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The best brews from Vancouver
Just like its North American neighbor, Canada also has a growing craft beer scene. Of all the beers to try from Vancouver, we've handpicked the best craft beers from the city:
Red Sky Alt Beer, Storm Brewing
The lager from Storm Brewing is something of a legend among Vancouver beer afficianadoes. Once brewmaster James Walton decided to stop brewing it a few years back, craft beer lovers were desperate for the beer to come back. Thanks to Vancouver's upcoming Craft Beer Week, Walton and the head ofVancouver Craft Beer Week, Graham With, have begun brewing it again as a collaboration beer. It's a German style, light lager that can convert "non beer drinkers into craft beer drinkers," says one craft brewer. Get excited.
Belgian Black, Lighthouse Brewing Co.
A Belgian dark ale is rare to find, and a reward when it's done right. The Lighthouse Brewery's take on it takes the yeast of Belgian ales and big flavors of roastiness, caramel malts, and hops. What makes it special? A sea-salt and hay-like flavors from the yeast, with the addition of dark fruits and smoke in the aftertaste. This is one beer not to miss.
East Side Bitter, R&B Brewing
We love a good Extra Special Bitter brew (especially from its southern brewery friend, Redhook Brewery). This (recently bottled) take on it from R&B is unlike most ESBs; the malts balances out a nice combination of Southwestern and North American hops added in at the end of the brewing process.
You Need to Try These Great-Tasting Nonalcoholic Beers. No, Really.
Formerly a punchline, NA beer has undergone a dramatic craft-brewing revitalization. The result is so satisfying that if you turn one down, the joke&rsquos on you.
AS A FOUNDING father of the modern American craft-beer movement, Garrett Oliver has experimented with it all. Oliver&rsquos been the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery for the past 27 years, and he&rsquos overseen IPAs, brown ales, red ales, farmhouse ales, pumpkin beers, winter beers, Belgian ales, session ales, and even an American wild ale aged on sour cherries in bourbon barrels. Yet up until two years ago, there was one style of beer he found so repugnant&mdashso offensive to beer&mdashthat he would not think to drink it, let alone brew it himself. "I had zero interest in nonalcoholic beer the same way that I have no interest in sugar-free or fat-free cakes and cookies," Oliver says.
But after Brooklyn&rsquos CEO, Eric Ottaway, observed the prevalence of "near beer" on business trips to Europe, the company began to consider paying for market research for the first time in its history. In 2018, a six-figure investment showed encouraging potential and prompted Oliver to begin development on Brooklyn Brewery&rsquos first NA beer.
The result was Special Effects Hoppy Amber, which debuted in 2019 and quickly became the brewery&rsquos fourth most popular beer globally in a portfolio of around 20 year-round and seasonal offerings. With hints of black tea and zesty grapefruit and a mild maltiness, Special Effects looks like beer, smells like beer, and&mdashof course, most important&mdashtastes like beer. Oliver, ever the showman, calls the amber, and its ability to deliver the satisfaction and flavor of beer without the caloric load, a "miracle."
That miracle, which is due in part to skill and in part to evolution of brewing techniques, means that Brooklyn is one of a growing number of breweries, from big-time to upstart, producing high-quality nonalcoholic beer to match increasing demand. In 2020, NA-beer sales rose 38 percent, according to the research firm IRI. But the market, admittedly, is still young.
The promise is bold: Beer, in all its deliciousness, with fewer calories and no morning-after consequences. It&rsquos a party to which everyone&rsquos invited. The only question is: Will enough people show up?
Avalon/Taylor’s Crossing (North Vancouver)
Originally opened by the Mark James Group in 2004 as Avalon Brewing, then rebranded as Taylor’s Crossing Brew Pub shortly thereafter, for a long time it was the only craft brewery on the North Shore. Some talented brewers passed through Taylor’s Crossing, including Iain Hill (Strange Fellows), Dave Varga (33 Acres), Dominic Giraldes (Postmark) and Hamish McRae (The Parkside Brewery). The brewery was also the original home of Red Truck Beer, which was produced there from 2005. While the brewpub closed in 2011, Red Truck continued to be brewed there until 2015, when its current purpose-built brewery in Vancouver was opened. Today, the space is home to Hearthstone Brewery, part of the Springs Group (owners of Mission Spring Brewing Co.)
• Many beer drinkers think craft beer is all about esoteric ingredients and complex flavours, but most newcomers comment on “freshness,” which can be attributed to a lack of preservatives and premium hops, malt and barley.
• You don’t need to like beer to drink craft! Flavours vary considerably. “That’s not my granddad’s beer” is what you might say after tasting Coast Mountain Brewing’s Wild Cherry Sour or Fernie Brewing Company’s Java the Hut Coffee Milk stout.
• One or two are usually enough. Craft beer is meant to be savoured, which is why “flights” are popular if you’re visiting in person. These are tiny tasters in 90 ml or three-ounce glasses that allow guests to try a few beers at once. Note that many craft beers are pretty “boozy,” as they say, with alcohol by volume (ABV) percentages as high as 10 per cent.
You’ve got to hand it to Fernie Brewing Company, it’s definitely media-savvy when it comes to marketing. FBC is currently tapping into the influence (not to mention the Instagram accounts) of eight adventure addicts from Vancouver Island to Vernon to Canmore. Check out Team FBC on ferniebrewing.com. Beers here run the full gamut, from the fruity What the Huck Huckleberry Ale to the jacked-up Snowblind Belgian IPA, an unfiltered brew that weighs in at almost eight per cent alcohol. There’s way more to FBC than just good vibes and hoppy goodness—this community-minded brewery has given more than $150,000 back into local charities since 2013. Its Tasting Room will be open this winter, but with group sizes less than six.
Named after the infamous hanging judge of the 1800s, Mt. Begbie Brewing is one of B.C.’s first-wave craft brewers. Its lineup is as stellar as the skiing at nearby Revelstoke Mountain Resort. The brand’s products draw from a strong connection with living an adventurous mountain life (Marketing Director Darryl Shewchuk once worked for Island Lake Lodge and Mica Heli Skiing), and it even made a specialty Thigh Burner Pilsner to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the resort. Visit the Revy location and pick up the Bundle of Joy mixer 12-pack, which includes three Kolsch, IPA, Honey Lager and your basic Tall Timber Pale Ale.
Before there was Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, there was an utterly unpretentious, town-owned local’s favourite, Whitetooth Ski Area. That name lives on in Golden with the Whitetooth Brewing Co., located in a funky li’l warehouse just a short walk from downtown. Its label art is some of the best in the business as are the unique names dig that Blower Pow India Pale Ale and Thread the Needle Witbier (that’s German for wheat beer). You might even see fifty-something telemark goddess Paula Steinheber holding court!
Clever slogans are as much a part of beer marketing as the amber nectar itself. “An honest beer makes its own friends,” as founder John Molson apparently said. In Kimberley, Over Time Beer Works promises an “honest, modest, hard-working beer, more than a bit above average.” We’re not sure if Over Time refers to an extra period of hockey, an extra shift at work or a measured length of time it could mean all three. Either way, it’s worth checking out 48 five-star reviews on Google can’t be wrong. Over Time’s Mountain Standard Ale is described as its “beeriest” of beers, which means that it will likely be preferred by friends who roll their eyes when you order Kolsch or Dunkel. Check your pretentiousness at the door.
SEE B.C. THROUGH BEER GOGGLES
It’s going to take more than one road trip to visit the almost 200 members in the B.C. Craft Beer Guild. To make it easier, its marketing department has created 19 B.C. Ale Trails, regional itineraries that lead you to some of the best-tasting beers in the world—most of them in the shadow of magnificent mountain ranges. Its entertaining website features B.C. beer trivia, culture, stories and great travel ideas. Hell, who cares if it snows or not?
As for the Powder Highway, well that’s tourism marketing at its finest. Now it even has its own beer, as brewmakers from no fewer than four Kootenay craft brewers (Fernie, Mt. Begbie, Nelson and Whitetooth) collaborate (or co-lab, as the hipsters call it) on “a Dark Saison style of beer that features a blend of seven specialty malts, naked oats, smoked malt and European hops.”
5 Low-ABV Beers to Try Right Now
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Over the past decade, American beer drinkers’ demands for ever bigger and bolder flavors have pushed hazy IPAs and pastry-laden stouts to the brink of, and often past, double-digit ABVs. Simultaneously, the wellness movement has fueled brewers to explore nonalcoholic options, resulting in the 0% ABV field blooming with newfound variety and quality.
More recently, a growing number of brewers have been turning their attention to something that splits the difference. Shrinking ABVs, in the 2% to 4% range, are proving a growing trend. People have been drinking more since the onset of the pandemic but still have just as many (if not more) daily responsibilities to manage, highlighting the need for balancing beer enthusiasm with moderation efforts.
“I think when the pandemic began, a lot of people enjoyed having a beer at 5 p.m. as a way to transition from at-home work time to at-home personal time,” says Pete Ternes, the co-owner of Chicago’s Middle Brow Beer Co., which has brewed almost exclusively 3% to 4.5% ABV beers for five years the brewery’s By Day beer clocks in at just 2% ABV. “But the healthy-drinking trend was already riding a major tailwind when COVID-19 struck. Combine the two trends, and 2% ABV beers make a world of sense.” As Ternes points out, low-ABV beers enable a drinker to indulge habitually but still more healthfully.
Brewers are interpreting the trend in great ways, helping it pick up steam. They’re having fun working with the challenge of getting big flavors without big booze, according to beer writer and author John Holl. “After years of pushing ABVs into the stratosphere, they’re going in this different direction and looking to coax nuance and depth into these low-alcohol beers,” he says.
Ternes agrees, saying, “There's so much cleverness in brewing these days. It's possible to produce immense complexity in beer, whether derived principally from yeast, hops or malt, with a little extra reading and practice.”
Take the 2% Beer Initiative, for example, a project from Jack Hendler, the co-owner and brewer at Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers and Springdale Beer Co. Hendler drills down into every component of different beer styles to reconstruct complex and flavorful iterations with significantly lower alcohol contents. Echoing Ternes, Hendler says he has seen the conversation in the beer industry begin to seriously factor in consumers’ increasing interest in health. So-called “small beers” are a response to an overall shift in American drinking culture.
The fact that craft brewers are rising to this challenge and creating complex and interesting high-quality beers that help imbibers avoid hangovers and happen to be low-calorie (calorie counts drop when the alcohol content does) signals a golden era for the small beer. With that in mind, these are five standout options for starting to explore the trend.
On-foot beer crawling in Vancouver’s East Van, the craft beer capital of Canada
East Village, a rebranded part of East Vancouver’s Hastings-Sunrise neighborhood, is home to many craft breweries.
Doan’s Craft Brewing took over the small space vacated by Powell Street Craft Brewery when it moved.
Doan’s Craft Brewing’s German-style beers are popular.
In a country that has given birth to Labatt and Molson, it should be no surprise that beer brewing is a thing. Especially in the West. The many craft brewers in Vancouver include Bomber Brewing Co., founded in 2014, which offers tastings at its brewery on Adanac Street. (By the way, the drinking age is 19 in British Columbia, 18 in neighboring Alberta.)
Bomber Brewing’s Choqlette Porter.
There’s still has a grungy, semi-industrial feel to many parts of East Vancouver.
Powell Street Craft Brewery is a favorite with local beer nuts.
Callister Brewing is home to four different nano-brewery operations and has a selection of British-style cask beers. Callister’s pub snacks echo a common theme at many of the East Vancouver microbreweries.
Nigel Springthorpe, co-owner of the Brassneck Brewery, has helped stoke the fires of Vancouver’s well-regarded craft beer scene.
Draft taps galore inside Parallel 49’s popular tasting room.
It was a rainy afternoon in the East Vancouver area, and I was guzzling a beer that was as dark as the storm-laden sky. The Nut Brown Ale at Off the Rail Brewing was sliding down faster than condensation on an ice-cold window.
This wasn’t the only tasting room in East Vancouver worth braving the tempest. With about 20 microbreweries — many less than 5 years old — Vancouver, British Columbia’s biggest city is arguably Canada’s craft beer capital. And it’s this East Van (“Yeast Van” to the locals) brewery district that offers many of the best toast-worthy producers.
At least half a dozen old industrial buildings, radiating from its busy East Hastings Street backbone, have been reclaimed as microbreweries, with more due in 2016. Most offer tasting rooms that double as mini neighborhood bars. And because they’re just blocks apart, on-foot beer crawling couldn’t be easier.
Off the Rail, on Adanac Street, is the launching point for many. “These are all beers I like — otherwise we wouldn’t be making them,” brewer Steve Forsyth said when I sidled up to the bar. Forsyth, the former owner of Vancouver’s beloved Railway Club pub, opened Off the Rail early this year.
The chalkboard offered seven regular beers and eight small-batch seasonals. After some enthusiastic sampling — a citrusy India pale ale and a nicely malted extra special bitter — the silky Nut Brown won my order.
In a country that has given birth to Labatt and Molson, it should be no surprise that beer brewing is a thing. Especially in the West. The many craft brewers in Vancouver include Bomber Brewing Co., founded in 2014, which offers tastings at its brewery on Adanac Street. (By the way, the drinking age is 19 in British Columbia, 18 in neighboring Alberta.)
Back outside, I ran across the street to Bomber Brewing — Choqlette Porter and two shelves of board games make this a cozy bolt-hole — before speed walking north to Callister Brewing.
Callister, which opened in August, is an unusual operation. It shares its facilities with three other nano-breweries, and its ever-changing menu — two new beers were added while I was at the counter — invited adventurous sampling.
I tried a Machine Ales’ India pale ale with a grapefruity hop kick as well as two English-style cask ales from Real Cask Brewing — Inky Blinky Stout recommended.
Tasting rooms like these are helping revitalize this traditionally blue-collar, rough-around-the-edges East Van area. Although the arrival of hip stores and eateries has stoked debates about gentrification, there are few arguments against the newly improved beer scene.
Powell Street Craft Brewery is a favorite with local beer nuts.
The progress is exemplified by Powell Street Craft Brewery, which opened in a gabled storefront in late 2012. Within months, its Old Jalopy Pale Ale won beer of the year at the Canadian Brewing Awards.
To meet demand, it relocated to larger premises nearby, its former space claimed by Doan’s Craft Brewing. Doan’s has also started well: Its American Rye Stout won a 2015 British Columbia Beer Award.
Powell Street’s Amarillo Sour and Dive Bomb Porter tickled my taste buds, but the dark, doom-laden weather called for something more fortifying.
The velvety Dunkelweizen, like a dry-fruit-packed liquid Christmas pudding, was anointed the day’s winning beer. But as a round of hail rapped insistently at the windows, staying for one more seemed like a good idea. Make that two.
How East Vancouver’s craft beer scene went from dead to thriving
East Vancouver’s tasty microbreweries wouldn’t be here without the city’s insatiable thirst for craft beer, but that wasn’t always the case. I arrived as an emigrating Brit in 1999 and found few local producers and almost nothing worth drinking. Vancouverites seemed happy quaffing humdrum brews.
That slowly changed after Nigel Springthorpe took over the Alibi Room bar in 2006 in the city’s historic Gastown district, transforming the menu into a cornucopia of great beers from British Columbia and the wider Pacific Northwest.
The Alibi helped trigger a tidal wave of new craft-focused bars — and, eventually, a round of fresh city-based microbreweries. One of these was opened by Springthorpe in 2013.
The Alibi remains popular, but Brassneck Brewery is a must-do for serious beer nuts. It’s in a repurposed industrial unit on Main Street in the heart of the Mount Pleasant neighborhood, the city’s other brewery district not far from producers 33 Acres Brewing and Main Street Brewing.
I returned to Brassneck recently, where I found a chat-warmed tasting room lined with reclaimed wood and tables topped with fast-draining beer glasses. As I slid onto a stool, I glimpsed the brewery through strategically placed holes in the walls.
I sampled a crisp No Brainer Pre-Prohibition Style Corn Lager and a piney One Trick Pony India pale ale (both first-place winners at 2015’s British Columbia Beer Awards) before moving on to a lip-smacking Passive Aggressive Dry Hopped Pale Ale. Vancouver’s beer scene has come a long way since I moved here — and there’s no going back.
Hastings-Sunrise in East Vancouver’s brewery district is not just for mom and pop anymore
The busy stretch of East Hastings Street that runs through East Vancouver’s brewery district has long been known by the subdistrict moniker Hastings-Sunrise. In recent years, this blue-collar area’s laundromats and mom-and-pop restaurants have been joined by cool new stores and eateries.
A hopeful business association has rebranded a section of Hastings-Sunrise as the East Village and is pitching this “new” area to locals and visitors. The name change hasn’t been universally popular, but how much has Hastings-Sunrise transformed?
“When I opened three years ago, there were a couple of people a day walking past. That’s totally changed,” said Stephanie Menard, owner of Tiny Finery, which specializes in jewelry and the crafty creations of 25 local artists. She hopes the area thrives without losing its character.
Ben Tryon, who works at the What’s Up? Hot Dog diner, agreed. With punk posters, pinball machines and irresistible dogs (mac and cheese version recommended), the business has won a loyal local following since opening in April.
“I hate the word ‘gentrification,’” Tryon said. “The ideal is to be a new business that doesn’t change the neighborhood.”
Some of the best East Village storefronts aren’t even new. Neon-signed Dayton Boots has been hand-making footwear (Johnny Depp owns a pair) since 1946. Its products are coveted by all ages, which also is the case at Baaad Anna’s Yarn Store nearby.
This walk-in kaleidoscope of color is staffed by younger knit fans and has a clientele of people in their 20s and older locals. On Wednesday nights, the two groups combine to compare projects and exchange tips.
It’s a multigenerational merging exemplified at down-the-street East Cafe. Vintage tables and MacBook Airs suggested a typical hipster coffee shop. But on my visit, half the customers were chatty seniors. The East Village name may yet take hold, but the Hastings-Sunrisers aren’t going anywhere soon.
Draft taps galore inside Parallel 49’s popular tasting room.
A handy bar-crawling guide for East Vancouver
Starting on Adanac Street, here’s a six-pack of East Vancouver breweries, in handy bar crawl order. Most are open daily check individual websites for hours.
Off the Rail Brewing: A new but already firm favorite. Head upstairs to the tasting room and snag a stool at the bar to try everything from Crazy Train IPA to Derailer Pale Ale. Need some nonliquid sustenance? Hit the cured sausages in the corner.
Bomber Brewing: Extra-special bitter and German-style Märzen are bestsellers at this popular, windowless haunt. There’s always something intriguing on the seasonal board, including Old Fat Heater Winter Ale. Brewery tours are available.
Callister Brewing: This four-brewery operation serves an ever-changing roster of intriguing beers. Ideal for adventurous sampling. Don’t miss the cask-only brews — and be sure to peek at the busy brewery area when you head to the restrooms.
Powell Street Craft Brewery: Launched by former home brewer David Bowkett, who relinquished his day job when he realized he was spending every waking hour making booze. There’s usually a sour beer or two lurking on the menu.
Doan’s Craft Brewing: Doan’s has made big waves with its German-style beers. Check its events too, including regular Lego nights, in an inviting little tasting room with gallery-quality local art and a vintage video-game machine.
Parallel 49 Brewing: The branding kings of Vancouver’s craft beer scene, hence the cartoonish labels on popular brews such as Gypsy Tears Ruby Ale and Ugly Sweater Milk Stout. The tasting room is East Vancouver’s biggest and busiest. The neighborhood pub-style ambience helps, as does the longer-than-usual operating hours.
Top 5 Ways for a Nano Brewer to Get Started in Quality ControlAll photo and images are courtesy of the author Amy Todd
Starting a quality program can be overwhelming. There are so many different directions you can go in, and then there’s the training and cost of equipment. It’s hard enough opening a brewery, let alone setting up a lab. Luckily, getting started doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Here are the top five things a nano brewer can do to get started with quality control and quality assurance.
1. Organize Paperwork and Use Batch Codes
Start by organizing all your paperwork. Write everything down on your batch records, use brewing software or Googledocs to keep everything together. Write down mash temperature, pH, gravity readings, when you added what and how much. If you deviate from your plan for whatever reason, write down what actually happened and why you made the change. Make notes when you try something new. Troubleshooting will be easier if all this information is organized and easy to read.
Include the lot numbers of all your ingredients. If your supplier issues a recall you’ll want to know what batch those ingredients went into. Have a unique batch ID for each of your beers. Make sure you include a date code and batch number on your packages, including kegs. If you need to do a recall you won’t have to recall everything, just the one batch.
2. Cell Counts
Cell counting and viability testing is one of the best things you can do to improve the consistency and quality of your beers. You can get everything you need for cell counting for under $500. To count cells make a 1:100 dilution of your yeast slurry and put a drop on a hemocytometer a specially designed slide with a chamber and counting grid. You then count how many cells are on your slide and calculate how many yeast cells are in 1mL of yeast slurry. You can then calculate how much yeast you need to pitch into your main batch based on volume, type of beer and starting gravity.
Performing cell counts and adjusting the amount of yeast you use based on results is one of the best things you can do to improve the quality and consistency of your beers. When you don’t add enough yeast, they get stressed out and overworked. This can lead to off flavors and inconsistent fermentations. Adding too much yeast can also lead to off flavors and affect your fermentation rates.
Start a sensory panel. Get everyone involved and start by tasting and smelling your beers along with ingredients. Get some off flavor spiking kits and train on off flavors. Come up with true to brand descriptions for all of your beers. A sensory panel will help with off flavor identification, trouble shooting in the brewhouse and making sure your beers taste how they’re supposed to.
4. pH and Gravity Tracking
Make sure your hydrometers are calibrated and make a graph of your daily gravity readings. Every batch should follow a consistent fermentation curve for that beer. This can be the first step in identifying a process that could be improved. See how fermentation compares to last time you made that beer, and if you need to make changes next time to make it more consistent.
While you’re taking gravity readings, take a pH reading as well. The pH should also follow a consistent curve throughout fermentation. A lower than normal pH can be an indicator of a problem in the brewery.
5. Outside Testing
Get the ABV, color, IBUs, final and starting gravity tested at least once by an outside lab so you know where your beer actually falls compared to your calculations and gravity readings. Recheck on a quarterly or yearly basis to make sure you’re brewing consistently. The more data you have, the easier it is to look for trends.
Whether you’re just starting out or have been in the game for years, now is the perfect time to focus on quality. Start with these simple steps and you’ll make a huge impact on the quality and consistency of your beers. For a more in-depth read on Starting a Quality Control Program, visit here.
If You're a Craft Beer Aficionado, You'll Love This Service That Lets You Try New Beers from Small Breweries
You'll never miss out on a new, delicious beer again.
The craft beer evolution of the past decade has led to more people appreciating good beer, and more good beer being available just about anywhere you go. Chances are, there&aposs probably a craft brewery (or ten) just a hop, skip, and a jump from where you live. But once you try all your local brews, what&aposs a beer lover to do?
Independent craft breweries, by their very nature, are small. That often means that they don&apost have the money or the capacity to distribute their brews beyond their home region. The Seattle area𠅊 happening hub of both brewing and tech innovation—was where beer lover Philip Vaughn founded the first craft beer club of its kind. The app-based Tavour is dedicated to sourcing and sharing beers from the best independent breweries all over the country. But unlike traditional "beer of the month" club where members have no say in what they receive in each delivery, Tavour makes it super easy to try something new every day of the week thanks to an app that features two beers every day, as well as photos and tasting notes.
Through the Tavour app you can buy the beers that intrigue you and skip the ones that don&apost spark joy. Then, at any point, you can choose to have your beer collection shipped to you for a flat fee. This summer we had the chance to try exclusive brews including Anadromous Black Sour with Marionberries from Anchorage Brewing Company in Alaska Mint Chocolate Chip stout from Braxton Brewing Company in Kentucky and the creamy, citrusy High on Sunshine Milkshake IPA by Woodland Empire in downtown Boise, Idaho. (Are you thirsty now?)
What if you&aposre not a hardcore craft beer enthusiast? Try a brand-new subscription box from Tavour. You choose a style of beer you like, and a frequency of delivery, and their beer experts send you a specially curated collection of the best brews from across the country for you to educate your palate. Or, you can treat the beer lover in your life to a gift box of specially selected brews catered to their tastes, with a collection of stouts, sours, IPAs, or a combination of styles.
The Ultimate Craft Beer Guide to New Mexico
ONE OF MY FIRST JOBSꂯter college was at a brewery. I was a mere “runner”—the guy who delivered food to tables. But after each shift, I𠆝 sit down with beer makers and regulars and have a pint of something delicious made right there in the back. The brewers all looked like lumberjacks—mostly large men with bushy beards and flannels. They were like gods to me then. They told us about their science and new brews. It felt like a club.
That was in 2008, when the U.S. had about 1,500 craft breweries. Now we have 7,500. In New Mexico, the number has more than doubled in the past six years, to 88. The upshot? Beer is way better now.
It’s not just more accessible it’s more fun, too. Ten years ago, pretty much every brewery made a lager, a pale ale, an IPA, and a stout that was about it. There wasn’t even much variation within those categories. Now the boundaries of beer have exploded. We have sours, hazies, goses, Bretts, gluten-frees, saisons, brut IPAs, kombucha beer, and fruits and spices pushing the spectrum of flavors and color profiles. The Great American Beer Festival has added some 25 categories in the past 10 years. There has never been a better time to be a beer drinker, and more and more people are drinking beer for that reason.
Of course, craft beer is about way more than malt and hops. It’s not about elitism or a good buzz, either. Craft beer is community. By buying local brews, you’re supporting your neighbors and the area’s economy, and fostering a safe space for people to gather and share. That’s an activity as ancient as civilization𠅊nd essential to humanity. So go ahead: Take a seat, say hello, and order a pint.
All In IPA from La Cumbre Brewing. Photograph Courtesy of La Cumbre Brewing.
The Beer Artists Challenging the Status Quo
Cory Campbell’s canvas is the 4.8-by-8-inch sticker label on La Cumbre Brewery’s seasonal pint cans.
STARTED IN 2010y Jeff Erway, La Cumbre Brewing has established itself as the creative, quirky member of Albuquerque’s beer scene. That and the local leader of the hazy IPA trend—the juicy, hoppy flavor bombs that are the latest craze. Those two concepts came together in their recent Single Double series, in which they produced three single-hop, double hazy IPAs, called Big Door Prize, In the Money, and Luck of the Draw. The fourth, All In, combined the hops used in all three. The beer was delicious. But it was the whimsical, playful art on the cans that first caught my eye. That’s Cory Campbell, an Albuquerque-raised artist who is the brewery’s creative director. His mission? To distinguish the brand through art.
I think the artists are the tastemakers in a society. It’s always a good idea to have them on your side.
As with anything, we had to learn how to do hazies. We did a collab with Modern Times [the San Diego brewery that is a national leader in creative cans and hazies] in 2017. It was only released here. Eighty cases sold out in an hour. It was just like, “Okay, this is something we need to do.” We learned a lot from that.
Modern Times has the coolest cans. I really look up to them. That’s the power of their design and branding. You can look at a can and say, “Oh, I know that’s a Modern Times beer,” and so that’s what we’re trying to do𠅎mbracing the quirkiness of our brewery and our staff and hopefully you can look at our can and say, “That beer looks funky, it’s probably a La Cumbre.”
We’ve never just taken the standard approach to what a can should look like. It should have your logo here and the style here, which has been detrimental and really, really great. It’s so much easier to market a beer that’s simple, plain, and clean, but embracing that quirk and creativity is what we’ve had to learn to do over the years.
I’m a hobbyist artist. In my free time, I paint. I do plein air painting—set up the easel outside, wear a sun hat. It’s dorky but fun.
I actually take a lot of inspiration from the world of fine art.
I really like Monty Singer. He’s an awesome plein air painter. Whenever I see people like that𠅎mily Lee is another plein air painter—I think, That’s something I aspire to do. No rules—just do it.
Beer has always been important in society. If you believe some historians, they’ll say the only reason we have society is because of beer. We kind of lost that for a while, and now it’s back in a big way. There’s a brewery on every corner, and that used to be the case. The pubs were the meeting places. The American Revolution was started in a pub. I think they’ve come back and taken over that role because church attendance is down, nobody joins the Kiwanis Club anymore, nobody is a Shriner, so these traditional meeting places are not really around. And if you come here on a Friday night, it’s businessmen after work having a beer and families with kids running around and it’s single guys trying to hit on girls at the bar. It’s this hub, this meeting place, and I believe that’s why these breweries and the whole brewpub revolution happeneduse people needed a meeting place and we just happened to be there to fill that void. It’s a basic human need to feel like you belong in a place. It’s Cheers, right? And we totally have regulars who come in and it’s like “Norm!” It’s a sense of community that each one of our brewpubs has cultivated.
New Mexico has 88 breweries with 111 taprooms. At least 16 more are on the way.
- , Aztec
- 1933 Brewing, Rio Rancho (Note: This business has closed since the story was originally published.) (no taproom location distribution throughout New Mexico) , Cedar Crest , Albuquerque, , Los Alamos , Santa Fe , Albuquerque , Roswell , Cimarrón
- Blue Corn Café, Santa Fe (Note: This business has closed since the story was originally published.) , Embudo , Española , Albuquerque, Downtown , Albuquerque, NE Heights , Albuquerque , Lincoln , Albuquerque, Nob Hill , Bernalillo , Las Cruces , Albuquerque , Albuquerque , Corrales , Rio Rancho , Albuquerque, Green Jeans , Albuquerque, Uptown , Mosquero , Albuquerque, Aztec NE , Albuquerque, Tramway , Albuquerque , Corrales , Santa Fe
- Chili Line Brewing, Lamy (Note: This business has closed since the story was originally published.) , Cloudcroft , Ratón , Eagle Nest , Albuquerque , Albuquerque , Albuquerque , Lovington , Grants , Angel Fire , Taos , Corrales , Albuquerque , Carlsbad , Albuquerque , Las Cruces , Santa Fe
- Hops Brewery, Albuquerque, Nob Hill (Note: This business has closed since the story was originally published.) , Los Ranchos de Albuquerque
- Hopscotch Brewing, Artesia (Note: This business has closed since the story was originally published.) , Belén , Las Cruces , Bernalillo , Albuquerque , Albuquerque, Girard , Albuquerque, West Side , Albuquerque , Rio Rancho , Albuquerque , Santa Fe , Las Cruces , Silver City , Albuquerque , Ruidoso Downs , Albuquerque, Downtown , Albuquerque, NE Heights , Albuquerque, West Side , Carlsbad
- Nexus Brewery, Albuquerque, Broadway (Note: This business has closed since the story was originally published.)
- Nexus Brewery, Albuquerque, Coors (Note: This business has closed since the story was originally published.) , Albuquerque, Pan American , Albuquerque , Las Cruces , Las Cruces , Albuquerque , Albuquerque , Albuquerque, Gold , Albuquerque, Candelaria , Red River , Albuquerque , Portales , Grants , Santa Fe , Santa Fe, I-25 , Santa Fe, Galisteo , Jemez Springs , Santa Fe, 2nd , Santa Fe, Railyard , Santa Fe, Rufina , Albuquerque , Moriarty , Las Cruces , Albuquerque , Los Ranchos de Albuquerque , El Prado , Taos , Ojo Caliente , Albuquerque
- The Blue Grasshopper Brew Pub, Albuquerque (Note: This business has closed since the story was originally published.)
- The Blue Grasshopper Brew Pub, Rio Rancho (Note: This business has closed since the story was originally published.) , Farmington , Albuquerque , Albuquerque, Wells Park , Albuquerque, Four Hills , Albuquerque, West Side , Truth or Consequences , Santa Fe, Bisbee , Santa Fe, Agua Fria , Rio Rancho , Artesia
Red River Brewing offer tasty brews at their Red River taproom.
Native New Mexican hops, called neomexicanus, are coming to a brewery near you.
ON A SMALL FARM in the town of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, a wet year has led to an early emergence of one of New Mexico’s newest crops. Everywhere I look, hop vines creep up on string trellises, their narrow, lobed leaves unfurling. The hop flowers, green and aromatic and bursting with the flavors that give beers their bitterness and IPAs their piney scent, have not yet bloomed, but farmer Tom Brewer expects a bumper harvest this year. He leans over and lifts the leaves of one of the plants. “This a neo,” he says. “You can usually tell by the five lobed leaves. They’re very happy this year.”
The Humulus lupulus var. neomexicanus subspecies of hops has always grown wild in the American Southwest, but it wasn’t suitable for beer-making in its natural state. In the 1990s, New Mexico herb forager Todd Bates selectively bred the neomexicanus into a family of brewing-hop varieties with names like Multihead, Neo1, Willow Creek, and Amaliah with a unique flavor profile.
It took a few decades, but these New Mexico𠄼ultivated hops are seeping into the mainstream craft beer movement. In 2014, Sierra Nevada Brewing, a California company, released Harvest Wild Hop IPA, the very first commercial brew to feature a variety of neomexicanus. Brewers across the country took note, and two New Mexico companies, Santa Fe Brewing and Abbey Brewing, began farming the hops for their beers.
In 2016, Brewer, a military veteran and former Intel employee, found himself at a crossroads. “I was going through some life changes. Retired from the military, got a divorce, and my kids were grown up and out of the house,” he tells me over a pint at a bar near his farm. “I’ve always liked growing things, and I’m a craft beer fan.” Although he had no experience as a commercial farmer, hops seemed like a natural fit, and, unlike Santa Fe and Abbey brewing companies, he saw an opportunity to farm the crop as a venture unto itself.
Tom Brewer focuses on hops at his small farm in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque.
“It turned out that there were three or four other farmers in New Mexico that were looking into hops at the same time,” Brewer says. He linked up with them, and they worked to get their nascent industry off the ground. The result was a sudden flowering of hop farms, including Brewer’s Red Hat Hops, Cerrillos’ Crossed Sabers Hop, Pecos’ Sherrog Hops, Alcones’ White Crow Hops, and Belen’s Stone Lizard Hops, as well as the New Mexico Hops Growers Association, of which Brewer is president.
“We help each other, share information,” Brewer says. “There’s no competition.”
Brewer says it takes hops about three years to become established as a viable crop. With luck, 2019’s harvest might become widely available to both commercial and home brewers.
Bob Haggerty, head brewer at Steel Bender Brewyard, also in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, is one of the local beer makers who’s excited at what this year’s crops may bring. “I hope to be using some neomexicanus by August,” he says.
Haggerty has already experimented with neomexicanus hops, some of which came from Brewer’s farm. Last autumn, he used fresh Multihead in Steel Bender’s signature New Mexico Lager. “I thought that the Multihead was the most interesting I’ve ever smelled,” he says. “It smelled like breaking into a fresh, ripe melon. Straight-up honeydew. Sweet and fruity.” Customers seemed just as excited: The lager made with the Multihead was gone within a day.
That instant demand was fortuitous, Brewer says, because, as of now, the infant New Mexico hop farms don’t have the means to preserve the hops they grow. While growers await the development of infrastructure that will let them pelletize for years of storage, brewers interested in their crops have to use the whole hop flower, fresh off the vine.
The upside, says Haggerty, is that “whole-flower hops have the benefit of not being crushed or manipulated in any way, so you have all the flavor. The downfall is that a bale of fresh hops starts degrading as soon as it’s picked.”
For now, that means that New Mexico–grown neomexicanus will be a strictly seasonal treat, available soon after harvest at local breweries for a limited time in late autumn. Haggerty recognizes this as a necessary stage of growth for the industry. “They’re doing everything they can to get a product that brewers can use,” he says. “If brewers are willing to spend a few extra bucks on locally grown ingredients, we can start boosting up the producers of these ingredients and get a cottage industry here.”
He intends to be a part of that shift. “We need some more little fish to start growing,” Haggerty says. “I’ll use every New Mexico–grown hop I can get my hands on.”
Try the Shivering Scotsman for a malty, lightly smoked Scottish ale from Icebox Brewery in Las Cruces. Photograph courtesy of Icebox Brewery.
The New Guys
New Mexico craft beer is still growing.
ONE OF THESE YEARS, New Mexico is going to finally reach its limit of craft breweries. That year wasn’t 2018, and it won’t be 2019, either. Even so, we have more than seven dozen breweries in operation, ranging from Three Rivers, in Farmington, to Drylands, in Lovington, and from Little Toad Creek, in Silver City, to Colfax Ale Cellar, in Ratón. The middle of the state boasts 40-plus breweries in the Albuquerque–Santa Fe corridor.
Some operate as tiny one-barrel brewhouses, whereas Santa Fe Brewing churns out 30,000 barrels of beer a year. Big or small, rural or urban, craft brewing is a booming business in New Mexico. Here are just a few of the breweries opened in the past year, or opening this year, that cry out for a visit.
Brew Lab 101, Rio Rancho
Why you should go: By the time you read this, the newest Rio Rancho brewery might be open. There in the former House of Football (just west of Turtle Mountain Brewing), owner/brewer Scott Salvas aims to celebrate the history and science of beer, providing a unique educational setting for patrons. There will be a kids’ area for all the families who inhabit the west side, plus a patio out front to watch the sunset reflecting off the Sands. Befitting any good lab, it will have a few regular beers and ciders on tap, plus a rotating lineup of experimental styles.
Beer to try: Too soon to say.
Cantero Brewing, Albuqeruque
Why you should go: Cantero has found its niche in the downtown brewery district, thanks to its full kitchen and some fun, inventive beers. Operating off a 10-barrel brewhouse for its year-round lineup, as well as a smaller one-barrel system, Cantero can keep the regulars happy while also crafting some truly off-the-wall styles. The bright, spacious interior is a welcome break from the darker industrial vibe in the area. The menu, a mix of American and New Mexican dishes, incorporates some of the beer styles into the recipes. A small stage area hosts mainly acoustic musicians, comedians, and other entertainers on the weekends.
Beer to try: Deaf Dog Brown, a creamy ale with chocolate hints. Also check out whatever is on offer from the rotating beers out of the small experimental-batch brewhouse.
Cloudcroft Brewing, Cloudcroft
Why you should go: Another excellent place to beat the heat, Cloudcroft Brewing has the look and feel of a classic mountain lodge, with a modern beer lineup. Huge logs make up the building’s frames and posts, while massive rock walls keep out the summer heat as well as the winter cold. Grab a slice of wood-fired pizza and take a seat at the lengthy bar or at a table near the windows. On pleasant days, bands occupy the sizable covered outdoor stage. Open since June 2018, Cloudcroft Brewing has a beer menu similar to what you would find in Las Cruces Texas tourists flock here, too. Enjoy a sessionable pint or two while you listen to wind blow through the pine trees outside.
Beer to try: Dark Irish Red, a blood-red malt bomb likely to conjure tales of Vikings vs. Celts from Amon Amarth’s legendary album With Oden on Our Side. It’s also, um, really tasty.
Differential Brewing, Albuquerque
Why you should go: A no-frills throwback to the breweries of a decade ago, Differential is the creation of a team of “reformed” punk rockers. A converted auto repair shop has been completely transformed, while retaining some of its throwback decor. There’s a free pool table in one corner, and the music is a 1990ss rock/punk/metal/hip-hop mash-up not usually found at breweries. The patio out back is spacious, and there is almost always a food truck parked out there to keep patrons happy. The owners built this space to serve their neighborhood, with UNM just up the road and major sports facilities nearby. Brewer Peter Moore’s lineup of lagers and ales all stick to the lower ABV range, so patrons can enjoy more than one pint without worrying about stumbling out the door.
Beer to try: Blue Corn Cream Ale, a light, refreshing summer patio beer made with locally sourced blue corn. There are also occasional red corn and white corn beers.
Visit Ex Novo Brewery in Corrales to find out what&aposs on tap.
Ex Novo Brewing, Corrales
Why you should go: Opened in late May, this massive facility is nestled in the heart of the village of Corrales. Owner Joel Gregory grew up nearby, but his travels took him to Portland, Oregon, where he built the first Ex Novo to considerable acclaim—this in a town nicknamed Beervana. Now he has come home and built a production facility to package his beer and sell it in cans and limited-release bottles throughout the region. Stage one of the development features a small, cozy taproom a short walk from the brewery, with a sizable outdoor patio. Future plans include a restaurant and beer garden, but for now you can enjoy this charming space in what’s been called the safest town in New Mexico. Head brewer Dave Chichura, formerly of powerhouse craft breweries Oskar Blues and Melvin, will bring beer styles from Portland while also serving up some new genres geared to the New Mexico market.
Beer to try: Mass Ascension IPA was brewed and packaged specifically for this market.
Icebox Brewing, Las Cruces
Why you should go: The newest brewery in Las Cruces has only been open since January, but it has already built a strong local fan base. The decor of the remodeled ice plant (hence the name) is top-notch, with local artistic flourishes complementing the industrial chic. Icebox operates as an open brewery, with patrons able to watch the entire process from the spacious seating area. There is a large bar up front, a covered patio outside, and just enough TVs on the walls to keep the sports fans happy without morphing into a full sports bar. All of the beers have clever cold/ice-themed names, with most checking in lower in ABV and IBU than Albuquerque/Santa Fe offerings, because that’s what the locals crave.
Beer to try: Shivering Scotsman is a malty, lightly smoked Scottish ale you can chew on while enjoying the wide-open brewery.
Lost Hiker Brewing, Ruidoso Downs
Why you should go: Tucked away in a small industrial area right near the horse-racing track, Lost Hiker is quickly making a name for itself despite its small size. It opened last February in a former warehouse that the owners converted into a proper beer-and-music venue. The metallic walls shimmer as a slew of local and traveling musicians set up on the small stage inside. The beers shift with the seasons, but do take note that Lost Hiker topped the field at the New Mexico Brewers Guild’s Stout Invitational, in Los Alamos, this year, but whether it’s dark or light, malty or hoppy, everything on the menu is worth sampling.
Beer to try: Mosaic SMASH Pale Ale, a single-malt, single-hop ale, takes advantage of its sweet, flowery hop to provide a much more pleasant palate experience than its more aggressively hopped cousins.
Red River Brewing offers a selection of beers on tap and a tasty food menu.
Red River Brewing Company, Red River
Why you should go: Billed as the highest-altitude brewery in the state, RRB has quickly become a destination brewery for locals and tourists alike. Owned and operated by the Calhoun family, it’s a marvel of architecture, melding the theme of a classic ski lodge with a more modern industrial vibe. The food menu is varied and filling, with appetizers to nosh on and big meals to keep you warm inside during the skiing months. Brewer Chris Calhoun offers up a big beer lineup that remains relatively static. The bestsellers are lighter beers preferred by out-of-state tourists, but IPAs and darker beers keep New Mexicans happy, too. Much like Truth or Consequences Brewing, to the south, Red River Brewing proves that craft breweries can be anchor businesses in small towns throughout the state.
Beer to try: Campfire Cream Ale, which for the summer months will be brewed with a different type of fruit in each batch.
Try one of the many beers on tap at Little Toad Creek Brewery in downtown Las Cruces.
New breweries abound in Las Cruces𠅊nd a new university program will ensure it stays that way.
IN A SPACE OF just a few years, businesses like Icebox Brewing, Picacho Peak Brewery, Little Toad Creek Brewery and Distillery, Spotted Dog Brewery, and Bosque Brewing have popped up in Las Cruces𠅊 thirsty city of nearly 100,000 people. Each brewery has crafted a singular identity that adds to the area’s small-town, laid-back feel.
If you’re going to sample microbrews here, you must start with High Desert Brewing Company. It’s one of the oldest microbreweries in a town where, no doubt, many Las Crucens and NMSU students had their first taste of craft beer.
That’s true for me, anyway. At 21, my palate wasn’t used to bitter IPAs or their flavored Peach Wheat, but I knew these tastes were what packed the place. Ten years later, it’s still a popular spot. The casual interior is extremely inviting the velvet Elvis paintings by the bathrooms make you feel like you’re in Grandpa’s house.
High Desert brews like the Peach Wheat and the India Pale Ale (they’re not really creative with the names) have stood the test of time and are menu regulars. My favorite? The IPA, because it’s refreshing, not overly bitter, and pairs nicely with one of their great green chile cheeseburgers. High Desert has the full package: beer, food, a large patio, and a local musician or full band always stuffed in the corner.
Down the road, Little Toad Creek Brewery and Distillery breathes life into Las Cruces’ downtown𠅊 zone that has morphed into a happening hangout with a budding nightlife. “This revitalization is a long time coming. The more businesses that come downtown and stay downtown is a good thing,” says Carol Ayon, assistant manager at “the Toad,” as locals call it.
Ayon, along with her husband, C.W. Ayon—whose music is just as much a part of Las Cruces’ identity as the Organ Mountains—relishes the new energy. The Toad “is kind of like the go-to hangout place,” says C.W. between sips of Copper Cream Ale from a special glass that “Mug Club” members get. “It’s not upscale. You come to slow down and relax.”
The Toad and its fellow breweries have brought more to Las Cruces’ social scene than good pints. “It’s added venues for bands to play,” says Felipe Toltecatl, C.W. Ayon’s bandmate. 𠇊nd usually, with beer, you want to eat. So that’s opened up more opportunities for the food truck guys.”
Local radio host Edmundo Resendez wants to make sure the locals are not overwhelmed or intimidated by the surge of new and exciting beer flavors.
He started the Beer Confidential show at KRWG 90.7 FM, where he and his guests talk about “the difference between a pilsner and an ale, between a porter and an IPA,” he says. “This show is intended to educate an audience that’s just starting in their exploration of microbreweries. At the same time, it’s designed for the connoisseurs to lend their expertise.”
Students at NMSBrew listen to the show. That’s right, NMSBrew: a new brewery engineering program in NMSU’s Chemical & Materials Engineering department.
“They are graduating people who are interested in staying in Las Cruces and starting their own microbreweries. I think that you have people who see this as something that they can make a living with,” Resendez says. “I see an opportunity to grow.”
Catherine Brewer, an assistant professor at NMSBrew, agrees. “I’m hoping NMSU as a school, and Las Cruces as a town, and New Mexico in general becomes a place that knows beer and knows that there’s more than one kind of beer.”
Comanche Creek Brewing in Eagle Nest has a new taproom and plenty of great beer.
A Mountain Gem
You get way more than beer at Comanche Creek Brewing, in Eagle Nest.
Windows line the walls at Comanche Creek Brewing and look out onto the expansive porch. I cannot overemphasize the view from this porch. It leads to a meadow that Maria von Trapp would gladly frolic through and rolls for miles before meeting the rise of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the distance. You can gaze toward town and see Eagle Nest Lake or lose your thoughts in the mountains and big blue sky.
There’s a therapeutic vibe to big, open, natural spaces like this. Located just off NM 64 outside Eagle Nest, west of Taos on the Enchanted Circle, this microbrewery has a new taproom and beer that’s pretty great, too.
Kody Mutz and his wife, Tasha, opened Comanche Creek Brewing in 2010. They started home-brewing while living in Denver, where Tasha was a nurse and Kody worked in real estate, but the two had dreams of leaving the city and moving to the Eagle Nest area, where his family had property. “We’re just home brewers who made the leap,” Kody says.
Almost 10 years later, in May 2019, the couple opened their newly built taproom ahead of Memorial Day weekend. “The community is great. They’ve been really supportive. All the locals and what I call the part-time locals—people who have houses up here or people who come for the summer—they’re just always stopping by and they’re really friendly,” says Kody. 𠇎veryone gets to know each other pretty easily.”
There’s a lot of history in the construction of the shiny new taproom. The rectangular space features a beautiful wooden bar made from the planks of a bridge that crossed over Comanche Creek, which runs through the brewery’s property. Trees from the Mutz property were hand-scorched, giving them a deep black tone, before being hammered into place to form the taproom walls. A giant log looms over the bar, nestled among a constellation of vintage light bulbs it used to be a gatepost on the family’s land.
Comanche Creek had five beers on tap the day I visited but has up to a dozen regular brews that the Mutzes plan to rotate. Along with their standards, they throw a sour or fruit beer into the mix, too. All are brewed on-site, and Kody says his brewing process is simple. “We try to keep it fairly basic and approachable. Our beers are typically real smooth and easy-drinking. We don’t go too crazy with the hops,” he says.
One of their most popular brews is the Homestead Amber, but I recommend the Gold Rush Kolsch, which was smooth, light, and perfect for a warm summer evening.
The brewery doesn’t serve food, but you’re welcome to bring your own. Outdoor games like horseshoes and cornhole are available, too, and you can always take a growler home to your own porch.
Brewing—Not Just for the Bros
The Pink Boots Society’s mission is to assist, support, and encourage female beer professionals through education. The Albuquerque chapter, with representatives from breweries throughout the city, annually collaborates on a brew they sell at a party every March celebrating International Women’s Day. The proceeds go toward scholarships to get more women into brewing. Last spring, the group made a Rosie the Riveter IPA.
An Alehouse Glossary
ABV: Alcohol by volume. Basically the amount of booze in your brew. A very good thing to know, especially if you plan on driving. A light beer like Boxing Bear’s delicious Body Czech Pils is 4.3 percent. A heavy Sunshine Stout, from Bosque Brewing, hits at 7.9 percent. A couple of those and you’ll be looking sideways.
Cask-conditioned: Unfiltered and unpasteurized beer served from a cask, without additional carbon dioxide pressure or nitrogen. Very smooth.
DD: Designated driver. The person in your crew enjoying the bubbly water so the rest of you get home safely. (Uber, Lyft, and taxis will also do.)
Flight: The pu pu platter of brews. You can’t decide, and you shouldn’t have to decide, so get the beer flight𠅊 great way to sample a bunch of beers, usually in 2-to-4-ounce pours. Often in very cute glasses.
Growler: Typically a 32- or 64-ounce glass bottle one can fill with draft beer at a brewery and take home. Best if consumed that day. Ideal for sharing at picnics and parties. More affordable and eco-friendly than buying six-packs.
Hazy: Also known as New England style, hazies are basically really fruity, citrusy IPAs, so they’re hoppy, too. The beer is often cloudy as a result of the unique process. The best ones look like orange juice.
Hops: The flower of Humulus lupulus, credited for the fruity, floral, bitter flavor of beer. One of four essential ingredients in beer making, alongside yeast, barley, and water.
IBU: International bitterness unit. A chemical measurement of the number of bittering compounds. The more IBUs, generally, the more bitter your beer.
American IPA: India pale ale. Hoppy, flavorful, beers, typically 6𠄷 percent ABV.
Pint limits: Many breweries here have instituted a limit on the number of pints one can order—usually three—to promote responsible drinking while creating a safe, accessible space for all and preventing drinking and driving.
New Mexico Winners at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival
Scaling Beer Recipes for Commercial Use with BeerSmith
I am often asked about using BeerSmith for Craft brewing and in fact BeerSmith is used by a large number of commercial breweries. Also, many passionate home brewers who make the leap from home to professional brewing then write and ask how to scale up from 5 gallons to 3 barrels or more? So I thought I would provide this article to explain the process.
The Pilot Brewing System
Most craft breweries develop and test recipes on a “pilot” brewing system, which can range in size from 5 gallons (19 liters) to several barrels in capacity. Even for professional brewers, every idea they have in beer may not be a great one, so the pilot batch lets them test and perfect a recipe before scaling up. They don’t want to be left with an experiment that went wrong on a commercial scale.
Commercial brewers maintain two equipment profiles in BeerSmith – one for their test/pilot system and one for their production system. Then they use the “Scale recipe” command and select the larger system to scale their recipes up to full scale.
Setting up an equipment profile for a large system is not much different than the small one – you just need to enter the correct volumes/weights/losses for the larger system, and then of course go through a process of adjusting and tweaking the profile until it matches up well with your actual brewing process and volumes. There are, however, several key considerations that come into play when developing an equipment profile for commercial scales:
Recipe Scaling Considerations
- Hop utilization is much higher at craft brewing scales, because large boils simply extract more bitterness. This is the largest change that hits most new craft brewers. If you simply scale up a 5 gallon (19 liter) batch to craft brewery sizes you will get a beer that is way too bitter. The “Hop Utilization Factor” listed in your equipment profile is the number you adjust to correct this. By default it is 100% for batches under 20 gallons (80 liters), but it can easily be 125%, 150% or possibly more for a multi-barrel brewing system. Unfortunately I can’t offer a hard guideline here since each system is different, but you can consult the manufacturer or other brewers using similar systems to get a starting point for scaling your hop utilization.
- Brewhouse/total efficiency is usually higher for a commercial system – perhaps 1-5% higher depending on the system. This is due to the fact that you will often get better extraction of sugar from the wort both in the mashing and lautering phase that you get on a small pilot system. This is a number you may have to dial in a bit as you gain experience with your particular setup.
- For really high gravity beers (like barley wine or imperial IPA) you may need additional adjustments to total efficiency (usually downward) for that particular recipe since the mash efficiency and efficiency scaling can be much different than a traditional brew. This is due to the fact that you are mashing/sparging with significantly less total water relative to the amount of grain you have added to this large batch. This is an effect you will also see on smaller batches – your brewhouse efficiency will go down for very high gravity beers.
That’s it – if you set up your equipment profiles properly you can use “Scale Recipe” to select the new equipment
profile and scale everything up.
Thanks for joining me on the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. You can get a trial version of BeerSmith here if you don’t already have one. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter or my podcast (also on itunes…and youtube…and streaming radio station) for more great tips on homebrewing.