New Mexico brought home six GABF medals this year, and Arizona won four. Not a bad haul for such a thinly populated part of the Southwest.
New Mexico Winners
Marble Brewery was the only New Mexico brewery to bring home two GABF medals. Head brewer Josh Trujillo describes the gold medal–winning Cholo Stout as “robust, yet the American hops make it sharp and pleasing. A blend between the hops and roast bitterness — that’s what I shoot for. It’s sharp, yet not aggressive, like a good cholo should be!” The award-winning beer was only the second batch brewed, but Marble president and brewmaster Ted Rice promises Cholo will be available in cans in early 2018. Rice said, “We often joke that Josh has the image of a cholo, and it was great to see him onstage in his attire, winning gold for this amazing beer.”
Marble also won bronze for its Pilsner in the Kellerbier category. Rice proudly stated, “Our Pilsner has won six times, between the GABF and the World Beer Cup. Dry-hopped and unfiltered, it’s a great expression of German brewing ingredients and sound brewing techniques.”
Kaylynn McNight, head brewer at the Nexus Brewery, is ecstatic over her gold medal for Imperial Cream Ale.
Kaylynn McNight, head brewer at the Nexus Brewery, is ecstatic over her gold medal for Imperial Cream Ale. “The recipe, which also won a silver medal for Other Strong Beer at the World Beer Cup in 2012, has stayed pretty consistent since Nexus opened in 2011. One of our year-round beers, it’s based on the pre-Prohibition–style cream ale, with more malt and corn and a little bit of dextrose to bump up the alcohol content and keep it nice and dry.”
This makes three medals in four years for the beer, which won a GABF silver in 2015 and a WBC gold in 2016. The Imperial Cream Ale is a big seller for Nexus, second only to its Chamomile Wheat, which won a GABF silver in 2015 and a WBC gold in 2016.
Justin Hamilton, brewer and owner at Boxing Bear, last year’s GABF Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year, “couldn’t be happier with our bronze medal. We’ve put over two years of hard work into our Featherweight Session IPA recipe. Coming out in the top three out of 130 entries let us know we’re on the right path with that beer, and we will continue to tweak it to perfection.” Hamilton continued, “It’s also great to get national recognition in a hoppy beer category. We love the public knowing us for great beers like Chocolate Milk Stout, but outside of New Mexico, where we’ve won the state IPA challenge the last two years, few know us for solid hop-forward beers. Either way, we’re happy to continue making great beer, regardless of style.”
Sierra Blanca Brewing of Moriarty, N.M., brought home gold for its Cherry Wheat. “We started messing around with six different fruits and found cherries were best,” explained head brewer and owner Rich Weber, who uses Washington Bing cherries, some in the primary fermenter and some post-fermentation. “It’s almost as expensive as making an IPA.”
Weber started by adjusting the recipe from feedback at festivals and then won gold at the 2017 World Beer Championships. “The feedback from them [at Tastings.com] has been valuable, with good descriptors and honest assessments,” Weber said.
Rod Tweet of Santa Fe’s Second Street Brewery modified the recipe of his 2013 GABF gold medal–winner just a bit for this year’s winning recipe. Rod’s Steam Bitter was created when he added a lager yeast to his best bitter recipe. This year, he trimmed the IBUs slightly, used a drier lager strain and fermented at 62 degrees to win bronze in the Amber Lager category.
Arizona and Texas Winners
Saddle Mountain Brewing of Goodyear, Ariz., won a gold medal for Taildragger Clan Destin. “This is the greatest honor we could possibly have hoped for,” said owner Jacob Hansen. “Brewmaster Neal Huttenhow deserves all credit for such a fantastic Scottish-style ale.” Clan Destin is a classic dark, chestnut brown, malty Scottish export ale. It should be noted that, according to Saddle Mountain’s Laura Hansen, the award-winning beer was produced with water from the AZ Pure Water Brew Truck. After purification with ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis, the water is exposed to high-intensity UV light and hydrogen peroxide to disinfect it and destroy remaining organic compounds. Perhaps the proof of the water’s purity is the GABF gold medal.
Scottsdale Beer Company won bronze in the Australian-Style or International-Style Pale Ale category with its Cannonball Australian Pale Ale. Head brewer Brad Williams explained, “We needed a pale ale, and we chose the Australian style because it fit in with our portfolio. We had some hops that would work well with that style; it’s a little sweet from the malt but super-fruity and hoppy.”
Scottsdale’s Goldwater Brewing brought home a bronze for Machine Gun Teddy, an American-style brown ale brewed with caramel, chocolate and Victory malts. Machine Gun Teddy is named after the building’s mascot; downstairs used to be an indoor shooting range, and it now houses the Goldmine, where lagers as well as barrel-aged and rare beers are stored and served.
Tempe’s Pedal Haus Brewery won silver for its Pedal Haus Light Lager, a low-calorie and gluten-reduced beer weighing in at 3.5% abv and 10 IBUs.
Texas can boast both the Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year and Large Brewpub of the Year in Houston’s Saint Arnold Brewing and Austin Beer Garden Brewing, respectively, along with 21 GABF medals. Look for more on these Texas breweries and others in the pages of the Celebrator this spring.
It’s a good time to drink beer in the Southwest!