In 1978, the number of breweries across the fruited plain had fallen to an all-time, post-Prohibition low of 89. That year President Jimmy Carter signed into law, a bill that legalized home brewing on a national level. Since the craft brewing market began to pick up steam in the mid- to late-1980s there has been no surcease in sight. Today, there are more than 2,500 breweries operating across the United States with another 1,500 breweries in the planning stage. According to the Brewers Association, as of 2013 the craft beer industry experienced double-digit growth four straight years in both dollar sales and volume.
So what accounts for such growth in popularity of local beer? Experts theorize that similar to the locavore trend in the culinary world, cervisaphiles (aficionados of beers and ales) have grown tired of being subjected to industrially brewed swill (anyone remember the “skunky” beer commercials?) and have discovered the pleasures of carefully crafted beer flavors made under the same roof where it’s consumed. A similar evolution among consumers also transpired among oenophiles (wine connoisseurs) and coffee-drinkers.
These trends have not been lost on the Duke City which in 2014 was named by Livability.com as “America’s best mid-sized city in the country for beer.” According to the Web site, Albuquerque is known for its “cultural diversity, authentic landscapes and genuine characters – and that extends to its brews. Residents here enjoy mostly sunny days and have their pick of micro-breweries that always have fresh beer on tap.” As of May, 2014, Urbanspoon listed nineteen brewery restaurants in the metropolitan area from which cerevisaphiles can pick with others in the mill.
The Bosque Brewing Company entered the keenly competitive craft beer foray in November, 2012 and, despite a location far from the beaten path, has experienced significant growth. Thanks to a March, 2014 expansion, the brewery now has a production capacity of 3,500 barrels per year–ten times more than what it sold during its first year of operation. A second location is slated to launch in late spring of 2014. I wouldn’t be writing about The Bosque Brewing Company, however, if it didn’t also serve food that’s a notch or two above most pub food.
Surprisingly–considering the quality of the food–the Bosque Brewing Company doesn’t boast of a large kitchen in which a staff of chefs, sous chefs, expediters and servers are preparing and serving your food. Instead, all the food is prepared behind the bar on small countertop stoves and a panini press. The restaurant’s motto is “Flavor Is Boss.” In addition to seven sandwiches, the menu offers lighter fare such as salads, pretzels, soup of the day and green chile stew. A happy hour (Monday – Thursday: 3PM to 6PM and all day Sunday) menu is a bit more expansive, offering such noshing favorites as chips and salsa, hummus and bruscetta.
The Italian Sandwich could also be called the Mediterranean Sandwich because several of its ingredients–grilled panini bread, capicola ham, salami, grilled onions, tomatoes, feta-Greek dressing and an olive tapenade with Gruyere cheese–would fit well on a Greek sandwich, too. When you’ve got that many ingredients on a sandwich, those with a less assertive flavor profile may be a bit overpowered by stronger ingredients. That was the case with the olive tapenade which just wasn’t discernible among the other components. Frankly, none of the ingredients really stood out because there was such a melange of flavors that complemented one another. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The special of the day during our inaugural visit was a German brats made with a housemade tarragon sauce and sauerkraut. The tarragon with its sweet-tangy flavor and anise-like notes should be bottled and sold. It is that good! The bratwurst sandwich is thick, meaty and heavily spiced while the sauerkraut has a tangy, zesty flavor without the lip-pursing qualities of some sauerkraut.
Soup of the day is not to be missed if it’s roasted red pepper and smoked Gouda soup. While it’s undoubtedly even better on a cold winter day, it’s a delight any time of year and would probably taste just as good cold as it does steaming hot. The smooth, mellow flavored smoked Gouda pairs exceptionally well with the vibrant sweet-savory-tangy flavors of the freshly roasted red peppers for a full-flavored and hearty soup.
Perhaps no sandwich is as ubiquitous on deli and sandwich shop menus as is the Reuben, a sandwich with several variants, most delicious. The Bosque Brewing Company’s version is very admirable in that the corned beef is piled high and the sauerkraut is plentiful. It’s a delicious sandwich served with a heaping helping of Kettle chips.
The Bosque Brewing Company is located almost as far north as you can go on San Mateo before its terminus, but if you’re thinking San Mateo east of I25, you’d be wrong. Make sure to consult your favorite mapping application before heading there. If the beers are comparable in quality to the food, this brewery is going places.
Bosque Brewing Company
8900 San Mateo, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 11 May 2014
# OF VISITS: 1
BEST BET: German Brats, Reuben Sandwich, The Italian Sandwich, Roasted Red Pepper and Smoked Gouda Soup