Burque Mega-Brewpub Crawl: Final Report (Sorta)

Saving some commentary and perhaps even the occasional “fact,” for a post coming tomorrow at Duke City Fix, the single entity that is currently “Better Burque” completed the quest to visit every ABQ brewpub yesterday. Relative to Part I’s rather massive arc of northern and eastern areas of our fair city, Part II was a fairly simple up and back, first to “Uptown” and its strange combination of bike lanes and lack of cycling infrastructure safety (e.g., infinite numbers of ingress/egress opportunities), then on to downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.

Eschewing your humble blogger’s tendency to write 5,000 words on something that can and should be wrapped up in 500, let’s go with a continuation of the “photo with caption” motif, especially as recent in-depth study has revealed humans like photos (especially of cats) on the Internet.

Regretfully, there are no cats in the photos below.

Now on to what was seen and photographed yesterday (numbers pick up from where we left off in Part I, after having “bagged” 16 brewpubs in that epic run):

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#17. JB’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, Indian School off of Louisiana. As you can see, your blogger’s poor photographic skills reached new lows here, unable to even get the name of the place in the shot. The painting/mural was more impressive anyway, as was the “why would you want to ride a bicycle around Winrock Mall, even if we do have bike lanes?” vibe.  My bike, Monty, and I high-tailed out of here before our case of Surbubanitis got too debilitating.

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#18. Alien Brewpub on Uptown Blvd. at one of countless streets that run to a mall. But first we had to Monty and I had to be further “alienated” with a brief downhill run to this place on the west side of Louisiana. The itch to go back downhill here was made even stronger by a pretty stiff east wind. The ride down from here was “butter,” as they say, with the short exception of San Pedro over I-25. The cycling situation on San Pedro is really quite nice about 98% of the ride, but there’s a gap or two.

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Interlude A. San Pedro near Princess Jeanne. And when San Pedro is good…it’s very good. Here’s one of the few examples of a “buffered bike lane” in town (that lined space between driving lane and bike lane). Might this stretch on to infinity, or at least Gibson Blvd. some

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#19. Quarter Celtic Brewpub (“coming soon”) in the ill-fated, to this point, shopping mall at Lomas and San Mateo. As a pre-emptive strike on a place I truly feared might be opening yesterday, I rode by this place. Interestingly, two cars drove up to the place while I took this shot, both containing folks ready to throw down some money here. That’s good news, as the ghosts of Karl Marx and Frederich Engels seemingly hang heavy in this almost deserted den of formerly failed capitalism. Why have countless tenants failed at this little mall? I’d say the poor traffic infrastructure at the corner of Lomas/San Mateo plays at least something of a role, but I’m no expert on shopping malls.

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#20. Chama River Microbar. 2nd and Central. It’s hard not to get teary-eyed riding by this place. It’s inadequate space housed, for quite some time, the untapped potential of brewpubs in downtown. I didn’t mention it last week when talking to Marble’s former co-founder John Gozigian, but I imagine the three soon-to-be-founders of that license to print money (photo coming shortly) came by this place a few times in the early 2000s and decided Burque’s downtown could handle a bit more than just four tables of brewpub lovers. A lot more. Apologies for your blogger being in this shot.
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#21. Back Alley Draft House. Central behind NYPD Pizza between 2nd and 3rd. I forgot, until I rode up here yesterday, that I’d been here before. That is no way reflects on the establishment, only on my own aging forgetfulness.

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#22. Boese Brothers at 6th and Gold. This is my current favorite of the whole bunch. Great beer, smallish place but with beer garden potential, wonderful people watching along Gold, at least two building-sized wall murals nearby and a midget shuffleboard table. That open door in this shot was pretty inviting, but I still had a number of brewpubs to bag.

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#23. Duel on Central at 6th. More to the point, Duel takes up a big part of the block along Central between 6th and 7th. This brand-new place and Rio Bravo (still to come) are the most ambitiously sized places in town, but Duel’s ambition is greater due to what is probably more expensive rent. But I don’t know, former tenants have come and gone here quite a bit. Central Avenue, circa-2016, is still a pretty forlorn place, but maybe Duel and other incoming establishments will change that.

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Interlude B. Anti-Trump Rally on Civic Plaza. I got here a bit too early and they were just setting things up for the anti-hate protest. Perhaps you can just make him out in this shot, but there’s Burque’s long-time activist and gadfly Don Schrader wheeling his stuff toward some folks setting up tables. I do not know Mr. Schrader, but we did exchange a hello as I came across him at Central and 3rd a few minutes before taking this photo. I could easily digress into a long diatribe on the need for and importance of gadflies like Mr. Schrader, but will instead just point out that my biggest decision yesterday was whether to wait until things got started or press on with the brewpub crawl. I chose the latter.

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Interlude B cont. But not before taking another shot of folks, tables and food trucks getting ready.

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#24. Marble Brewing at 1st and Marble. Not too long after Noon on a Sunday and the place is already hopping (get it? okay, I’ll stop). This outdoor setting area is being replicated by places in Wells Park we’ll see in a minute, but replicating Marble’s license to print money that is this beer garden elsewhere will take some effort.

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#25. Rio Bravo Brewing, 2nd and just south of I-40. Who needs a brewpub at the airport, because you can just land planes at this place. God is it big. This is the small, auxiliary beer garden out front; the one out back is primed and ready for teleportation to Munich, Germany and its Octoberfest. Land and such on 2nd and the highway must be dirt-cheap, and as a Texan I can appreciate the “Giant” ambition here, but you do have to wonder if Burque can support a Costco of craft beer.

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#26. Tractor Brewing, Wells Park on 4th location. This place is quite popular with some folks whose beer/hanging-out credentials I respect. I also like the location very much and what Tractor has done with that location. That said, I do have to report I’ve never been that fond of Tractor’s beer. That’s just me and the place seems to be doing fabulously without me. Good.

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#27. Bow & Arrow Brewing (as well as BBQ food truck), where 5th turns and turns into 6th at McKnight and you’re almost at the freeway and….you might want to GPS this one the first couple of times. As the second-to-last brewpub to hit, I stopped and tasted both beer and a pulled pork sandwich from the food truck above. Both were very tasty. Like quite a few of the new places I visited (e.g., Firkin or Rio Bravo) the seating size here tends toward massive. In fact, the indoor seating at Bow & Arrow mimics a Texas BBQ restaurant (or German beer garden) with long tables. Can Wells Park support three such brewpubs, probably by taking enough business away from those who are too late to get a table at Marble? Quien sabe at this point.

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#28. And we close our tour at Ponderosa, at some brand-new streets I can’t recall, snuggled in the new and rather amazing “Sawmill District.” I wanted to end my tour here for a number of reasons, primarily the idea of brewpubs helping to transform neighborhoods into more walkably livable environments. I’ll pontificate a bit more on that tomorrow for Duke City Fix. And yes, that’s a threat.

As for the overall tour, in retrospect I’m glad it lasted two weekends. This second stretch was rather leisurely and generally provided stark contrast to the riding/visiting done last week at corners like Coors and Coors Blvd, and Montgomery and Eubank. Two closing questions I’ll leave rhetorical, at least for now: 1. How many brewpubs will Burque have in, say, 2020?; 2. How many of the 28 places visited in this tour will be among that number in 2020?

I hope to ride to them all again in four years, regardless of that eventual number.  Thanks for tagging along this time. If you’d like to join me in the next presidential election year, I’d be happy to have your company.

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