Tina and I like to go up to Pendaries, NM (it's a little past Las Vegas, NM) - it's peaceful and relaxing. Especially, when you pack a growler or two. So, one of the last go-arounds, we stopped off at Chama River Brewing to see what they had to offer. We ended up getting their Menege A Tripel & the Rio Chama Amber. One impressed, one did not.
The Menege A Tripel was a strong tripel representation from Chama River. The beer had a very "wheatish" look to it, making the brew seem more like a combination of a wheat beer and a belgium tripel. There is a lot of crisp banana & apricot flavors with a short fruity aftertaste. The beer isn't really that sweet - just enough to get that fruity flavor in there. With a 8.6% ABV, it was strong and fit with other tripels I've had lately (the Kerberes Tripel from Flying Dog was 8.5%).
Look - 4.0/5.0 - The unique blend of a wheat and tripel was intriguing.
Smell - 4.0/5.0 - The banana and apricot flavors are pleasant and not so overpowering that you feel like you snorted a line of sugar.
Taste - 4.0/5.0 - A pretty standard tripel - strong, flavorful and crisp.
Feel - 4.0/5.0 - The lack of being overly sweet was very nice
Drinkability - 3.5/5.0 - The premium charged to get this one counts against it - while the beer was enjoyable, the extra $3 to get the growler make my wallet a sad panda.
The Rio Chama Amber was the disappointment of the pair. The aroma from the beer was...unique, but in a bad way. It was bordering skunky and that prevented much of any good scents from being detected. The beer had a slightly bitter taste and mild, lingering aftertaste. I had to keep drinking it to avoid that aftertaste from sticking around. This beer had to be served cold cold cold, which is where it had the best taste (and that's saying something).
Look - 3.0/5.0 - A standard amber color, nothing to write home about.
Smell - 2.0/5.0 - Yikes, skunky.
Taste - 2.5/5.0 - The bitter taste was nice, but then had a lingering aftertaste that wasn't terribly enjoyable.
Feel - 2.5/5.0 - Lingering aftertaste...bleh.
Drinkability - 2.0 - Very disappointing - they have enough beer there that I can avoid this one.
On a side note - I'm part of the Albuquerque 20/30 Club and we put on an annual charity event called the Equestrian Cup. This is the first year we would get local breweries to add their beers to the tasting menus (normally just really good food and wine). We asked Chama River and they denied us saying "We have given enough this year."
All I wanted was 2-3 kegs to have to feature their beer and market themselves...didn't think I was asking for that much. Anyway, if you go there, talk to them and tell them you want to see Chama River beer at the Equestrian Cup!!! That, or if you know someone who can make something happen, I'll owe you a beer.