Monday 13th May 2012
This brewery opened in 2011 and was the result of the expansion of the Il Vicino chain of wood-fired Pizza restaurants.
Their first brewery simply got overtaken by the increase in outlets.
There are now four in Albuquerque and one in Santa Fe, the state capital. There are others in Colorado and Kansas.
The Canteen is located in an industrial area about four miles north of Downtown and is within walking distance of the La Cumbre brewery. It's purpose-built with a large amount of outside seating and supplies beer to all the New Mexico outlets. It is also known as I.V.B. Canteen.
On entering I was confronted by two blackboards, one with the regular beer menu and other with the Brewer's Special. Had I been tempted to dabble amongst the latter, I doubt if I would have made it to the next pub.
This was what was on offer from the regular beer list: 28M (4.0%), an American Wheat; Pigtail Pils (5.8%); Il Vicino Amber Ale (6.1%), Slow Down Brown (6.4%), Wet Mountain IPA (7.2%) and Dark N Lusty Stout (8.0%).
The Brewer's Specials were: Märzen (5.6%); Irish Red (6.4%); Bock (7.7%); Sasquatch Scotch (7.9%), Barley Wine (11.2%!) and Belgian Strong Ale (abv not disclosed).
I had a sampler tray of five beers: Il Vicino Amber was pretty good with a fair amount of bitterness following a malty taste. Irish Red (6.4%) had medium maltiness and a very bitter aftertaste. A great beer but not exactly what I would have named as an Irish Red!
Slow Down Brown I liked a lot but I would have called it a dark bitter as it was nothing like a traditional brown ale. West Mountain IPA was exactly what you'd expect, a full blown IPA in the American style.
Fortunately, I saved the best till last. Dark N Lusty Stout was a very strong stout in the Irish style. It was extremely dry, wonderful! Cask Chocolate Brown was advertised as being on in two days time. Sadly, too late for me.
In conclusion on the beers, can I say that, if you are a hophead, you would love these ales, I did!
You don't have to go to the source to drink these beers, as they are supplied to other Il Vicino outlets.
For instance there is one of their restaurants situated between the Tractor Brewing Tap House and Kelly's Brewpub on Central Avenue. That's three different microbreweries beers within a quarter mile on one road. That's why Albuquerque is such a good beer drinking city.
At the Canteen you can see the brewery though glass panels behind the bar and on the left of it. Of course a full menu is offered with daily specials.
Il Vicino Canteen, 2381 Aztec Road NE
Open: Sunday to Thursday 12.00-22.00; Friday-Saturday 12.00-24.00
The Canteen is about ten minutes from La Cumbre
(North along Girard, turn left at end into Aztec, IVC is on the right)
Coming from the stop at Carlisle/Candelaria (Bus no 5), take the route to La Cumbre,
then as above, just under thirty minutes totally.