Las Cruces breweries offer unique brews to local beer enthusiasts. Who doesn’t love an underdog? The American spirit is all about rooting for the little guy, supporting local businesses, and trying something new—and beer, of course!
Beer has a rich history in the US, dating back as far as the Mayflower. Early American settlers brewed beer because it was safer to drink than water. Gradually, large national beer brewers began to dominate the beer sales market. Over the last 20 years, American spirit has taken the beer industry by storm as beer drinkers rediscover locally brewed craft beer. Today, independent craft beer breweries represent 97 percent of all breweries.
Like many communities, the Mesilla Valley is growing enthusiastic about craft beer. Several locally owned businesses have risen to meet the demand for craft beer. Each of these three breweries is working hard to provide great beer and a unique experience for Las Cruces patrons.
High Desert Brewing Company
Founded in 1997
Location: 1201 W. Hadley Ave in Las Cruces
Phone: (575) 525-6752
Web site: www.highdesertbrewingco.com
Brewers: Mateo Lawther
Most popular beer: IPA
Known for: Being a great local hang-out
Price of a pint: $3.50-$4.50
Kegs & Growlers: Yes
Happy Hour: Sun & Mon 5–7 p.m.
Live Music: Thursday & Saturday from 8 p.m.–11 p.m.
Tasting Flights: Yes
If Las Cruces has a “Cheers” bar, High Desert Brewing Company is it. It’s the kind of place you almost miss, even if you’re looking for it. It’s not a tourist trap or a college hangout. The atmosphere is fun but not overbearing or loud. It’s just a place locals go to drink great beer, get some good food, and hang out. “We have this real homey kind of atmosphere here,” says High Desert founder and owner Bob Gosselin. “It’s kind of like a neighborhood bar. We have a lot of different walks of life come in here.”
High Desert Brewing Company opened its doors in 1997. It’s been around longer than any other brewery in the area and is 100 percent locally owned and operated. Bob was introduced to craft beer brewing by his original partner Mark Cunningham, who taught Bob how to home brew. After a few years, the pair decided to take their hobby to the next level. “I got tired of my job,” says Bob. “We bought this building in 1993 and it took us three years to complete all the remodeling. We opened in 1997 and immediately started getting some customers in.”
Today, you rarely find High Desert empty. Most of the customers are loyal “regulars” who come in to get their favorite. High Desert brews over 25 different beer styles and has 11 styles on tap at all times including IPAs, German lagers, English ales, and wheat beers. In fact, they just finished a batch of a Russian Imperial Stout.
If you’re new to craft beer, Bob recommends their light “trainer beers,” the Wheat Ale and Peach Wheat. The Wheat Ale is light and refreshing, and the Peach Wheat is the Wheat Ale flavored with peach extract. For the more experienced craft beer drinker, Bob says the Fresh Hop IPA is the brewery’s most unique beer. The Fresh Hop IPA is brewed nearly year-round with fresh-frozen hops. “We use the whole hop, and it’s green not dried,” explains Bob. “It imparts a different flavor when you use green hops, not pellets or whole dried hops. It has a really unique flavor.”
In addition to the pleasant atmosphere and wide selection of beer, High Desert also serves a full food menu. “People really flip about the nachos,” says Bob. “Everywhere I go people tell me, ‘Wow, your beer is awesome and those nachos!’”
Mimbres Valley Brewing Company’s Las Cruces Taproom
Founded in 2009
Las Cruces: 985 University Ave., Las Cruces NM
Phone: (575) 618-6258
Deming: 200 S. Gold Ave., Deming NM
Phone: (575) 544-2739
Web site: www.demingbrew.com
Brewers: Bryan Reedy & Daniel Armendariz
Most popular beer: Beer Goggles
Known For: Unique and non-tradition craft beers
Price of a pint: $4 and up
Kegs & Growlers: Yes
Happy Hour: 5–7 p.m. Monday through Thursday
Live Music: Wednesdays from 8 p.m.–10 p.m.
Food: Deming location only (Outside food welcome at the Las Cruces Taproom)
Tasting Flights: Yes
It’s all about the beer over at Mimbres Valley Brewing Company. Co-owner and brewmaster, Bryan Reedy, loves craft beer. But he is even more passionate about creating a relaxed environment that gives customers a place to hang out and support the local economy at the same time. On any given day at the Las Cruces Taproom, you’ll find college students taking a break, sports fans enjoying the big-screen TVs, professors chatting, and local residents stopping in for a beer.
Bryan is a Deming, NM, native. “I was born and raised here in New Mexico, and I have a very strong commitment to my community,” says Bryan. That is why it was only natural for him to follow his dream of owning a brewpub in Deming. “I didn’t really intend to become a brewer,” notes Bryan. “But I couldn’t find a brewmaster willing to move to Deming, so I just did it myself.”
Bryan opened the Deming Brewery and Grill in 2009, and his beers immediately became favorites for local craft beer drinkers. Then he opened Las Cruces Taproom in 2012 to respond to local demand. “Our customers really like knowing where their beer is brewed,” explains Bryan. “Typically there’s a little more heart put into our beer than the big, national brands. We aren’t focused so much on the bottom line; we’re focused on the product and producing the best possible beer that we can.”
Ugly Chick Ale is not only a unique name but also a unique beer. It’s a Belgian style IPA brewed seasonally with New Zealand hops. It’s their most bitter beer but doesn’t taste bitter because of a grapefruity finish. “People swear we put grapefruit in it, but we don’t,” says Bryan. “It comes from the hops.” If you’re new to craft beer, Bryan recommends the Beer Goggles, Mimbres Valley’s all-time best seller. Bryan calls this German-style Vienna lager their “gateway beer” for customers who aren’t familiar with the style of craft beer but are ready to branch out.
The Las Cruces Taproom features 12 taps of exclusive Mimbres Valley Brewing Co. beer, a selection of local wines, and homemade sodas. Although the Deming location features a full menu of sandwiches, burgers, and salads, the Las Cruces Taproom doesn’t offer a food menu. “At the Taproom we love for our customers to either bring food in with them or order in from one of the many local restaurants who will deliver here,” says Bryan. “It’s really the best of all worlds; you can come enjoy your favorite beer and your favorite takeout at the same time.”
De La Vega’s Pecan Grill & Brewery
Founded in 2009
Location: 500 South Telshor in Las Cruces
Phone: (575) 521-1099
Web site: www.pecangrill.com
Most popular beer: Pecan Beer & Aggie Amber Ale
Known for: Upscale yet comfortable atmosphere
Price of a pint: $3.50 and up
Kegs & Growlers: Growlers expected Summer of 2013
Happy Hour: Monday-Friday from 3–6 p.m.
Reverse Happy Hour: Thursday-Saturday 10 p.m.–1 a.m. & Saturday 12–4 p.m.
Live Music: Thursday–Saturday nights and Open Mic on Monday night
Tasting Flights: Yes
If you’re in the mood for beer, but looking for a slightly more refined atmosphere, it’s time to head over to De La Vega’s Pecan Grill & Brewery. The Pecan Grill pairs a sophisticated yet fun ambience with great food, signature brews, wine, and a full cocktail menu.
New Mexico natives Tom and Jeanine Springer opened De La Vega’s in December of 2009. “There was extensive market research done to see what Las Cruces was missing or what niche we could fit into. That’s where the concept for the restaurant was conceived,” says Ashley Springer, director of operations and the oldest daughter of Tom and Jeanine. Because of space limitations, De La Vega’s decided to use a contract brewer in Moriarty, NM, to brew the twelve signature beers they keep on tap.
What makes De La Vega’s unique is a more family-friendly environment that has something for everyone. “We’ve really tried to branch out and offer something different to Las Cruces, whether it be an item on the food menu or a drink that was prepared by a master mixologist, to having the beers paired with our meals,” explains Ashley. “Anything that’s a little different helps people grow in their food and beverage appreciation.”
The Pecan Beer and Aggie Amber are De La Vega’s two top-selling brews. The Aggie Amber is a smooth, malty ale that appeals to many new beer drinkers because it lacks the bitterness of some craft beers. The Pecan Beer is another great starter beer. It’s the Aggie Amber Ale infused with pecan extract. This signature brew is sweet on the nose but not as sweet in taste. “A lot of women, especially those who don’t normally like beer, love the Pecan Beer,” Ashley says. “A lot of friends cook with it, and it pairs great with chicken or salad.” The Pecan Beer became so popular that De La Vega’s began bottling it in May of 2012. It can now be purchased by the bottle in over 70 locations throughout the state.
Beer is the centerpiece of De La Vega’s drink menu, but they also offer a long list of wines, signature cocktails, infused liquors, and non-alcoholic beverages. “We received Wine Spectator magazine’s ‘Award of Excellence’ for 2012,” says Ashley. “We have a really broad wine list, and we price our wines competitively in comparison to other restaurants.”
Although each Las Cruces brewery has something unique to offer, the two things they all have in common are a commitment to great beer and to the local economy. Instead of grabbing a pack of some national brand beer on your way to watch the next game, why not stop by one of these great establishments and try a beer you’ll only find right here in the Mesilla Valley.
Article by Tiffany Etterling
Photography by Whitney Billings and additional photos courtesy of Britnie Frizzle