This story was originally published at EatABQ, the city's food, restaurant and drinks guide. EatABQ is a publication of The Paper, ABQ's new alternative, independent weekly.
Tractor Brewing Company is one of New Mexico’s earliest entries into the craft beer scene. They’ve been brewing since 1999 but it wasn’t until 2011 that they took the big leap from rural Valencia County to upscale Nob Hill. When they did, they brought their tractor with them (hence the name and logo) and parked it right out front on the sidewalk.
Neighborhood long-timers remember the early days when staff, and sometimes a customer or two, would take a break on slow days and fire up the tractor for a cruise around the block between pours.
10-years later the staff is too busy to take you for a spin. They’re taking care of a full house of regulars and a dizzying series of non-profit fundraisers, political events, local band gigs and food truck roundups appearing most nights on the wraparound patio (at least until COVID-19 restrictions limited capacity).
Today the brewery empire has four taprooms, including a huge brewery north of downtown. But the Nob Hill tap room is the original and it still pours the same classic Sod Buster Pale Ale (ABV 6.5 IBU 35) and Farmer’s Tan Red Ale (ABV 6.0 IBU 31) they’ve been brewing since day 1; but they’ve also expanded to include an impressive new line of ciders (the Blood Orange Cider is our new go-to) and house wines available by the can. If something harder is more your style, their sister company Troubled Minds Distilling has bourbon, gin, vodka and tequila available for carryout.
If you need a reason to order just one more pint, try this: their “Beer for a Better ‘Burque” program gives customers two ways to donate a portion of pint proceeds to area non-profits. This year Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation, Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico, Partnership for Community Action and Blackout Theatre Company benefit from special beers brewed to benefit their bottom line and from Tuesday night donations from Tractor regulars.
Locals who love Tractor love it as a home for activism, too. Skye, a co-owner and first taproom manager, has served multiple terms on the neighborhood association and local Main Street association. And Tractor led the charge in the early days of ABQ’s growing brewery movement to change city law so you could take growlers to go (you’re welcome).
Though they don’t have a proper kitchen, Tractor hosts a regular rotation of food trucks on the curb out font (yes, even during COVID capacity restrictions) and you can order slices or whole pizzas from Slice Parlor next door.
If you only have one thing…
It’s not unusual to see twenty or more different options – including guest taps from other New Mexico breweries – on offering so picking that first one is hard. If it’s cold out and you can only have one, try the Coffee Porter brewed in conjunction with students in the Central NM Community College’s brewery program.
If you are more adventurous ask your bartender to share some of their “off the menu” mix-and-match pints (The Turkey Drool + Farmer’s Tan Red is perfect for that first flannel fall day on the patio).
– Online ordering
– Outdoor/Patio dining
– NM Safe certified