Canteen Brewhouse gets back in the win column at the 2023 World Beer Cup

Canteen head brewer Zach Guilmette was all too happy to add another award to his brewery’s sizable collection.

Canteen Brewhouse has the most combined medals of any New Mexico brewery between the Great American Beer Festival (12) and World Beer Cup (six). That was part of why it had been so surprising that no new medals had been added to Canteen’s total since the 2016 WBC.

That streak ended at the 2023 WBC last week in Nashville, as Canteen took home a silver for Work of Heart in the Sweet Stout or Cream Stout category.

“Even though … I was very grateful to have won in the past, it was really different this time,” said Canteen head brewer Zach Guilmette. “I really felt this relief. I’ll be honest, competitions just tear me up. I actually hate competitions. You put your best beers in, and for me, you have to remind yourself that they’re judging your beer, and it’s how they think your beer (is), and not how everyone else is doing. Inevitably you’re going to think about all the other breweries and all the other great beer you’re competing against, it just makes me so nervous.”

Guilmette and his brew team stayed in Albuquerque this time, leaving three front-of-house staff members to represent Canteen.

“That’s why it was so great for me to have Jamie Schwebach and Rosie and Kate in Nashville, and not me in the auditorium freaking out,” he said. “I love the way it went down this year. It was so exciting to see those ladies up on stage with our New Mexican flag.”

Schwebach, the brewery’s general manager, said she was sitting in a row with her colleagues and many others from New Mexico.

“We had a category list (to follow),” Schwebach said. “It caught me more by surprise because I think I was looking to my left when it came up, and Rosie just shot up (out of her chair) and was ready to go.”

New Mexico Brewers Guild executive director Ebbie Edmonston handed them a state flag and sent them all up to the stage.

“It was good,” Schwebach said. “It was exciting. This was the first time I’ve ever been at an awards ceremony where (my) brewery has won. I think Kate, Rosie and I were super stoked. We were also sad that Zach and our brewery team wasn’t there celebrating their hard work. We were happy to celebrate for them.”

The Canteen staff was all smiles in Nashville. (Photo courtesy of Canteen Brewhouse)

Work of Heart was a milk stout created for Valentine’s Day, Guilmette said, after they had tinkered with various other beers over the years to commemorate the holiday. It has run out on draft, but six-pack cans are still available at the brewery.

“The milk stout to me is a style I’ve always enjoyed fine tuning,” Guilmette said. “Over the last four years I’ve been tweaking how much lactose, how much pale chocolate and roast, and this year I felt like I was in a good spot. The name Work of Heart was just something that felt like it worked for that holiday, something we can bring back every year.

“The drive here was to make a nice chocolate-y, smooth, creamy stout that wasn’t too roasty or too bitter. It’s not like an export stout or an imperial, where the roast is in your face. You’re really leaning more towards your pale chocolates and your Munich (malts), some of those melanoidin malts to really accentuate that bready sweetness. We threw some oats and flaked barley in there as well to create some creaminess.”

Guilmette said he began to consider Work of Heart for submission to the WBC right around the time that they first released it.

“From the time we tapped it, I thought this was one of my best beers that we had on tap,” he said. “I thought this would be a great entry. We canned it. I’ve got to tell you with competitions, I’m kind of over bottling with the Blichman gun. I’d rather run them through the canning machine. Having tasted it, I thought this was balanced, it’s got a shot, let’s throw it in and see what happens. That was one of three dark beers (entered).”

Overall, whether at the Craft Brewers Conference (which hosts the WBC) or back in Albuquerque, everyone at Canteen is coming off a very good week.

“We had a great CBC experience,” Schwebach said. “Nashville is a great town and they know how to play host. We learned a lot this time, which was good. The sessions, at least on the side of sales, front-of-house, the business side, were all well done.”

Another high point was when the NM Brewers Guild put together a meet-up for its members.

“It was such a fun time with all the New Mexico breweries,” Schwebach said. “It was awesome that Ebbie put together a New Mexico meet-up. We all went out, we all supported each other, we caused just the right amount of trouble in Nashville.”

The hot chicken was hot, the silver medal was cool, and all we can say is congratulations to everyone at Canteen. Thanks to Zach and Jamie for the interview.

Look for more follow-up stories on the other three WBC winners — Quarter Celtic, Ex Novo, Starr Brothers — throughout this week.

Keep supporting local!

— Stoutmeister

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