Wine or beer? That is the question. At Blue Heron Brewing Co., you can have the best of both worlds.
Blue Heron opened its brewery and tasting room almost five years ago in Embudo and recently opened a taproom in Española last year.
It all began as a husband and wife home brewing operation that Scott and Kristin Hennelly did for fun, but were later encouraged by friends to turn into a full-grown business.
“Friends told us to go out and do it,” Kristin Hennelly said. “It didn’t even enter my head and finally we got off our butts and did it. It’s been great.”
Kristin Hennelly is the head brewer and says she makes at least 20 beers that are rotated at both Blue Heron locations. The Embudo location has six taps that offer five Blue Heron beers and its root beer.
The Española location offers eight to nine selections at a time.
Hennelly said Blue Heron locations usually have its staple beers La Llorona Scottish Ale and Ladybug IPA.
“Our Scottish ale is a dark beer that is not as sweet as most Scottish ales with a chocolate background,” Hennelly said. “It’s very smooth.”
The Ladybug IPA is an American-style IPA according to Hennelly. It has citrus notes to it and a “satisfying bite with amazing depth,” according to Hennelly and Blue Heron’s tasting notes.
Blue Heron also offers up seasonals. It has a new pilsner coming out. In the spring, Hennelly said she will be doing a Maibock-style beer and in the summer a Doppelbock and later Blue Heron’s Aurora IPA in the winter.
“We usually do have (the Aurora IPA) in January,” Hennelly said. “It’s a richer IPA. It’s more of an English-style IPA with plenty of hops and a touch of citrus.”
Hennelly might be a head brewer, but she grew up in a wine-making family. Her family owns La Chiripada Winery in Dixon. Blue Heron recently began offering three of its own wines created by vintner Joshua Johnson.
The Tierra Tinta is a Sangiovese and Aglianico blend that is a full-bodied wine, which is on the drier end. The Rinconada Red is an off-dry red wine, according to Hennelly. It has “bright berry aromas” with a “silky rich background” and is 75 percent Baco Noir, a local grape, and 25 percent Ruby Cabernet, a southern New Mexico grape, according to tasting notes.
White wine drinkers can enjoy the Blue Heron Blanc. The wine is a pinot grigio made with Lodi California grapes.
“It is very light and really crisp with a hint of peach and a slight fruit background,” Hennelly said.