Flights of Fancy

ChiliLineBrewing-Beer_DSC3846Northern New Mexico has an astounding number of craft breweries, and more are opening all the time—far too many to discuss here. While the sheer volume of breweries can be overwhelming for consumers, competition can brew creativity. To stand out from the crowd, breweries here will often specialize in and excel at a specific style of beer, or a particular method of brewing.

Two new breweries in particular are carving out a niche for themselves in the diverse New Mexico brewing landscape: Alexander Pertusini’s Chili Line Brewing Co. in Santa Fe and Shyla Sheppard’s Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. in Albuquerque.

As the son of restaurateur Lino Pertusini, Alexander grew up in the restaurant industry. By contrast, Shyla is blazing a new path as the country’s only female Native American brewery owner. Chili Line is one of the smallest breweries in New Mexico, both in terms of brewing system and its classically compact Santa Fe building, while Bow and Arrow is housed in a spacious Wells Park warehouse in Albuquerque. At first glance it would seem these two breweries could not be more different, and they do each have a distinctive personality. But scratch the surface, and the similarities are striking. Both owners draw inspiration from the past, and their beers are deeply influenced by personal heritage and historical perspective. Continue reading

In the Midnight Hours…

Nightlife-MeowWolfe-LK_MG_8232Santa Fe is notoriously known as a sleepy little town, lacking in options for late-night revelry. “They roll up the sidewalks at nine p.m.,” the joke goes. But Santa Fe is shaking off that reputation with plenty of places to shake it on the dance floor, belt out karaoke or take in a show. Believe me, there are places to have fun into the wee hours of the morning, if you know where to look.

Visitors and recent transplants to Santa Fe, here are some ideas on how to spend your midnight hours in our not-so-sleepy town!

Uniquely Santa Fe

Among the state’s most-instagrammed locations, Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return has been called a combination of children’s museum, art gallery, jungle gym and fantasy novel, but that doesn’t really capture it. It’s really something you have to see for yourself––it is truly indescribable and highly regarded as a must-see for any visitor. But here’s something you may not know about the wildly creative art installation: At night, it transforms from a child-friendly playground into a psychedelic—and much more grownup—concert venue. Meow Wolf stays open late when there’s music, sometimes as late as 2 a.m., depending on the show. You can delight in the elaborate House of Eternal Return and enjoy the current band or DJ—all sans the rug rats.

Meow Wolf: hours vary during shows; 1352 Rufina Circle, 505.395.6369, meowwolf.com.

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Through the Years…KoKoMan

Kokoman_DSC1269It’s an all too familiar story. A person with a casual interest in wine is served that epiphany wine, a wine so good their eyes are opened to what wine is all about. And then begins that precipitous descent into the depths of wine geekdom.

One of the rules that geeks learn early on, when searching for that next epiphany wine, is not to be fooled by the appearance of a wine store. Oftentimes, the grittiest, most unostentatious of wine shops will harbor unknown wine treasures. Invariably, there is someone behind that shop who has an abiding interest and passion for fine wine. That characterization fits Kokoman Fine Wine and Liquor in Pojoaque to a T. It’s not much to look at when you enter the front door, but take that sharp turn to the left and all sorts of wine treasures are there for the taking. And the mind behind it all is none other than Keith Obermaier, a fixture on the New Mexico wine scene for a good many years. Continue reading

Balanced Beer, Balanced Life – Kaktus Brewing, Albuquerque

_DSC0095Pulling into Kaktus Brewing Co. feels like pulling up to a friend’s house, where the only plans for the evening are catching up over a beer on the back porch. Wedged between the susurrus of commuter traffic on I-25 and the Rio Grande in Bernalillo, the locale is bordered by a coyote fence bedecked with Crayola-hued doors and a prickly pear cactus mural. Nearby, royal blue chairs perch in a tree as though cast there by an artistic hurricane. The covered patio invites visitors to gather on couches and benches. Inside, they belly up to a blonde wood bar for one of the breweries craft creations. There are no TVs with baseball games blaring—an intentional choice to encourage conversation. The only background noise here is the occasional crow of a rooster.

In the greater Albuquerque area, a place saturated in good beer—there are more than 40 breweries/taprooms and counting—Kaktus is staying purposely small. Other breweries, like relative behemoths Marble Brewery and Tractor Brewing Company easily outpace the brewery’s German-made two-barrel system and 500-barrell-a-year production, but co-owner Dana Koller is unconcerned. “We want to be community based and a neighborhood place,” he says. Its vibe is friendly and eclectic, from the ambiance of its residential setting, to its neighborly values and sundry creations. Continue reading

The Root Cellar

LL The Root Cellar16The adage says it takes a village. Greg Menke, owner and chef of Beestro, The Hive Market and The Root Cellar, contends it’s not a village it takes—it’s a hive. That’s the model for effective, healthy communities—ones that renew and aid their landscape rather than deplete it—he’d like to see adopted. “The bee is really just a metaphor for how to live locally, live sustainably and give more than you take,” Greg says. And he’s taking over one storefront at a time on East Marcy Street to import it.

Greg inherited his infatuation with honeybees from his grandfather, an aeronautical engineer who studied honeybees and honeycombs, and applied those principles for lightweight strength to his work. Pouring through his grandfather’s old journals and workbooks, he found inspiration and answers to questions he hadn’t known he had. He’s come to see bees, providers of honey and beeswax for candles, as an emblem of sweetness and light, both of which are in need of spreading.

In Greg’s own work, those ideas have manifested in the form of the honey-centric businesses that have grown in recent years off the established lunch spot, The Beestro, which opened six years ago. The Hive Market, which opened in November 2015 in the former home of the Blue Rooster and the Rouge Cat, began as a holiday pop-up shop themed around “gifts from the hive.” The aim was to take a test run at the space and the idea of a store centered on honey-based products. It worked. Continue reading

Bike and Brew

Outside Santa Fe's Beer and Bike 2015

Outside Santa Fe’s Beer and Bike 2015

I’ve been asked what makes mountain biking in New Mexico special to me. For a brief question, I have a long and winding answer. My “love affair” (yes, my wife knows) with cycling began when I was given a sparkling blue Schwinn Stingray that I thought was the greatest gift of my young life. After a few weeks of toodling around with training wheels, I gradually became more confident. Then one day, with a patient father in an empty parking lot, I learned to pedal, steer and brake on two wheels. That blue bike radically expanded my childhood universe. I wasn’t limited by ploddingly slow foot travel or the whims of a parent with a car. I had my first taste of speed and freedom, so I explored.

I never lost my taste for the freedom a bicycle brings. I can’t deny that I’ve fallen prey to the temptations of the automobile. I’ve had many dalliances with the quiet speed of road cycling, and my town bike sees quite a few miles every year. But, oh the places you’ll go on a mountain bike! Not limited by pavement, a mountain bike can turn a thin dashed line on a map into a daylong or longer adventure. Continue reading