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 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).
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.
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.
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 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