Despite owning four different rough road–capable vehicles, my family piled into our electric hatchback for the drive to Ravenswing Farm. The choice tested the accessibility of the remote nano brewery in the Burro Mountains outside Silver City.

We left the pavement about twenty minutes out of town and followed the wide and recently graded Red Rock Road for a mile or two. While my husband drove, I looked out the window, commenting on the ranchland views and pointing out cattle and horses for our daughter to check out from the back seat. After turning onto T Bar T Drive, the path narrowed a bit. With driveways appearing occasionally and an intersection coming up, I looked down at my phone to check the map. Bump! The Ford’s minimal suspension bottomed out on a water bar, sending my device flying and jolting five-year-old Willa from a near nap. Brent eased off the accelerator until our turn onto H Bar M Drive, then braked after the final right-hander onto Diamond A Drive, which took us on a steep descent to Ravenswing Farm.

Leaving the car parked along the road on the south side of a juniper-and-piñon-covered hill, we said hello to some corralled horses and started down the driveway. We passed the owners’ private gardens, barns, and play yards, then found ourselves at a break in the fence surrounding the beer garden. From there, we followed the beer bottle–lined path, which jogged around a stand of giant purple irises and ultimately led to the bar.

Owner Gabriel Gilmore and his spouse, Page Adams, both smiling, greeted us from behind the counter. Gilmore wore a faded bandanna over his long dark hair, and his eyes crinkled behind Ray-Bans. Adams wore a kerchief around her neck, and she kept the sun off her head with a straw hat. They gestured to the handwritten list of available beverages. “We hand-grind all our grains and brew in small batches, keeping our taps rotating as much as possible. We never brew over two BBLs [barrels]. But we like to brew even smaller than that,” Adams later told me.

Although our friends hadn’t arrived yet, we went ahead and ordered. There was no telling how long the journey would take each of them or whether the adventure of getting to Ravenswing Farm would call for a scenic detour. “We are definitely out there,” Adams said. “We try to push people toward Google Maps when they route themselves here. Other mapping apps misplace the roads out here in the Gila National Forest.”

My daughter was excited to request a strawberry fizz, the nonalcoholic option of the day. My husband asked for a pint of the cobre ale. The raspberry wild cerveza sounded most summery and refreshing to me. Adams implied I should expect some tang from that one, so I went with the half-pint to start with. The faceted glass of the jelly jar Gilmore poured it into reflected the beer’s juicy, jewel-toned hue. Taking my first sip, I commented that it did verge on the sour.

“All of our beers are wild ales,” Adams said, likening the difference between wild and nonwild to yeasted and sourdough bread. “We brew them dry and light and slightly tart.” They coined the term “wild cerveza” to provide patrons with an idea of what to expect.

As a small all-wild brewery, they use ingredients like local alligator juniper and New Mexico hops. The outcome, Adams said, is beer that varies between seasons and batches. “There’s a lot of things going on that wouldn’t normally be happening [with conventional brewing]. For example, the juniper might have berries or pollen on it. That in turn goes into the beer and changes the end result, whether it’s a little tartness or some extra juniper flavors that come through. Every one is a little different.”

They call their nonalcoholic fresh fruit fizzes, which are brewed on demand and not fermented, “fresca fizzes.”

They both have home brewed for decades, and Gilmore has a family history of home brewing. Some of his oldest memories are of exploring New Mexico’s mesas with his grandpa, then going down to the root cellar, where his grandpa would open a can of preserved peaches for Gilmore and a home brew for himself. Ravenswing Farm is home to some of Grandpa’s brewing equipment today.

Citing their experience with wild beers and craft beers around the world and at the “thousand or more” breweries in north San Diego, where they used to live, the couple says they’re inspired by both very new and very old brewing techniques. Their total process takes six to eight weeks. “Being wild, our beer can also age longer than other beers. Aging would make them more of a sour beer,” Adams explained.

The brewery is partly run by solar power, and well water is used for their brews. “If you were on city water, it would have chlorine and you’d have to remove that in order to brew with it. Our water is one of the things we value,” Adams said.

They also tend to brew with nontypical grains. “Some of our most favorite ones recently have been with amaranth and sorghum. Both are blonde wild cervezas,” she said. 

While the Ravenswing Farm taps are continually rotating, the couple aims to always offer a variety of beer, from the lighter side to the darker. “We try to have some sort of fruited or extra-fun one in the mix,” Adams said, noting that strawberry is a fan favorite but they’re refining their mango red chile recipe. “We’ve done it once before, and we loved it. We tried to step up the red chile in this one.”

But don’t go expecting any particular flavor, because the small batches sometimes don’t last long. “There will always be something different. We don’t post our tap lineup for the weekend, because it can change,” Adams said.

The beer garden design was inspired by the gardens of Gilmore’s grandma and mom. They took a page out of the Tucson Botanical Gardens’ book by edging the garden beds with glass bottles. Handmade art utilizing repurposed materials adds pops of color throughout, and fire pits add warmth in wintertime. The seating in the garden can accommodate up to thirty people, but the crowd size varies widely. “We’ve definitely had more and can have less,” Adams said.

Some of the other gardens scattered throughout the property produce fruit that might be used in their hyper-seasonal ales. “The main thing we grow for the beers are New Mexico hops. With two established beds, we’re working on expanding those to eventually produce enough hops to use in all of our beers,” Adams said. “We’ll never have semitrucks delivering pallets of grain and picking up shipments of our products. Being a rural brewery is part of our identity and what keeps us small.”

When the brewery got approved in 2018, Ravenswing Farm started really small—offering free tastings and growler fills to go. Before last August when Ravenswing opened to a wider community, their hours were based around Continental Divide Trail thru-hiking season. “We do allow CDT hikers to camp and provide them water and a spot to stay—and now beer.”

In general, the Burro Mountains—and Ravenswing by extension—attract outdoorsy types. “We have a lot of groups that are exploring the Gila National Forest,” Adams said, pointing to nearby hiking, birding, and hunting opportunities. “Maybe they’re out woodcutting, maybe just riding ATVs for the day and being outside.”

But Ravenswing visitors range in age, and many bring kids and dogs. Our own group included Willa, a friend of hers with her mom and baby sister, plus a couple I ride bikes with. When my cycling friends arrived, Willa stayed in my lap, but once her buddy arrived, the girls explored the garden, then busied themselves arranging pebbles and leaves in a circle near the irises. The baby scooted around in the dirt between them and us adults, savoring social hour in the shade of a juniper tree. We shared the garden with a crew of neighborhood residents who arrived via ATV. “Honestly, our typical customer probably just enjoys sipping a cold beverage in the woods,” Adams said.

Gilmore and Adams currently plan to keep Ravenswing small and continue to provide an off-the-beaten path gathering place or picnic spot. While the brewery hours will continue to change seasonally, summer hours are currently 2 to 7 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. “We always adjust our hours so people are not here after dark,” Adams says, suggesting visitors check the brewery’s channels before making the trip. “If for any reason we have to be closed, Google and our website and social media would have all that info.”

📍 31 Diamond A Road, Silver City, 88061

Jennifer C. Olson

Jennifer C. Olson tells the stories of the Land of Enchantment’s people, places, and culture through outlets such as edible New Mexico, The Bite, and New Mexico Magazine. Whether shining a light on a single fruit or diving into the complexities of the rural food system, she relishes the grains of stories in all of life’s moments. She lives on the outskirts of the Gila National Forest.