Another visit home

18 Mar
Wait...I've been here before!

Wait…I’ve been here before!

A new baby means a trip home and another round of reviews of El Paso and Las Cruces beer joints.  Just like last time, my options were limited in El Paso.  After an evening of volunteer work at the Opportunity Center making meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn for some local homeless gents, my mom and I decided that a beer with the wife and kids seemed appropriate.  The Hoppy Monk is one of the only places on the westside with a decent selection, so we headed on over.

I was hot and tired from working in a kitchen with no air conditioning, so IPA was on my mind.  It wasn’t a terribly hard to choose from the taplist, as they were out of my first two choices, so I started with the Brooklyn BLAST! from Brooklyn Brewery.  This Imperial IPA intruiged me as I love most of the beers out of this brewery.  It was deep orange in color and had an amazing sweet and sticky resinous aroma.  The flavor fell a bit flat, as all the hop I got was spicy, with very little pine or citrus.  It wasn’t bad, I just expected more of a “punch in the mouth” and got something a bit more subdued.  The malt profile was lovely, though.  Sweet, caramelly, and thick.  Whatever disappointment I had was washed away after the second swallow.  It was good enough and it made me happy to have something bold.

What to order next?  I decided to go with the Rio Blanco Pale Ale with my dinner, which was the Rabbit Tacos on cuitlacoche corn tortillas with green salsa, radishes, and avocado.  The tacos were damn good.  The beer?  Definitely more of an English style pale than an American.  Malty, with just a hint of corn, and mildly bitter.  It went well with the food, but I am not sure it is a beer I would order again.  A bit pedestrian, if I was being honest.

Coney and corn fungus actually go well together

Coney and corn fungus actually go well together

I finished up with the Great Divide Orabelle, a tripel that was definitely wit-like.  It had the standard coriander and orange peel in the recipe, but the malt bill contained barley, wheat, oats, and rye!  Quite a nice body to this.  My wife drank the Avery Brewing White Rascal, which is also a wit and the comparison was great to make side-by-side.  Both had the spice profile down, but the Orabelle was lush, with a big body that I really enjoyed after dinner.  As you recall from our time in Denver for GABF, Great Divide was a fantastic local brewrey.  Highly recommended.

A nice way to end the night

The Avery is on the left, the Orabelle on the right

The Hoppy Monk has changed very little since my last visit.  They still can’t keep their draft list up-t0-date and their service is spotty, at best.  Also, they are limited (by distribution issues I would guess) to carrying Wandering Aengus Pear Cider and Deschutes and Rogue beers.  Definitely not the worst representatives of Oregon, but it’s unfortunate they can’t bring other things to the SW for people to try.  I really hate to say it, but these guys wouldn’t last 3 weeks in Portland.  Just the part about not having an updated draft list would kill them in the Rose City.  Having said that, they fill an empty craft beer space in El Paso.  The city is starving for good beer, and this is one of the few places you can find something other than Shiner Bock and Lone Star.  I am glad to see they are doing well and I hope for continued improvement in their ability to find different beers and keep an updated draft list.

Next stop is Las Cruces.  Be on the lookout for my thoughts on Mimbres Valley and High Desert Brewing, as well as craft beer from the Land of Enchantment in the coming weeks.

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