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Cheers for the beers

Four New Mexico breweries won a total of five medals at the 2020 Great American Beer Festival. (Courtesy of The Brewers Association)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico breweries continue to give brewers around the country a run for their money.

Four New Mexico breweries were recently awarded medals during the virtual 2020 Great American Beer Festival competition awards ceremony on Oct. 16.

Albuquerque’s new kid on the block, La Reforma Taqueria + Brewery + Distillery, won gold for its Maximilian in the German Dark Lager category. It is the first time La Reforma has competed at GABF.

Quarter Celtic Brewpub, Toltec Brewing Company and Second Street Brewery also received medals at this year’s competition. All have medaled at previous GABF competitions.

“It’s always exciting to medal at the Great American Beer Festival,” said John Gozigian, La Reforma co-owner. “We’re especially happy to have medaled in a competitive category with one of our core styles that’s available year-round. We brewed this beer to honor the Austrian-born Ferdinand Maximilian, the short-lived emperor of Mexico, whose most memorable achievement was the birth of the Mexican Brewing Industry.”

Santa Fe’s Second Street Brewery also brought home gold for its Brown Ale in the American-Style Brown Ale category. The beer is described as a “highly drinkable ale with a caramel and slightly chocolate malt profile and a fruity hop character from Cascade and Centennial hops,” in a Second Street news release. A special limited batch of the Brown Ale will be available in 16-ounce cans in early November to commemorate the gold medal win.

“It is an honor to be recognized with a gold medal by the most prestigious beer competition in the country,” Tom Ludzia, head brewer at Second Street Brewery, states in the news release. “This award is an amazing high point for our team after working throughout the pandemic to bring tasty beers to New Mexicans.”

Quarter Celtic Brewpub won two silver medals for its The Prince of DORTness in the Dortmunder or German Style Oktoberfest category and its Crimson Lass in the Irish-Style Red Ale category. Crimson Lass is a staple beer and is always available on tap. According to Quarter Celtic’s website, the delicate Irish red ale’s reddish hue is a result of the use of Irish Ale Malt supplied by the Malting Company of Ireland located in the city of Cork. It adds that the caramel malts used to create the ale leaves behind a flavor of toffee and subtle biscuit.

There are currently limited quantities of The Prince of DORTness, but head brewer Brady McKeown has already begun brewing a new batch. A description of the seasonal offering was not available on the brewery’s website.

“We are very proud of Brady McKeown, he always makes fantastic beers,” said Ror McKeown, Quarter Celtic Brewpub partner. “It is exciting to see that even at this year’s GABF (with even more entries in each category) that Quarter Celtic can compete at the highest level. Sláinte.”

Toltec Brewing Co. received a bronze medal for its Cactus Warrior in the Specialty Beer category. The beer is described on Toltec’s website as an easy drinking wheat beer brewed with blue agave nectar. Former Toltec brewmaster Kaylynn Krosche, who created Cactus Warrior, is no longer with the brewery and could not be reached for comment.

GABF is held in Denver and is one of the largest commercial beer competitions in the world. This year 8,806 beers were judged. There were 1,720 breweries in the competition representing all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., in 91 beer categories covering 170 different beer styles, according to a GABF news release. Socially distanced judging by 115 judges from 21 states took place in 35 sessions over 18 days with strict safety measures in place.

“This year’s GABF competition may have looked a little different, but the beers entered into the competition were as impressive and innovative as ever,” said Chris Swersey, competition manager, in the news release. “This has arguably been one of the most challenging years breweries have ever faced, so we hope these awards serve as a symbol not only of brewing excellence but also the resiliency of the craft brewing community as a whole.”

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