ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO
Almost directly across Chama River Brewing off Pan American Freeway, Albuquerque’s awesome NEXUS BREWERY & RESTAURANT champions the flavorful ethnic diversity of this Southwestern Rio Grande Riverbed mecca. Since the Craft Beer Revolution gained national prominence, most of its brewmeisters and entrepreneurial investors have been white males. However, dark-skinned Nexus owner, Ken Carson (a former banker), and female head brewer, Kaylynn McKnight, prove there’s cresting talent beyond the litany of pale-faced zymorgists.
In a tan stucco building next to Best Western, Nexus provides a delightful pub food change-up by offering hearty New Mexican-styled Southern soul food (such as chicken-fried chicken, red chili-peppered collared greens and gumbo) to go alongside impeccable house brews on my April ’16 two-hour lunchtime jaunt.
Since its initial 2011 opening, Nexus has expanded beyond its pristine cocktail-lounged 8-seat grey bar (with glass-encased copper brew tanks, silver spaceship lighting and multiple TV’s) to a remodeled cement-floored side dining room with beer-centric murals and small outdoor deck. As my friend, Dennis, and I grab a dining table, we dig into New Mexico Soul Burgers (with red chili-sauced bacon, onion and pepper jack cheese) while quaffing eight beer samplers.
Starting with dry-hopped American Red Ale - a nifty moderate-bodied offering with spiced red and orange fruiting glazing toasted caramel malts over tobacco-roasted barley crisping – the quality and care given each well-balanced stylistic elixir was immediately evidenced.
Rounded flagship, Scottish Ale, had a similar malt-spiced profile as the Red Ale, adding nutty pecan, almond and hazelnut illusions to caramelized molasses sweetness and mild peat-smoked hop astringency.
Amiable Honey Chamomile Wheat brought chamomile tea florality to coriander-salted orange and tangerine tang as well as Bee’s honey sinew.
The heightened 9.3% ABV given Imperial Cream Ale (compared to the original version’s pre-prohibition-styled 4% volume) provides sweet white-wined nuances to crystal-malted cream soda sugaring and grassy-hopped astringency.
Mellifluous Imperial Pilsner placed crystal-malted mango, guava, nectarine, peach and lychee sweetness and tart pineapple-grapefruit-orange bittering alongside light woody hop dryness (and wispy vodka kick).
Briskly clean-watered IPA layered tangy grapefruit, orange and lemon zest atop sticky pine-needled hop resin, juniper berry bittering and herbal tea nips.
Dry English-styled Chocolate Porter slid chocolate-roasted molasses sweetness across dark-roasted coffee, anise and nut illusions.
Best bet: supple English Barleywine, a boozy 9% ABV dessert treat, plied sweet dried fruiting to caramelized Maris Otter malts, floral perfumed hops and rum-spiced sugaring, picking up tangy bruised orange, tangerine, red cherry, red grape and honeydew notions.