|High Desert's Peach Wheat with Green Chile Fries|
|A short rest on a hike to Dripping Springs just east of Las Cruces|
Feeling mighty thirsty, I went for High Desert's Peach Wheat. It was very peachy. Almost too peachy, but if were any less or more peachy, it would not have been perfectly peachy. Somehow, High Desert avoided making this too sweat with all that peachiness riding effortlessly over the clear, slightly tart wheat beer. Linda and Mary went for the Hop Harvest IPA, with its slightly sweet biscuit-like malt and savory hop bitterness. Brandon, of course, had the house root beer.
|Sign atop High Desert Brewing.....Duh!|
A six-pack of Rio Grande Desert Pilsner from Sierra Blanca Brewing was a fine Pilsner to keep cool by the pool, but seemed to lack the spicy hop bite one usually looks for in a Pilsner. On a trip to White Sands National Monument we all enjoyed the the Sante Fe Brewing Pale Ale, where the lightly toasted malt harmonized well with the soft, earthy herbal hops notes. Looking over the brewery website descriptions of Rio Grande Desert Pilsner and Santa Fe Brewing Pale Ale, which brag about their respective beers aggressive hop character, one wonders if the mellow hop character I tasted in these beers might have resulted from the six-packs sitting in the Fiesta Foods cooler a bit too long before I finally purchased them, as time subdues the hop bite of any beer.
|The thrill of sliding down the dunes in White Sands |
National Monumenton a snow disk
The next day as we were getting set to catch our flight home, I engaged in a water polo game with my daughter, with us taking shots on goal against each other by heaving an inflatable rubber ball across the pool. Throwing a hard shot just before the game was supposed to end created a sharp cramping sensation in my upper left arm, and it took just a second of realization in the confusion to understand I had dislocated my left shoulder. Again.
My wife Linda hustled me into the car and drove me to the hospital. As I sat in the passenger seat in my wet bathing suit, feeling increasingly nauseated and light headed while losing all feeling in my arm, we drove by a place called the Pecan Grill and Brewery on the way to the hospital. "If they can't fix my shoulder in time to catch our flight home," my groggy brain thought, "we're all having dinner there."
The good Doctor Butcher took some x-rays, had his nurse stick an IV into my right hand, and gave me some drugs. Then while I was incapacitated, Doctor Butcher grabbed my left arm while an assistant pulled at my torso, and this tug-of-war action with my body popped the left shoulder back in place. When I came to, Doctor Butcher advised us to post-pone our flight out that day, which was set to take off in two hours. So Pecan Grill and Brewery for dinner then!
The Pecan Grill and Brewery is this upscale looking restaurant. Unlike most brewpubs which display conical fermenters, grain silos, or other brewing paraphernalia, there was nothing to indicate the place brewed any beer beyond the word "Brewery" in its name. It even took me a couple minutes to find a beer list, located in the bar menu. Turns out, the beer is actually brewed in Moriarty, NM, which explains the lack of any brewing equipment on the premises. Moriarty is 260 miles away from Las Cruces so that might not seem like drinking local, but it's all relative in a state like New Mexico, where the next town is often a three hour drive.
Any questions that the Pecan Grill's beer wasn't really "local" were immediately put to rest by my first selection, a glass of Green Chile Ale, which was nothing less than a celebration of green chiles featured so prominently in New Mexican cuisine. Pecan Grill Brewmaster Rich Weber uses light malt and the barest additions of any hops to keep those ingredients out of the way of the lightly roasted green chiles, which come shining through without threatening to be overpowering. It's just sharp and clean green chile goodness. Which is also reflected in the Pecan Grill's menu, which largely infuses the local green chiles into traditional American dinner fare.
My father-in-law, traditionally a light macro lager drinker, couldn't decide what beer to get, so ordered the whole nine-beer tasting flight. While our dinner orders were taken, I next tried the Pecan Amber, another nod to local ingredients, as this region is a leading pecan growing area. My initial reaction was not so good, as the sweetness of the pecan extract gave the impression of pecan syrup dumped into a glass of standard Amber Ale. However, as the brew warmed and the flavors came to balance, the apparently sweetness diminished, and the pecan flavors melded with the roasty underlying amber ale more effortlessly, creating a nice riff on a familiar beer style.
With dinner, both Linda and I tried their Double IPA. At 5.8% abv, it's really more of a regular IPA. Stylistic quibbles aside, this one was a lively blend of grapefruit and peppery flavors. Frankly, I prefer IPA's like this one that go for flavor than simply packing a huge, often muddled, tongue blistering hop attack. A good example of the style.
And how was Dad doing with his beer sampler? He pretty much liked all of them and his favorite was the Double IPA, suggesting that my wife's obsession with hops has genetic origins. And it was quite satiafying turning a macro-lager drinker onto drinking local, yet another small vactory in the craft brewing revolution.
|The beer flight at Pecan Grill and Brewery just before|
a small battle in the craft brewing revolution was won.
The next day, I walked gingerly walked around with my arm in a sling as my daughter learned a new XBox game, my son and I took a walk, and Linda and Mary spent some more sisterhood time in the art shops at Messilla's historic plaza before it was time to catch our postponed flight. After all the family bonding, a dislocated shoulder, and a few good beers, it was time to return to our lives back home.