New Mexico breweries head to the Great American Beer Festival

Every year around this time, breweries from all over the US bring their best and most interesting beers to a huge three-day gathering in Denver known as the Great American Beer Festival, or, as we beer dudes casually refer to it as the “GABF” (like we know the guy personally or something). (And some of us super beer geeks call it Valhalla. — Stoutmeister) It all started in 1982, and with only 22 breweries. This year there are over 1,300 breweries competing in a whopping 89 Categories for the highly coveted gold, silver, and bronze medals. With over 5,700 entries this year, judges will certainly have a hard time handing out the hardware.

New Mexico breweries brought home eight medals last year at GABF. How many will there be this year?
New Mexico breweries brought home eight medals last year at GABF. How many will there be this year?

Our New Mexico brewers have Mile High hopes, and rightly so. They’re certainly no stranger to the shiny stuff. Last year six NM breweries took home eight medals, and our beer scene has only grown exponentially since then. Below, I’ve listed the participating New Mexico breweries, what they are taking up to the big dance, as well as a little bit about how the beers were selected and the breweries themselves.

For a (mostly) complete list of breweries at the festival, you can check out this LINK.

In Alphabetical Order

Abbey Brewing Company, Abiquiu

Abbey brews Monks’ Ales, having started in 2005. They will be bringing Monks’ Ale, Monks’ Dark Ale, Monks’ Dubbel Reserve, and Monks’ Tripel Reserve.

Bistronomy B2B, Albuquerque

This year, Bistronomy B2B will be bringing:

B2B Coconut Porter — A Robust Porter with toasted organic coconut flakes, 5.8% ABV/27 IBU
Gold Medal/Best Specialty Ale 2014 New Mexico State Fair

B2B Cherry Stout — A Sweet Stout with tart cherries, 6.5% ABV/20 IBU
Bronze Medal 2014 New Mexico State Fair

B2B Cucumber Cream Ale — A Cream Ale with fresh cucumber, 5.9% ABV/18 IBU
Honorable Mention 2014 New Mexico State Fair

Ol’ Yelper Red Rye — A hoppy American Red Ale with flaked rye comprising 19 percent of grain bill, 6.6% ABV/49 IBU

Kyle Baxter is head brewer for Bistronomy B2B. Their booth is located in space I10 in the Southwest Region.

Blue Corn Brewery, Santa Fe

This year Blue Corn is bringing their Gold Medal Oatmeal Stout, Atalaya Amber Ale, End of the Trail Brown Ale, Scorched (Smoked Olde Ale), and Schwarzbier.

I briefly spoke with head brewer James Warren about his beers.

DSBC: Why and how did you choose the beers you’re taking?

James: The first three represent beers that have traditionally done well from this brewery. Scorched represents the type of beer I truly enjoy making, that is big, malty and smoky ales. The Schrwazbier was a fun choice for Nick and me, a style that I had never brewed before, but had been rattling around in my head ever since I read an article in a British brewing magazine about a crazy technique for extracting color form dark malts (crazy enough, that it just might work …). To sum it up about our entries, it’s a little bit of tried and true, a little personality, and a little fun.

DSBC: How do you feel about your chances this year?

James: Everyone is hopeful for a medal and so are we. I might actually feel bad for the judges this year. There are some many great breweries out there now, and so many great beers, that it really is going to come down to nuance. Medal or no medal, Blue Corn looks forward to having a great time interacting with all the participants at the festival and preaching the good word of New Mexico beer culture.

James added, “All the Blue Corn staff going to GABF this year is piling into one car for the ride up. I’m sure it will be an exciting six hours of song, laughter and snacks. OK, really it will probably be a lot of napping. At least on the ride back.”

Bosque Brewing Company

This year, Bosque Brewing Co. sent Bosque Lager, Scale Tipper Batch #4, Acequia IPA, Pale Ryder, and Driftwood Oatmeal Stout to competition. They will be pouring Simcoe IPA and Driftwood at the NM Brewers Guild booth.

Canteen Brewhouse

Formerly Il Vicino, Albuquerque’s oldest brewpub with the newest name, Canteen Brewhouse will be taking Dark N Lusty Stout, Dougie Style Amber Ale, Exodus IPA, Panama Joe Coffee Stout (2013 GABF Gold Medal Winner) and St. Bob’s Imperial Stout (2007 brew) (2009 GABF Silver Medal Winner).

Alpha King Entries:
Elmo’s IIPA (pouring at the Brewer’s Guild table)
Exodus IPA

Pro-Am Entry:
Henhouse Saison — brewed by Mike Archibeck and Doug of Canteen, on Canteen’s seven-barrel system.

Chama River Brewing Company

Chama River is taking Class VI Golden Lager, Cosmic Dog, Hardscrabble ESB, Radioactive IPA, and Sleeping Dog Stout.

La Cumbre Brewing Company

As a committed GABF Judge, president and brewer Jeff Erway was not at liberty to discuss the beers that they are bringing to GABF. But being quite savvy with our internet and mouse-clicking skills, we found a link below that might help you out, if you’re the curious kind. He did, however answer what he could for La Cumbre’s fans.

La Cumbre Beers

DSBC: Why did you choose the beers you’re bringing?

Jeff: I think they kick ass and speak to what our brewery is all about.

DSBC: How do you feel about your chances this year?

Jeff: As good as any year. There are a ton of great brewers out there, and there are more every year, so maybe not as good as last and better than next year? We have some good beers entered. That’s about all I can say.

DSBC: What’s something unique about the brewery?

Jeff: We clearly have the best-looking brewing staff in the industry. That’s obvious. In addition, according to the BA, we use more hops per barrel than any other brewery that reported in the annual BA hop usage survey. Some would say that is not something to be proud of … though in some sick way, I am.

Little Toad Creek Brewery, Silver City

Little Toad Creek is a craft producer of beer and spirits. The brewery currently produces Amber Ale, Stout, Porter, and IPA. The Distillery produces vodka, silver rum, spiced rum, green chile vodka, and whiskey. They also have a downtown restaurant and tasting room as well as a seasonal location in the Gila Wilderness.

This year, they are taking their Polliwog Porter and Toad Wert Amber Ale to GABF.

Marble Brewery, Albuquerque, NM

Marble Brewery is taking their Double White, Imperial Red, Pilsner, Red Light Lager, and Wildflower Wheat.

Santa Fe Brewing Company

I spoke to Alana Jones, General Manager at SFBC.

DSBC: What beers are you taking to GABF this year?

Alana: We are taking Santa Fe Pale Ale, Imperial Java Stout, State Pen Porter, and Los Innovadores Kriek up to the fest.

DSBC: Why or how did you choose these particular entries?

Alana: Breweries were limited to five entries for judging (and therefore serving), so we focused on the beers that always make it to medal contention rounds and get really good feedback from the judges. The fifth beer submitted for judging is the Los Innovadores Single Barrel, but we did not have enough left to serve on the floor.

DSBC: What do you think of your chances?

Alana: It has been a while (six years) since we have won a GABF medal, but like I said above, these beers almost always make it to the medal contention round. I feel our chances are especially good with the Kriek and Single Barrel because we have really invested so much in our sour program.

DSBC: What is something unique about the brewery?

Alana: We are New Mexico’s oldest and largest brewery and have been pioneers in canning beer and barrel aging sours when many people were still obsessing over the latest DIPA (no offense to DIPAs and their brewers/drinkers, both are great!). We are about to launch our 10th state (Utah, here we come!) and are working on a large brewery expansion to bring our beer to many more places. And, we are a lot fun to drink beer with!

Second Street Brewery, Santa Fe

Head brewer Rod Tweet told me a little about the beers his brewery is taking to GABF:

Rod’s Steam Bitter (California Common) — this won a gold Medal last year, so we’re trying for a repeat on this one.

Citra Weizen — this is an American Wheat with Citra hops and while I’ve never been a fan of the style, it’s just really good and fits the style guidelines.

Rod’s Best Bitter — I entered this into ESB – American sub-category. I think it’s a slightly unique take on the style and fits parameters.

Boneshaker Special Bitter — we entered into the International Style Pale Ale category, despite the name. This is sort of our “wild card” entry for this year. Who knows?

Fulcrum — our American IPA entry this year. It’s a lottery under the best of circumstances, I know, but we are pretty proud of this beer and, while not a lbs/BBL winner, it’s a really good, well thought out formulation, with elegant complexity.

DSBC: How do you feel about your chances?

Rod: Pretty good, I think.

Second Street is one of the senior breweries in our region, having opened in 1996. Boneshaker Bitter now available in those sexy Mother Road cans!

Sierra Blanca Brewing Company, Moriarty

This year, Sierra Blanca is taking Bone Chiller Brown Ale, Sun Chaser Pale Ale, Rio Grande Pancho Verde Chile Cerveza, Alien Amber Ale, and Alien Stout

I spoke with Tasha, of SBBC.

DSBC: How and why did you choose those particular beers?

Tasha: Well the Bone Chiller is a two-time medal winner at GABF, that one is an obvious choice. The others are ones that each have a different quality and appeal to different palate. One is very unique to New Mexico, and smells and tastes like the fall here in our state.

DSBC: How do you feel about your chances this year?

Tasha: We feel pretty good about all of our beers. We stand behind our product.

DSBC: What’s something unique about the brewery?

Tasha: We are actually two breweries under one roof. We make 14 different beers, plus contract brews as well. We produce a lot of product if you look at people to barrelage: nine people : 8000 bbls year. We are still passionate about quality over quantity.

Taos Mesa Brewing Company, El Prado

This year, Taos Mesa is taking 3 Peaks IPA, Amarillo Rojo, Fall Down Brown, Kolsch 45, and Lunch Pale Ale.

Tractor Brewing Company

Tractor Brewing is taking Pilsner Roja, Tupac California Red, Farmer’s Tan Red Ale, Red or Green Berliner Weisse, and Milk Mustachio Milk Stout.

* * * * *

All information should be pretty accurate, but things can change pretty quickly at one of these events. If there is anything to add or correct, please feel free to email us directly at, and we’ll post the updates as soon as possible. Good luck to all the New Mexico Brewers representing the 505!

For a full list of 2013 GABF winners click this LINK

A look back at New Mexico’s 2013 Medals:
Gold: Rod’s Steam Bitter, Second Street Brewery, American-Style Amber Lager; Panama Joe’s Coffee Stout, Il Vicino Brewing Co., Coffee Beer

Silver: End Of The Trail Brown Ale, Blue Corn Brewery, American-Style Brown Ale; Sierra Blanca Nut Brown Ale, Sierra Blanca Brewing Co., English-Style Brown Ale; Pilsner, Marble Brewery, German-Style Pilsener; Gold Medal Stout, Blue Corn Brewery, Oatmeal Stout

Bronze: Project Dank: Operation Pharoah’s Return, La Cumbre Brewing Co., American-Style India Pale Ale; Thunder from Dortmunder, Marble Brewery, Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest

So that’s it for my preview of the 2014 Great American Beer Festival. With 14 of our own heading up there, they have yet another great opportunity to put New Mexico on the beer map, and chip away at the whole 30th beer state thing. Can you tell I hold grudges? Well, with the amazing stuff that our guys are making, they deserve recognition, and if it comes in the color of gold, silver, or bronze, then so be it. What do you guys think? Any medal predictions this year? How many? Which brewery? Post your comments directly to the site, or on the Facebook page. Happy GABF Week!


— Luke

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