Breweries Find Ways to Add Unique Twist to Consumer Experience with Local Hops Flavor

Adding to a unique twist to a consumer’s experience is vital in helping a regional brewery grow among locals. One way to further enhance that experience is offering local ingredients that won’t be found in many other places.

New Mexico’s Santa Fe Brewing Company has looked to capture some of that spirit, creating its English-style “Nut Brown” Ale. And having a hop farm located 55 miles north in Rinconada, New Mexico offers Santa Fe Brewing president Brian Lock and its employees a unique opportunity to grow a native hop to the state: Amalia.

“The movement of the entire country when it comes to businesses trying to source as many local products as possible and utilize those ingredients in products they produce was a major reason [we] decided to start growing [our] own hops,” Lock said.

In early September, Lock and several of his friends went out to the company’s hop farm to harvest the Amalia hops. The harvest took about four hours to collect the fresh mature whole cones. Within two days, the hops were driven down to Santa Fe’s brewing facility, where they were partially dried and put directly into the serving tank of a filtered 15-barrel Nut Brown Ale. The beer will be available in all three taprooms rooms with hopes of expanding the beer to all SFBC markets within five years to roughly 500 bbls, Lock noted.

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There isn’t a financial gain at this point because of the size of the farm, but Lock hopes to see some down the line as he continues to expand on the 7.5 acre plot. “More of the idea is to expand the variety of hops to the craft beer drinking public and give them a unique experience,” he said.

Lock compared having the use of Amalia to much having a unique grape in the wine business since most other breweries can’t get their hands on it and the it is “Estate Grown.”

“It allows the craft beer drinker to taste something that is truly New Mexico and potentially create the desire for craft brew drinkers to “tour” a brewery hop farm,” he said.

Amalia is one of two native hops to New Mexico. In 2003, Amalia and Neomexicanus-1 hops were isolated and developed by Rinconada local, Todd Bates. Lock purchased the hop rhizomes in 2014, and has been growing them for the last two years.

“Todd spent many years researching and cultivating “Neo-Mexicanus” wild hops and because of his research I decided growing native hops would be unique and different to all other hops available to brewers and would be a great way to differentiate [us] and market SFBC in a unique aspect,” Lock said.

Lock added that he and his team wanted to maintain a close understanding between the process of brewing and how they get the raw materials they brew with.

“The profile on the Amalia hop variety has more orange in the aroma and earthy, spicy notes like the English varieties, rather than the more citrus profile of the Neo-1,” he said.

Santa Fe Brewing Company is New Mexico’s oldest brewery, distributing beer throughout New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Nevada, Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana, and Utah.

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