The fastest Great American Beer Festival Awards ceremony in history — these things happen when it is all virtual — saw four New Mexico breweries claim five medals on Friday night. Two golds, two silvers, and one bronze are all coming home from the annual competition, which was still held even as the festival itself was canceled by the pandemic.
La Reforma Brewery earned its first medal, a gold in the German Dark Lager category for its Maximilian, a year-round offering, no less. Maximilian beat out 97 other entries in the category.
“When La Reforma was in the conceptual stage, one thing we were fixated on was honoring the fascinating German roots of Mexican brewing tradition,” La Reforma co-owner John Gozigian wrote in an email. “Outside Mexico, it’s not widely known that in the mid-1800s, Napoleon III installed a Hapsburg scion (Maximilian) as emperor of Mexico. His reign was short-lived as he was promptly beheaded. However, prior to this unfortunate turn of events, he had the foresight to bring a small group of Germans to Mexico who began brewing beer commercially.
“Armed with this knowledge, it becomes less surprising that Mexico’s most iconic beers are derived from classic German styles such as Vienna lager, bock, pilsner, and Munich dunkel.
“Before opening La Reforma, we tasked Roberto (Buskirk-Lechner) with developing a Negra Modelo-inspired beer, but brewed true-to-style as a traditional Munich Dunkel in honor of Emperor Maximilian for his contribution to the brewing world. I think we can all agree that Rob nailed it.”
Second Street Brewery earned the second gold medal in its history, this time for Brown Ale in the American-Style Brown Ale category, topping 59 other entries. The beer is currently on tap at all three Second Street locations. Second Street previously won gold in 2013 with Rod’s Steam Bitter.
Quarter Celtic Brewpub claimed two silver medals, its first hardware from GABF. The Prince of Dortness won in the Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest category, which had 90 entries. The seasonal offering is still on tap at the main location on San Mateo. Crimson Lass, a year-round fixture in the lineup, won in the Irish-Style Red Ale category, which had 78 entries.
The first medal won was the lone bronze of the day. Toltec Brewing won its second bronze in as many years, this time for Cactus Warrior in the Specialty Beer category (35 entries).
We asked head brewer Kaylynn McKnight, over email, how it felt to win again after taking bronze for Shaman Stout last year. Her response included some news that not all of you might have heard yet.
“I’m very excited to have gotten one final medal during my time as head brewer of Toltec!” she wrote. “It’s one of the best-selling house beers, and I am very proud to have another GABF medal under my belt. Also, congratulations to all of the other NM winners! Cheers to making world class beers!”
Yeah, McKnight and Toltec have parted ways. We will have more on this soon, we promise.
It should also be noted that Ex Novo Brewing won a gold medal for its Perle Haggard in the Bohemian-Style Pilsner category, but that win was officially credited to the Portland brewery and not Corrales (but everyone is still allowed to celebrate the awesome year-round brew here, too).
As we get more reactions from the victorious breweries, we will add them here, or do some follow-up stories.
Congrats to the winners!