Archive for February 26, 2018

The hops floated to the top in the second round of the National IPA Challenge.

There will be a new champion in 2018 at the National IPA Challenge. The annual event, hosted by the Brewing News, saw La Cumbre’s Project Dank, the reigning champion, ousted in the second round by past champion Pallet Jack from Barley Brown’s Brewing.

While Dank went down, it was mostly good news for the other 10 remaining entries from New Mexico. In an apparent scoring change from what was originally reported, Blue Corn’s Witty Hop Pun not only advanced out of the first round (it was previously listed as having lost to Red Brick’s Hoplanta), it went on to defeat national heavyweight Samuel Adams and its Rebel IPA in the second round.

Here are the full results for New Mexico entries in the main IPA bracket.

  • Blue Corn’s Witty Hop Pun advanced to face Hops & Grain Brewing’s Lupulin Rodeo in the third round.
  • Bosque’s Scale Tipper (2015 and 2016 champion) defeated Pinthouse Pizza’s Electric Jellyfish and will now face …
  • Quarter Celtic’s Mor-Buck defeated Fremont Mountain’s Daisy IPA to set up an all-NM showdown with Scale Tipper in the third round.
  • Boxing Bear’s Uppercut knocked out Foolproof’s Backyahd and will next face Madison Brewing’s DownTown IPA.
  • Canteen’s Hop Baller defeated Big Dog’s Peace, Love & Hoppiness and will next face Oskar Blues IPA.
  • Canteen’s Tuttle ousted Big Ditch’s Hayburner and will next face Melvin’s Hubert MPA.
  • Quarter Celtic’s Clark upended Southern Tier’s Nu Skool and will next face Lynwood’s Hop Sauce.
  • Eliminated in the second round: Boxing Bear’s Bear Knuckle by Berryessa’s Separation Anxiety; Three Rivers’ IPAC Nugs by Old First Ward’s The Streaker.

Things were tough in the other three brackets for New Mexico entries. The Imperial IPA bracket now has just two remaining as Bosque’s Moon Cannon was silenced by Locavore’s 2 Fingers, Boxing Bear’s Sucker Punch failed to land against Good City’s Reward DIPA, and Rio Bravo’s Level 3 IPA fell to Sunriver’s Resin Nation.

Moving on in the Imperial bracket were Quarter Celtic’s Test Batch #1 over Lakefront’s Strange Neighbor, and Tractor’s Acreage topped Laurelwood’s Megafauna. Next up are Lynwood’s El Hombre Enojado and Melvin’s Citradamus.

Only one NM entry made it out of the first round in the Session bracket, and Bosque’s Southwest Session kept rolling, beating Berryessa’s Mini Separation Anxiety. Next up will be a third-round showdown with Saranac’s Gen IV.

It was a good day for Steel Bender in the Specialty IPA bracket. Both Manana and Red Iron Red advanced by beating Three Creeks’ Raptor and Midland’s Lime Rock, respectively. Manana will face Boneyard’s Incredible Pulp and Red Iron Red takes on Coronado’s North Island IPA in the third round.

Quarter Celtic’s Just Peachy Clark lost to Bron Yr Aur Brewi’s Black Mountain Side.

The third round in all four brackets will be held this coming weekend. Good luck to the remaining competitors!


— Stoutmeister

The site of a future brewery on Highway 14 south of Santa Fe.

I first met Rich Headley of Crossed Sabers Hops and the forthcoming Beer Creek Brewing Company this past November at the inaugural meeting of the Agri-Brew Roundtable for hop growers, breweries, and farmers alike. From just this meeting alone I knew Rich was an exuberant, knowledgable, and resourceful character of just the kind we need in the brewing community.

At his invitation, Stoutmeister and I headed up just south of Santa Fe to visit the site of the soon-to-be minted Beer Creek Brewing. Rich has been around the brewing community for some time now, having worked on building various brewery systems with his previous business, and he got the idea to start a brewery of his own after his friend Rod Tweet (of Second Street Brewing) suggested that he needed to be a brewer after having tasted his homebrews over the years. As Rich put it, the process all snowballed from there with the creation of Crossed Sabers Hop Company, and then procuring the right location for his brewery it’s been quite a wild ride.

The rustic exterior sets the mood.

The historical stone-fronted building (formerly the Raven Rock Cafe) which will house both the brewery and pub lies just off of Highway 14 south of Santa Fe on the road to Cerrillos and Madrid. The charm of the location is palpable, with a classic rustic flair, and breathtaking views of the mountains from the south side of the building, which is also where the brewhouse will be located (not a bad view for a brewer at all).

It’s rather rustic inside, too.

The interior will undergo significant renovation to modernize the space, while leaving a good deal of the original character of the space intact. There was no word yet on what sort of beers we are to expect initially, but we anticipate good things to come from here given what we discussed about brewing and such. The walled-in flagstone outdoor patio on the west side of the building is quite spacious, with established trees for shade, a large fireplace, a fountain, and access to power for potential live music all of which should make for a lovely biergarten in the future.

Eventually there will be a brewhouse in this room, not just Stoutmeister talking to the owners.

The plan is to keep some of the multi-room aspect of the house, with a main bar area and other separate rooms, each with their own vibes. There is a full kitchen on site, from which they will start making their own pizza with a full menu of pub food to follow. Just off the kitchen is a patio that came with a large smoker for making BBQ, ribs and the like (sounds like a delight to us in the Crew), which will come a bit later as well. The brewhouse area is just south of the kitchen and will be a 5-barrel system. The stated intention is to open late winter/early spring of this year, starting with house-made pizza sales to be followed by the full opening of the brewery later this year.

This is not a small outdoor patio.

We were also invited to visit the Crossed Sabers Hop farm, which is ambitious in both scale and scope, and raring to expand if all goes to plan (which looks quite promising). The goal is to potentially double yield from this year to next year, and then the sky’s the limit. Currently being grown on site are Centennial, Brewers Gold, Cascade, Chinook, and Columbus, which form the backbone of many of our American-style brews from pale ales to stouts alike.

The 2018 hop crop was a long way from being planted yet, but the harvester is ready to go.

The group of individuals involved in both the hop growing and brewery venture are excellent friends and as close as it gets to a large family, so it certainly seems that planning and delegation of tasks and responsibilities was done quite well in advance. Rich serves as the organizer and front man for the group. Ryan McArdle is the designated CFO (chief financial officer), while his wife Caitlin is the ranch foreman and hop wrangler. Kelly McGuire will serve as the sales manager. Peter Goodwin and Matt Olev are the primary owners, with Olev as serving as the general manager of the ranch where the hops are grown. Jami Nordby, who recently cut his teeth with Rowley Farmhouse Ales, will be the head brewer.

We look forward to seeing what comes of both of these endeavors. We will have more on both Beer Creek Brewing and Crossed Sabers Hop Co. as we get more information on a finalized opening date, and as the hop-growing season moves along.

Until our next adventure,


— Franz Solo