crossroads community called Galisteo about 25 miles to the south.

To call Galisteo a crossroads 15 year ago isn't an exaggeration. There really wasn't much there. Even finding the brewery when several of us went to tour it was difficult. It was down a dirt cart path with just a small sign showing the way.

We went for a scheduled tour that it conducted on the weekends. As it turned out, the five of us joined a young couple from Albuquerque for the early afternoon walk through.

Arriving at the appointed time, we were greeted at the door by an older gentleman wearing a ball cap, bib overalls and a flannel shirt. Smiling revealed six or seven teeth.

"Ya here for the tour?" he gushed as we walked in the door. We responded in the affirmative.

"Well, let's get to it then," he continued. "What ya have over there," he said pointing, "is where we make the beer. Over there," his gnarled hand moved to the right to several huge copper tanks, "is where we store the beer. And that over there; well, that's our capper where we cap our beer."

Smiling at us he shouted, "Now, who wants a beer?"

We spent the next two hours drinking free beer. I've toured dozens of microbreweries, distilleries, and wineries; Santa Fe Brewing Company was the best of them.

Although its Pale Ale was the only one of its beers retailed in stores or restaurants, it made several brews that it sold out of its back door. Evidently the federal label-approval process is so cumbersome and expensive that many microbrews are never retailed beyond the brewery.

Eventually we climbed back in the car and left, but it wasn't because we were pushed out the door. I think we could have stayed well into the evening. Probably only the tour guide/bartender's wife calling him home for dinner would have ended our swill fest.

It cemented my love of Santa Fe Pale Ale, which is every bit as good as I remembered it.

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