Brewpub Bracket: Western Wrangle

To inform your voting in CHOW’s monthlong Best Brewpub in America Bracket, we’re throwing the spotlight on individual matchups.

If anyone should know exactly what makes a brewpub great, it’s the beer aficionados who post reviews on BeerAdvocate. In this fourth and final matchup in week two of our Best Brewpub in America bracket, the face-off pits Eske’s in Taos, New Mexico, against North by Northwest in Austin, Texas. Here’s how the BA reviewers handicap the race.

Like any great brewpub, Eske’s is a refuge—in this case, from the crush of tourists crowding Taos. BA reviewer canucklehead notes that it’s 10 minutes off the tourist track, a “funky place that has a good mellow vibe.” If it’s hot, the shaded courtyard is “the best spot to have a beer and eat in Taos.” Grab a bench at one of the picnic tables, and order the signature Green Chili beer. It’s a “good take on the style,” canucklehead says, “and uses those excellent green chiles from Hatch, New Mexico.” The food, too, has some local twists, though htomsirveaux offers a bit of unsolicited advice about one popular item: sushi. “We are in the middle of New freaking Mexico,” htomsirveaux says. “Who orders sushi here?”

Décor that references the Pacific Northwest may be as exotic in the Texas state capital as sushi in Taos, but that’s just what North by Northwest offers. “Everything is in brick and stone with pictures of black-and-white scenes from Oregon and Washington,” wampahoofus writes, calling it all “quite cozy.” Then again, polishing off a couple of beers from the half down on tap might make pretty much any room feel cozy. BA reviewer dragonWhale, though, found the bartender friendly enough to make the whole experience more or less charming, plus the “little artichoke pizza off the happy hour menu” ended up being pretty good, at a price that was “reasonablish.” Sweet.

Made up your mind? Go vote. Remember: This round ends today, so don't wait to cast your vote! And may the best brewpub win.

Top photograph by Jennifer Yin / SF Beer Week

John Birdsall is senior editor at CHOW. You can follow him on Twitter. Follow CHOW, too, and become a fan on Facebook.