Nestled in a quiet industrial park of northeast Albuquerque, New Mexico lies Rio Grande Brewing. With capacity boosted from recent expansion more retail outlets now stock the 12 and 22 ounce bottles, while draft accounts are slowly replacing tired old slow-moving "traditional" brands with these local full-flavored brews.
The Elfego Bock poured a dark ruby color with a thick white head, and left a lingering creamy white head. The leading malty aromas were followed by a smooth creamy body and slight malty sweet flavor, and finished cleanly. The Decently and in Order Wheat Beer was a clear gold color topped by a fine white head. With a slightly odd sulfur-like aroma, the light body was accompanied by a very crisp wheat flavor and lingering light hop flavor. Purchased from the retailer's 90º F shelves, this beer may have suffered the consequences. Still able to found in the summer, the St. Outlaw Stout appeared authentically opaque and yielded a chocolaty aroma and matching cream-colored head. Unlike many new entries in this style category for American micros, St. Outlaw had a full body and creamy mouthfeel. The flavor was fairly dry with chocolate dominating the accompanying black malt and any roasted barley. The Desert Pils appeared a clear light straw color, extremely carbonated, with a wheaty/citrusy aroma, light body, clean slightly hoppy flavor balance, and clean sweet aftertaste.
The trademarked label received attention in the local Albuquerque Journal due to its graphic containing the traditional Rio Grande cow skull boldly sporting the religious neckwear know as Geneva tabs. The name of the beer comes from the Presbyterian Book of Order. The significance comes from the fact the one of the three brewers is Brewpastor Tom Hart, a reverend and former pastor of a local Presbyterian church. Reports indicate that the visiting attendees of the Presbyterian Church's 208th general assembly enjoyed the summer offerings from Rio Grande Brewing as much as the rest of us who drink it year-round.
Rio Grande Brewing Company
3760 Hawkins NE
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - August, 1996