Stepping inside Boxing Bear Brewing Co., it is almost unrecognizable as the former location that housed Elliott’s restaurant on Albuquerque’s West Side.
The renovation took time, thought and was inspired by a vision that Boxing Bear owners Justin Hamilton, David Kim and Kevin Davis had in mind for the spot that offers good craft beers and ambiance.
“We put a lot of our heart into this, and all of our time,” Hamilton said. “The day we opened our doors, we had a lot of people come and see what we had done with the place. Everyday we have returning customers who are blown away with what we’ve done with the building.”
Hamilton has been a professional brewer for almost nine years. He is the former head brewer of Chama River Brewing Company, and is now brewing up his craft beers at Boxing Bear, which opened in late July.
Boxing Bear has an on-site, 10-barrel system that makes about 310 gallons of beer every time Hamilton brews. It currently offers five of its beers on tap: Hairy Mit Hefe, East Kent Ale, Paw-Swipe Pale Ale, Bare Knuckle Double IPA and Black Bear Stout. It also offers a few local guest taps.
“Our Hefe (Hairy Mit Hefe) is typical in style,” Hamilton said. “It’s a hazy wheat beer made with a decent amount of wheat in the recipe … It’s pretty light and low in bitterness. It has a nice banana, vanilla/clove flavor to it.”
The Bare Knuckle Double IPA is an interesting beer, according to Hamilton.
“It’s fairly bitter but it’s got a balance to it without being extremely dry,” he explained. “It has a nice hop aroma that’s a little bit citrus and it has a little bit of floral notes to it. It includes eight varieties of hops.”
For those not quite ready for the double IPA but interested in something less harsh, the Paw-Swipe Pale Ale is a good option.
“That one is fairly bright in flavor and has a hop flavor without being over-the-top bitter,” Hamilton said. “It’s really nice for people who like IPAs and don’t go for the strength of a double, which can be a little hard when it’s hot outside. It has a nice, clean flavor without being aggressively bitter.”
Another must-try is the Black Bear Stout, which Hamilton said goes perfectly with New Mexico’s warm summer weather and mild fall.
“It has a really smooth, nice, silky texture,” he said. “It has the chocolate and the roast flavors you get from a stout. It’s not too heavy on the palate.”