Brewcation: Red River & Taos, NM

Brewcation: Red River & Taos, NM

I’m posting retroactively here (New Year’s 2013), but this was such a great trip with so many tasty beer stops along the way!

The drive from Austin through West Texas is not what I would call particularly scenic. There was also the threat of inclement weather along the way, so we decided to make an overnight stop in Amarillo. I know it’s touristy, but I had always heard stories about the Big Texan (home of the 72 oz steak) and really wanted to check it out.

It was snowy and icy as we slid our way across the parking lot and into the warm, welcoming arms of a bustling bar. Situated across from the shooting gallery, it’s like drinking in the midst of an amusement park. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Big Texan also brews a variety of their own beers.

Beer list at the Big Texan when we were there Dec 2012.

Beer list at the Big Texan when we were there Dec 2012.

Suddenly our long wait for a table didn’t seem so bad. We tried a couple different beers and they were all quite good, but we ended up leaving with a gallon growler of the Pecan Porter. Other highlights included witnessing someone on the stage successfully complete the 72 oz steak challenge, and of course, our own delicious steak dinners.

The next day, after a brief stop at the Cadillac Ranch (where it was still freezing, by the way)…
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…we continued on into New Mexico. Long stretches of rural plains and map dot towns awaited us. So as we neared Red River, I was increasingly excited, not only by the change in topography…DSC_0018…but also by all the snow on the ground. I grew up in central California and now live in central Texas, so snow is still exciting. As we turned onto the road toward Red River, we spotted a sign on the side of the road for a brewery, with an arrow.
DSC_0024That’s it. You can’t see the brewery from the road and it’s just a plowed, long driveway. Trusting in Matty’s 4×4 and a general sense of adventure, we U-turn and decide to check it out.
DSC_0031 We follow the winding road back toward the mountain, passing a house and some friendly dogs, until we reach a little old log cabin. Comanche Creek, a brewery after our Tiny House hearts!
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We opted for a sampler of everything they were currently serving (a pale ale, kolsch, and porter) and ended up taking a 6pack of their Homestead Amber with us to be enjoyed later.
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The next day we had clear weather in Red River, so we did some hiking. People kept asking us why we didn’t have cross-country skis or snowshoes. Although we managed without them, after a mile I could see why it was such a commonly asked question.
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The next day, the forecast was predicting some storm conditions and large snowfall amounts, so we decided to drive to Taos while the roads were still open. We first went to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.DSC_0126
After a few moments spent in awe and wonderment (and looking for a Winnebago and an airplane), we circled back to a brewery we had seen on the way.

Taos Mesa Brewing was serving brunch and had a musician playing guitar near the stage area, so we took a seat at the bar. The windows gave us a great view of the building storm rolling in. I started with a Fall Down Brown because my last name (at the time) was Brown and I’m ridiculous like that. Matty had the Big Brown Beer because he’s bigger than me (or more likely because of the high ABV).
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We also tried the Lunch Pale Ale and Notorious ESB before moving along to our next beer destination.

We only had a beer each at Taos Ale House because the crowd was a little younger and rowdier than we were in the mood for that day. We had the SW Pale Ale and Dunkelweizen.

SW Pale Ale

SW Pale Ale

We concluded our beer journey at Eske’s Brew Pub. The building, an old adobe home, is really cozy and just the kind of place to come in from the cold and enjoy good beer and comfort food.

An 8-beer sampler and a bowl of stew.

An 8-beer sampler and a bowl of stew.


Thanks to Untappd, I have a record of what those 8 beers were. My memory would never be this reliable, especially after drinking all day. Taos Green Chile Beer (when in NM…), Oat Cole Porter, Black Cat, Holiday Cheer Beer, Artist Ale, Special Bitter, Eske’s Brown Ale, 10,000 Foot Stout.

We were also treated to a beautiful sunset.
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Luckily, we made it back to Red River before the worst of storm hit, DSC_0168
and we were well-stocked with provisions (this in addition to all the beer we had in the fridge).
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Brewcation photo slideshow: