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Mesilla, New Mexico

If you find yourself in El Paso Texas, a border hop to Mesilla New Mexico is definitely worth considering. Located just on the other side of the I-10 from Las Cruces, Mesilla is a small town with substantial history. Of course, we visited for the beer.


As it turned out, we had just missed the Summer Music Series. Each year, Mesilla has a free music festival in the quaint, historic town square. Starting in June, they have a live band every Friday night up to the end of July. A short walk from the square will bring you to the Spotted Dog brewery. After an initial sampling at the Washington Ranch Beer and Music Festival, Lucy-Jo was more than ready for a more thorough tasting session. The barkeep/brewer saw she was having trouble limiting her samples to the four included in a flight and graciously suggested she expand her selections to two flights. He didn't have to ask twice! Her first contained the Belgian Wit, Prickly Beaver, Cream Ale and a Milk Stout. The second flight was a Brown Ale, Irish Red, Kolsch, and a Hefeweizen. The problem was, she loved them all! While discussing the selection with the brewer, he said she really should try the barley wine. Having previously tasted an unpleasant version brewed in Albuquerque for the first time, she was hesitant. The brewer promised her she would be pleasantly surprised, so she agreed to give it a go. He was "so right". Having purchased a growler of the Hefeweizen, another of Cream Ale, and a squeaker of the Barley Wine, Lucy-Jo began to regret not bring more containers to fill.

Spotted Dog Brewery

Mesilla, NM

Conroe, Texas

Nearing the end of the trip to visit our daughter, we stopped in Conroe, Texas. As always, we dropped into the local brewery (Copperhead Brewery) to sample their wares. Lucy-Jo's flight consisted of 4 beer samples; the Medusa (Belgian Dark Strong), Copperhead White (Belgian Wheat), Cherry Medusa (Fruited Belgian Dark Strong), and Striker (IPA). While the IPA is usually not her style, she still found it to be quite palatable. The Medusa was her favorite, followed closely by the Cherry Medusa.


Don't let the snake logo fool you. The real mascot of this friendly little place is Winston, the Corgi. We were greeted at the door by this little guy. He refused to be ignored and even brought us a toy to share. As with most Texas watering holes, the people were very welcoming and certainly knowledgeable. I would definitely suggest stopping by if you are in the area. The Copperhead Brewery is not too far from the freeway and has great parking; something we always welcome as our truck is certainly Texas-sized!

Cooperhead Brewery

Austin

My daughter is in to the comic/game/sci-fi/cosplay stuff, so my wife and I agreed to visit her and go on a family outing to RTX. Rooster Teeth, a company well-known for their web-series and gaming content, hosts RTX every July in Austin, Texas. As with other comic-style conventions, people attend dressed-up as their favorite characters. My daughter went as Black Cat from the Spider-man comics, my wife was Tank Girl costume (both designed and handmade their own outfits), and I had on a Captain America shirt. Yes, I know I was the party pooper, but it was my duty to take all of the photos of the two with other cosplayers and fans. But wait a minute, where is the beer and music? While there weren’t any beer booths at the convention, Mike’s Hard Lemonade was hosting a bull-riding machine in the shape of a mirror-covered shark. As there was no beer, my wife thought: why not get some pictures riding a disco shark?

Austin is well known for its music seen. From the “Austin City Limits” show on PBS to the many nightclubs, music is everywhere. There is not a single bar or club that does not offer live entertainment! During previous visits to Austin, my wife got to sit in on the filming of “Austin City Limits”, visit tap houses and listen to bands. We thought this trip would be a great opportunity to visit some of the local breweries.

My wife and I arrived in Austin a little after noon on a Thursday. After setting up the 5th wheel, we headed out for some food and to find the Hops and Grain Brewery. It is tucked behind an industrial park, resulting in a less-than-inviting exterior. However, inside was not bad and my wife ordered her flight. As I am not a beer drinker and usually hold the position of designated driver during our trips, there isn’t much for me at breweries that do not also serve food. Thus far, I have found two breweries that offer their own root beer on tap and have greatly appreciated it. But I digress.

The beer was not all that interesting. The ones my wife tried were good, but not especially noteworthy. Her flight consisted of: ALTeration, Zoe (a pale lager), Porter Culture (a Baltic Porter with a hint of coffee), and Maibock (a bock style beer). The most interesting part was the fact that they also sold dog biscuits. Apparently instead of dumping the spent grains from the brewing process they use them to make dog treats. I thought that was pretty cool.

The next day we stopped at Adelbert’s Brewery. While it was also in an industrial park, it was far more inviting. We arrived just as they were opening and it quickly became packed. Here, when you order a flight, you get an 8oz glass that you can keep and your choice of 4 samples. But be warned, beer with a higher alcohol content can count as two samples. My wife went up to order her flight while my daughter and I waited. She finally returned to the table carrying a very large sample of beer. Apparently, she found common ground with the lady behind the bar and were busy friending each other on Facebook. Every sample Lucy tried was a hit. The people were very nice and friendly, but no music that night. The beer was excellent and can be purchased in many places around Texas.

The last brewery we went to in Austin was a little out of the city. The Jester King Brewery is an open venue situated on a working ranch. It can be a little hard to find, but well worth the effort. It has a great family atmosphere with large shady trees and boasts wood fired pizza place which shares the property. Stanley’s Farm House Pizza alone is worth stopping for. The area is dog-friendly and they have a sand box for kids to play in. Despite the outdoor environment, the brewery and pizza house are both very clean. They also recycle and compost all the leftover boxes. It was difficult to get a flight, as the beer list was extremely long. Instead, Lucy enjoyed a couple of samples. I wish we were there when they offered live music, but our bad luck on this trip was continuing: no music. If you are in Austin, I would strongly suggest stopping by the Jester King Brewery. With such a long list of beers, there is sure to be something for everyone.

Rooster Teeth

Hops and Grain

Adelbert's Brewery

Jester King Brewery

Stanley's Farmhouse Pizza

Fredericksburg

A small yet well-known city, Fredericksburg has a long and interesting history. Of course, if you were interested in that, you’d be reading a book. This is about music and beer.

We stopped at a local RV park for two nights on the way to visit our daughter in east Texas. After unhooking our 5th Wheel, we headed downtown. When visiting Fredericksburg, it is important to keep an eye on the time as the main strip is more or less closed by 5pm. We arrived around 5:30. Luckily, there was something a lot more exciting that the shops in our sights.

We began with a familiar place: the Frederiksberg Brewing Company. It is tap house, restaurant and bed and breakfast, coining the term “Bed & Brew”. Sitting down, my wife immediately ordered a flight of beer. First up was the “Not So Dumb Blonde Ale”, a light beer similar to a German style Kolsh. My wife found it a bit too light for her taste. Next up was “Helles Keller”, a light, unfiltered lager. Falling back to her comfort zone, my wife tried the Hefeweizen: “El Hefe” which boasted a “hint of cloves” which she very much enjoyed. The “Enchanted Rock Red Ale” was a red amber ale with a malty flavor and eventually proved to be the winning brew. Finally, she tried the “Pioneer Porter”, an English style ale. In the end, the only other beer that she didn’t test was the “Peace Pipe Pale Ale”. My wife does not enjoy the grapefruit flavor of many IPAs and finds them too bitter. This is an interesting contrast to her father who is an IPA man all the way. Unfortunately, as we stopped by during the middle of the week, there was no live entertainment.

The next day we travelled downtown earlier to visit the wineries and chocolate shops. A bit after noon we stopped by Hondo’s: the restaurant and bar named for John Russell (Hondo) Crouch of Luckenbach, Texas. I am sure you have heard the Luckenbach, Texas in a song or two. While Hondo’s only sells beer in cans and bottles, they do have live music, a beer garden, and good food. In fact, they actually smoke their own meats on site. Once again, we found ourselves at the right place but at the wrong time: no music today. We ordered our food and my wife picked a bottle from the local brewery: Altstadt. The bartender was nice enough to offer to pour it in a glass from the beer’s brewery that she was later allowed to keep. He also informed us that they were in the process of building a large tap house just outside of town.

Afterwards, we continued our walk up and down the streets of Fredericksburg, eventually ended the day at Pedernales Brewing Company. As per usual, my wife ordered a flight of beer. However, unlike most flights (4 to 5 - 4oz beers), the Pedernales Brewing Company offered an 8oz sample of 4 beers with the option to keep your glass. A great deal for a decent price! My wife started with the “Lobo Negro”: a dark, German-style lager with a hint of coffee and chocolate. The second was the “Robert Earl Keen Honey Pils”. It is a light lager with a hint of honey. Her favorite turned out to be the “Midnight Porter”. She even found it to be better than their Hefeweizen (the “Lobo Hefe”). As the brewery is close to town, a food truck is often available onsite. Once again, the Pedernales Brewing Company offered live music, but only on the weekends.

If you like music and beer, Fredericksburg, Texas is a great place to visit. Just make sure it is on the weekend. The stores in town may close early, but the breweries are open late.

Fredericksburg Brewing Company

Hondo's on Main

Pedernales Brewing Company

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Although unlikely, if you have not heard of Lynyrd Skynyrd, it is an American rock band best known for popularizing the Southern rock genre during the 1970s. On June 17th, they played at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino in Mescalero New Mexico with special guests Parmalee and Rodney Atkins. While I was not able to attend the concert myself, my father-in-law was there carrying out his duties as the production manager of the facility. He has worked with a variety of bands over the years and was happy to discuss the stage and setup of the show.

Unlike many of the previous concerts at Inn of the Mountain Gods, Lynyrd Skynyrd was set up in their outdoor venue overlooking a spectacular lake, mountains and tall pine trees. The stage was trucked in and setup on a large grassy area. One of the biggest issues with this was the unevenness of the ground. As a result, the crew had to spend a lot of time adding blocks and leveling the ground.  As one would expect, Lynyrd Skynyrd utilized a number of tube amplifiers, speaker arrays and columns to assist in showcasing the band’s great sound. The final production was exceptional. Through significant delegation and coordination with the musicians and their crew, stage, lighting, and sound people, the final production was exceptional and the guests were given a memorable experience.  
As for the beer, The Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino recently opened The Broken Arrow Tap House. It is a restaurant/bar with over 60 beers on tap, ranging from mainstream beers like Budweiser and Coors to some of New Mexico’s best like Alien Ale and La Cumbre. They have a beer there for everyone.

By taking a short trip into the City of Ruidoso, you will also discover the Rio Grande Grill & Tap House. Part of the Sierra Blanca Brewing Company, this local brewery is well known in the area for their Alien Amber Ale. Top notch food, a family friendly atmosphere, and periodic live entertainment, makes it a great place to spend the evening. During our visit, my wife ordered a flight of beer and I had one of the Sierra Blanca Brewing Company’s root beer. The flight allowed for the choice of four samples. She chose a milk stout, Alien Wheat, The Bone Chiller Nut-brown, and a whiskey stout. She has enjoyed the Alien Wheat and the milk stout before, but the other two were a new experience. The Bone Chiller Nut-brown was given a stamp of approval, even though it had a more floral, hoppy flavor. Ultimately, she loved the whiskey stout. Surprisingly, it does not contain any whisky as the name might be thought to imply. Instead, it is fermented in whiskey casks, giving it more flavor. While we were debating purchasing a growler of the whiskey stout over dinner, the tap master stopped by with another beer for her to try. It was called a Dark and Stormy and immediately became her new favorite beer. It is a mixed beer containing half of the Sierra Blanca Milk Stout and half of the Sierra Blanca Whiskey Stout. Obviously, we purchased a growler of Dark and Stormy instead. Unfortunately, the whisky stout was a limited brew.

As you venture further into the main streets of Ruidoso, you will come across the Hidden Tap. Although they do not brew their own beers, this tap room serves a variety of local New Mexico brews. The Hidden Tap serves food and has live music from time to time. We didn't sample the food, but we were able to listen to a couple of local bands. All in all, it was a great place to hang out. Unfortunately, we missed Sasquatch, but that is another story....

Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino

Sierra Blanca Brewery

Hidden Tap Room

Noisy Water Winery

Washington Ranch Beer and Music Festival

Washington Ranch is a hidden jewel in southeastern New Mexico. Located south of Carlsbad, the old ranch house and grounds forms an oasis in the Desert. Owned by a local group, the ranch has been expanding to includean atrium with exotic plants, hotel rooms, a conference center, RV spaces, a bunk house, rustic cabins, dorms, and a dining hall and kitchen. Most important of all, Washington Ranch just held their first beer and music festival.

My wife and I drove our 5th Wheel camping trailer down to attend the new event. We were also accompanied by my wife’s father, the production manager for Inn of the Mountains Gods Resort and Casino, in his coach.The three of us parked our vehicles in the provided dry-camping spaces and headed for the festival.

Breweries from all over New Mexico attended. One of the key sponsors was Carlsbad’s local brewery, Milton’s Brewing. Eachticket came with a free t-shirt, a beer glass, a coupon for onepint and, best of all, UNLIMITED free samples. The samples ranged in size from the small amount one would expect, to up to half a glass. A few other guys and I concluded that the women tended to get the biggest fills. My wife really enjoyed the Milk Stout from The Spotted Dog out of Mesilla, New Mexico.

The stage was a raised grassy area with a tent covering and the sound equipment was supplied by one of the bands, Secret Circus. Secret Circus also has a studio in Roswell, New Mexico where they record both their own work and albums for a number of bands around the area. 

The mixing was done wirelessly by linked sound equipment and a tablet. This method does make mixing a little easier, but it also can create some issues which later became evident.

The first band, Earth Bothers, was a primarily instrumental,alternative rock band. Next was Highland Blues and Jazz Band. As the name states, they had more of a Jazz and Blues style.Around this time is when the tablet mixing became an issue.

Technology has come a long way. The tablets, apps, and Bluetooth technology has helped a lot of the small bands. It gives them the ability to mix on the fly without the need to hire more people. It also eliminates the need for costly, cumbersome, and expansive mixing consoles. Unfortunately, when the wireless connection has an issue like it did that night, the mixer must be manually hard wired for it to continue to function. It took some time to get issue resolved, so we decided to eat.

The festival had a number of food wagons serving a variety of dishes from smoked BBQ to some more exotic foods, like rattlesnake. I stuck with the more traditional, wood fired pizza from Patio Pizza. My wife had the chicken bombs from C-N-G BBQ that she enjoys. For some reason,“Schwety Balls”, another C-N-G BBQ menu item, did not appeal to her.

Once everything was back in order with the sound,it was time for the next performance: Secret Circus. We have heard them a few times before, but mostly in small, indoor venues like Milton’s Brewing. They sound much better in the open. Secret Circus is comprised of two twin brothers from Sweden. It is hard to exactly describe their music. I find it to be more of a modern, alternative, pop with a touch of blues. Regardless, we really enjoyed them.

Once everything was back in order with the sound,it was time for the next performance: Secret Circus. We have heard them a few times before, but mostly in small, indoor venues like Milton’s Brewing. They sound much better in the open. Secret Circus is comprised of two twin brothers from Sweden. It is hard to exactly describe their music. I find it to be more of a modern, alternative, pop with a touch of blues. Regardless, we really enjoyed them.

Up next, was the classic rock band Gleewood. The couple thatforms the band was accompanied by the wife’s father on lead guitarand one of the brothers from Secret Circus on drums. The group played a variety of classic rock covers and some original songs. The singer has a deep voice that, in my opinion,would be a great fit for some of the classic blues songs.

The last band was the Robin Scott Trio. You could tell why they were the closing band: Great sound, excellent mixing, a good variety of both blues and classic rock, and some wonderful original pieces. My wife was up dancing to most of the band’s songs with Robin Scott’s wife.

By the end of the night, we were exhausted and grateful to be staying so close. My wife and I really enjoyed ourselves and hope to attend next year.

Washington Ranch

Breweries:
Spotted Dog Brewery
Tractor Brewing Co.
Cottonwood Wine and Brewing
Drylands Brewing Company
Milton's Brewing

Bands:
Earth Brothers
Secret Circus
Gleewood
Robin Scott Trio

Food:
Patio Pizza
C-N-G BBQ

Milton's Brewing and CW

Currently, Milton’s is the only brewery in our small town of Carlsbad, NM. It is new and not yet well known by the locals, but the brewery’s team has already won many awards for their beer. The venue opened July of 2016 and provided a much-needed boost to the live entertainment within the community. I am happy to hear talk of them expanding their business in the near future.

On Friday night, my wife and I visited Milton’s to listen to an artist we have enjoyed for a while: CW. He is a one-man band that sings, plays the guitar, drums, and harmonica. CW plays primarily old-style blues with a few covers from the likes of Led Zeppelin and Georgia Satellites. This talented musician and songwriter entertained a full housefor over three hours straight.

As for the beer, my wife really likes ‘The Leroy’ Brown Ale which is rich in flavor but never bitter,and the ‘Mullet’, a smooth, slightly sweet and smoky coffee milk stout. Both of these are Milton’s own brews which can usually be found on tap. They also carry local wine and cider in addition to some other New Mexican beers. After about only one beer she was up dancing with her friends and encouraged many unsuspecting bystanders to join in. While Milton’s does not have an official dance floor, my wife enthusiastically cleared the way. In terms of food, the C-N-G BBQ Trailer came by with their mesquite smoked BBQ. What a menu! My wife is partial to the Chicken Bombs. They have everything she loves to eat all wrapped up in a single, smoky package. Start with a stuffed jalapeno, wrap a chicken breast around it and then two pieces of bacon, smoke until perfectly charred, add a rich C-N-G BBQ sauce, and there you have it. I’m always happy to see a small business thriving.

Milton’s Brewing has live bands most weekends. If you are ever in Carlsbad New Mexico, stop by for some music and a beer.

Brewery:
Milton's Brewing

Band:
CW

Food:
C-N-G BBQ

Prologue

Sound. EDCOR has been in the industry for decades. The retro feel of our Class X line of tube amp transformers often makes us yen for a good craft beer and some live music. With so many breweries popping up in the US, my wife and I have begun our journey to explore the best of bands and brews. It is possible you, yourself are on a similar quest, so we thought you may want to join us in our adventures.

You may not know, but EDCOR has been working with musicians and singers for many years. When my parents, Larry and Phyllis Weston, took over the company back in the early 70’s, they changed the direction of EDCOR’s wireless systems. They began working with artists like Debbie Reynolds and Stevie Wonder and became known in the sound industry to legends from Fender to Carver. Larry was even flown out to Japan to have a tour of the Pioneer plant. I think this is why, in the mid 70’s, Larry developed the first wireless guitar system.

As for my wife, her parents were professional dancers, both on stage and in big screen performances like “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Moon Zero Two”. Her father also was a musician, promotor and TV personality. Currently, he is the production manager for Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino in Mescalero, New Mexico and has worked with everyone from Halestorm to Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Following in her parent’s theatrical footsteps, my wife is a belly dancer and performs throughout the southwest. After years of traveling to her shows, we finally decided to purchase an RV. Recently, my wife and I have begun to take advantage of these trips to visit the local breweries we find and enjoy our shared love for music. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s go!!!