Gravity Bound Brewing Company, also located near a government building (am I seeing a theme here?) makes a bracingly fresh beer called the Garden Spot. Benny Valdez, who characterizes his position at the Albuquerque brewery as beverage dispenser operator / positive vibe technician, steered me toward this cucumber basil gose when I asked for his summeriest recommendation. “It’s not super heavy, it’s crisp, it’s carbonated. The cucumber brings a nice refreshment. I love cucumber water—it translates super well to beer, and it’s got a nice salty finish.” My beer assistant was skeptical upon first sip, as the Garden Spot has a subtle bitterness, but as we got toward the end of our pints, the verdict was a solid two thumbs up. And since it’s only 4.8 percent ABV, I can safely say our judgment was not cloudy. Gravity Bound’s seasonals can sell out pretty quickly (a sign that they’re good), but Valdez expects the gose to last through August. He also steered us toward Maizey Train, their Mexican lager, a “nice, light, crushable beer with a corn finish.” Either of these beers pairs well with the fantastic murals and natural lighting in Gravity Bound’s cozy taproom.
About a mile north sits the always enjoyable Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. The nationally renowned brewery is currently tapping a lager called the Rancho Light, a “regionally sourced pilsner malt with Saaz hops.” The menu describes the beer as “low ABV (4 percent), high drinkability.” It goes down incredibly smooth. I usually opt for their year-round Scenic West Hazy IPA, a consistently rewarding go-to at this venue, but the Rancho Light has me rethinking my whole situation when I go to Bow & Arrow. I find their beers to be quite flavorful, which is not a complaint, but this beer would be a nice, smooth alternative when you aren’t in the mood for a “beer experience” and just want to cool off in their beautiful space and enjoy the aesthetics of the room, which I would describe as Indigenous meets industrial meets medieval (something about that lighting).
So there you have it, your entry point into the world of summer beers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Think of it as a template to add to as you sample the flavors that best get you through the rest of this intense summer heat. Whatever your taste buds favor, be it light and crispy or super hoppy with hints of citrus and/or fruity aromas, there’s surely a summer beer out there waiting for you.
Of note to nondrinkers, Gravity Bound makes their own kombucha, which Benny Valdez says they are always tapping new flavors of. Sidetrack also offers kombucha, by New Mexico Ferments, and if you’re at El Vado, aguas frescas can be procured at Buen Provecho ABQ.
Jason Asenap is a Comanche and Muscogee writer and filmmaker based in Albuquerque. You can find his writing in Variety, Esquire, Alta Journal, Grist, High Country News, Salon, and New Mexico Magazine.