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Belt’s Beer Garden: It’s Getting Wild

Vivid Wild, a hazy IPA from New Mexico’s La Cumbre Brewing

One of the best things to come out of Albuquerque, New Mexico (other than “Breaking Bad”) is La Cumbre Brewing Company. The brewery, which has been open since 2010, has two locations in the city - their OG location on the north side of the city and then another 6 miles west, just across the Rio Grande.

Currently you can find their beers across Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. They offer six year-round brews and have 13 others on tap as well, with a focus on IPAs (eight of the 19 are hoppy beers). And today, I have one of those hoppy brews - Vivid Wild.

Vivid Wild, one of the seasonal selections, is a hazy IPA with a very solid 7.5% ABV. It doesn’t have a list of the hops and grains used but a single 16-ounce can cost a very reasonable $4.50. The brew got its name from the two words that describe New Mexico best - vivid and wild - and is a tribute to the beauty of the southwest. It was canned on December 9th and this was written on February 3rd - well within the “best by” range.

It poured a cloudy, slightly darker copper color with some lighter orange hues peaking through if the light hits it just right. There was initially a finger and a half of head that built up before fizzling down to a thin ring around the edge of the glass, with a few bubble formations floating across the top.

The aroma was packed with hoppy fruit characteristics and a flaked grain backing. Leading the way were grapefruit, mango, and pineapple with some citrus peel bitterness hitting my nose as well. There was also a hint of booze that the flaked wheat and oats couldn’t quite cover up.

My first sip began with a much more watery mouthfeel than I was expecting…overall it was a very light and thin IPA. The hops quickly strike with a dash of pithy bitterness and some solid notes of grapefruit and pineapple. I liked that the pineapple wasn’t as acidic or harsh as some other hazy brews and, instead, was a very light and crisp flavor.

The alcohol hits in the middle with a metallic flavor overpowering everything for a brief moment. That’s also where the grains kick in and offer a cereal-like pop of flaked wheat that quells the boozy sting.

All the flavors end on one final push of juicy pineapple that quickly fades away. Vivid Wild then finishes very cleanly. No dryness, no bitterness, just a hint of pineapple that lingers for a brief moment after everything else.

However, the booze builds and builds and, by the time the pint was half gone, there was a slight alcohol burn that sat in my chest. With it just being 7.5%, I was surprised to have that kind of alcohol heat on this brew. But, outside of that, it was a very clean ending.

Overall, this was a very interesting beer. I was a little hesitant at first, based on how heavy and boozy the beer smelled. However, the beer itself was actually insanely light, tasty, and very crushable with a ton of good flavors. But then, towards the back half of the pint, that alcohol burn began to sneak up and sit in my chest, which was shocking since it rarely happens in an IPA under 10%.

The beer itself is very good. It’s just the alcohol was a bit more noticeable here than on other hazies. Still worth a drink and I was glad I found it.

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