A total of 10,542 beers were entered in 103 categories at the 2022 World Beer Cup, and five New Mexico breweries were able to bring home five awards out of that huge field on Thursday.
Ponderosa Brewing (gold), Nexus Brewery (silver), Ex Novo Brewing (silver), Marble Brewery (bronze), and Second Street Brewery (silver) were the honored quintet this time around. It is the second-biggest yield for New Mexico at the WBC, trailing only the seven awards won in 2016.
“I think it just reinforces what’s been said before based on GABF results, too,” said Second Street owner/brewmaster Rod Tweet. “We have a lot of really good brewers in the state of NM and we punch above our weight based on our population. I definitely think we should all take great pride in that.”
The big winner was Ponderosa, which followed up on its gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival with another gold for its Italian Pilsner, which beat out 134 entries to claim the top spot in the new Hoppy Lager category.
“Kind of unbelievable, actually,” Ponderosa head brewer Antonio Fernandez said. “Is this really happening again? Winning one medal like that, is it a fluke or something? Little tweaks and fine-tuning the recipe and apparently I guess there’s something that beer judges like going in that beer, not just me. This one feels really good, the World Beer Cup, it’s a big deal for me. Especially since it’s that same beer, the one I like to drink and brew a lot.”
Fernandez was not in attendance at the Craft Brewers Conference in Minneapolis, and he was in fact stuck in traffic when we talked over the phone (hands free, of course). Regardless of his whereabouts, it was still a special moment to see his beer atop the category, particularly considering the expanded global competition.
“The GABF is good, but when it comes to the World Beer Cup, winning any kind of lager awards it’s like a one-in-a-million chance,” Fernandez said. “We’re going against everyone in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, brewing for hundreds of years. That makes it sparkle a little brighter, too.”
Italian Pilsner is now available in cans in addition to be on draft at Ponderosa. It will soon be brewed in collaboration at its sister brewery, Zoiglhaus, in Portland, Oregon, Fernandez said.
Ex Novo took silver for V for Vienna in the Vienna-Style Lager category, coming in second out of 113 entries. It is the first World Beer Cup award for Ex Novo for either of its breweries.
Nexus won its first award under current head brewer Randy King for its Beam Me Up (Higher) Scotty in the Old Ale or Strong Ale category. The big brew was second out of 33 entries in a category usually dominated by European breweries.
Marble snagged its third WBC award overall, this time a bronze for its IPA-X in the Experimental IPA category (96 total entries). Its two previous WBC awards were for Pilsner, which won gold in 2014 and bronze in 2016.
Second Street won another award for its Brown Ale, this time a WBC bronze in the American-Style Brown Ale category, third out of 70 entries. It had previously won gold at GABF in 2020.
“Well, we’re thrilled,” Tweet said. “It was the last one of our entries to come up. I think we were all … anxiety was high by the time it was announced. We were real thrilled. It’s a twofer now. It’s kind of cool. It’s also the second medal out of the Rufina site. It’s not new anymore.”
The key to the success of the Brown Ale might just be in its simplicity.
“I think it’s really balanced and it’s got a balance of chocolate is really good,” Tweet said. “It’s honestly just Cascade and Centennial hops, that’s it. It’s really well put together.”
We will keep updating this story as reactions pour in from the winners. Congratulations to everyone on once again representing the New Mexico craft brewing industry!
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