Homebrewing is bigger than ever in New Mexico. Chances are you, or someone you know brews beer at home. But homebrewing is growing faster than we could have ever imagined just a few years ago and will only get bigger. As most of you know, we were recently ranked the 30th best state for beer. Ouch! And uh … challenge accepted! But you see, I may understand why. Two years ago I didn’t know that there were homebrew clubs with large memberships all over the state. Nor was I aware that there are homebrew supply shops in every major city, and have been here longer than our beer scene. And I had no idea that there were so many annual homebrew competitions like Critical Mash this weekend, or the State Fair Pro-Am competition, or the Enchanted Brewing Challenge back in May. I learned about all of this from a friend, just like you are now. And just like you, I was given a nudge to start homebrewing by a friend. So here’s your nudge.
So why should YOU start homebrewing? Aside from the obvious, producing beer, you would be joining the friendliest community in the world, in my humble opinion. Homebrewing is an incredibly rewarding hobby, social activity, public service, obsession, art-form, and one that you can get involved in with very little commitment. Well, you could commit a few hours a month or dedicate your entire life to the art of making beer; that’s pretty much up to you. My point is that you get way more out of brewing beer than you can ever put in.
That said, RIGHT NOW is a great time to start homebrewing, and if you already do homebrew, now is the best time to get further involved and start challenging yourself! One of the largest homebrewing competitions is coming to New Mexico in November, and even sooner, an AHA (American Homebrewers Association) rally is coming to Santa Fe Brewing Co. on Saturday. If you homebrew, you definitely shouldn’t miss either.
Santa Fe Open Brewing Competition
According to Sangre De Cristo Craft Brewers Club President John Rowley, the inaugural Santa Fe Open Brewing Competition is a challenge open to both professional and amateur (homebrewers). Anyone over 21 is free to compete and both pros and amateurs can register to enter, judge, or steward at Santa Fe Open. They need all the help they can get, folks, so come out, even just to steward a flight. And don’t worry, they’ll explain what that means once you are there. All medalists will win both medals and prizes. With over 50 amazing sponsors, local and national, there is a huge assortment of great prizes ranging from brew swag like hats, T-shirts, and pint glasses, all the way to some serious stuff like a seven-gallon stainless steel conical fermenter, courtesy of the competition’s title sponsor SS Brewing Technologies. Holy yeast feeder, Batman! No one will go home disappointed if they medal.
“This is a first for New Mexico as none of the other competitions award prizes,” Rowley said. “We are the first in the state to do this. It’s common in other states to win prizes with medals, but oddly nobody was doing this here, so we figured it was time to change that. I suspect others will follow in time. The brewing community brews some amazing beer in New Mexico, so we wanted to give something back to those who brew strong. So please brew your best beer and enter it up and you won’t go wrong.”
So start brewing New Mexico! I’m putting something in the fermenters on Friday, and you can bet your sweet can I’m going to enter it!
The competition is AHA/BJCP sanctioned. Amateurs are allowed to enter any and all styles listed in the BJCP 2008 Style Guidelines. Professionals are allowed to enter any specialty beer (categories 23A and 16E per the 2008 BJCP style guidelines). They ask that the pros make it interesting, as entries will be docked that are deemed to be closer to non-specialties than specialties. The competition will take place over the weekend of Nov. 7-9. Professional judging will take place Friday, Nov. 7 at 6:30 p.m., and amateur judging will take place all day and into the evening on Saturday, Nov. 8. Both judging events will take place at the Whole Foods Community Room, located at 1090 S. St. Francis Dr. The awards ceremony/potluck will be on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 9, at Santa Fe Brewing Co. around 1 p.m. If you have any questions or want to take a look at the many generous sponsors, just visit their Facebook page.
AHA Rally in Santa Fe
Saying that Santa Fe Brewing Co. is having a party on a Saturday is like saying something is brewing at SFBC. “Well, Duh!” (to quote my 90’s 10-year-old self). But this Saturday, something new is going down. The American Homebrewers Association, the national homebrewers club that brings us Zymurgy magazine, is coming to SFBC and they want you to join them. Come out for an afternoon of all things homebrewing. This is going to be a blast! On Saturday, you can join or renew your AHA membership at a discount. SFBC will be pouring complimentary beer samples. There will be gifts and prizes and you can rub elbows or share recipes with other avid homebrewers. I’ll be there, and my elbows will be washed in advance.
Now, to sweeten the deal, our friends at Mother Road Mobile Canning will be there to can your homebrew! What!? Yeah, you heard correctly. They want to put your brew in a can. Got something carbonated in a keg that’s just itchin’ to slip into something more … sexy? Bring your carbonated keg on down to the brewery and get your brew canned on Mother Road’s canning line, or just marvel at the awesomeness as it happens. Contact Mother Road if you’re interested in canning.
With these great events happening soon, if you’re a homebrewer in New Mexico, it’s an exciting time to be alive!