Posts Tagged ‘New Mexico Brewers Guild’

Brewer Paul Mallory hoists the NM IPA Challenge trophy after pulling off the victory.

BERNALILLO — What has happened before will happen again.

It is not just a line from the last version of Battlestar Galactica, but it is a summation of the 2018 New Mexico IPA Challenge. Blue Corn, the 2013 winner, has recaptured the title in a stunning upset of the biggest breweries in the state. The little brewpub that could has done it again.

“I think it’s kind of cool to bring the trophy back to Santa Fe,” said BC head brewer Paul Mallory, who had trouble forming words after his brewery took its second-round lead and carried that over to a commanding victory.

Blue Corn racked up 83 total votes, including a round-best 45 on Saturday. The final round was a resounding success at Bosque North, with short lines, plenty of space, and a general sense of positive camaraderie in all corners of the new location.

Two-time defending champion Boxing Bear finished second with 69 votes for its AlbuMurky Hazy IPA, while Marble was third with 68 votes for Safeword IPA. Red River (57), La Cumbre (55), Kellys (39), Rio Bravo (39), Quarter Celtic (38), Second Street (38) and Kaktus (33) rounded out the top 10.

This is only the second time that a brewery outside of Albuquerque has won the NMIPAC. The last time? Well, it was Blue Corn in 2013, then featuring current Bosque director of brewing operations John Bullard in the command seat.

The final voting tally for the 2018 NMIPAC.

“I think that Blue Corn has been around for so long that everybody has made up their mind about it,” Paul said. “In a way, this will make people pay attention to Blue Corn (again).”

Paul said the key to victory was hitting all the right spots with hopheads in this state.

“I think it was nice and clean, it had that really nice bitterness,” Paul said.

Paul came to Blue Corn from a brewery, Black Diamond, in Northern California, but he was born and raised in New Mexico.

“New Mexico has taught me more about IPAs than California, they try to dry them out,” he said. “I think New Mexico taught me more about it than anyone else.”

Congratulations to Paul, Blue Corn, and everyone in New Mexico. This has been another great IPA Challenge, and we look forward to everyone raising their game for the 2019 edition.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Here we go again, hopheads!

Every year as a public service, the Crew likes to provide a sort of survival guide for those who are new to the NM IPA Challenge. Of course, this year will also be a new experience for many at Bosque North, the new brewery/taproom facility off Highway 550 in Bernalillo. Think of this as a giant FAQ to help get you through Saturday with the best experience possible (well, unless your favorite brewery fails to win, but we can’t control that).

How do we get to Bosque North?

The facility is located just west of the Rio Grande along 550. The hope was to have the main paved entrance way done in time for Saturday, but as of Wednesday’s sneak preview, it was not ready yet. Cross your fingers on that one. The building is impossible to miss, at least, but for those coming from Rio Rancho east on 550, for safety’s sake you might need to cross the bridge and flip a U-turn at the first red light.

Should anyone drive out there?

Truthfully, no, you should rely on a designated driver, or a ride share service. Another option is to book a room at the new hotel at the Santa Ana Star Casino and walk over. Just watch out for all the construction. Train #704 of the Rail Runner would drop you off at approximately 1:53 p.m. at Bernalillo Station, but that is a long walk to the brewery. Even from there, you would probably need an Uber/Lyft, and we honestly have no idea how many drivers will really be in the Bernalillo area. The event runs from noon to 4 p.m., so you would still have time to get there, but walking would be limiting your sampling time. Also, take note that while there is a lot of parking, there is not enough for every expected person (last year it was around 300) to drive separately.

How much space is at Bosque North?

This is just part of the floor space at Bosque North on the ground floor portion of the taproom, prior to the addition of tables and chairs.

There should be enough space, but this round is always the most crowded. For those who think, “Oh, it’s OK, people will leave after they make their selections,” um, no. Just about everyone stays until the end to find out the results. Take note that arriving early is always your best bet to ensure you have a table space inside, where your IPAs will not warm up too quickly. Yes, the outside patio is covered, but it still projects to be pretty warm Saturday (93 degrees, per the weather app on my phone). The upstairs patio does not have as much cover, but it is on the east side of the building, at least. Still, inside is better.

Is there food?

We always recommend you eat something hearty before you head up, but UPDATE: the kitchen will not be up and running, but Bosque has acquired the services of The Supper Truck to be on site.

Can we tour the brewery?

That will be up to the folks at Bosque if there will be any brewery tours. Without knowing their full plan, they might even open up the brewery area for additional seating, though we cannot confirm that (yet).

The next set of FAQs are for folks who are new to the NMIPAC, so for all you veterans, you can skip out and we will see you Saturday.

Are there any tickets left?

No, the event has sold out. There’s always the chance you can find one unlucky person selling a ticket or two if he/she cannot attend, but there are no guarantees.

How should we go about sampling all these IPAs?

Use your other senses before taste. Start with the appearance, which is more important this year than in the past. There are New England-style hazy IPAs on the tray alongside the more traditional West Coast-style hop bombs. They will be pretty easy to tell apart; what you do with that information is up to you, depending on how you like the two styles. After the visual inspection, smell all 16 samples. IPAs are meant to be enjoyed in terms of their aroma, too. Think of this as your way of discerning which ones might be in the style that you prefer.

Won’t people just vote for their favorite brewery instead of the best IPA?

The beers are numbered randomly. The numbers change every round, so I do not have an advantage even after participating in the first round in Taos, nor does Luke after being at the second round at Second Street Rufina. If you can pick out your favorite brewery’s entry, first, that is impressive (brewers often cannot figure out their own beer), and second, it is totally up to you how to vote.

The updated standings after the second round at Second Street Rufina.

Once we start tasting, do we drink them all? Do we go in order?

The order you drink them in is completely up to you. There is also no rule that you have to finish every sample cup. If you do not like one, or it just comes off as “meh,” set it aside. We always recommend you try every beer twice, unless it is so obviously bad to your palate, in which case dump that one and move along. You will be provided paper to take notes, so take advantage of that to help you remember what you’re tasting and smelling.

How should we judge what’s good and what’s bad?

That is entirely up to you. You can go for whatever you think is the best IPA to hit the points of what you consider true to style, or you can just pick the one you most want to drink. Remember, your vote gets you a full pint, so if you think the most bitter one on the tray is the most deserving, you’re going to have to drink 16 ounces of it. This is your chance to vote, so you do not have to go with the crowd unless you want to; this is as subjective as it gets.

But don’t the breweries really take this seriously? Shouldn’t we treat this like a Cicerone exam?

The breweries love getting bragging rights, but the purpose of the NMIPAC is to be both fun and a fundraiser. This is the single largest event where the NM Brewers Guild raises the money it needs to represent all of its members in Santa Fe. The next legislative session could see a lot of bills that could benefit breweries, and likely some that will be coming after breweries, if for nothing else than to raise their excise taxes to pay for the State’s budgetary woes (or pork projects, depending on who’s the bill’s sponsor). Just enjoy this chance to gather with your fellow beer geeks, engage in some friendly banter, and support the Guild and all the breweries.

If there are any other questions, please do not hesitate to ask the Crew, the Guild, or the participating breweries.

See you all Saturday afternoon!

— Stoutmeister

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Shout out to my man Jason Soto, for the great picture and for keeping the lines of New Mexico clean with Prime Lines. A huge thank you from all of us! Cheers, brother.

The New Mexico IPA Challenge is well underway, and the question of fairness has come up a bit, to say the least. Well, at least from a technical standpoint, rest assured, our IPA Challenge is as fair as it can be because the Brewers Guild and its volunteers have taken steps to ensure that each beer gets the proper treatment, such as the proper cleaning of draft lines before and during the competition.

Draft beer line cleaning is a little known and often overlooked aspect of the craft brewing scene. But, it is much more important than we think. It’s far more important than the temperature of our beer and what sort of glassware it arrives in. (Although our friend Karim may argue with me on that.) Have you ever sat down at a new bar or establishment, and, having seen it on the list, ordered up your favorite IPA? And, upon first taste, you say to yourself, “Is this the same beer? I know this beer. This tastes weird. This isn’t my beer.” But, it is.

We all have, my friends. Aside from other small variables, like how old a keg is, when it comes to taste issues with a well-brewed beer at a bar, pub, or even (to a much lesser extent) brewery, the problem is usually dirty draft lines. Dirty draft lines cause all sorts of disgusting and unsanitary health issues, but often most noticeably to the public, the issue is taste. And, if we’re not in the tasting business, why are we even talking about beer? Without clean draft lines, the beer that your favorite brewers worked so hard to create won’t be the same beer you find in your glass. Can you see why this would be an issue in a competition based on taste?

So, I put it to the folks at Prime Lines, the company responsible for cleaning the lines prior to the preliminary round and then the first leg of the NMIPAC. I wanted to get down and dirty to clear up why it’s so important that someone properly maintains beer lines for this competition as well as for all beer drinking, ever. Amen. Enter Prime Lines co-founder Angelo Oroña.

DSBC: So, tell me a little bit about Prime Lines, who you are and what you do?

Oroña: Prime Lines Inc. is New Mexico’s first and only third-party draft beer system maintenance and installation company. We clean nearly 1,000 lines statewide for New Mexico’s breweries and wholesalers. We adhere to the Brewers Association guidelines for draft system maintenance, as set out in the Draught Beer Quality Manual. This means we clean all lines under contract on a bi-weekly basis to ensure the beer gets from keg to glass as the brewer intended.

Additionally, we design and install draft beer systems for bars, restaurants, breweries and taprooms, including the forthcoming LOBO Taproom on UNM’s Campus!

DSBC: For a new LOBO Taproom on campus? That’s some big news! We’ll be sure to cover that as more news is forthcoming.

Prime Lines has been an associate member of the New Mexico Brewer’s Guild since they founded the company in November 2016.

DSBC: How did you guys get involved with the New Mexico IPA Challenge (NMIPAC) this year? Was this Prime Lines first major involvement?

Oroña: For the last two years, Prime Lines has cleaned and serviced the lines for the elimination round of NMIPAC, held at Duel ABQ. All faucets, keg couplers, and lines were professionally cleaned by our team to ensure the integrity of the beer and the competition. John Gozigian (executive director of the NM Brewers Guild) asked that we clean all the lines prior to competition.

DSBC: So on a technical level, what does Prime Lines do to “level the playing field?”

Oroña: Prime Lines helps to level the playing field by giving each beer a chance to be presented the way the brewer intended. The lines are cleaned with a special caustic solution that is designed to eliminate any organic compounds that may have been left behind from a previous beer that was poured through the line. The beer faucets are scrubbed clean and the keg couplers are serviced to perform as intended.

DSBC: Are you folks cleaning ALL the lines for the duration of the competition?

Oroña: Prime Lines was asked by the NMBG to clean lines for the elimination round of the NMIPAC.  We routinely service and clean the Taos Mesa Taproom, so we made sure to service that account before the first round. I have no doubt the other host breweries will present the beer at top quality! For Bosque’s Bernalillo facility, these IPAs may be the first beers ever to flow through the lines!

For the Second Street Brewery Rufina second leg of the NMIPAC, brewers Tom and Kevin will be cleaning the lines late Friday night after the close of business.“That way they can make sure everything is clean, and flushed, and cold before (Saturday) morning,” front-of-house manager Mariah Scee informed me.

DSBC: What other variables is the Guild controlling to keep this a fair competition from a technical standpoint? Temp? Pressure? Etc.?

Oroña: Each of the beers for this competition is preserved in a chilled environment prior to competition. The beers are served under ideal conditions by volunteers that have experience in beer dispense. Many volunteers work very hard to ensure that the NMIPAC is a great event and fair competition.

In years past, the IPAs of the Challenge have been poured through jockey boxes — the cooler and hose set ups you often see at festivals — due to the sheer number of beers, and the inability of most taprooms to pour all of them (often alongside their own beers). Not every brewery has 24-plus taps.

DSBC: In your expert opinion, what are some of the drawbacks to pouring IPAs through various jockey boxes?

Oroña: Jockey boxes are never an ideal beer dispense option. Maintaining beer keg temperature in the middle of a New Mexican summer with bags of ice is challenging. Variations in jockey box design can also lead to technical issues arising during the competition. Variables such as consistent temperature, CO2 pressure and line restriction all play into pouring a proper beer.

Prime Lines was established to protect the integrity of beer. Our partnership with the New Mexico Brewers Guild on the NMIPAC was a natural fit. We deeply care about draft beer quality and hope to continue to support NM’s burgeoning craft beer scene. We are proud to be on the forefront of clean draft lines and draft beer dispense education in New Mexico.

* * * * *

With clean lines, we have beer as the brewers intended. Gone, hopefully, are the days of pouring issues mucking up a clear-cut victory. Of course, that leaves the rest of the competition in the hands of those who come out to these events. As with all democratic processes, you can’t complain if you don’t come out and vote. And no, it’s not a perfect system, but it is well run by people who really care about beer. Now it’s at least a fairer fight without pouring issues to worry about.

As for the rest of the competition, I’ll leave you with a quote from a friend of the Guild and the Crew, Boxing Bear co-owner Kevin Davis. Via Facebook, he commented, “This friendly competition is about raising money for the Guild, celebrating NM’s great breweries and having a few laughs along the way. Everyone works hard to put on this event… not the easiest job to organize. Kudos to Duel and Taos Mesa for hosting the first two rounds, and thanks to John G and the Guild volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes making it fun. Cheers!”

The IPA Challenge continues tomorrow from noon to 4 p.m. at Second Street Rufina, locatd at 2920 Rufina Street, Santa Fe, NM, 87507. Tickets available here!

— Luke

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This is Luke’s fifth time covering the Santa Fe NM IPA Challenge, and his fifth year with the Crew.

The final results from the preliminary round. The number on the left is what the brewery was on the tray. The circled number on the right is the voting total. Any brewery with a star advanced, plus Kaktus later got a star to also advance.

The results of the NM IPA Challenge preliminary round are in and the breweries which will continue on to the next round are as follows (votes in parentheses): Marble (29), Boxing Bear (26), Bow & Arrow (16), Blue Corn (15), La Cumbre (15), Quarter Celtic (15), Rio Bravo (14), Kellys (13), Santa Fe (12), Red River (11), Red Door (11), Kaktus (11).

They will join the host breweries — Duel, Taos Mesa, Second Street, Bosque — which all had byes.

UPDATE: Kaktus did advance, so there will be 16 total IPAs on the trays at the next three rounds. It would be bad journalism if we neglected to disclose that Kaktus also received 11 votes. We don’t know, at this juncture, how the tiebreaker was decided since this was a three-way tie with Red River and Red Door.

Some of the notable breweries to not advance included Bombs Away, Canteen, Nexus, Starr Brothers, Steel Bender, Three Rivers, Tractor, and Turtle Mountain.

Things ran relatively smoothly at this event hosted by Duel in downtown ABQ. The event ran from noon to 4 p.m. with a short line existing around 12:15 and results announced around 4:15. The flow of people/beer was slow, yet steady and efficient.

Because all beers were served from the same tap system, and all lines were cleaned in advance, we have no doubt this was another great NM IPA Challenge event from a quality standpoint. All 43 beers (down from 46) were poured with the same conditions with equal representation. Out of consideration for safety, the samplings were broken down onto three trays, with each individual selecting his/her favorite from his/her respective tray of beers.

The Crew had a nice showing with myself and Luke arriving around 12:15, and then running into Jerrad and Shawna inside. At that point, the inside of Duel was already packed with people. We were resourceful enough to move tables around on the roof deck in such a way that our beers were kept in the shade throughout tasting, while our bodies were burned to a crisp in the sun. Two pieces of constructive criticism: (1) offer additional tables indoors since there seemed to be enough extra space, and (2) set up some cover on the rooftop to keep the IPAs out of the sun.

The next leg of the NM IPA Challenge happens Wednesday at Taos Mesa Brewing Taproom (right off Main Street in Taos). We hope to see you out there to support the NM Brewers Guild. May the best IPA win!

Cheers!

— Andrew and Luke

The hounds are after the Bear this year.

Oh, it is that time of year again. The time of year the Crew likes to forget Twitter exists, because the ludicrous arguments, they will be upon us again. This time around, we are gonna ignore it all as best we can and focus on the beers and the fun. Yes, it is time for the annual New Mexico IPA Challenge.

The preliminary round returns to Duel Brewing’s taproom in downtown Albuquerque this Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. There will be three separate trays of 13 beers each (one tray per guest), with the top 11 vote getters from all the trays advancing to the final three rounds alongside the four host breweries (Duel, Taos Mesa, Second Street, Bosque).

To make sure we had all the facts lined up properly for this 17th NMIPAC, I sat down with NM Brewers Guild executive director John Gozigian last week.

“A couple things are different,” he said. “This will be the first one ever — I don’t know how interesting this is to the general public, but — where we’re pouring 100 percent through brewery tap systems, not using jockey boxes this time around.”

Santa Fe Brewing’s James Warren and others pour from jockey boxes at the NMIPAC in 2016.

Duel gets to host again due to the fact it has 40-plus taps available, more than any other brewery in Albuquerque. Why are taps better than the old jockey box format?

“Pouring through a draft system, there’s no substitute for that,” John said. “You have all beers pouring under the exact same conditions — same temperatures, same pressures, same length of runs, et cetera. It removes that one variable from the equation that has been an issue in the past. The last time we did the elimination round with jockey boxes (at Rio Bravo in 2016), I think we had seven different jockey boxes. Every jockey box pours differently.”

The sheer number of participating breweries continues to climb. John noted there were about 32 last year, and the 43 this year is actually down slightly from the original list of 46. Three breweries — Ale Republic, Eske’s, Little Toad Creek — have dropped out.

“I think what happens is when you start talking about the IPA Challenge in April everybody’s on board, but then you get to July and everybody’s capacity is pushed to their limit, especially for the smaller breweries,” John said. “In the case of Little Toad Creek, they have a big brewery, but they just opened a new taproom (in Las Cruces). They’re pretty busy, so they’re kind of stuck right now. When the rubber hits the road, they realize they’re not going to be able to knock out a beer in time, which is fine.”

Only a select few will advance from the preliminary round.

Here is the full list of participating breweries, including where some finished in the final round last year, and those who are new to the competition:

  • Bathtub Row
  • Blue Corn (15th, only brewery outside ABQ to win, back in 2013)
  • Bombs Away (new)
  • Bow & Arrow (9th)
  • Boxing Bear (1st, also won in 2016)
  • Broken Trail
  • Canteen (4th, won six total as Il Vicino Brewing from 2004-05, 2009-12)
  • Cazuela’s
  • Cloudcroft (new)
  • Flix Brewhouse
  • High Desert
  • Kaktus
  • Kellys
  • La Cumbre (10th-tied)
  • Lost Hiker (new)
  • Marble (6th)
  • Nexus
  • Palmer
  • Picacho Peak (14th)
  • Ponderosa (12th)
  • Quarter Celtic (3rd)
  • Red Door
  • Red River (new)
  • Rio Bravo
  • Roosevelt
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales
  • Santa Fe
  • Sidetrack
  • Sierra Blanca
  • Spotted Dog
  • Starr Brothers (5th)
  • Steel Bender (10th-tied)
  • Three Rivers
  • The 377 (13th)
  • Toltec (new)
  • Tractor (8th)
  • Tumbleroot (new)
  • Turtle Mountain (won in 2007)
  • The Wellhead

Among the breweries with byes, which they get since they are surrendering four-plus hours of regular business hours and the profits that come with those, Bosque was second last year (and previously won in 2014-15), Second Street was seventh, Duel was ousted in the preliminary round, and Taos Mesa did not participate in 2017.

The first round, set for July 18 from 4-8 p.m., will actually be at the Taos Tap Room, located in downtown, rather than at the mothership brewery far outside of Taos.

“We’re going to Taos Mesa Brewing Company’s downtown taproom, so that’s the first time we’ve had it at that location, which will make for a nice trip to Taos for anyone that wants to go,” John said. “I actually got a really good deal on rooms. The Taos Inn, I got rooms for like $90 a night, which is unheard of.”

Having the round at a location where people can easily walk home or to their hotel makes a lot more sense than putting it in a more isolated location, which is part of the reason that the last time the NMIPAC was held in Taos, only about 20 people participated.

The second round is set for the new Second Street Rufina taproom on July 21.

“Then we go back to Second Street, Rufina, another great location for the IPA Challenge,” John said. “They have a lot of interior space. They have a draft system we can use for all 15 beers for round two there. We’ll have the patio open, too, but they do have a lot of interior space.”

The first chance for many beer lovers to see inside the now completed Bosque North will be at the final round of the NMIPAC on July 28.

Then comes the grand finale on July 28, which figures to draw even more interest than usual for the venue.

“The final round, this is the big one, it’s going to be in Bernalillo at Bosque North,” John said. “I just thought about it today, for the final round, you’ll be one of the first people (to visit) that location, because they won’t even open until two days later. It will be like a sneak peek for the Bernalillo location, for their draft system, their beautiful new facility.”

If you want to make sure you have a spot at the final round, get a ticket ASAP.

“The ticket sales are strong,” John said. “It will be a draw. I don’t think you just hold it anywhere in Bernalillo. This is Bosque, and it’s brand new. Our ticket sales are double what they were at this point last year, and last year we sold out every round. We’re doing the same number of tickets again this year; it’s just going to sell out faster.”

It should be a close competition again this year. The last two years saw the closest finishes in NMIPAC history, with Boxing Bear edging out Bosque by three votes (104-101) last year and nipping Canteen by two votes (81-79) the year before.

“We’ve got Boxing Bear defending their title, a two-time winner,” John said. “It’s going to be hosted by Bosque, which is also a two-time winner, three times if you count when John (Bullard) was at Blue Corn. I’ve been tasting a lot of beers. Everyone is going really heavy. Everyone is going after Boxing Bear with some really heavily hopped beers, up to 10 pounds per barrel of some expensive hops. Everyone is investing in this beer.

“This could be the year, who knows, where we have a New England-style IPA win it. There are some good ones out there, too. It’s typically been a West Coast-style IPA event. Depending on how forward-thinking people are on one hand, or how traditionalist they are on the other hand, or just how many new people we have coming into the IPA Challenge this year. You have a certain expectation of what an IPA Challenge beer tastes like. A juicy, hazy New England IPA would probably be an outlier. I think it will probably be a good bellwether as to which way the trend is going.”

Everyone is gunning for the Boxing Bear brewers this year.

This could bring out the usual “IPAs are passe” comments from folks, and maybe the style is not quite the king of craft like it once was, but this remains primarily an IPA town and an IPA state.

“The market is definitely moving away from IPAs to some extent,” John said, noting some non-IPA top sellers at local breweries. “You look at Bosque and their Elephants on Parade, Marble with Double White. La Cumbre is still the (Elevated) IPA, obviously. But, I think this is still an IPA town. When it comes to the IPA Challenge, it’s a big event and people care about it … too much, some might argue.”

As we noted above, the NMIPAC, and beer competitions in general, can sometimes bring out the worst in beer drinkers, especially online. John would just like to remind everyone, just as he did the breweries, that the point of the NMIPAC is two-fold, and neither should get anyone’s blood boiling.

“This has primarily been a fundraiser for the Guild so that we can continue our promotional and lobbying efforts,” he said. “It’s (also) a good-natured competition, it’s fun to win, we always rib each other over it, but we never took it that seriously.”

So yes, let us all go have fun, and support the Guild, which in turn supports its member breweries. The Crew (should) have at least one reporter at every round, so look for instant results on social media as soon as they are made available, and stories soon afterwards.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Can anyone pry the trophy from Justin Hamilton’s hands this summer?

There was just enough news piling up to require a short notebook this week. The NM Brewers Guild released the list of 30 participating breweries in this summer’s NM IPA Challenge. We also have news on some of the new breweries coming to our state, plus a couple notes on American Craft Beer Week.

Thirty breweries will enter, only one will leave (with the trophy)

With more than 70 operational breweries in New Mexico, the annual IPA Challenge cannot possibly accommodate everyone in the state. There are 30 spots available for the preliminary round, so the Guild simply offered them up on a first-come, first-served basis this week (save for the defending champion, which always gets an automatic bid).

The NMIPAC will start off with the preliminary round July 14 in Albuquerque, followed by rounds in Taos on July 18, Santa Fe on July 21, and then back to Albuquerque on July 28. The host breweries have not been named yet.

Here are the preliminary round participants, with past championships in parentheses for those that have won.

  1. Blue Corn (2013)
  2. Bombs Away (first time participant)
  3. Bosque (2014, 2015)
  4. Bow & Arrow
  5. Boxing Bear (2016, 2017)
  6. Canteen (2004, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)
  7. Cloudcroft (first time participant)
  8. Duel
  9. Flix Brewhouse
  10. High Desert
  11. Kaktus
  12. Kellys
  13. La Cumbre
  14. Little Toad Creek
  15. Marble
  16. Nexus
  17. Ponderosa
  18. Quarter Celtic
  19. Red Door
  20. Red River (first time participant)
  21. Rio Bravo
  22. Roosevelt
  23. Santa Fe
  24. Second Street
  25. Sidetrack
  26. Starr Brothers
  27. Taos Mesa
  28. Three Rivers
  29. Toltec (first time participant)
  30. Tractor

For those wondering about the missing years, Chama River (R.I.P.) won in 2006 and 2008, while Turtle Mountain won in 2009, but is not participating this year.

Other notable breweries not participating include Abbey, Bathtub Row, Boese Brothers, Cazuela’s, Desert Valley, Dialogue, Enchanted Circle, Milton’s, Picacho Peak, Rowley Farmhouse Ales, Sierra Blanca, Spotted Dog, Steel Bender, and Tumbleroot.

When the host breweries have been named, we will let everyone know.

American Craft Beer Week is back

In case you missed it, and if you don’t check into Untappd, you have probably have, but American Craft Beer Week is happening right now. There aren’t really any local events going on around New Mexico, mostly because a good chunk of the state’s breweries are gearing up for ABQ Beer Week, which starts a week from today.

The main goal of ACBW this year is to get people to seek out breweries that have adopted the Independent Craft Beer logo. You can find the list of New Mexico breweries by going here and searching by our state. Most of the craft breweries here have adopted the logo.

If you would like to have a little more fun, you can always print out the ACBW bingo card. For those who enjoyed running all over town for the Beer Passport last month, this one might be for you.

New brewery updates

Grants has a local brewery again as Elkins Brewing is now open.

There have not been too many additions to our list, but there is some news on openings.

  • Well now, after months of being a total mystery, Elkins Brewing in Grants has a Facebook page. Not only that, but it has either opened or is awfully close to opening. Located at the Lavaland RV Park off Exit 85 of Interstate 40, Elkins is right by the entrance to El Malpais National Monument. Per the Facebook page, Elkins was scheduled to open Tuesday, but there is no official confirmation that it did open. The plan was to have an American IPA, English IPA, Blond Ale, Rye Ale, Gose, and Imperial Stout on tap. One or more of us from the Crew will head out there soon enough to check it out. Welcome to the scene, Elkins!
  • Another brewery now in possession of an active small brewer license is Bonito Valley Brewing in Lincoln. So when will this small-town brewery open? Bonito Valley has announced that its grand opening weekend will be August 3-5. If you are not heading up to Denver for the LA Galaxy-Colorado Rapids game that weekend like some of our friends (the power of Zlatan compels them), then this might make for a nice alternative trip if you need to get out of ABQ.
  • A restaurant in Las Vegas, B3-BBQ, Burgers & Beer, has a pending small brewer license, which give that town its first local craft since New Mexico Craft Brewing closed down years ago (and was later reborn down here in ABQ as Desert Valley).
  • It sure looks like Red River Brewing will be open this weekend (we await an official notice), but even if it’s not, head to town for the Bacon & Brews festival this Saturday. Brandenburg Park will host the event from noon to 5 p.m. Participating breweries will include Abbey, Comanche Creek, Enchanted Circle, Red River, Santa Fe, and from all the way down in Ruidoso, Lost Hiker. There will also be wine, games, music, and more.

That is all from us for now. If you know of any news we have missed about breweries in New Mexico, please contact us via social media or at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Take a trip to Silver City this Saturday for Toad Fest at Little Toad Creek.

Last year, the Crew was heading back from our tour of the southeast breweries when we made the rather crazy decision to suddenly head over to Silver City to catch Toad Fest at Little Toad Creek. This small-but-fun festival, run by the NM Brewers Guild, is a fun way for folks in the southwest corner of the state to try some unique beers from up north.

This year is no different, as the Guild is taking 19 beers* from Albuquerque and Santa Fe breweries. Many of them are specialty and seasonal offerings, rather than just the usual packaged or house beers. Toad Fest will take place Saturday from 2 p.m. to midnight at the Little Toad Creek Taproom on the corner of Broadway and Bullard Streets. The beers will be tapped inside at the main bar and outside in the courtyard/patio area on the east side of the building. There will be a beer garden in the alleyway with games, too.

The live music lineup is Amos Torres at 2 p.m., Sissy Brown at 5 p.m., and Shotgun Calliope at 8 p.m.

Now, as for those beers, here are the 19 we were informed about (hence the * above). Little Toad Creek said on the event’s Facebook page that there will be 24 available, including some from its own supply.

  • Bombs Away: Hellfire Green Chile Golden
  • Bosque: Strawberry Sabotage, The Good Place (PA)
  • Broken Trail: Pepe the Mule, Double Black Ale
  • La Cumbre: Project Dank, Slice of Hefen
  • Marble: Session IPA, El Gabacho
  • Nexus: Imperial Cream Ale, Scotch Ale
  • Red Door: Roamer Red, Vanilla Cream Ale
  • Santa Fe: 7K IPA, Twisted Root
  • Tractor: Lemon & Honey, Goathead Hador (Doppelbock)
  • Turtle Mountain: Copper Lager, Amnesia Ale

Per the event page, Sidetrack and Taos Mesa are also scheduled to be available, so if we learn the identity of those beers, we will update this list.

Luke and I had a great time at Toad Fest last year. The event was packed, but not overly crowded. The staff and crowd were friendly and helpful. It was a great way to enjoy some beers and soak in the culture of the mountain town.

If you need to get out of town for the weekend, consider Toad Fest.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Guild executive director John Gozigian has remained at the forefront of supporting New Mexico breweries in our state and beyond.

In the past, the Look Back/Look Ahead Series has focused solely on individual breweries. Tractor Brewing president/co-owner Skye Devore felt that we had been missing something, so she let me know after our interview last month. Namely, the Crew had never done one of these for the New Mexico Brewers Guild, so today, that absence is remedied. I sat down with Guild executive director John Gozigian last week at Bosque Brewing to go over how 2017 went and what to expect in 2018.

“It was good,” John said of 2017. “We added a fair amount of new brewery members, new associate members. We had legislative success at the beginning of the year in the form of blocking some pretty damaging legislation (Senate Bill 314 and its house counterpart). We’ve been helpful on the national level with promoting and moving the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act forward. I think one of the things we’re most proud of is that New Mexico is the only state in the country whose entire Congressional delegation, on both sides of the aisle, are sponsors of the (CBMTRA). And, all members of their respective parties’ caucuses.”

For beer lovers across the state, the most tangible thing the Guild does every year is sponsor a slew of festivals. From WinterBrew in Santa Fe every January, to the Stout Invitational in Los Alamos in February, to Blazin’ Brewfest in Las Cruces in May, to the NM IPA Challenge across the state in July, and finally to the Beer Premiere in Albuquerque in October, it was a strong year.

“The festivals went well,” John said. “WinterBrew, the first festival of the year, sold out, as it always does. The next one of the year, the Stout Invitational up in Los Alamos, sold out, too. Blazin’ Brewfest in Las Cruces was good. Our attendance was down. We had a major freak thunderstorm blow through in the first hour of the festival, right as the gates opened. That dampened attendance, but there were still a lot of people there.”

The NMIPAC was a big hit for Boxing Bear brewer/owner Justin Hamilton and the Guild as a whole.

The 2017 NMIPAC was a smashing success in terms of attendance, with the final round at Steel Bender Brewyard selling out, but that does not mean the Guild is fully satisfied with the format going forward.

“That’s one that we’re struggling with, trying to figure out what to do with, whether we keep it small and keep it brewery-based, which has been our tradition for almost 20 years now,” John said. “Or, do we find a larger venue at least for the final round? Then more people could attend. That’s kind of an existential crisis that we’re having right now. It’s worked well the way we do it and it’s a lot of fun the way we do it and it’s our tradition. We sold out the last event, the final round this year. A lot of people were not able to get tickets. It’s challenging to execute that in the space of a brewery, even the big breweries now, even the biggest. You’re pouring flights of 15 beers for hundreds of people. It’s definitely a difficult endeavor to pull off. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

The obvious issue there would be finding and then paying for renting said venue, while hoping increased attendance would cover the loss of revenue for the Guild, as host breweries do not charge. The NMIPAC is the single biggest Guild fundraiser every year, and that money is needed to keep fighting the good fight in Santa Fe.

“There is a chance that in 2018, the IPA Challenge, at least the final round, might end up at a venue that’s not a brewery to accommodate more people,” John said. “The cool thing is because there’s so much attendance now, it’s really legitimized the IPA Challenge as a competition. The old days when you’d have 20 to 30 people per round, if you had 15 to 20 people from one brewery show up and identify their beer, it would really skew the numbers. That’s really hard to do now.”

Being on the Guild Board of Directors can be an adventure, such as that one time the RV broke down between Farmington and Taos. (Photo courtesy of the NMBG)

While final decisions on the fate of the NMIPAC will be made later in 2018, one set of changes is already afoot. The Guild currently has a seven-person Board of Directors, with elected members serving two-year terms, capped at three consecutive terms. Voting alternates between four seats and three seats every year. This year, three seats came open as the sitting members did not run again.

“Skye had served two terms (and) Gabe (Jensen, of Bosque) had served two terms, and they felt like they needed a break,” John said. “James (Warren) was up for reelection and he has served one term, but you can’t have a member from a brewery that already has a board member. If you remember, he got elected when he was with Santa Fe Dining and then moved to Santa Fe Brewing. He can finish out his term, there’s no rule against that. If you’re running for election, you can’t run against another candidate from your brewery or a serving member.”

The election results came in after our interview, with Nexus owner Ken Carson, Bosque director of culture and engagement Jessica Griego, and Bombs Away head brewer David Kimbell taking over the three vacant spots on the board.

All of them will hit the ground running in 2018.

Legislative changes loom in 2018

There are no cool photos of legislation, so how about a cool photo of a Guild goblet from October’s Beer Premiere instead?

The coming year will feature a 30-day session of the State Legislature, which will also be the last year in office for Republican governor Susanna Martinez, meaning big changes could await on the political playing field in 2019. For now, though, the Guild has a couple small items targeted.

“For 2018, there’s a couple things,” John said. “One, we have a legislative session coming up. We are introducing a bill. What we’re seeking is to modify the Sunday sales hours, because right now we can’t serve alcohol until noon on Sundays. That got addressed for specialty permit holders a couple years ago. If you have a full liquor license, you can open at 11 o’clock on Sundays. It didn’t specifically allow small brewers and winemakers to open at 11 o’clock. We’re going to run a bill that will hopefully clean that up.”

For everyone who has gone to a brewery to watch the NFL games that start at 11 a.m. on Sundays, or even earlier to catch some Premier League soccer, not being able to order a beer until noon has always been a major bummer. John said he did not foresee much resistance on this bill.

“It’s a 30-day session, so the key will be to get the bill introduced, through the committees, and onto the floor before the session times out,” he said. “I don’t foresee this being particularly controversial. We’re talking about one hour on one day of the week. It’s something that’s already happening at every other licensed establishment besides breweries and wineries.”

Something else the Guild would like to see changed is the current inability of breweries to exclusively serve their wares at private events.

“Another thing we’re going to do is we’re going to work on the public celebration permit,” John said. “Right now the public celebration permit is specifically for public events, so we can use it for things like New Mexico Brewfest, the IPA Challenge, Blazin’ Brewfest, because they’re open to the public. But currently breweries and winemakers can’t cater a private event and serve your product. On the other hand, dispensers permit holders can get a special dispensers permit and they can do either or. They can do public celebrations or private events. We’re asking that the public celebration permit become the celebration permit, so it can be used for public and private.”

John said that it could especially be key for smaller breweries in the outlying communities, giving them an opportunity for added revenue. That could be important for those that do not package and sell their beers across the state. John said there might be some push back against a change, but ultimately he feels a move to help more small businesses will be approved.

Something else that will help smaller, rural breweries could soon appear on your phone.

“The other thing is we’re looking at having an app built for our breweries,” John said. “It will have an interactive map and tour. People who download the app can visit breweries and there will be incentives for visiting X number of breweries, completing X number of ale trails throughout the state.

“Some of our fellow guilds across the country have begun to use them. I think it could be particularly helpful in a state like New Mexico, driving people to the more rural breweries. You can incentivize particular ale trails more heavily if they’re more challenging to complete.”

You mean the Crew might have to retake some of our past brewery road trips? Back to the Southeast and the Taos area and even more beyond that? Oh, gosh, darn, twist our arms.

WinterBrew is up first among Guild-sponsored festivals in 2018.

As for the festivals, many of those dates are already set in stone. WinterBrew will return January 12 at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. The Stout Invitational will be back February 17 at Bathtub Row. Blazin’ Brewfest is set for Cinco de Mayo in Las Cruces. The NMIPAC will kick off with the preliminary round July 14 and conclude with the finals July 28, locations TBD.

“All of our festivals, we’re always looking at ways to keep them up to date, to tweak them,” John said. “We want to keep them fun and exciting. People should be looking for some new and exciting things this year. We do have some new plans in the works.”

A big thanks to John for taking some time to chat. Clearly, he has a lot on his plate going into the new year. All of us in the Crew look forward to supporting the Guild again in 2018 and beyond, and we thank John and the board members for their service on behalf of our craft beer scene.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Cheers to the BA for all it does.

Yeah, it is definitely that time of year. The recaps and top 10 lists are being posted, the year-in-review stories are rolling along (like, uh, our Look Back/Look Ahead Series). When it comes to recapping the year in craft beer for the entire country, no one sums it up best quite like the Brewers Association.

It was another big year for craft beer, to say the least.

“Craft brewers continue to thrive, if at a slower pace, fueled by a passionate community dedicated to bringing innovation, jobs and beer across America—on Main Street and beyond,” said Bart Watson, the chief economist of the Brewers Association, in a press release. “Today, 83 percent of the population lives within 10 miles of a local brewery, meaning that the positive impact of breweries is being felt in communities all over the country.”

OK, that is pretty cool. What other stats does the BA have for us?

  • The number of breweries nationwide has now surpassed 6,000, with 98 percent of those falling under the craft banner. By the Crew’s count, 68 of those are in New Mexico, with at least six more active licenses for places that have yet to open their doors, but should in the next couple months (more on that down below).
  • All those breweries have created 456,373 jobs, a 7.5-percent increase from 2014. In turn, that has generated $67.8 billion for the U.S. economy, a 21.7-percent increase. Craft breweries in turn donated $73.4 million to charities.
  • The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act has support from both parties and will potentially pass through both houses of Congress and become law during this current session. So, yeah, I guess we will have to say that Congress will do one good thing.
  • It appears the term “beercation” is becoming more and more of a reality. The average craft beer drinker visits 3.5 breweries near home and 2.5 breweries within two hours driving distance (take note: the press release did not say whether this was 3.5 per week, per month, or per year; for the Crew, it would certainly be per week, sometimes even per day, when we are feeling frisky with our Lyft/Uber accounts). A survey by the BA found that 64 percent of craft drinkers like to visit breweries to try new beers on a regular basis. We will raise one to that.
  • The New Mexico stats on the BA website are for 2016, but they still tell a positive story. By the end of that year, there 57 breweries, ranking 26th in the country. More notably, the 3.9 breweries per capita (100,000 adults) ranks 11th nationwide. Breweries had an economic impact of $333 million (40th) or $226.26 per capita (35th). A total of 111,237 barrels (32nd) were produced, amounting to 2.3 gallons consumed per adult (21st).

Yeah, it is still a good era for craft beer. Here is hoping it continues into 2018 and beyond.

Embrace the darkness at beer bars, too

The quality of dark beers around town is straight fire.

Our friends over Rock & Brews wanted you all to know that the current dark beer lineup is fairly epic. As fun as it is to hit up the breweries first, don’t forget the beer bars, as they often pull in some exclusive styles from out of state that you can usually only get in bottles or cans.

Rock & Brews currently has Dogfish Head’s Vanilla Oak-Aged Worldwide Stout, which is otherwise a pricey purchase in four-pack bottles. The ubiquitous Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout lines up next to Worldwide. There is also the most recent iteration of the ultimate beer geek beer, Stone’s Imperial Farking Wootstout. The real surprise gem, though, is Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout. No, really, it is on tap. If that hefty price tag for a bomber is scaring you off, but you really want to know if it is worth it (we think so, but we’re biased), head over to Rock & Brews to try it first before you commit to a 22-ounce bottle or two.

Down at Sister Bar, at least as of the Gatecreeper show this past Monday (gotta say, impressive crowd showing, ABQ-area metalheads), there is still some of La Cumbre’s La Negra on tap. It has been out at the brewery for a while, so get some while it lasts (if it’s even still there, we apologize if it is gone by now).

Nob Hill Bar & Grill has a strong lineup, which you can find anytime via Untappd. The current black beasts of ahhh available are Bell’s Black Note and Kalamazoo Stout, plus 2016 and 2017 Bourbon County Brand Stout, and two old favorites in Oskar Blues Ten FIDY and Stone Xocoveza.

So much dark beer, so little time.

New breweries update

Hello to a new small town brewery!

Sticking with tradition in beer notes, here are the most recent updates on all the forthcoming breweries across New Mexico. As always, we only list breweries with pending or active small brewer licenses with the State.

  • BLUE (Albuquerque): Nothing new on this small brewery located somewhere near Broadway and Lead/Coal.
  • Bonito Valley Brewing (Lincoln): A newcomer to the list located in a small, historic town west of Roswell along Highway 380. There is a Facebook page that says the owners are aiming for a summer 2018 opening.
  • Brewstillery (Albuquerque): We still have no info on this combo operation in the Southeast.
  • Callahan West Brewery (Mosquero): The small town brewery has been in touch with the NM Brewers Guild about joining up in 2018, so it appears to be a go.
  • Cantero Brewing (Albuquerque): Now armed with an active license, the final parts of construction are underway.
  • Elkins Brewing (Grants): We have no new info on this business.
  • Glencoe Distillery and Brewery (Ruidoso): The license is active, but there is still no website that we can find, nor any social media. It remains a mystery.
  • Guadalupe Mountain Brewing (Carlsbad): The license is active here, too, and beer is now being brewed. We await the announcement of opening, which could come any week now.
  • High and Dry Brewing (Albuquerque): Construction appears to be mostly complete down near Adams and Lomas. The Crew is in touch with the ownership and we are working to set up an advance tour when they are ready.
  • Hollow Spirits (Albuquerque): Construction continues on this new combo spot in the Wells Park neighborhood. It is the brainchild of former Red Door co-owner Frank Holloway.
  • Lava Rock Brewing (Albuquerque): The West Side brewery is getting closer and closer to opening on Unser just north of Ladera.
  • Lost Hiker Brewing (Ruidoso): Yes, the license is active, now only a few final touches must be completed and there will be local beer in the mountains down south. Keep track of the progress on the Lost Hiker Facebook page.
  • 1933 Brewing (Rio Rancho): Another newcomer to the list, we have no info beyond a name and a zip code for RR. It is unknown if this brewery is related in any way to the former 1933 Brewing of Fort Collins, Colo., which closed at the end of 2016.
  • Red River Brewing: All this mild winter is not helping the ski industry up north, but it should enable RRB to finish construction and remain on track for an early 2018 opening.
  • Switchback Brewery (Cloudcroft): There is still no info online on this place. We would like to remind everyone, though, that there is a Switchback Brewing in Vermont, so a name change may ultimately be necessary.
  • Toltec Brewing (Albuquerque): The forthcoming West Side brewery took a big step by hiring a head brewer, but we have been asked not to reveal the identity of this individual just yet. Let us just say, however, that we are excited.
  • Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery (Santa Fe): There are lots of construction photos on Facebook, so it looks like a good bet to open sooner than later. The small brewer license is now active.
  • The pending licenses for off-site taprooms remains as follows — Little Toad Creek in Las Cruces (new!); Ponderosa at El Vado Motel redevelopment (getting close); Santa Fe Downtown Taproom; Starr Brothers Alehouse (location TBA); Tumbleroot in Santa Fe (they will not sell beer out of the production facility down the street). Also, the Milton’s taproom in Roswell has an active license, but it is not yet open as far as we know.

That is all for now. As always, if you know anything about anything, please drop us a line at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com or contact us via direct message on Facebook or Twitter.

Have a great weekend, and good luck with any last-minute Christmas shopping!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Red Hat Hops and the Village of Los Ranchos recently held a forum to bring together local farmers and breweries.

Hop growing has expanded in the United States from the Pacific Northwest to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to coincide with the rising tide of craft beer. At long last, it is beginning to grow roots here in New Mexico, as we are still growing as a brewing destination.

I had the chance to attend a forum hosted by Red Hat Hops and the Village of Los Ranchos earlier this month, and was pleased to be included in the first collective meeting between hop growers, breweries, farmers, brewery chefs, and other related officials from the Guild and the state. Above all, the intent for this gathering was to open a dialogue to foster community, collaboration, and communication between the farmers who would like to supply our local breweries with local ingredients, and the breweries.

John Seabrooks, formerly of Rio Bravo and with over 26 years in the brewing industry, started us off by illustrating the impetus behind local collaboration.

“It is important to start the dialogue and figure out what all of the needs are (of breweries),” John said, “so we can go to the state and other federal agencies and begin to see what we can do to begin to get the appropriate funds to support the initiative of local growers.”

Starting an industry from scratch is no easy task, with much of the equipment required to grow the ingredients needed for making beer costing more than your typical startup business is able to afford. Thus, creating a group for our local growers much like our Brewers Guild is quite important, so as to be able to foster collaboration and cooperation to get our local hop business going. As of this writ, we are up to four total hops growers in the state of New Mexico, with representatives from Red Hat Hops, Crossed Sabers Hops, Stone Lizard Hops, and White Crow Hops all in attendance.

With the recent explosion of some tremendous wet-hopped beers appearing at the end of this year’s growing season, which built on the success of prior years in magnitude and availability, the general consensus is to push for that as a stepping stone for our local hop growers initially, and build on the success of such beers as Bosque’s Acequia IPA and wet hop series, La Cumbre’s Wet Hopped Elevated, and Santa Fe Brewing’s Wet Hopped Strong Ale, to name a few. The possibility of a future Wet Hopped IPA challenge to go alongside our annual IPA challenge was also broached, and is certainly a mouthwatering and palate-destroying possibility, which we will certainly keep on our radar for any developments.

When it comes to brewing beers with wet hops, freshness is king. As we are in relatively close proximity to hop growers in Colorado, our breweries can sometimes see hops harvested and brought down within one to two days or so, and added to beers in the process of being brewed almost immediately. If we were able to cut that time down to a matter of hours, our collective palates would all benefit from the added oils and luscious flavors and aromas that wet hops are known for.

So where are we in terms of hop production in our state now and where are we headed? As Tom from Red Hat Hops put it, “This year we all established what we are doing. I think most of us are doing expansions for next year already. So, for 2018, we are looking at between 10 and 12 acres of harvestable hops in New Mexico. The following year that will likely double and if we get the support of brewing community it’s going to take off exponentially.”

Here’s hoping this will take off, which would benefit all of us hopheads, brewers, and local growers alike. On the topic of hops and how they are used, a typical brew will use strictly dried hop pellets, which keep their magical powers of flavoring substantially longer than fresh hops, so a longer-term goal will be for our state to grow our hop business enough to support the procurement of a large scale hop-drying facility or oast house, likely with some help from the state via the NM Brewers Guild.

You may ask yourself why now? Why are locally sourced ingredients from private businesses so vital to the future of the craft brewing industry? The answer lies with the elephants in the room, the evil empire that is AB InBev and its ilk, which have been procuring malt and hop suppliers to drive their own costs down and put pressure on their competitors, which limits or in some cases eliminates (as was the case with South African hop varieties this past year) availability of those ingredients for craft breweries. These types of market manipulative, monopolistic practices are a huge reason to forge ahead with locally grown and sourced ingredients for beers not beholden to the deplorable multi-billion dollar “beer” conglomerates.

As John so excellently put it, “As a result of AB InBev’s hold on the market, they essentially said we will no longer sell the hops that some craft brewers throughout the world are using that are produced in South Africa. They essentially told everyone that we are saving those hops so that we (InBev) can give them to the craft breweries that we own. In my mind this is the tip of the iceberg. I don’t believe what they are saying in terms of there being a shortage of these hops. What they are doing is essentially taking care of their own business first at the expense of other craft breweries in the world who need to use these South African hops. So, as these huge conglomerates continue to get bigger and buy up more and more craft components, they begin to exert market forces which make it even more difficult for craft brewers to keep their doors open.”

As John went on to illustrate, this also hits the home brewer as well, with the conglomerates wanting to have complete dominance over alcoholic beverages worldwide from the macro to the micro all under their banner for their own profit. So it is essential that we do all that we are able to fight this attempt at utter monopoly by looking to our local providers, which will remain local rather than caving to the self-serving dumptruck-of-cash approach of these conglomerates.

Those of you who know your hop varieties are probably asking which ones are being grown in our state and the answer is quite a few, including the following — Chinook, Cascade, Neo Mexicanus, Centennial, Columbus, and Nugget. There is definitely a lot to look forward to in light of what I learned here about how well hops grow in our climate, and the possibilities for growing not only hops at the local level, but also grain and other fruits and vegetables used in brewing beer or supporting brewery kitchens to bring us good quality locally sourced cuisine.

This was a well attended and successful first gathering of growers, farmers, and brewers, and here’s hoping for a successful harvest this coming year and for good collaboration going forward. Thanks to Red Hat Hops for bringing all of this together and I look forward to future meetings like this as our local brewing community expands from brewery to farmland and beyond.

Skål!

— Franz Solo