Starr Brothers Brewing was unique in two ways among the four New Mexico breweries to medal at the World Beer Cup in Nashville last week. It was the first brewery to win in terms of the order in which they were announced, and it was the only brewery to have a year-round beer claim a medal.
“Old faithful, coming through again for us!” head brewer Rob Whitlock said with a smile. “It’s been five years (since it last won). I entered it again in strong porter, and it came through.”
That old faithful was Lampshade Porter, which took silver in the Strong Porter category, beating out 64 other entries.
“Strong porter has sub categories, so mine was actually American porter,” Whitlock said. “The gold was won by (State 48 Brewery) in Arizona that did a Baltic porter. So I guess you could say it’s the best American porter.”
Whitlock said he has not gotten back the tasting notes from the judges, but based on past notes, the smooth mouthfeel and chocolate notes are the usual standouts.
Lampshade is one of the original beers at Starr Brothers that remains in the lineup.
“Since the beginning, yeah, it’s actually one of my old home-brew recipes,” Whitlock said. “That’s what I think is kind of cool about it, it’s pretty much on year-round here. I always try to have it on tap. I think it’s the only year-round porter in town.”
The only other porters, minus those with adjuncts like coffee and chocolate, that are on tap most of the year are the Low Order Porter at Bombs Away and the Arsenal Porter at Turtle Mountain.
“It wasn’t a special batch that I brewed for the competition,” Whitlock added. “I didn’t do a one-barrel pilot batch to try to hone it in. It’s just a regular production batch.”
Lampshade previously won a bronze in the Other Strong Beer category at the 2018 Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Whitlock said he hopes that another of his beers will eventually bring home a medal and join it on the wall above the bar in the taproom.
“I’ve always done pretty good with the Red Zepplin, it’s always moved through to the final round,” he said. “I got really good feedback on the (Starrphire) Pilsner the last couple of times. Those two right there.”
Beyond the awards, Whitlock said things are going well at Starr Brothers. He was surprised in recent months when his Somos Cerveza Mexican Lager overtook Starr Struck IPA as the best seller in the taproom.
“I never thought I would see that,” he said.
Starr Brothers will have to churn out even more beer this summer as it will be partnering with another local business to open an offsite taproom.
“It’s down there in Hoffmantown Center,” Whitlock said of the business center at Menaul and Wyoming. “It’s a place called Pars and Rec, we’re partnering with them, we’re doing the food and drink in there. They have an indoor golf simulator. We’re going to have some food. It won’t be the same (menu) as here. We’re only going to have four or five beers on tap down there. I’ll probably have a couple mains and rotate them.”
The target opening date is July, so for any fans of Starr Brothers in that part of town, you will now have another option if driving to 5700 San Antonio Dr NE is a bit too daunting at happy hour/rush hour.
A big thanks to Rob for taking time out during an IPA brew day to chat. Congrats to him and everyone at Starr Brothers on their second major competition award.
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