Bellies full and spirits high the group turned and asked what the next brewery was on my list. It was our last night in Albuquerque and we only had a couple of hours to kill before the taprooms would close. There was one spot that stood heads and shoulders above the others as far as the taproom experience. That brewery: Bow & Arrow Brewing Co.
I’d heard good things about the beer at Bow & Arrow, but the photographs I’d seen before the trip really solidified a visit. As regular readers know, while I do love beer, my primary focus is the taproom experience. More than any other brewery in the area this one looked like a winner. As a bonus their beer looked adventurous and ambitious. We parked on the adjacent road and their brilliant exterior with neon red trim beckoned to us.
It was a weeknight and the brewery was about to close in two hours. As a result, their beer hall was fairly empty. A few small groups were dotted about which gave me a good look at the space. White is used throughout; barrels are white, tables are white, chairs are white, the art is white, and the walls are white. The backsplash behind the bar is made of herringboned dark stain wood and a sign with their logo popped against the muted tones of the rest of the room. After putting in our order at the bar, we took a seat at one of their long community tables near the far end of the taproom. My back was to a gorgeous black and white photograph of what I believed to be Monument Valley. To my front, their cavernous beer hall.
I’d chosen the spot strategically so that I could photograph everything easily. While I took many photos, most of them did not turn out due to the darkness and the yellow lighting that bathed the room in a soft glow. I would visit again during the day if I could, but even then I don’t think there would be much natural light. That’s probably the only thing that’s missing from this place. It’s still quite striking, and a room full of people would add a great energy. Our visit was subdued. The music was quiet and the voices of patrons even more so.
The beer on the other hand was anything but subdued. It was full of high ABV styles and a little something for any adventurous drinker. There were wild sours, barrel aged barleywines, and a couple of imperial varieties. I tried three of their beers: Cake Bandit Imperial Stout, Rancho Bizarro Sour Red, and Visionland Amber Ale. Honestly, I enjoyed all three equally. The Cake Bandit had the aroma of dark chocolate cake, with a smooth mouthfeel, and coconut notes through the nose and tongue. Rancho Bizarro had a super sour aroma with the equivalent taste. Incredible notes of tart cherry and dry red wine. Visionland rounded out the night as a well balanced beer that I noted “embodied the desert.” I’m not entirely sure what that means as I write this, but I bet it was a good thing.
Once again, my time was cut short at what I believe could’ve been my favorite Albuquerque taproom. There were so many beers with incredible names that were just begging me to try them. Just look at the tap list on their website and tell my you don’t want to try beers with names like Denim Tux, Sun Dagger, Waffle Bandit, Thief of Time, Cosmic Arrow, or Dark Mesa! Their beer hall is full of neat little details like a papercraft bison head, succulent centerpieces, and their arrowhead hop cone logo. If you’re ever on the way through town be sure to save a little time for Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. With their high alcohol beers you may need more of it than you think!