April 12, 2010 GMT
High Plains Snifter

16.3.10 Farmington, New Mexico

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The beer in the Three Rivers brew-pub in Farmington is astonishing, and consequently I find myself astonished up to the eyeballs. The music, however, is weird; either lame and sometimes explicitly racist 90's country, or gargle-metal. No real surprises in that combination, except there's a sort of midpoint-band that gets played (and is received well) at some point. It's country pickin', but with hell-talk and guttural vocals. I don't know what it is, I don't know what to call it and I never need to hear it again, but I like it.

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Northern New Mexico (where the Rockies appear) is so goddamn beautiful you've just gotta laugh. Especially when there's a "bit" of snow on the ground. It's mighty cold, but with literally all my clothes on, 100 miles isn't a problem. It's the fingertips that start whimpering for mercy first. But the sun's out, and the sky is as blue as it gets between here and Bolivia.

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I'm warned by a friendly well-wisher at a gas-station in Los Alamos (birthplace of the A-bomb, explosion geeks) that the Zia Indian Reservation has very low speed limits, that they're rigidly enforced, and that the justice, if you're caught, is tribal. What on Earth might that entail?
I see no justice-enforcers as I pass through the reservation, but everyone's driving very very slowly, so I guess there's something in the bleak-faced warning.

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If you should find yourself in Farmington - and why not? It's a perfectly pleasant small town with a good diner and a decent motel, happily positioned a two-minute walk from the Three Rivers pub - I recommend the Chaco Nut Brown Ale. All of the 10-ish microbrews on the menu are delicious-sounding (and at least six of them are delicious in reality) but the Chaco is a sweet, ice-cold session-brew at a liver-friendly 4.1% ABV. You might want to go for the Double Barrel Amber, but at 8% I'm giving the bastard a swerve.

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Some other places of interest between here and Mississippi include Waco, TX, and Roswell, NM. There is, predictably in hindsight, no family-fun theme park in Waco devoted to the David Koresh "incident" (not even a patch of burnt grass), but there is the Ice House, where I spend a hugely entertaining evening with Shooter Dan (named for the booze, not the guns). I'm sat at the bar maybe five minutes before Daniel (a Baptist who brings the whole tired old God thing up several times between our meeting and our getting thoroughly wang-dangadingdonged on drinks) says hello. Great bar, good company, darts, pool and beach-ball boosies on both sides of the bar.

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Roswell has a large, funny and unconvincing Alien/UFO Museum and an apparent paucity of bars. Like every other town though, it's full of Harley riders who all wave and chatty pedestrians who want to know what the hell it is I'm riding. Africa Twins are somewhat scarce in the US, having only been sold here (I think) for one year.

Three Rivers microbrew update:
NM Colona is a very guzzlable 4.5%; a nicely under-gassed lager. Suck 'em down with gay abandon. Ju know what? If missing out on Roswell means you've got time to visit the Three Rivers in Farmington, do it. The ales are outshtanding *barp*.

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If you're in any way unable to hold your booze in a civilized fashion - let's posit the idea, for example, that you're young and new to the drinks, or that you've lost several jobs and/or wives due to your behaviour after a schooner or two of sweet sherry - I implore you to stay away from New Mexico. Opening times are liberal, but drunkenness laws are not. Speaking as a person who likes a snifter but never gets punchy, I'm beginning to see the logic. At the end of the evening, the only people left in the Three Rivers are the ones who are a) blootered b) still capable of respecting the personal space of their fellows. It's a little bit like what Jesus had in mind for the Garden of Eden, but with more stringent ID checks and lager.

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That reminds me of The Good Thing About Texas - you can smoke in the pub. And the food's great.

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Before I forget; the grooviest thing that's ever happened to me in my life is being overtaken by 60 convoy-riding Louisiana 1%-ers, and being saluted by literally all of them. I'd been in the US of States a week, and it was so cool I nearly cried. They were called the Black Somethings (inevitably) - possibly Rats.

Posted by Simon Fitzpatrick at April 12, 2010 12:39 AM GMT

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