Posts Tagged ‘Red Hat Hops’

Red Hat Hops’ Tom Brewer, left, will be one of two speakers at Red Door Brewing for an educational talk on beer and hops in New Mexico.

Red Door Brewing Company and Red Hat Hops are teaming up during this year’s ABQ Beer Week to provide some educational fun. This Tuesday at 7 p.m., you can head over to Red Door’s Candelaria location for a Hops and Beer talk with head brewer Matt Meier and Tom Brewer from Red Hat Hops. I was able to meet with Matt for a brief preview. Tom was there as well, accompanied by partner Tim Arnold, Tom’s son Bubba, and another farm employee, Charlotte.

Matt said the event will be free and open to whoever is in the taproom; there is no need to sign up in advance. Matt and Tom will be available for questions about the brewing process and about hops and growing hops.

I asked Matt about the intended audience and he said it is for anyone, but probably mostly for those who are either a novice or just curious about growing hops and about the hop industry in general in New Mexico. Matt specifically said this is an informational discussion and not any kind of sales environment. He playfully said there will be no scary “timeshare” pitches! If attendees come away with knowledge, or if questions are clarified, that is what will be satisfying for Matt, he said.

Red Hat Hops is located in Los Ranchos.

Tom said he has given many talks on the subject and that he and Matt plan to feed off each other as subject matter experts — Matt on the brewing side and Tom on the hops side. Red Hat is currently growing many different types of hops at its farm on Rio Grande Blvd., just north of Montano. Reportedly, many varieties grow very well in New Mexico because of a lack of mold and pests, even most of the types we associate with the Pacific Northwest. Beyond that, we shall save the details for those who want to come to the event.

Speaking of learning, I learned something myself that I am able to share with our readers. The taproom manger, Ali Cattin, informed me that Red Door is going to have their own permanent food truck called Side Door Kitchen. Red Door’s beers will be featured in some of the recipes, and Ali said she will be the one in charge of the menu. She worked as a chef for eight years and was a student of CNM’s culinary program. The current plan is to pair special foods with special beer releases as well. Red Door hosts the food truck battle during Beer Week, and now they will have their very own involved in the competition!

Red Door head brewer Matt Meier and taproom manager Ali Cattan.

This is a first of its kind Beer Week event. So come on over to Red Door and show support for both an Albuquerque brewery and a local hop farm at the same time. That’s really keeping it local!

Stay hydrated and safe during Beer Week — the Crew will see you all around at the events, so if you see any of us, make sure to say hello.


— AmyO


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.


— Franz Solo

A hop farm springs up in the North Valley

Posted: September 12, 2017 by cjax33 in News

By this time next year, there will be a wall of green from this viewpoint.

The Albuquerque metro area is now home to 30-plus breweries.

And, finally, one hop farm.

Red Hat Hops is looking to keep things even more local in terms of beer ingredients. Located at the edge of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, off Rio Grande north of the overpass above Montano, this new operation occupies 4.5 acres. Tom Brewer and Tim Arnold are the men in charge.

“Well, the obvious answer is we have, what, over 60 breweries in New Mexico now, and no commercial hop yards,” Tom said. “That doesn’t mean there aren’t people growing hops, people just want to keep it secret for some reason.”

Tom previously served in the Air Force and then worked at Intel for many years before he was laid off. His desire to start a hop farm was born out of two passions.

“I love growing things and I love beer, so they kind of go together,” he said.

So far only one acre has been set up for the hops. A combination of planting too late and a few too many scorching days this summer conspired to keep the first crop small.

“My goal, we’re going to fill this field up,” Tom said. “I have this four-and-a-half acres, this is only one acre planted now, but we have the full acres back to the Bosque. I lease the property, I don’t own it. There are three farmers that farm here. I’m already working with the Village of Los Ranchos, we’re already looking at other places to expand to.”

Tom also said he has been sure to establish a good relationship with the resident brewery of Los Ranchos.

“Obviously, I have a good working relationship with a brewery here in Los Ranchos. “They’re pretty interested and Bob (Haggerty, head brewer) is a great guy. He’s been out here. I talked to him on Friday.

“It’s a win-win situation. They grow great here. We’re getting everything established this year.”

One of the more bountiful vines on the property.

Tom is also working with Rio Bravo director of brewing operations John Seabrooks on future projects.

“I went to the Master Brewers out-of-towner at Rio Bravo a couple weeks ago,” Tom said. “One of the big things we saw was there is a disconnect between the agricultural and brewing communities. I’m working with John Seabrooks. We’re going to put something together in the next few months. We’re going to get farmers together and brewers and brewery owners, this time, together.”

That goes beyond farmers growing hops.

“We’re not just talking about hops,” he said. “In the brewery (business) they’re using all kinds of stuff now. We’re going to be bringing in all kinds of farmers. … There’s a lot of stuff going on this property alone, along with the whole valley. We have breweries that want ingredients and we have farmers who have ingredients to sell.”

Santa Fe Brewing does have its own hop farm in Rinconada, south of Taos, and one of the main state universities now has a hop farm as well.

“I have my USA hops growers number (so) I’m the only registered hop yard in New Mexico,” Tom said. “I know there are others. I collaborate with New Mexico State University. They have an experimental hop yard up in Farmington.”

NMSU will be present at an upcoming private event that will be hosted by Red Hat Hops, bringing another element into the mix — education.

“Obviously, the main intent is as a business and (to) supply local breweries, but we also want to use it as an educational opportunity,” Tom said. “CNM has got a brewing program. The breweries have the opportunity to bring their staff here for field trips. It may eventually become an agri-tourism thing, but it may not. This is private property. We are working with some other entities that have public property.”

Hello there, Neo Mexicanus.

Tom said his long-term goal was to be at 20 acres in 10 years, but he said now it looks like he will reach that mark much sooner.

“The big thing now is we’re going to get through our introductory stage, which is this year,” he said.

Now it is just about getting the word out to the breweries and the public, for the future could be bountiful.

“We want that to become more of the norm because this is a huge not only a business opportunity for everybody, but it’s a huge marketing opportunity for New Mexico,” Tom said. “Colorado already has an all-Colorado beer. We have that opportunity here.”

An all-New Mexico beer? We will raise a glass of that when it comes to fruition.

Thanks to Tom and Tim for the tour and the beer.


— Stoutmeister