Restaurants and breweries have had it rough this year, as everyone knows. With the pandemic, most of these businesses haven’t been the same since early March. Morale has often dipped as low as the temperatures these days. But, the consensus seems to be that the beer industry folks are still hanging in there, as they continue to turn passion projects into quality products for us to enjoy. These days, owners and staff are just looking for the good where they can find it, and celebrating the victories, no matter how little or how large.
Second Street Brewery has felt the COVID pains that many other businesses are feeling with the loss of revenue, closures, etc. But, on the Friday night online announcement of the Great American Beer Festival awards, they got a little bit of that good ol’ morale medicine back when their name was called for a gold medal in the American Style Brown Ale category. Though not as many New Mexico breweries entered beers in GABF this year, many still tuned in to watch the virtual awards show via livestream.
Second Street was watching on a large TV in the back of the brewery at 2920 Rufina Street.
“We had eight entries in total this year,” president and brewmaster Rod Tweet said via email. “American Brown was the last category we had up. I personally tend to turn into an annoying mess of nerves during these things, so I was distracting myself by having a grill going while we were watching. So, by this time the tension in the room was through the roof. The announcement for gold came and things got really loud fast, everyone cheering, hugs, etc. It almost felt like we were there at the Bellco (Theater at Colorado convention center) for a minute. Kind of hard to put into words, honestly.”
Tweet said he is really proud of the medal. It certainly came at a good time.
“I’m just really, really happy to get a morale booster for our team like this, after this past ridiculous year,” he said.
Having beat out 59 other brown ales for the gold medal, Second Street certainly had reason to celebrate. And, celebrate Second Street did indeed, with more beer, pitchers of Brown Ales, smoked salmon and sausage.
“We had a pretty late night,” Tweet assured us.
The award-winning Brown Ale is a healthy blend of chocolate and caramel malts, old-school on the hops (Centennial and Cascade) that are all added in the whirlpool. 14.25 Plato, 38 IBUs for those keeping track.
“It comes across as pretty dang hoppy, but still balanced,” Tweet said. “It’s basically the Brown Ale we have been doing for our own taprooms once or twice a year going back quite a ways, and it was Tom’s (Ludzia) idea to enter it.”
Once they had their hearts set on entering the beer, they sat down, fine-tuned the hop addition amounts based on the style guidelines, and Tweet said they just went for it.
The award-winning beer was brewed at the original location on the 10-barrel brewhouse; brewer Will Harrel was on deck that day for the brew. Excellent job, Will!
There’s only about three barrels left of the winning Brown Ale, but the great news is that they are brewing it again this week at both locations, and 20 barrels are headed into package, available in 16-ounce four-packs.
“Mariah (Scee) just showed me the label yesterday, and it looks great,” Tweet said. “We’re excited about it.”
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Thank you to Rod Tweet, Tom Ludzia, and Mariah Scee for always answering my questions and requests for photos. Congratulations to all of the Second Street staff and familia on your well-earned win! To the alchemists who turned brown into gold, and to your health, readers and friends!
For more New Mexico Craft Beer info follow us on Twitter at @nmdarksidebc and me at @SantaFeCraftBro!