I visited Ruidoso in February of 2015, and was pleasantly surprised to find a gem of a restaurant that featured a selection of New Mexican craft beers on tap. The Rio Grande Grill and Tap Room should be on your list, if you happen to be in town.
I consider myself a beer aficionado, because my whole purpose of drinking is to savor the flavor, mouth feel, aroma and experience of beer. I rarely drink the same beer twice and using a popular craft beer app, Untapped; I’ve racked up check-in’s for nearly 500 different beers.
Ruidoso is a touristy town, and at first glance looks like it may have a dismal selection for craft beer. Searching for “brewery in Ruidoso” brings up a gas station convenience store and a confusing brewery in Mortiary, NM.
The Sierra Blanca and Rio Grande Brewery is in fact located in Mortiary, near Albuquerque, but luckily they opened a taproom in Ruidoso in December of 2013. As you’ll realize by the end of the review, this single destination is an excellent brewery taproom, restaurant and bottle shop.
The Beer Selection
While the taproom only features the beers of the Sierra Blanca and Rio Grande Brewery, they have such a wide variety of styles, there’s something for everyone!
The taproom features the full catalog of beers from this award-winning brewery; including a few being tested, like the Milk Stout when we visited. From light lagers and ambers, to pale ales, stouts and porters, there are many varieties to choose from…
The Beer Experience
Flights of beers can be ordered and are recommended for tastings. Choosing only four beers can be tough, but I managed to select the beers the brewery has won awards for, and that are unique to the brewery.
For one, I highly recommend the Pecan Beer. For those of you who’ve tried the 512 Pecan Porter from (512) Brewing Company, this pecan from SBRG is strongly pecan tasting! It’s a lighter beer and the full complexity of pecan shines through this sweet, dessert like beer.
The next beer is an obvious recommendation. When in New Mexico, one must seek out green chili food; it’s practically a staple in cooking here. Luckily at the taproom/grill, you can both eat and drink the green chili in! The PANCHO VERDE CHILE CERVEZA is the best chili beer I’ve ever tasted. It’s a complex beer with the full flavor of roasted green chili that’s instantly recognizable with a little heat at the end. Not a beer to drink in large quantities, but paired with the New Mexico cuisine at the grill, a perfect combination!
My final recommendation is a beer the brewery has won several awards for, The Nut Brown Ale or Bonechiller Brown Ale. A common style in England, exceptional nut browns are hard to come by and are an under-appreciated and not often brewed style in the craft beer scene.
The most popular nut brown by far is Newcastle, which is easy to find in the U.S., but weak on the nuttiness and chocolate malt. This beer however from SBRG is an exception. Amazing equal pairing of nuttiness and chocolate that really hits the palette.
The rest of the beers at SBRG are something not to miss, but are true to their styles and aren’t as unique as those I recommended above.
The Food Experience
What makes this a great stop for anyone visiting Ruidoso? – The green chilies. From the beer, to the complimentary buttery green chili biscuits, to the selection of green chili dishes like the iconic green chili burger and chicken green chili alfredo pasta, there’s a wide variety of dishes featuring this iconic pepper. And the food is excellent, it’s reasonably priced in a casual setting, yet it tastes and looks upscale.
If you’re not in the mood for a little heat in your dish, the Rio Grande Grill and Taproom also features many other dishes and specials. Crab Legs, steaks and expertly prepared dishes can be expected.
The Bottle Shop
On par with the rest of the experience, at the Rio Grande Grill & Taproom, you can take home any of the beers on selection. They feature growlers and six packs for convenience. My only complaint, no mixing of six packs allowed, you will be required to get the same beer in six bottles at a minimum.
The Rio Grande Grill & Taproom is a stop for any beer lover, foodie and tourist visiting Ruidoso. Their wide selection of excellent food featuring green chilies, combined with several exceptional and unique beers will make it one of many highlights of your trip to Ruidoso.