High-altitude ales: When in Ruidoso, stop in at Rio Grande Grill & Tap Room

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Bartender Amanda Beckman shows off the numerous craft beer taps and other offerings at the Rio Grande Grill & Tap Room. (Courtesy of Brakken Barela)

Bartender Amanda Beckman shows off the numerous craft beer taps and other offerings at the Rio Grande Grill & Tap Room. (Courtesy of Brakken Barela)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Nestled along Ruidoso’s main drag sits Rio Grande Grill & Tap Room.

It is the perfect stop for travelers from near and far to enjoy a great beer and a hearty meal.

The friendly and attentive staff is ready with suggestions, whether you’re trying to choose a meal or a craft beer. The venue offers flights so you can sample four craft beers and decide on a favorite. And, you can purchase a growler, six-pack or case of your favorites to take back home.

General manager Brakken Barela suggests newcomers try the Desert Pils, which is a German-style pilsner.

“We use authentic German yeast, German noble hops and German malt,” Barela said. “I like that about it. It’s a delicious beer.”

Desert Pils is great with burgers, pub-style food and steak, Barela said. He recommends pairing the Desert Pils with the beer-battered Catfish Sammich that is served with a Cajun mayo that has a kick of chipotle.

If you like a kick to your beer, Barela advises patrons try the Pancho Verde Green Chile Cerveza. It has a nice green chile aroma that smells like New Mexico without being overly spicy, according to Barela.

“We take a 100-pound tea bag of roasted green chiles and drop it in and let it sit for a week,” he said of the brewing process for the Pancho Verde. “We then take it out and filter it again. It has a nice aroma and has a little bit of spice, but not a lot of heat.”

Barela encourages washing down a heavy cream entree such as the Italiano Cod pasta dish or the Hatch Chicken Alfredo with a Pancho Verde.

In addition to green chile, another New Mexico staple can be found in the De La Vegas Pecan Beer, which is one of Barela’s favorite recommendations. The amber-style beer bursts with flavors of pecan and a subtle hint of maple syrup without being overly sweet.

Barela also pushes the Nut Brown Ale, which is brewed with English ale yeast and has a roasted coffee flavor with hints of chocolate and a subtle nutmeg finish. The Nut Brown won a gold medal in 2012 and a silver medal in 2013 at the Great American Beer Festival.

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