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ABQ makes Top 10 list of beer destinations


Boxing Bear head brewer and co-owner Justin Hamilton and assistant brewer Dylan Davis work in the business’ brewing area. (Jim Thompson/Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Over the last decade, Albuquerque has seen an explosion in the number of microbreweries, pubs, craft beer halls and taprooms.

For the second year in a row, Albuquerque has made Travelocity’s Top 10 list of “Beer Destinations.”

Travelocity began keeping a beer tourism index in 2016 to list the top 300 markets in the country for craft beers and for a new trend called “Beercations.” In both 2016 and 2017, Albuquerque rang in at No. 10. In the No. 1 spot this year was Portland, Ore., followed by Denver and Seattle.

Travelocity bases its index on four factors: number of breweries per capita, ridesharing availability, non-stop air destinations and lodging.

The number of active craft breweries nationally has more than tripled over the last 10 years, from 1,409 in 2006 to 5,234 in 2016, according to a report from Cushman & Wakefield, a national commercial real estate firm.

The report said the number of breweries in New Mexico has more than doubled since 2011, to 57 in 2016. In the past year, the number has grown by 26.7 percent.

The craft beer craze is largely driven by two factors: foodie culture and the millennial generation, or those under the age of 37, the report said. It said recent research shows millennials are more interested in finding “genuine” experiences than older generations. The perception is that craft beers are local and “genuine,” which has given rise to the idea of “beercations,” according to the report.

“While millennials make up 41 percent of the beer-drinking population, they account for the lion’s share of weekly craft beer drinkers — 57 percent,” the report states.

But the craft beer craze is not just good for tourism, it is also a boon for retail and industrial spaces. According to the real estate firm, the vast majority — over 90 percent — of regional craft brewing operations have taken over industrial spaces.

Albuquerque has seen numerous breweries and taprooms open recently. Among others, Red Door Brewing opened a new taproom in the Northeast Heights, and Tractor Brewing has a new Four Hills location with plans to open a West Side location. Cantero Brewing is planning to open this winter near the Brewery District, and Lava Brewing will open soon on the West Side.