The annual tradition of the One for 5 charity beer, spearheaded by Steel Bender Brewyard, Second Street Brewery, and Sierra Blanca Brewing, is back for another go-around starting this Wednesday. A hazy pale ale this time around, One for 5 will be available at all three breweries, as well as at Albertsons Market locations statewide.
Last year, even in the midst of pandemic restrictions, sales of the collaboration beer that went to The Storehouse provided more than 40,000 meals for people in need. It will be the same this year, with 100 percent of proceeds from six-pack sales at the breweries and Albertsons Market going to the largest food pantry in New Mexico, and $1 from every pint sold will also be added (draft supply will be limited, FYI).
A lot of that is similar to the information we wrote about last year, so this time around, we wanted to go a bit deeper on the beer itself, and learn more about how breweries are able to collaborate in this era of COVID.
Luckily for us, and you, Steel Bender head brewer Bob Haggerty was willing to sit down during his lunch break and provide that insight.
“Really, what the collaboration is now is let’s figure out a recipe, one brewery will order all the stuff in, we’ll make it, and the other breweries will buy beer from that brewery,” Haggerty said. “That’s a little bit different from how collaborations used to work, for instance, every brewery would bring in (different ingredients).”
Since Steel Bender lies (sort of) in between Second Street in Santa Fe and Sierra Blanca in Moriarty, it was the brewing location again this year. Once that was settled, the brewers got to work, though not face-to-face until the brew day itself.
“In collaborating on the recipe, especially in the days of COVID, it’s done by email or remote process,” Haggerty said. “Talking with Rich (Weber) and Rod (Tweet) over email, coming up with an idea for a beer first, and saying we wanted it to be a hazy pale. We wanted it to be really hop-forward, and we wanted to showcase as much of New Mexico as we could in a beer.
“There have been some quotes in papers that I’ve seen that are kind of misrepresenting the actual New Mexico ingredients. This beer was made with New Mexico pilsner (malt), and that was the only New Mexico grown ingredient. The other malts were not New Mexico malts. The hops are Neo Mexicanus (derived), but not grown in New Mexico.”
Zappa and Sabro hops are offshoots of the wild Neo Mexicanus, grown in Washington state like most of the other hop varieties in the United States.
“We did want to use Neo Mexicanus hops just because they’re cool,” Haggerty said. “I think that there’s a lot to be said for the character that they bring a beer. They’re very different and varied. For example, we used both Zappa and Sabro in this beer, Sabro being a very soft fruit sort of hop, and Zappa being exactly the opposite. Zappa is a very strong, potent, and characterful hop. A lot of grapefruit, a little bit of pine and some dank coming out of that. And also, a woodiness that we wanted to sort of minimize while getting everything we could out of the grapefruit.”
The de facto expert among the three brewers was Second Street’s Tweet, who recently brewed up Zapparado Pale Ale for a successful release.
“Rod had used Zappa in the (recent) past, and we was able to say go easy,” Haggerty said. “It’s tempting to use a lot of this hop because it’s so cool, but it can overpower a beer in a hurry. I ended up using less than was in the written recipe. Halfway through the process, when it came to dry hopping, we all smelled the beer and said no more Zappa. This has got plenty of Zappa already. That’s where that grapefruit is coming from in the beer.
“I love it for that, because it kind of harkens back to the old days when good old Cascade was grapefruit, and Centennial still had some grapefruit to it. Harkening back to the grapefruit smell, in my opinion, there’s not a lot of grapefruit left in those hops most of the time now. To get that good grapefruit punch is really cool. I hadn’t smelled that grapefruit punch like from Zappa in a long time.”
If just reading this does not properly convey Haggerty’s excitement for this hop, trust us, his smile told us plenty. Finding that balance between the Zappa and Sabro was probably the toughest part. The rest was fairly straight forward.
“Really, (it’s) just sort of throwing something out there and saying OK, here’s a basic grain bill. What do you guys think?” Haggerty said. “And then, having email responses coming back and saying have you tried this, or have you tried that. It’s just really process based more than anything. Hazies are hazies. You throw some malt in there, you throw some oats in there, you have the calcium chloride, and you throw a bunch of hops at it. Little changes here and there are what make the real difference.”
The brew day was a fun one, and it was something that all the brewers involved had missed over the last year-plus of social distancing.
“I love collaborating with those guys,” Haggerty said. “Both are incredible brewers, and having those three heads put together on this beer was a lot of fun. … Rich and Rod were both here during brew day, so we were able to sniff hops, shoot the breeze, tell lies, and have fun.
“It’s just fun getting together with brewers. It’s such a social thing in general, the brewing community and the collection of professional brewers. We always get together (when we can) and do that, whether it’s on the clock or off.”
The rest of us (yes, even the Crew) do not get to hang out on collaboration days, so in the end, the final product is what we get to enjoy. Haggerty said this version of One for 5 should make every beer drinker a happy person.
“I love it, I think it’s great,” he said. “I think it was maybe three years ago that I tasted an extra pale ale in Denver at GABF. I can’t even remember who it was from, but it was really light, a little malty, and a great hop (profile) to it. A really nice hop aroma, a really nice hop flavor, without being too IPAish. I’ve been chasing that beer, making that beer ever since, and this the closest I’ve come since tasting that beer.
“It’s really good. It’s immensely crushable. It’s light, it’s easy drinking, it finishes dry, but smooth, and has a great hop presence. I’m really happy with this beer.”
Beyond that, of course, is the simple fact that this beer was brewed for a great cause.
“One thing I enjoy about this charity is it is so direct,” Haggerty said. “This beer is going to do good.”
A big, big thanks to Bob for sitting down with me on his lunch break, and for the pint of Oktoberfiesta to tide me over. He did add that it will be a perfect beer for the New Mexico United tailgate party this Saturday (hint).
Keep supporting local!