Hails once again, Franz Solo here, to bring you Quarter Celtic’s reaction to winning bronze at the Great American Beer Festival for their beloved house beer, Kill or be Kilt. With GABF medals in 2018, 2020, and 2022, Quarter Celtic are now 3-for-3 in even-year entries. Stoutmeister and I sat down with owners/brothers Brady and Ror McKeown, over a delicious lunch at the pub, to get their reactions.
Solo: Congratulations on your medal! How did it feel to win this one?
Brady: Same as all the other many, many … nah, just kidding. It was great, because it was really comfortable sitting on my couch at home with no pressure, and then we won. Yay!
Ror: Even though, (it was) near the end, so it was nerve wracking.
Brady: We had a point there where we had three in a row that didn’t medal, so we were feeling a little like maybe this wasn’t going to happen.
Ror: And, one of those we sent, we thought had the best chance. But, when you send one in and you think, “This is the one!” that’s usually not the one. I’m happy because it’s another of our house beers to win. We’ve had other house beers that have won big competitions, and it’s nice because since you have to submit the beers so early, if you do win and it happens to be a seasonal or a one-off or something fun, it’s not there for people to come and try. So, literally that same day, people were coming in and grabbing cans, and we had a lot of tasters going out.
Brady: It’s also nice, because we are a themed restaurant, to win with one that’s in our theme.
Ror: And, that’s my favorite beer. At the end of my shifts I just want one big ol’ boozy beer, and that’s it! I may switch to Irish Handcuffs (imperial stout) in the winter, but that’s my go-to for now. And, I’m happy because we hadn’t really entered Kill or be Kilt in any competitions to speak of until now when we decided to throw it in and we got it. It’s a crapshoot with just so many good breweries and so many beers entered that you always want to hear your name, but realistically it’s not going to happen. But, we hit it on even-numbered years with ’18, ’20, ’22, (so) we’re not going to enter next year and we’re going to go ham on ’24! But, I think we have to enter next year so we can not win, and then that ups our chances.
Solo: Gotta keep the, um, pendulum swinging, so to speak. Did you think Kill or be Kilt had much of a chance of winning?
Brady: We’ve entered it a few times in different competitions, and it’s been interesting getting feedback. We entered it into a competition that shall not be named, because it was not a Brewers Association competition, but the only comment the judge said was that you should be ashamed of entering this beer. So, you never know, right? That didn’t stop us, but you never know.
Solo: Perception is a weird thing, even when judging. Especially when judging, in some cases.
Ror: I’m pleased because I love that beer and it’s nice to have some validation, because Brady has just been our one guy the whole time. He’s got Scott, our assistant brewer, but Brady’s the one guy there with no automated system, doing it all himself.
Stoutmeister: This was the first time in history that two New Mexico breweries won in a category back to back. So, what was it like to win with Ex Novo?
Brady: Honestly, I didn’t realize at the time that they had won after us because I was too excited, so I missed it until I started seeing all of the texts from everyone. It was really cool.
Solo: Anything else you’d like to add?
Ror: I would just like to invite people to just come and try it. Because a lot of people are kind of scared off when they see the 9.2-percent ABV, but it’s easy drinking, it’s not overly boozy, and it goes really great with our food. Kill or be Kilt and our Crimson Lass are cousins when it comes to the food, because we use the Lass in our beer batter and it complements really well. My favorite dish is the shepherd’s pie, and to my mind, that with a Kill or be Kilt is a match made in heaven. I also have a pocket knife so I can keep doing holes on my belt so I can loosen it as needed, so …
Solo: As we need to do at times. I got one without holes that just ratchets into place wherever you want it.
Brady: It is nice that this is a house beer and on all the time. So we will keep entering it and seeing how it does.
Head over and try Ror’s suggestion of Kill or be Kilt paired with the shepherd’s pie for a delicious combination. Maybe do this after hiking South Peak or something of the sorts, lest you need your own belt-adjusting pocket knife! Anywho, it’s definitely the right season for strong ales, let alone a year-round one at that (we in the Crew believe every season is strong beer season, it should be noted). So enjoy some fall colors and weather and, go on, enjoy a Kill or be Kilt or two, take home a crowler, bathe in the maltiest of goodness … er, you catch my drift. Until next time, I bid you adieu.
— Franz Solo