Beer: Santa Fe Pale Ale
Brewery: Santa Fe Brewing Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico
|#2 in a series of 2: Southwestern beers in flimsy plastic Motel 6 cups. (#1 is here)|
New Mexico is close to Mexico, but it is definitely NOT Mexico. The license plates make sure you know that it is indeed in ‘Murica: “New Mexico USA” they say, because people from Mississippi and Alabama (or even Arizona) might call the Border Patrol to report illegals if they saw a car they thought was from Mexico driving around their neighborhood.
|New Mexico is not in Mexico. Santa Fe Pale Ale was okay, but I was not "enchanted."|
Mexican beer is usually bad, but you might expect New Mexican beer to be pretty good. After all, the state attracts more than its share of artsy, craftsy, do-it-yourselfers, especially to places like Taos and Santa Fe, home to the Santa Fe Brewing Company, from which I sampled their Santa Fe Pale Ale on my recent roadtrip through the Southwest.
|Shiprock, in northwestern New Mexico, is a gigantic plug of a long-dormant volcano. Far more enchanting than mediocre pale ale.|
It turns out that New Mexican beer is indeed better than Mexican beer, but from my limited experience it’s not a whole lot better. Unfortunately, my experience was very limited: the Safeway in Farmington where I found the Santa Fe Pale Ale had exactly five New Mexican beers to choose from (compared to the 70 or so California beers available at my tiny local corner store). I went for the pale ale because my wife and I were mainlining pale ales throughout our trip. They generally have a nice mix of interesting flavor, minus the palate-annihilating hoppy bitterness of IPAs that can get a bit obnoxious when its 98 degrees outside.
|New Mexico's flag (right) might not as be as badass as Old Mexico's flag (left, with the eagle eating the snake), but among U.S. state flags it is certainly one of the more aesthetically pleasing (especially compared to, say, this, or this).|
This one, unfortunately, was a bit less interesting than I would have hoped. It was a bit watery, a bit flavorless, and what flavor it did have was a bit off in a way that I really can’t describe. Perhaps this is because, as per the brewery’s website, Santa Fe Pale Ale is modeled after English pale ales, rather than the “typical American pale ale.” Is it just me, or have American pale ales become REALLY, REALLY GOOD, while, for instance, Bass now seems kind of boring?
|This might be the classiest bottle cap I have ever seen.|
I’ll admit that I chose this beer for its packaging more so than anything else. I’m a sucker for geographic and place-based marketing, and the Santa Fe Brewing Company (which is located on a street named, seriously, Fire Place) has basically grafted the simple, gorgeous state flag directly onto the bottle cap. There are maybe ten state flags that are sufficiently distinctive and non-tacky as to potentially double as national flags, and New Mexico’s is one of them. So, kudos to the Santa Fe Brewing Company for at least recognizing that.