Posts Tagged ‘Turtle Mountain Brewing’

Outgoing Turtle Mountain head brewer Mick Hahn, left, passes the “torch” to new head brewer David Pacheco. Blessed be the beers!

It has been a few years since a head brewer has moved from one Albuquerque area brewery to another. That relatively static era is over as Tractor Brewing looked locally to fill its vacant head brewer position, finding the right man for the job at Turtle Mountain Brewing.

Mick Hahn is jumping from one brewery celebrating its 20th anniversary this year to another, leaving the cozy brewpub confines in Rio Rancho for the bustling production facility in Wells Park. To catch up on how this all went down, I met up with Mick, Tractor co-owner/brewmaster David Hargis, TMBC owner Nico Ortiz, and his new head brewer, David Pacheco.

“It was pretty quick,” Mick said. “David Hargis called me two weeks ago Monday, when Nico was (on vacation) in Costa Rica, which is always good. I had seen the posting for the position on the (New Mexico Brewers) Guild newsletter. I definitely thought about what it would be like to be their head brewer. I didn’t think much of pursuing it until he called to tell me we had been looking for someone, and hadn’t gotten a whole lot of interest and are you interested, because we’re interested in getting you.

“I met with him the next day to just to talk it over a little bit more. I met with him towards the end of the week when Nico was coming back from Costa Rica. They got in Thursday at 5 o’clock and I told him Friday at lunch that this was all happening. I had less than a week to figure out if this was going to go forward.”

Nico said he knew Mick’s departure was almost an inevitability.

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The time has come to feast once again at Pork & Brew! (Photo courtesy of Alex Archuleta)

The annual feast festival that is Pork & Brew returns to the Rio Rancho Star Center this weekend, with three local breweries joining in on the fun.

Tractor and Turtle Mountain went so far as to do their first collaboration beer (that we know of) in the form of the Chicharrón Red Lager. Per an email from TMBC head brewer Mick Hahn, the lager checks in at 5.3-percent ABV and 34 IBU, hopped with Chinook and Sorachi Ace.

“It is juicy up front and finishes with a spiciness that should complement BBQ really nicely,“ Mick wrote.

Star Center director of marketing Alex Archuleta got to visit TMBC on the day of brewing back in May.

“It was cool for those guys to do a collaboration,” Alex asaid. “I got to go over there and check it out. You guys know about brewing, but I’ve only seen it a few times. It’s awesome. It’s such a science and it’s cool.”

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2019-SummerFest-Poster-rev5

Summer, and beer, return to the mountain.

Pajarito Ski Area outside of Los Alamos has a handful of big events throughout the year, and it’s time for another as Summerfest will be held this Saturday.

If you haven’t been up to visit yet, this would be a great time to do so. If summer finally kicks in, you can rest assured that temperatures will be much cooler on the mountain. (I always warn people to be prepared for anything when it comes to the weather, though.) Throw in the natural beauty of the mountain and forest, and it’s a stunning setting for a beer festival.

There will be plenty of things to do throughout the day. There will be a mountain bike race, a disc golf tournament, hiking and biking (made easier by running chairlifts), the band Iron Chiwawa playing classic rock, good food, and yes, plenty of beer. More than a dozen New Mexico breweries will be in attendance, including:

  • Bathtub Row: CojonHaze IPA, Cali Common, Little Bird Blonde, American Wheat
  • Blue Corn: Oatmeal Stout, Gatekeeper IPA, Road Runner IPA, Peach Gose, Lager than Life
  • Lost Hiker: Blonde, Mosaic SMASH, Belgian Rye Pale Ale, Amber
  • Red Door: Unhinged Cider, West Coast IPA, Vanilla Cream Ale, Hopical Storm (Pineapple Milkshake IPA)
  • Red River: Lazy Bear Blonde, Peach Campfire Cream Ale, Desperado Mexican Lager, Catskinner IPA
  • Second Alarm: Porter, Kolsch, IPA (one keg)
  • Second Street: TBA
  • Sierra Blanca: Alien IPA, Green Chile Cerveza, Bone Chiller Brown Ale, and either Desert Pilsner, Vanilla Milk Stout or Cherry Wheat
  • Steel Bender: Skull Bucket IPA, Raspberry Dynamite, Rosy Nosy, Lloyd’s 3 O’Clock Kolsch
  • Taos Mesa: TBA
  • Tractor: Berry Cider, Mustachio Milk Stout, Acreage IPA, plus cocktails Kentucky Mule, StraJarito Tonic, The Vodka Blues
  • Tumbleroot: TBR (Light American Lager), Old School Pale Ale, Hefeweizen, New School IPA, plus a cocktail or two
  • Turtle Mountain: Wooden Teeth, Darker than Darkness Schwarzbier, Maibock, Doppel Equis Steinundator, Table Manners Session Brut IPA, Yum Yum Breeze

We will update this list with specific beers from the breweries as we receive them. The beer portion of the event runs from 1 to 6 p.m. Iron Chiwawa will be playing from 2 to 5, and food will be served at the lodge cafeteria from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tickets are $20, which we believe entitles you to a souvenir glass and unlimited sampling. Be sure to bring a valid ID, or you won’t get in.

As always, if you’re going to be enjoying the beer, take the free shuttle that runs every half hour from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. from the high school parking lot in town. It’s a several-mile drive up the mountain, so save yourself some gas and possible grief.

For more information, visit: https://www.pajarito.ski/events/summerfest/

Cheers!

— Reid

Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s seven breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, and one in Red River also joining the party.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

The back-to-back beer dinners at Turtle Mountain this Friday are sold out, but we still wanted to take the lede of this here feature to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Rio Rancho institution. With Kellys pulling the plug on its brewing operations, TMBC is now the second oldest brewery in the Albuquerque metro area after Canteen/Il Vicino (which itself turns 25 this year). That staying power for TMBC is rather remarkable, especially in Rio Rancho, where very few local restaurants last even a few years, much less two decades. TMBC is coming off a banner year, including its first gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival, so in many ways this week’s celebration is a fitting cap to this recent stretch of success. Even if you were not lucky enough to get a dinner spot Friday, you can still head out to the brewery this weekend for some of the new Table Manners, a session Brut IPA, and of course the behemoth DoppelEquis Steinundator. Raise ’em high to owner Nico Ortiz, head brewer Mick Hahn, and the entire TMBC staff. Happy anniversary, one and all!

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bombs Away flies in with Spring Lager, Demolition Lager, and version four of Hazy Chain DIPA. Bosque went ahead and put Fruity Pebbles cereal in a hazy IPA and named it Rubble Trouble. Bow & Arrow taps Comet Dust Hazy IPA on Friday. Canteen has Boysenberry Wheat, Munich Dunkel, Grapefruit Exodus, and a new Social Capital with blackberry and ginger. Kaktus kicks up some Irish Red, Czech Pilsner, and Longhair London Porter. La Cumbre serves up An Extra Slice of Hefen, plus All In DIPA comes out in cans Friday. Marble feels the faith with Abbey Brett and Abbey Amber, plus a limited amount of Cherry Brune is back at the downtown taproom. Nexus gets into the season with Irish Red. Red Door has Blueberry Pie Berliner for dessert, plus Riley’s Switch, a light lager, debuts at the new Clovis taproom that opens this week. Sidetrack has more Co-Mo IPA, while also introducing the new Wheat’s Up. Starr Brothers brings back the Green Manalishi. Steel Bender hops to it with Smith Hopper Extra Pale Ale with Cascade. Tractor unveils a triple cider release on draft and in cans with Berry Cider, Rosé Cider, and Blood Orange Cider. Turtle Mountain has also added Count Hellesarius and Snakedriver Dry Irish Stout.

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn switches hops as Gatekeeper IPA with Rakau debuts. Tumbleroot has several new options including Dortmunder Lager, Sunset Pale Ale, Gose, TBR (Light Lager), and Irish Stout on nitro, plus new bottles of Sour Brown and Honey Double IPA.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of March 18.

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Turtle Mountain celebrates its 20th anniversary this year after winning its first GABF gold medal last year.

Turtle Mountain is turning 20 years old in just a few weeks, which is quite the milestone for a brewery, let alone a restaurant. I was able to sit down and chat with both head brewer Mick Hahn and owner Nico Ortiz regarding their stellar 2018, and what 2019 has in store for them.

Solo: The big thing with our look back would probably be that gold medal you snagged at GABF (Great American Beer Festival)?

Mick: Yeah, that definitely is the biggest thing for 2018. We are beyond thrilled to have that thing hanging behind the bar. It feels really good to have something that Turtle has deserved for a long time, and to get that recognition. So my favorite part of GABF all together was seeing Stan Heironymous tweet out that his favorite thing of GABF was Turtle Mountain getting a medal. 

Solo: That’s beautiful.

Mick: To get those words coming out of Stan’s mouth means a whole lot. He was one of the first people to sit at our bar and taste our beer 20 years ago, and Albuquerque owes a lot to him and his writing, so to hear him say that felt great. It just backed up everything I believe about Turtle being, oh, just shy of world class. We are very happy about it and hopefully we can try to have some sort of repeat this next year. Wooden Teeth will definitely get submitted again, for sure, and we will look at what else is going to be our entries for 2019 medals. 

Solo: Since lagers are kind of your thing, might we see some more of those?

Mick: Yeah, for sure, and I think they are overlooked by a lot of people who don’t see them to be as exciting, so they don’t get as much attention as a lot of the styles out there. 

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It’s time to gather with 700 of your closest beer-loving friends at WinterBrew.

WinterBrew 2019 is so close we can almost taste all the great beers that will be poured at the Santa Fe Farmers Market on Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. If you were not one of the lucky 700 to get a ticket, well, you might be able to land the extra pass the Crew has in hand for the festival.

I love tapping into New Mexico beer history, so the first person to correctly answer the following question will be the winner. Since this event is in Santa Fe, we stuck with a theme for that town.

Q. What current Santa Fe landmark was a brewery way back in the 19th century? Hint: It currently has a connection to someone famous beyond just New Mexico.

Send us an email at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com with your answer. We will announce when the contest is over on social media (Facebook/Twitter/Instagram), so keep an eye out there. The winner will be informed directly via email. If you are the winner, just meet the Crew out front at 5 p.m. (we will have our shirts on for easy identification). This is just one small way to give back to you, our loyal readers.

UPDATE: The question was answered correctly on Thursday at 5:30. It was the Jean Cocteau Theater, owned by George R.R. Martin. He’s kinda famous, right?

Now, for everyone that is going, we present the beer lists for 16 of the 18 attending breweries. Hopefully we get the other two before long.

  • Abbey: Monks’ Ale, Monks’ Dark Chocolate, Monks’ Tripel Reserve, Monks’ Grapefruit Wit
  • Bosque: Driftwood Oatmeal Stout, Open Space Haze, Elephants on Parade Tart, Frostbit Wit, Fistful of Churros, Bosque Cider
  • Bow and Arrow: TBA
  • Chili Line: TBA
  • Cloudcroft: Chai Spiced Porter, Oatmeal Stout, Railspike Red Ale, Trainwreck IPA
  • HoneyMoon: Camellia Flor, Camellia Blanco, Cidrucha
  • Lost Hiker: Snowpocolipse (Winter Warmer), Midnight Squirrel Stout, Rye Knot (Belgian Pale w/ Rye), Connectivity IPA
  • Marble: Desert Fog, Double White, Coffee Porter (NEW! Replacing Cholo Smooth), Sympathy for the Pork Chop (Smoked Marzen)
  • Picacho Peak: I Heart Chocolate Porter, Twisted Windmill (DIPA), 575 Scottsman, Dirty Blonde, Javelina Black (American Stout)
  • Red River: Lazy Bear Blonde, Midnight Meadows Oatmeal Stout, Back 40 Farmhouse Ale, Super Bad Medicine Bourbon Barrel-Aged Honey DIPA
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales: No B.U. IPA, Petite Blanche (available from 5 to 6:10 p.m.), Cote d’Or Double Cerise (6:10-7:20), Sin Barreras Mole Barrel-Aged Stout with fresh raspberries (7:20-9)
  • Santa Fe: 7K IPA, Getta Witness (Witbier), Pepe Loco (Dark Lager), Chicken Killer 2.0
  • Second Street: 2920 IPA, Jackplane Imperial Porter, Agua Fria Pilsner, Boneshaker Special Bitter, 2018 Anniversary Ale, 2018 Skookum (Barleywine), Barrel-Aged Skookum, Chin Gose, Kolsch, MBV Stout
  • Sidetrack: Hobo King Lager, Dark Engine Stout, Turntable IPA, Buzz Bomb, plus cask of Dark Engine with cacao nibs and coffee
  • Starr Brothers: There Gose Them Boyzz, Brown Chicken Brown Cow, Lost City of Gold (Hazy IPA), Zombies in the Manger (Biscochito Stout)
  • Truth or Consequences: Bad Santa (Spiced Winter Ale), Good Juju (American Brown Ale), Irish Red, Palomas Porter, Supernova Hazy DIPA, Truth Serum (Barleywine, in bottles)
  • Tumbleroot: Captain SMASH (Rum Barrel-Aged SMASH Barleywine), Orange Chocolate Stout (nitro), Farmhouse Saison, Pale Ale
  • Turtle Mountain: Tiempo Mañana IPL, Darker than Darkness (Schwarzbier), Stockholm Syndrome (Baltic Porter), Deep Depravity (Barleywine), plus the archived 2016 Depravity and then 2017 Infinitesimus

Those are a lot of big, malty, chewy beers, so make sure to pace yourselves. WinterBrew is always a blast of an event, whether you take the Rail Runner or drive and spend the night in Santa Fe (please do not drive up and back if you are drinking). There will be food inside, but it might not hurt to load up at Second Street Railyard next door beforehand.

See you all tomorrow night.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

You know it is truly autumn when the New Mexico Brew Fest returns to the State Fairgrounds.

One of our favorite annual beer festivals, the New Mexico Brew Fest, is back at the State Fairgrounds this Saturday afternoon. The ninth edition starts at 1 p.m. (noon for early entry ticket holders) and runs until 6. Tickets are available online here.

What makes this a favorite fest of ours? Well, to start with, it’s outdoors. Formerly in the Villa Hispana courtyard, it has now moved out onto Main Street, due to a combination of poor access for the breweries to bring in the kegs, and because it was getting a wee bit too crowded in Villa Hispana. The weather is usually beautiful, so cross your fingers that those projected morning rains are long gone by the time this year’s fest kicks off.

Another fun part is that this festival is made up of only New Mexico breweries. A total of 21 are listed as attending, ranging from stalwarts like Bosque, Boxing Bear, Canteen, La Cumbre, Marble, and Santa Fe, plus breweries from far corners of the state, including Lost Hiker (Ruidoso) and Taos Mesa.

There will be plenty of food trucks (Nomad’s BBQ, Street Food Institute, Soo Bak, and more), live music (Cali Shaw Band, The Big Spank, DJ Flo Fader), and some additional fun games and activities.

Of course, the most pertinent question always comes down to what beers are being poured. Well, we can confirm that three beers that recently won medals at the Great American Beer Festival will be available — Turtle Mountain’s Wooden Teeth (gold), Bosque’s Pistol Pete’s 1888 (bronze), Starr Brothers’ Lampshade Porter (bronze) — plus one medal winner from the Great British Beer Festival in The 377’s Schwartzbier (bronze).

These lists were provided by the breweries and are always subject to last-minute changes, depending on availability. For any breweries that have not reported their lists yet, we will add them as they come in right up until the start of the festival.

  • Abbey: TBA
  • Bosque: IPA, Brewer’s Boot, Pistol Pete’s 1888, Elephants on Parade, TBD seasonal
  • Bow & Arrow: TBA
  • Boxing Bear: Uppercut IPA, Black and Blue Tart, Coffee Chocolate Milk Stout, Das Bear German Pilsner, Apple Bear Cider
  • Broken Trail: Double Black, Trailworks IPA, Arroyo Blanco Wheat, Goathead Brown
  • Canteen: Oktoberfest, Exodus IPA, Pecos Trail Brown Ale, Laid Back Lager
  • Desert Valley: TBA
  • Dialogue: Oktoberfest, 3x Tripel
  • Kaktus: TBA
  • La Cumbre: Elevated IPA, A Slice of Hefen, BEER, Witch’s Tit, Project Dank
  • Lost Hiker: TBA
  • Marble: Double White, Passionate Gose, Pumpkin Ale, Westside IPA
  • Nexus: Scotch Ale, Bird of Prey IPA, Coffee & Cream Ale, Imperial “Tribble” Red Ale
  • Palmer: TBA
  • Santa Fe: 7K IPA, Oktoberfest, Freestyle Pilsner, Western Bloc IPA, Hefeweizen
  • Starr Brothers: Lampshade Porter, Rosé Gose, Hanky Spanky, Starrphire Pilsner
  • Steel Bender: Brickie American Stout, Lloyd’s 3 O’Clock Kolsch, Blackberry Dynamite, Skull Bucket IPA
  • Taos Mesa: TBA
  • The 377: Schwartzbier, 377 IPA, Plumberry Sour, Ginger Beer
  • Tractor: Pumpkin Cider, Traktoberfest, Double Plow Oatmeal Stout
  • Turtle Mountain: Wooden Teeth*, Vienna SMLSH, Tropical Menagerie, Turb Majeure (NEIPA), Yum Yum Noir

Also, take note that Left Turn Distilling will be on hand alongside its sibling brewery, Palmer.

Got any questions or comments? Drop us a line.

This is one of those fests where we highly recommend that everyone utilize a designated driver, Lyft, Uber, or other means of transportation than driving yourself if you plan to drink. Stay safe out there!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The pretzels were on point at Marblefest.

This was one of those weekends where most of us should have been in recovery mode, but the beer events (and metal shows) would not allow us to rest.

For me, the in-town fun was this past Thursday, when I took a trip out to Turtle Mountain to celebrate owner Nico Ortiz’s “39th” birthday and the recent gold medal that head brewer Mick Hahn brought home from the Great American Beer Festival. I thought we were just going to raise a pint of the Wooden Teeth and then I could head out, but noooooo, Mick had to go and bust out a whole bunch of beers from various places for us all to try. Darn it, Mick. Darn, darn, darn. Anyway, the Wooden Teeth tasted great, as a gold-medal winner should, and it was nice to see so many of Nico’s longtime friends and customers stop by to wish him a happy birthday and congrats on the medal.

From there, it was off to Steel Bender for the OktoberFiesta. The chef and his kitchen staff should be applauded for a delicious jaegerschnitzel, which is not an easy thing to make, especially as the place filled up and more and more folks stormed in wanting a plate. I was also happy to be one of the last people to get a commemorative mug, even though I need another piece of glassware (or ceramic-ware, in this case) like I need a hole in the head. Sadly, we also drank up all the OktoberFiesta beer. Who thinks we should petition the brewing staff to make another batch? Huh, even my parents have their arms raised.

Anyway, for the rest of the Crew (minus poor Luke, too sick to drink this weekend), here are their latest adventures in beer.

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We had to borrow this epic selfie of Turtle Mountain’s Mick Hahn and friends after he won a gold medal Saturday. (Courtesy of TMBC)

Phew, that was quite the weekend up in Denver. We missed some stuff in our constant rush to get from place to place, from beer to beer. Hey, it was just another Great American Beer Festival, but we did have some additional tidbits of info and the like that we wanted to share.

During my brief interview with a joyful Mick Hahn of Turtle Mountain, I asked a tough question about whether it is even sweeter to win with a lager, considering how most casual beer drinkers probably do not understand how much harder it is to brew a lager than an ale. Mick was ready to celebrate, so he could not come up with an answer then, but after a while he messaged this to us:

“I thought of an addendum to the interview (Saturday). You asked about the consumers’ understanding of the intricacies and difficulty of lager vs. ale. I think I can sum it up with an experience from this weekend. Friday, I was at Prost and saw someone wearing a shirt, the back of which said: MALT WATER HOPS YEAST PATIENCE

“I fucking love that. While not a traditional ingredient, patience is so crucial to making a good beer, and that goes 10 fold for lagers. You see breweries expanding and making more and more beer simply so they can turn a greater profit. When your focus shifts from quality of product to quantity, you lose that patience that (is) so crucial to maximizing flavor.

“Working at Turtle has given me the opportunity to let that patience grow, and I think that is the biggest reason we were able to bring home the gold.”

Once again, congrats to Mick for bringing home the first gold/first GABF medal in the 19.5-year history of Turtle Mountain. Owner Nico Ortiz texted us to say he was planning on borrowing the medal to wear all day Thursday for his birthday. The Crew humbly suggests that everyone head to TMBC on Thursday and raise a pint of Wooden Teeth to Nico, Mick, and the rest of their team.

Say, that tattoo looks familiar

New Mexico native Chris Keeton won gold in the English IPA category for Alaro Brewing of Sacramento, California.

Shortly after posting our story about the award winners, we received a tip from reader Jim Bullard that we kinda sorta missed one New Mexico medal winner. The catch was the winner was a brewer from New Mexico who now brews in California.

Jim wrote, “Would like to pass on that Albuquerque native Chris Keeton scored a gold medal with the Alaro Brewing Castillo IPA, from Sacramento, California. Chris had recently collaborated with Justin Hamilton from Boxing Bear on the NABA (North American Beer Awards) winner Cali Common. Chris was in attendance with wife Lauren and 5-month-old Bennett who was present for the showing of the Bennett Pale Ale!”

Jim’s comment arrived at the same time Luke sent over the above photo after randomly running into Keeton, who apparently recognized the Crew symbol on Luke’s shirt. Keeton and his family were on the move, so they did not have time for an interview, but we plan to reach out to Alaro Brewing in the near future. We know there are other New Mexico natives brewing outside the state, but to our knowledge, Keeton is the first to claim a GABF gold medal. His Castillo IPA took the top spot in the English-style India Pale Ale category.

Know of a brewer from New Mexico who now brews elsewhere? Send us the info on him/her and we can put together a fun list.

Sampler tray

  • For anyone planning way ahead, GABF will be back in October next year, specifically from the 3rd through the 5th. The Craft Brewers Conference will also be back in Denver in the spring, but as it is an odd-numbered year, there will not be a World Beer Cup competition.
  • The Crew found a couple new eateries that we recommend for anyone visiting Denver. The Denver Biscuit Company on South Broadway was as good as advertised, plus it is a short walk from there to TRVE Brewing. We also hit up a new-to-us breakfast place called Syrup, on the corner of 18th and Champa downtown. Otherwise, we hit a lot of familiar eateries, including Jelly and Rhein Haus, plus of course we ate while downing all those delicious beers at Bierstadt Lagerhause. Future food suggestions are always welcome.
  • A few of the beers that blew us away, but are probably harder than hell to find on a regular basis: Great Notion’s Double Stack, New Holland Dragon’s Milk Reserve Maple Oak, Bosque Acequia IPA (we had to get it there since we missed the can release down here), the entire lager lineup from Chuckanut Brewing, Brooklyn Hand & Seal (Barleywine) aged in cognac barrels, Liquid Mechanics Barrel-Aged Awesomeness, Horse & Dragon’s BBA Dragonfire Imperial Stout, Black Sky’s Angel of Death Stout, Beachwood’s System of a Stout, Fremont’s BBA Dark Star Coffee Edition, Cigar City’s Coconut Marshal Zhukov’s, the entire lager lineup at Bierstadt Lagerhaus, Speakeasy’s Syndicate No. 4, AleSmith’s Vietnamese Coffee Speedway Stout, Kane’s A Night to End All Dawns and Sunday Brunch, Modern Times’ Devil’s Teeth and Fellowship of Xul, and of course Avery’s 16-percent BBA lineup of Fimbulvvinter (Quintuple), Tweak (Coffee Stout), Plank’d (Porter), and Rumpkin, with the last two straight from the barrel.
  • How are we not dead? Because Franz Solo drank even more than just those.
  • The others will have more to share this week from their own adventures. We also promise to track down first-time medal winners Starr Brothers and Rowley Farmhouse Ales, as they disappeared into the crowd Saturday.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

A lot of tired brewers and brewery owners came to life when their names were announced at the GABF Awards Ceremony!

DENVER — The 2018 Great American Beer Festival awards ceremony was another good one for New Mexico breweries. The Saturday morning event saw 2,404 breweries enter 8,864 beers, judged by 193 people, and spread across 102 categories, plus a new collaboration and the Pro-Am competition.

Eight New Mexico breweries shared in seven medals, a significant improvement from the World Beer Cup earlier this year, when only Quarter Celtic brought home a single bronze medal for its Pedro O’Flanagan.

“It means we make good beer still,” said John Gozigian, the executive director of the New Mexico Brewers Guild. “What did we win (at WBC), one medal? It was an anomaly. We always tend to medal disproportionately to our population.”

We were lucky in that Turtle Mountain head brewer Mick Hahn, left, found us at the session after the awards ceremony.

Turtle Mountain earned its first gold medal in the International-style Pilsner category with Wooden Teeth. The year-round offering is a huge win for brewer Mick Hahn and owner Nico Ortiz, beating out 85 other entries.

Mick was not in attendance when the award was announced.

“I was at our AirBnB, not quite sipping the champagne yet, but enjoying the hell out of it,” he said. “We didn’t go to the awards ceremony but we were streaming it at the house. When they announced it we just exploded. It was fantastic. I couldn’t be happier. There was a liquor store right across from the house so I ran across the street to get some champagne.”

After 19 years in business, this was the first major competition medal for Turtle Mountain.

“That’s just awesome,” Gozigian said. “For a new brewery to win is great, but to see one of the stalwarts of our brewing scene to come out of the woodwork and win in a very competitive category, I’m very happy for them.”

Mick said he was over the moon after hearing his beer’s name called on the internet broadcast.

“It means so much,” Mick said. “Turtle deserves so much more (praise) than what they have right now, in my opinion. I hate hearing people say, ‘I love it, but I never go out to Rio Rancho.’ It’s a drop in the bucket, I’m sure, but every little bit helps. A gold medal for our house lager? Yeah.”

La Cumbre’s Jeff Erway chews on another silver medal for his Malpais Stout.

There were two silver medals awarded to local breweries. La Cumbre’s Malpais Stout took second in the Export Stout category, while Rowley Farmhouse Ales earned its first medal with Germophile in the Berliner-style Weisse category, which had 115 entries.

“Always the runner up,” said La Cumbre owner/master brewer Jeff Erway. “It’s my third silver. I’m really stoked to not go home empty handed. I tasted this batch and said this is about as good as that beer ever gets. I’m really pleased with the whole team. It gets increasingly harder as the brewery gets bigger to make sure that every person back there is engaged. I’m kind of in awe of Daniel (Jaramillo) and Alan (Skinner) and how they manage the team back there. I’m real proud of everybody. Probably 20 people touch this beer. The fact that no one screwed it up is awesome.”

Bronze was the color of the day with five breweries bringing home four medals. How did that work? Well, Quarter Celtic and Palmer Brewery earned bronze in the Collaboration Beer category with Mocha Hipster Bomb.

“Brady (McKeown, head brewer) is battling in that brewhouse and it’s starting to show,” said Quarter Celtic co-owner Ror McKeown. “We’re fortunate that Rob (Palmer) was a super cool guy and has some talent himself. He was willing to jump in with us. I told him, first GABF, first beer you entered, first medal, you set the bar real high. It was a good time, but unfortunately Brady will never get to come again, since we figured out the trick was to take his cutout instead of him.”

Yes, Quarter Celtic really did take a cardboard cutout of Brady up on stage.

The Brady McKeown cutout made it to the stage at the awards ceremony, courtesy of his brother Ror.

“You never expect to win, but you want to come prepared,” Ror said. “I took that cutout. It was nice, especially since this is (Charlie) Papazian’s last year. It was our last chance to get a fist bump from him.

“(Papazian) was laughing. We went up early enough so he wasn’t tired. He told us that’s awesome. Usually you can’t get too many words out of him. He had a pretty big grin on his face.”

For Palmer, this was his first major award.

“I’ll probably never enter another beer again,” Rob said. “First beer, medal, done.”

He was actually luck to even make it into the awards ceremony at all.

“I didn’t expect the collab category to be (early), I thought it would be in the middle somewhere,” Rob said. “I’m all hungover as shit. We were at the gentlemen’s club last night. I didn’t have a pass to get in. Canteen gave me an extra pass. I sat down, tried not to throw up, and then I heard the name called. It was fucking awesome. Getting to fist bump Charlie Papazian, man, best thing ever. I’m super stoked.”

Rob Palmer’s hangover disappeared quickly thanks to his bronze medal.

Starr Brothers brought home its first medal with a bronze in the Other Strong Beer category with Lampshade Porter, another year-round beer.

Sierra Blanca’s Cherry Wheat medaled for the second straight year, this time taking bronze in the Fruit Wheat category (it won gold last year).

Bosque’s Pistol Pete’s 1888 finished third out of 127 entries in the Golden or Blonde Ale category.

“It’s awesome,” said Bosque co-owner/director of brewing operations John Bullard. “We did the same thing with Bosque IPA (medaling), that was cool, too. That really drove sales. I’m really hoping this will continue to drive sales. We’re having a hard time keeping up with this beer already, but it can’t hurt, right?”

The Crew will try to catch up with the other medal winners while we are all here in Denver, but just in case we cannot find them, we will interview them upon our return to New Mexico this coming week.

Congrats to one and all, and thank you for always representing New Mexico in such a positive way.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister