Second Street’s passion for the game goes Beyond the Pitch

Head brewer Tom Ludzia is a member of The Curse, so this collaboration seemed a natural fit. (Photo courtesy of Second Street)

Today (Friday), Second Street Brewery in Santa Fe is releasing Beyond the Pitch, a canned beer collaboration with The Curse, one of the official supporters groups of New Mexico United.

With the can release date bearing down on the goal like a forward with a good lead-in, I rushed in to catch up with head brewer (and huge NM United supporter) Tom Ludzia, as well as Mariah Scee, the creative genius behind all of Second Street’s can designs (and supporter of all things social justice), to find out exactly what went into making this beer a winning goal for the fans.

DSBC: When did Second Street first get involved with The Curse?

Ludzia: Second Street Rufina Taproom became an official watch party location for The Curse in 2020. Unfortunately, we were only able to host one watch party and then Covid hit. We brewed a beer last year for The Curse, and it went over really well, so we decided to see if The Curse would be willing to work with us on a can release.

DSBC: How has that relationship evolved?

Ludzia: We’re the Santa Fe watch party location again this year for The Curse, and we’ve been providing beer for The Curse tailgates this season, as well. 

DSBC: Where did the idea come from for an official collaboration? Or, making the official beer of The Curse supporters group?

Ludzia: Second Street and The Curse have been talking about this collaboration in one way or another since last season. When we rolled into 2021, we revisited the topic and everyone was on board with a collaboration. It feels amazing to hold the can in my hand and know that three major factors of my life are intertwined — beer, justice work, and soccer supporter culture. 

DSBC: How did you choose the recipe? Can you tell us more about the beer?

Ludzia: As far as the beer and recipe development goes, I tried creating something that was full of flavor and excitement like The Curse members that tailgate from 2 o’clock, march to the match, and then sing, chant, and dance for 90-plus minutes. And then, win, lose, or draw, cheer our team as they walk to the locker rooms post-match, and have been known to have a dance party in the parking lot again after! This beer is also a great way to clear your throat after we let smoke bombs loose and according to the Academy of Concerned Futbol Doctors holds healing properties for those that lost their voice during the match. (Not verified by an independent council.) Coming in a 5.5-percent (ABV), this sessionable IPA has all the flavor you hope for, but lets you enjoy it throughout the entire match day and remember all of it the next day.

Regarding the can design, Ludzia said he is pretty happy with how it turned out. “Mariah kicked ass on the can design yet again,” he said. “I described what I was hoping for and she nailed it.”

If you cannot make it to Rufina, six-packs will be available in Albuquerque at Jubilation, El Rey Liquors, Stoneface, the Kelly’s on Juan Tabo, and the Quarters on Yale.

This is another major can release for Mariah Scee, and the story wouldn’t be complete without her take on the design. Between the Cheers to Change event in Albuquerque on Wednesday and the Beyond the Pitch release party, she responded to my emails.

DSBC: Clearly it appears as though the fans themselves helped inspire the design of the can. With so many options and possibilities, how did you arrive at this great style?

Scee: I really hoped to capture both the energy and the diversity of a crowded soccer stadium, but without detailed faces or specific people. The fans in the drawing are everybody and anybody! The linework and atmosphere of the art is loud and busy, and I hope when someone picks a six-pack off the shelf they can almost hear the crowd, imagine themselves in that space.

DSBC: When designing a beer label for a pretty popular local soccer supporter’s group, what kinds of things did you have to keep in mind?

Scee: Most importantly, not to actually use the team’s logo or illustrate anything that may be copyrighted. The illustration hints at our team’s colors and imagery, but the color palette and logo are from the supporter’s group! Same goes for wording in the can copy, and was also part of the discussion in picking out a name.

Mariah Scee surrounded by her art.

DSBC: What does it mean to you for your can art to be out there as part of a larger movement that goes beyond beer?

Scee: Any time we can connect a beer to a good cause or to the community I am thrilled, and I think this one in particular is really special. The beer was brewed and named for a hugely positive and inclusive supporters group that doubles as a community organization. In addition, sales from the beer benefit the local community via The Laundry Project, which has the very specific and meaningful goal of assisting lower-income families with laundry fees and services.

Ludzia: The Laundry Project was a group The Curse initiated a relationship with last year. It is a group that helps low-income families take care of one of life’s basic necessities, clean laundry. Sometimes sleeping under some freshly cleaned sheets is what gets someone’s spirits up and sees them through the day. Sometimes throwing on some clean clothes is the confidence someone needs to nail that interview, or to build the courage to step into a new day and do what needs doing for their family. We’re honored to be able to help The Curse in bringing this organization to New Mexico.

DSBC: You’ve worked on a lot of special beers and projects at Second Street in your time there. Why is this one particularly special to you?

Ludzia: The fact that it combines soccer supporter culture with justice work is where it’s at for me. The passion of supporters goes beyond the 90 minutes, beyond the game, beyond the pitch. We bring our energy and love out into the streets. This beer is my humble way of doing what I can to make the world a little bit better than it was. I was a social justice teacher to high school students, and I would encourage them to follow their passion and make the world a better place. It feels good to follow my own advice.

DSBC: What does it mean to you to be a member of The Curse?

Ludzia: I went to my first United match with some of the guys from the brewery (in 2019). I was tired and just wanted to go home, (but) they made me go. I haven’t missed a home match since. When I saw the energy of The Curse in the supporters section behind the goal, and when I experienced the welcoming nature and hospitality at the tailgates, it didn’t take long after that to become a member and hold season tickets in the supporters section. It just kept getting better, though. The Curse is a group that actively works for justice. When I saw The Curse taking an active stand for justice and working against homophobia and racism, I knew these were my people.

DSBC: Why do you think New Mexico United and their message of inclusion is so important right now?

Ludzia: I think NM United is one of the best things to ever happen to our state. Beyond the game itself, the team that makes up NM United from the pitch to the (front) office is all about building up our communities. The organization just doesn’t stop. From blood drives to helping David Gunter with the desk project during the pandemic, to the Somos Unidos Foundation building our next generation of players, to players and office staff running free clinics for kids on their weekends … Not sure if you can say it, but all up and down the NM United team is made up of a bunch of badasses! 

DSBC: No card. Any future plans for collaborations/events with The Curse?

Ludzia: We’ll have beer at the tailgates throughout the season and (are) hoping to see some of the Beyond the Pitch cans make it to away games as well!

DSBC: What would you say to someone who isn’t a fan yet, and is on the fence about joining The Curse?

Ludzia: First off, come to a match. Get there early and tailgate with us. Get tickets for anywhere you’ll be comfortable. You don’t have to sit in the supporters section to be a supporter or Curse member. However, if you look over at section 116/118 and see the boisterous flag waving, drumming, non-stop singing and chanting, never sitting, smoke bomb setting wild bunch of fans … well, that’s us.

We fully expect to see Tom replicating this pose at the next United tailgate, albeit while wearing his Curse jersey.

Thank you, as always, to Tom and Mariah for quickly responding to my questions and making a story work between all of our busy schedules.

This beer collaboration, just like Ex Novo’s excellent collaboration (Stay Goalden) with New Mexico United, is a true win-win scenario for beer and soccer fans alike. Great beer made by great breweries to serve a greater cause is a fantastic example of good people coming together to make the times ahead better for everyone. This is only possible when a love for the game goes beyond the pitch, and a passion for making someone’s day just a little bit better goes beyond the brewhouse.

Even if you’re not yet a New Mexico United supporter, or have never seen a match, like me, that’s OK. (Editor’s note: We gotta rectify this, Luke. — S) I’m told, when you show up, you already belong. Somos Unidos!  

Come out and join the Curse tonight at 6 p.m. at Second Street Brewery Rufina for the can release, followed by the official watch party of tonight’s showdown with Colorado Springs at 7.

To more pitch perfect collaborations like this, cheers!

— Luke

For more info on #CraftBeer and more @nmdarksidebc news, follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro.

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