In Suds & Sounds we turn the spotlight on breweries, focusing on the role of music in that brewery’s history, packaging, tastes, and in its city or town as a whole. The idea is to get beer and music lovers to connect with a side of the brewery that may often go overlooked, but one that we think is absolutely vital. To accomplish this, we are talking to the brewers themselves about their own love of music and the role it plays in how they approach their beer. And who knows, maybe we’ll even talk to a musicians from time to time to give a perspective from the other side.
The mountainous high desert town of Taos, New Mexico is beautiful in its own right. Add delicious brews and a regular schedule of live music – not to mention a restaurant that embraces the regional fare with plenty of tacos and green chiles – and you have yourself a mecca on the mesa. All of this is what makes Taos Mesa Brewing a truly one-of-a-kind beer destination. Besides having a regular draft list of 9-12 beers including Fall Down Brown, Cross Eye Rye, and the seasonal BootyCall Barleywine among others, Taos Mesa features music on the regular. They also have an outdoor amphitheater that is a regular tour stop for larger acts and easily ranks among the most beautiful spots in the country. In other words, to say Taos Mesa is a music-oriented brewery would be putting it lightly. We were more than excited to chat with Brewguyver Max Davis about what makes Taos Mesa such a special place.
For people who may have never heard of your brewery, can you give us a little background on how it started and what kind of beers you specialize in?
Taos Mesa Brewing started out as a handful of people with the vision of bringing good quality craft beer and a venue for memorable musical events to Northern New Mexico. We built the building ourselves over the course of a few years and tackled all the associated problems that go along with a project of that scope. We think we’ve created a community of regulars, and have provided an experience for folks who are visiting our part of the world. With quaffable craft beer, amazing views, and a fantastic music venue, it’s easy to fall in love with Taos Mesa Brewing.
How long have you been brewing and what do you consider your greatest triumph so far as a craft brewer?
I started home brewing in January of 1996. My first batch of home brew was a German Alt style, and our Old ’96 Alt commemorates that first venture down the brewing path. We’re proud of the beers that we have to offer, from our Black Diamond Expert Stout to the Sabor Del Sol Pilsner. We have several different styles on tap at any given time, and feel that there’s something for everyone, regardless of personal preference with regards to craft beer.
Taos Mesa Brew Crew. L-R: Head Brewer Jayson Wylie, Lab Master Chris Jones, and Brewguyver Max Davis
Talk about the beer culture a bit in your city. What do people look for in a good beer and what do you hope to provide, and also do you see the beer scene as being linked in any way to the music scene?
Taos is becoming more aware of the craft beer scene. We see people come in who are regularly American Lager style drinkers. After visiting us, many of them come to realize the wide range of flavors that are available in beer. It only takes one or two visits to Taos Mesa Brewing for those people to become regular craft beer drinkers!
In your opinion, is there a particular band or genre that is ideal to listen to while brewing beer?
On brew days, we listen to a wide variety of music. Generally speaking, the person who is ‘leading the brew’ chooses the music. If someone steps into the brewery, they’re likely to hear music that ranges from Primus to Puccini….Rock to Rockabilly….Blues to Bluegrass….By the end of the day, when it’s time to clean up and reset it all for the next brew day, the music generally gets a little more raucous. That gives us the energy that we need to get it all done so that we can enjoy some of the craft beer we love to make.
Some breweries have gotten more into music through sponsoring tours, festivals, or even throwing their own versions of those. How do you think live music fits into the fabric of craft beer, and is this something your brewery has done?
Taos Mesa Brewing has been proud to bring Blues and Brews to Northern New Mexico for some years running now. It’s a summer event, and we have outdoor stages and amphitheaters that provide our customers with the opportunity to sit outdoors to listen to some great blues and enjoy some tasty brews while they take in the fantastic views that we have to offer. It’s a well attended event, which isn’t surprising, considering that good music and good beer go hand in hand.
Do you have any musicians or noteworthy people that you can say are fans of any of your beers?
We’ve been proud to have some rather noteworthy people come enjoy what we have to offer. Lukas Nelson, Ween, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earl, Shawn Colvin, Robert Earl Keen, Los Lobos, and many others have come to play at Taos Mesa Brewing. Even Julia Roberts likes to have a selection of our beers on hand when she comes to town.
Taos Mesa Brewing is located at #20 ABC Mesa Road in Taos, New Mexico. For more info visit taosmesabrewing.com. They also will play host to the Music on the Mesa Festival, which takes place June 2- 4.
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