The first national beer competition of the year is in the books, and once again, New Mexico breweries have pulled off a strong showing. The Beer Army Beer Wars awards were announced last week, with five local breweries bringing home 20 medals.
Flix Brewhouse came in seventh overall with one gold, four silvers, and one bronze. Quarter Celtic added one gold, two silvers, and one bronze, while Three Rivers tacked on two silvers and three bronzes. Rounding out the list were Santa Fe (one gold, one silver) and Steel Bender (three silvers).
“It felt pretty darn good, man, I’m not going to lie,” Flix head brewer Will Moorman said. “We entered six beers, too, and well, all of them got a medal. I can’t complain about that at all. We were thoroughly surprised.”
Will said he learned from Steel Bender brewmaster Bob Haggerty, who had gotten an early look at the medal winners.
“It was good to see, there were some heavy-hitting breweries in there, too,” Will said. “It wasn’t just a pay-to-play kind of thing. Even in the small categories, they didn’t award medals if there wasn’t something that was worthy. It was nice to see that lend credence to how they operated a slightly smaller competition.”
The full list of winners by category is below.
- International Pale Lager: Quarter Celtic’s Pedro O’Flanagan’s (bronze)
- International Dark Lager: Quarter Celtic’s Dark Pedro (silver)
- Festbier: Quarter Celtic’s VP30 (gold), Three Rivers’ Festbier (silver)
- German Exportbier: Quarter Celtic’s Come to the Dort Side (silver), Three Rivers’ The Hoff (bronze)
- Baltic Porter: Flix’s Darth Malt (silver)
- English IPA: Santa Fe’s Happy Camper (gold)
- Dark Mild: Flix’s Brown Basilisk (bronze)
- Wee Heavy: Three Rivers’ Chuckerout (bronze)
- English Barleywine: Santa Fe’s Chicken Killer (bronze)
- American Pale Ale: Three Rivers’ Merica (silver)
- California Common: Three Rivers’ Common (bronze)
- Belgian IPA: Steel Bender’s The Whole Shoe (silver)
- Witbier: Flix’s Luna Rosa (silver)
- Belgian Blond Ale: Flix’s James Blond (silver)
- Belgian Dubbel: Flix’s H-E-Dubbel Hockey Sticks (gold)
- Mixed Fermentation Sour Beer: Steel Bender’s Ned’s Sour Pail (silver)
- Fruit Beer: Flix’s Oasis (silver)
- Specialty Fruit Beer: Steel Bender’s Raspberry Dynamite (silver)
Will said smaller competitions like this one can still have a lot of value for a brewer, especially for someone who is still relatively new to a head brewer position.
“For me, personally, part of my goal in my career is to brew highly stylistically accurate beers,” he said. “Sales are obviously super important, customer popularity is a huge thing, too, but I feel this is a really great benchmark to hit. You can brew that medals on a set of commonly accepted style guidelines, then you’re doing all right.
“I’m still relatively new. This will be my third year as a head brewer. For me as a new guy, I want to make sure my base beer is solid before we make it smoked and soured and add some chocolate cake.”
For outgoing Three Rivers head brewer Brandon Beard, the medals were a fitting final salute to his time at the Farmington institution. He will be opening Lauter Haus Brewing in town in the future.
“Well, it feels great, I’m super happy that I have put together a good team that will continue to strive and grow at 3RB,” he said. “One of the beers that medaled was flagship from before me. One was a collaboration between Patrick and I, and the other three were my recipes. When I started brewing 10 years ago, I was like every beginning brewer and was all about the hops. Over the years, I grew out of that. When I started brewing at 3RB, we only did one lager a year (Oktoberfest), but I really wanted to start brewing lagers. So about four years ago, I made it a personal goal to start brewing more lagers.
“I love that three of the five beers were lagers that medaled. I don’t think I stand alone when I say a lot of brewers really want the lager to blow up like some of these other styles have in the last year. You can’t hide any flaws in a lager; that’s why I want to brew more and more of them. Now that I’m going out on my own, it shouldn’t be a surprise with the name we chose for our brewery (Lauter Haus) that we will be pushing lagers on people. But, I know that 3RB is in good hands it was just time for me to do my own thing.”
The next set of awards are the Best of Craft Beer Awards, which are set for February 11.
Congrats to all of the New Mexico winners of this event. It is good to see 2019 starting off on the right note, competition-wise.