The Pioneer of Native New Mexico Hops

New Mexico Hops -  BrianHarvestingHere in New Mexico, we like our hops. In a land where spicy food is king, powerful flavors rule. When it comes to our beer, hop-forward IPAs are a statewide favorite. So it seems only fitting that New Mexico should grow its very own native hop variety, the Neo-mexicanus 1, and that New Mexico hop farming should be pioneered by New Mexico’s first brewery, Santa Fe Brewing Company.

But let’s rewind for a moment, back to 2003 when a local Rinconada man named Todd Bates began a singular project. He frequently hiked through the New Mexico mountains identifying and gathering native wild hop plants. He then isolated and cultivated the varieties at his farm and eventually created a hop that was desirable for brewing. The result was the Neo-mexicanus 1 (Neo-1 for short) and Amalia hop varieties. In about 2010, Todd sold the fruits of his labor to a Washington-based commercial hop farmer, Eric Desmarais, at CLS Farms.

When Santa Fe Brewing Company owner Brian Lock heard about the unique New Mexico hop variety, he was immediately enamored with the idea of growing his own hops. “That really interested me,” he says, “because No. 1, it was a new hop variety that no brewer had tried to brew with before, and No. 2, it was native, so I knew if I put that particular variety in the ground that it would do well, because they are native.”

Brian continues, “I was really excited about taking on the challenge to grow my own hops.” He found a beautiful location near Blue Heron Brewery in Rinconada. The 7.5-acre farm is right on the Rio Grande, which is ideal, not only for its natural beauty, but also because it has plenty of water available for agriculture. Santa Fe Brewing Company purchased the land in December 2013, and Brian began planting the unusual Neo-1 and Amalia rhizomes (bought from CLS Farms) in July of 2014.

Many companies grow or use locally sourced ingredients, but this takes it to a whole new level. These hops are naturally more adapted to the New Mexico climate, so they’re more sustainable and, best of all, they’re unique. They are ours. Continue reading

Straight—well, mixed—off the Margarita Trail

Solution for a summertime cold: one spicy margarita. Escape from a torrential monsoon: shelter and a margarita. After a long hike: an icy margarita with a salty rim. Friends visiting town: Take them for a margarita. Santa Fe, of course, is full of the sweet and sour, tequila-based cocktail. Tourists savor them and locals have their favorites. There’s Maria’s millions of super-strong varieties; La Choza’s delicious concoctions, from sweet to smokey to spicy; Secreto’s smoked-sage creation; The Dragon Room’s pink margarita; Tomasita’s Gold Coin—just to name a few local faves, but of course, the list goes on and on. TOURISM Santa Fe’s ode to the Margarita? The Margarita Trail.

This year, TOURISM Santa Fe takes the City Different’s love of the tequila-based cocktail, with its endless creative potential, on the road—or the trail, as the case may be—which began on Cinqo de Mayo and is now in full swing. But the margarita dates back long before this year’s Cinqo, and “Santa Fe can boast that it was the first city in the new world to import tequila from Mexico,” Al Lucero, author of The Great Margarita, writes in the Santa Fe Margarita Trail Passport, the ticket to featured margarita recipes, discounted specialty drinks from 31 participating restaurants and bars, and fun prizes. Local Flavor set out to try each and every one—and this month, Still Hungry? asked a few of our favorite participating bartenders—Robert Morrison from Santacafé, Rochelle Roybal from Agoyo Lounge and Winston Greene from Bar Alto—to shake up a special drink just for our readers. These drinks are delightful, delicious and of course, different. So grab a passport ($3), hit the trail and enjoy! Continue reading

Go Native!

“Want something new and different? Bored with the same old? Go Native. Europe has a huge representation of indigenous grapes––read “native”––and more and more wines made from these grapes are finding their way to New Mexico.”

So you know a Cabernet is going to be perfect with ribeye or roast beef, but the beef for tonight’s meal is a marinated flank steak. Or the salmon you have planned is poached and served cool with capers, so the Willamette Pinot Noir you would normally have with grilled salmon is going to overwhelm your delicate preparation. Want something new and different? Bored with the same old? Go Native. Europe has a huge representation of indigenous grapes––read “native”––and more and more wines made from these grapes are finding their way to New Mexico. They may be single varietals or multi-grape blends. The wine press will often refer to varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as “international varieties.” They are used to make wines all over Europe and the New World, sometimes in areas that make you scratch your head for the incongruity. But Europe, especially Spain, Portugal, France and Italy all have local specialties in cuisine and wine. The wine lover is always looking for the new and different, the crazy and esoteric. New Mexico restaurants are starting to embrace these wines and specialty wine shops are stocking them on their shelves. Here are some especially unusual examples of wines in that category to be found locally, some of them arriving this spring. Continue reading

Fine Food and Fine Beer: Bosque Brewing at Terra Restaurant

4BEER_187Fine dining and beer? You go to a pub to drink beer. You have bangers and mash with beer. Somehow, I was having trouble making the leap—that is, until I caught up with Jotham Michnovicz, a founding partner and director of operations at Bosque Brewing Company, and Andrew Cooper, executive chef at Terra Restaurant at Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado. Admittedly, I am a late adopter, one who takes all kinds of flak for liking a flip phone. But yes, I found out fine dining and craft beer go together like I hadn’t even imagined. As part of the Outside Bike & Brew Festival, on May 19, Bosque Brewing and Terra hold a five-course beer dinner at Rancho Encantado. If there’s a restaurant in Santa Fe known for providing its guests with a fine dining experience, Terra is it.

After college, along with two partners, Jotham was working on starting a software company. “It wasn’t panning out the way we wanted, so we decided to redirect our efforts and in the same weekend we all had the same idea separately to open a micro brewery,” Jotham says. “So we decided at that point, ‘Well, we know we love beer and we love business but if we’re really going to make it go we have to start learning how to brew.’” After about two years of R&D, they opened their doors in October 2012.

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Beer…It’s What’s for Dinner!

Our Outside Bike and Brew Festival beer-dinner chefs and brewers reveal their methods and motivations for making their selections this year. The pairings are certainly sublime—and even a bit mysterious—setting us up for tastings that are sure to get a wide range of reactions and applause. To see a listing of Bike and Brew Beer Dinners, including menus and dates, visit our listing here.

Monk’s Ale

“When I tested the beers, I was in heaven. I really love them,” L’Olivier Co-owner Nathalie Grenet laughs. Pairing with Monk’s Ale was a new experience for Nathalie and her chef husband, Xavier, who felt the European style of ale was really well suited for L’Olivier’s menu. Their beer-recipe research fittingly started at the restaurant on St. Patrick’s Day. For Bike and Brew, they are fashioning a beef glaze incorporating the full-body, nutty flavor of dark brews. “To me, these are really beautiful beers,” Nathalie says.

229 Galisteo Street in Santa Fe. 505.989.1919.

Pranzo Italian Grill
New Belgium Brewery

Pranzo Chef/Owner Steven Lemon and cocktail choreographer Evan Schultz picked a regional brewery that embodies the spirit of the Bike and Brew Festival. “We think an older brewing technique is going to pair with our food the best,” Steven reveals. Pranzo offers four savory dishes, skipping dessert this time, to maximize the brewery’s eclectic line. Get ready to experience a wood-aged, sour brown ale from New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series for one of the chef’s pairings, which he claims proved to be difficult—but will be the most memorable.

540 Montezuma Avenue in Santa Fe. 505.984.2645. Continue reading

Still Hungry? May 2016

Type “uses for beer” into a search engine and you’ll get plenty of hits—for instance: “9 Surprising Uses for Beer!” or “14 Household Uses for Beer!” But let’s be serious here for a moment, put down the mouse and say to yourself (in a stern voice), “Why do we need 14 uses for beer?” Isn’t it enough just for beer to be beer? So I did what any intrepid reporter would do: I opened a beer and called an expert. In this instance, my expert was Chef Allen Smith of the Santa Fe School of Cooking, and he told me I’m wrong,; beer does have another purpose in life, and that purpose is to transform food, not as an accompaniment, but as an ingredient. “I cook with beer pretty often,” Chef Allen says. He likes to take advantage of the many flavors available in a brew. “They can really enhance a recipe,” he says, adding that cooking with beer can be a challenge for the novice: “You have to know the flavor of the beer and be careful not to overpower the food.” Hoppy, darker beers have a nice nut-like flavor, and hold up in heavier dishes. “Sometimes,” for instance, “a soup or a stew needs a kick.” Add beer, which livens up dishes like carne adovada, since it adds such richness that “you can cut down the amount of butter you might use.”

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