President of Beers: #25

Santa Fe Pale Ale: Santa Fe Brewing Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico

We're drinking the flagship craft beer from every state in the Union, counting down from 50-1, to find which is home to the President of Beers.

#25 Santa Fe Pale Ale: Santa Fe Brewing Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico

State: New Mexico, which is now unaffiliated with Old Mexico. Site of the first wave of alien invasion, great chile peppers and Willamette Week's sister paper the Santa Fe Reporter.

Brewery: Santa Fe Brewing, established in 1988 it is the state's oldest and largest brewery.

Beer: Santa Fe Pale Ale, which tasters found uniformly "decent" but uninspiring.

Difficulty of obtaining in Oregon: Moderate. It's all over the intermountain West and Texas, but not on the West Coast.

Rating: 63.58

(Editor's note: Willamette Week offered to let our sister papers in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Raleigh, North Carolina write about their state's beers for this series. Indy Week declined to write about North Carolina's best selling beer, Highland Gaelic Ale, so we handled it on our own. The Santa Fe Reporter's Enrique Limón and Alexa Schirtzinger graciously offered to share their thoughts on Santa fe Pale Ale. Here's what they had to say...)

If you don't live in Santa Fe, chances are you are normal. Also, you're missing an essential element of this famed pale ale: the feeling of lounging on a patio under the big, blue New Mexico sky, soaking up the bluegrass and desert air, at Santa Fe Brewing Co.'s location just outside the city.

But never fear, rain-soaked Oregonians! The beer itself will take you there.

The flagship brew at New Mexico's oldest microbrewery, Santa Fe Pale Ale, is meaty enough to serve as an afternoon snack, yet refreshing enough to be the perfect, hop-infused answer to a long, dusty summer bike ride. Tailored to New Mexico's unique style of drowning a burrito, it pairs well with red, green or Christmas chile (if you don't know, watch CNN).

But while Santa Fe Pale Ale is something of a Seussian everyman's beer—not too strong, not too light, not too dark, not too light—where the brewery really shines is in its other offerings. The Freestyle Pilsner (now served in cans!) is a must if you're heading out for the uniquely New Mexican trickle of late-summer whitewater, or full winter shut-in—it's exhilaratingly classic and fresh enough to make you believe you're having fun—and the State Pen Porter (yes, the brewery is just a stone's throw from the state penitentiary) is a lovely, chocolatey accompaniment to a Taos powder day. One sip, and you'll be gyrating your hips all Elvis-in-Jailhouse Rock-style and longing for a mid-evening full cavity search.

So even if you can't taste the sky and the sagebrush in a Santa Fe Pale Ale, SFBC has plenty more up its versatile sleeve. You'll just have to get your (newly searched) ass out to the desert and see for yourself.

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