Every year new breweries come in from out of the state to start distributing their beers in New Mexico. Not many of them have a brewer who hails from Albuquerque. Paul Mallory took over as head brewer at Black Diamond Brewing Company last year and now he will be coming home with his beers in tow for two tasting events.
Paul will be in Albuquerque with Admiral Beverage Company at the Barley Room (Spain and Eubank) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. today (Tuesday) and at Jubilation from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday. I hope everyone can get to one of the events and meet Paul and sample some of his brews.
Black Diamond is located in the Bay Area, specifically in Concord. They specialize in West Coast-style, hop-forward beers, Belgian style ales, and barrel-aged beers. Over the years, they have won many awards including a Great American Beer Festival bronze medal in the Belgian Dark Strong Ale category for “The 12.” In March 2014, they celebrated their 20th anniversary by brewing a Double IPA using their favorite hops.
Prior to coming to Albuqueruqe, Paul and I did an interview over email. Here is what he to say about his beers and coming home.
Q: How long have you been brewing and how did you make the transition from home brewer to pro?
Paul: I started with a home brewing kit from my parents when I was 21. I had a degree in music from UNM but then went to CNM for some Biology and Chemistry then on to UC Davis Brewing School. Along the way I took the BJCP course. I was lucky to (have an) internship at Marble.
Q: Tell me more about Black Diamond and the Witch in White.
Paul: I got to shop around after finishing at UC Davis. I got hired on as an assistant at Black Diamond. It was a natural fit as I was already living there. It’s a good area for brewing as many people know. They’re making exciting beer. I loved the idea of staying there. The Black Diamond Brewery has been around for about 20 years, but it has only been in the last 5-7 years have they been making exciting beers — American Style, Barrel Aged, Belgian Styles, and those are the beers that excited me. The Brewery is named after the Black Diamond Mines out in the East Bay outside of Oakland. Those are the mines that supplied all the coal for the Gold Rush, the boom that was going on in the San Francisco area. In that area there is a cemetery that the White Witch is known to haunt. We were trying to come up with a name of a beer and one of sales guys said, “I’ve wanted to name a beer after this Witch for a long time.” After a month of searching, we named the beer in half an hour. We loved it and had our in house guy design a killer label for it. It is an American-style IPA. It is lighter drinking at 6.3 percent (ABV), but with a lot of hop character and aroma with Simcoe, Citra, and Chinook.
Q: What are your beers and your favorite styles?
Paul: Sort of along the lines of the White Witch, I’ve been trying to make beers that are a little more drinkable. We do really bold, really intense, beers, barrel-aged beers, but I have been trying to make beers that are more drinkable. Some (that) the beer nerd like me will drink, but will also appeal to my mom or my friends that don’t drink beers. One of these is the Moeasic, a session IPA. We used the hot new style which was the session IPA and the hot new hop which was the Mosaic. We put the two together to showcase the hop and it is a 4.7-percent, dry-hopped IPA. It is very drinkable but has all the hop character the beer nerds like me are looking for. We also make some barrel-aged beers. We get these used bourbon barrels used for a killer imperial porter released in the winter. A lot we released in 22-ounce bottles and some in the barrels and did some of our blending at that time. They are quite different. It is nice to compare them side by side.
Q: What do you think about the Albuquerque beer scene vs. what is going in California?
Paul: I look forward to coming back to New Mexico and Albuquerque every time. I’m sure everyone out here will tell you about how often I rave about all the great breweries in New Mexico. I really feel that I’m in the Mecca of Brewing in the Bay Area, but gotta say that New Mexico is not (far) behind at all. The Bay Area is more saturated; there are brewers and breweries everywhere. It makes for some interesting business models and a lot of people are specializing; they are almost forced to specialize in something. You are getting these breweries that are doing all sours or all barrel-aged, or all Belgian, or cask beers. It makes for an interesting beer scene out here.
Q: There are at least another four or five breweries coming on line this year in Albuquerque and there is some concern about saturation here. Are you starting to see any shakeout in the Bay Area?
Paul: It is interesting. I live in the Berkeley/Oakland area and for a long time there was only one brewery in all the city limits of Oakland, which is about the same size as Albuquerque. In the last year, five have popped up. There is still room; you just have to find the spot. It feels like (saturation) is coming, but there is still room for growth.
Q: What excites you most about having Black Diamond distributed in New Mexico and how did that happen?
Paul: About a year ago we started to expand our distribution. We had our beers out East. Here and there, Maryland, Florida, Ohio, kind of scattered, so what we wanted to do was pull out of the markets that we could respectfully, and also focus more on the West Coast, places that are closer to us and cheaper for us to ship insuring that our beer is fresher and ready to drink. We have a good distributor in Arizona and we just went into Texas. For everybody it was obvious to go to New Mexico. I was telling everybody about the beer scene in New Mexico. I had a feeling that if we brewed good beer, the people in Albuquerque would drink it. For me it is just a personal joy for my friends and family to drink the beer. They have all heard me talk about it too much! They are probably tired of hearing about it and want to just drink it. It is also coming full circle. I made my first batch of beer in Albuquerque when I was 21, did internships there and just love the town. Whenever I’m not there, I miss it. To come back and do a promotion and share something I love so much, in Albuquerque, I can’t tell you how much it means to me.
Cheers to that, Paul! Welcome home!