We had just spent the afternoon at the ABQ BioPark and were looking for a spot to relax before dinner. The previous night we got a hot tip to go to El Pinto and I knew from my pre-tip research that there was a brewery near there in West Side Albuquerque. Without hesitation we piled into the rental car and set course for Boxing Bear Brewing Company, dreaming of craft beer and rested feet.
Besides favorable reviews online, the thing that grabbed me the most about Boxing Bear was a photograph of their patio. It looked like the quintessentially American Southwest adobe style. Imagine my surprise when we pulled into a strip mall parking lot! I’ve been to a lot of breweries in strip malls, and most of the time I’m surprised at the transformation that can occur. Boxing Bear was no different. We went straight inside and were told we could grab any spot we’d like. A minute later, we were sitting on a picnic table outside in the shade of the late afternoon sun.
In addition to my standard new brewery flight, we also put in an order of salsa and chips. Boxing Bear has a handful of appetizers and entrees. I’ve heard they are known for their food but unfortunately we already had dinner plans. With our sightseeing over for the day the group began to reflect on the things we’d experienced. I noticed the patio was just as advertised and was actually a bit roomier than I’d expected. It was easy to forget that we were behind a strip mall, and very near a busy intersection! We were also bordering a drain of the Rio Grande river. It was completely dry, but something quite different than I’m used to. Not quite riverside, but close enough!
My flight arrived on a bear paw flight board. Three of my five beers were named with bear and boxing puns: Body Czech Pilsener, Paw Swipe Pale Ale, Uppercut IPA, Common Ground Cali-Common, and Liquid Schwarz. After my flight I ordered a pint of their Chocolate Milk Stout. The Body Czech was a perfect compliment to the heat, and reminded me of our time spent at the Letna Beer Garden in Prague. A good memory! Their Liquid Schwarz was a dark lager, with a light body, great mouthfeel, and a perfect balance of roasted malt and chocolate. My favorite of the visit was their Chocolate Milk Stout. It was advertised as a gold medal winner and it didn’t disappoint. It had notes of roasted malt and dark chocolate, but it was silky smooth, and grew more and more complex as it warmed.
Before leaving I took a quick stroll through their taproom. Just like the patio, the interior is much bigger than expected. It’s got the feel of a restaurant, which is typical for a brewpub, and there is a large chalkboard tap list near their corner bar. It’s a double decker space, but the top area was closed so I wasn’t able to get a closer look.
We had an enjoyable time at Boxing Bear Brewing Company. Their shaded patio was a great spot to enjoy the New Mexico heat for midwesterners like us! Their chips and salsa were heavy on the garlic, tasty, and filling. If we hadn’t planned dinner somewhere else it would’ve been nice to try some of their food. Don’t let the strip mall fool you, there is a little slice of paradise in this neighborhood of Albuquerque!