Frequent Flier Pints

My wife’s part-time job with Continental Airlines allows
us to jaunt all over the world at minimal cost and thus
has enabled members of my family to visit different
places and see first hand some of the world’s natural
and man made treasures.

Although I hate to fly, as a beer aficionado an
additional perk is the sampling and bringing home of
many beers unavailable in New Jersey.  In the year that
she’s worked for Continental, I’ve sampled beers from
Italy, Switzerland, Holland, Quebec, Antigua and other
parts of the Caribbean, that are not imported into the
US.  In addition to the  unique taste of some of these
brews, an added benefit is the satisfaction one enjoys
when successfully meeting the challenge of self-
importation rendered necessary by the attacks of
September 11th.  Since then beer may no longer be
carried on board an aircraft, and must be packed in
checked luggage. Thanks to my bride’s inventiveness
with dirty socks and pilfered towels I haven’t lost a
bottle yet!

A month ago she had a couple of days free from
Continental and wanted to get away. The only
disadvantage of the almost free airfare is stand-by
seating, but this is somewhat offset by an employee’s
ability to check the availability of seats on a given flight
and thereby determine his chances of getting on. The
flights to Santa Fe were fairly empty and she had
expressed a desire to see two things in that city: the
staircase at Loretto Chapel and the Georgia O’Keefe  
museum. A quick check of uncovered a
few places of interest for me as well, so Santa Fe it

After landing in Albuquerque and renting a brand new
Mercury, we headed toward Santa Fe , about an hour
away. Because it was eleven pm there wasn’t much to
see, but off to the side of the highway I spotted a
large neon sign proclaiming the location of the Santa
Fe Brewing Company, obviously a “must” stop for any
thirsty visitor to the southwest, but due to the late
hour the location was only etched in my memory for a
possible visit on the way back.

Santa Fe is the most different looking of any American
city I’ve ever visited. Not only are the churches,
restaurants and historic buildings constructed of
adobe, but so are the McDonalds , Burger Kings and
gas stations. The Loretto Chapel, built I the 19th
century for an order of nuns, features a spiral
staircase that defies the laws of physics. It is said that
the nuns had no means of access to the choir loft so
they prayed until a man riding a donkey showed up
and built them their staircase.

It is not anchored to the wall, has no center support
nor evidence of nails used in it’s construction and is
made of an unidentifiable wood not indigenous to the
area, but a hundred and thirty or so years later, it still
stands. Experts in engineering are baffled as to why it
works. The man who made it rode off and was never
heard from again. There are those who believe it was
St. Joseph answering the prayers. Looking at it gives
one a powerful appreciation of the wonders of the
universe and the wonderment and awe generates a
powerful thirst!

Waking past hundreds of local Native Americans, all
trying to sell us the same turquoise bracelet, we
arrived at The Shed, strongly touted by  the Visitor’s
Bureau as a great place to sample traditional
southwestern luncheon fare and local microbrews.
Trying a porter and an IPA from the Santa Fe  Brewing
Company quickly changed their status from “possible
visit on the way back” to “must get there at all costs”.

A little driving and exploring (and getting winded
because of Santa Fe ’s 7000 foot elevation) soon
brought us close to dinner time. Two possibilities were
the Blue Corn Café and Brewery and the Second
Street Brewery. Second Street won the coin toss, but
we decided to have a sampler in Blue Corn first. They
had some nice brews, nothing I’d consider outstanding
and served a little warm for my taste, but all in all a
nice stop. It was kind of “chain” looking, but therefore
very airy and clean.

The Second Street Brewery also offered a sampler, but
several of the beers (Alt, Best Bitter and Glacier IPA)
all looked and tasted the same. I liked their Ottowi Pale
Ale the best. The place was crowded, noisy and slightly
dingy looking. I ordered a Rueben which, to those of
us from the East Coast means about a pound of
corned beef, covered with sauerkraut and a half pound
of melted Swiss on a couple pieces of open faced  rye,
that must be eaten with a knife and fork. At Second
Street it means  a sandwich that looks like a grilled
cheese with some extra toppings on it, eaten with
your hands. Probably my own fault. I should heave
ordered something southwestern.

My appreciation of art extends only as far as Norman
Rockwell, Paul Detlefsen, Grif Teller, and Thomas
Kincaid, all wonderful portrayers of Americana , so I
was not overly impressed with the works of Georgia O’
Keefe during a visit to the O’Keefe museum. However,
my previously unknown talent as an art critic was
revealed when I noticed that many of her watercolor
renderings of flowers resembled nothing so much as
female  genitalia, and noted same to my wife, who said
“It figures you’d get “that” out of it”.  My vindication
came a few moments later when reading one of the
placards provided the information that Ms. O’Keefe
became very upset when several legitimate art critics of
the twenties came to the same conclusion!

After my foray into the art world it was time to head
back to Albuquerque on the back roads and stop for a
bite at the Santa Fe Brewing Company. This brewpub
has a set-up similar to a couple I’ve been in before: no
waiter service. Instead, you order food and beer from
a counter , pick up the chow from a different counter,
and have the beer delivered to a table of your own
selection. All the beers on the ten beer sampler were
excellent. A walk across the parking  lot brings you to
the brewery where all bottled varieties can be
purchased, in addition to glassware, T-shirts and the
usual “brewery stuff”.

One bottled variety that was not on the sampler was
“State Pen Porter”, so named because of the brewery’s
location next to the New Mexico State Penitentiary.
When granting the license I’m sure that state officials
took into consideration that catching escaped convicts
would be made easier by the close proximity of the
brewery. Their beers are so good that any beer-
deprived lifer climbing over the wall and smelling the
“Chickenkiller Barleywine” in the fermenting tanks
couldn’t help but stop in and have a few before
continuing on the lam, thus enabling the bloodhounds
to sniff him out rather quickly!

Hungry, and  with several hours to kill before  our
return flight from Albuquerque , we drove around
looking for a brewpub because I had left my
pubcrawler printout in the hotel room in Santa Fe ..
Part of our exploring involved driving on part of old
Route 66 and passing a converted gas station that is
now an indoor/outdoor eatery named Kelly’s whose
logo closely resembles the Texaco station it once was.
“Let’s try that place “, said my wife. “No”, said I.” I
want to find a brewpub, I know there are a few here in
town”. Into the downtown area we went before my
eagle eye noticed a small sign that read “brewery”. “I
don’t like the looks of that place” said she, to which I
replied ’I’ll check it out.” A peek inside the front door
revealed a large dog, no tables, and no place to sit.
“Okay, back to Kelly’s “ said I.

Parking three blocks away because of the throngs of
folks heading towards Kelly’s, we joined the pilgrimage
and found ourselves seated at an outdoor table in less
than a minute. When the waitress came for our drink
order I stupidly  asked “ What kind of beer do you
have?” “We make our own” she replied as she handed
me a beer menu listing no less than 19, count ‘em, 19
in- house brews. No samplers are available, but they’ll
happily give you a taste of anything you want to try
before buying a pint. With 19 available beers the usual
4oz sampler would translate to better than a six pack
if all 19 were tried, thus the reason for no samplers.
But I happily had three great pints with my meal
before remembering that Dan Soboti of the Gaslight
advised me before departure for New Mexico to not
miss Kelly’s Brewpub. Thanks to the persistence of my
wife, Mr. Soboti’s sage advice did not go unheeded!

Thanks to Continental Airlines, a little October trip to
Salzburg is in the works. Vienna lager, anyone?
’ll save for a later column.


Another two
glasses up
article from
Dan Hodge!
has to say
these things
and it could
only be
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Kelly's beer list
Beer My Way......... proudly presents....DAN HODGE, beer reviewer, historian and raconteur
anything and everything about beer
by   Dan Hodge
Red Canna,
Georgia O’Keefe, 1923