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New ales on tap: Chama River’s Guilmette has ideas brewing

Zach Guilmette is the new head brewer of Chama River Brewing Company. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

Zach Guilmette is the new head brewer of Chama River Brewing Company. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It is not Zach Guilmette’s first time to the brewery rodeo, but this time he is in charge of the show.

Guilmette has been brewing professionally for eight years. Most recently, he worked as a brewer at Il Vicino Brewing Company. He is now the head brewer at Chama River Brewing Company.

Guilmette won gold for his Panama Joe’s Coffee Stout at last year’s Great American Beer Festival in Denver. The festival brings in brewers from around the country competing to see who has the best craft beers in a variety of categories.

All it took was a road trip across the country tasting beer that got the “seed planted” in Guilmette’s head to brew craft beer. Now, he has free rein to create his own recipes and hopes to bring his award-winning ideas to Chama River. He also hopes to take some of Chama River’s house beers that he will be brewing to a future Great American Beer Festival and possibly win some more accolades.

“I love how brewing is a combination of physical labor and mental labor,” Guilmette said. “I like to be on my feet. The work is physical, but I also get to use my mind. It’s a great balance between the two.”


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Last week, Guilmette brewed his first craft beer as Chama River’s head brewer. It’s his Idle Time Session IPA that craft beer enthusiasts can try during a beer social event planned for May 1 at Chama River. He also has plans to make a “hard, aggressive” smoked beer, known as a German Rauchbier. The beer with a distinctive smoke flavor due to the barley being dried over an open flame goes well with grilled foods popular during the summer season, he explained.

Guilmette also has some secret recipes up his sleeve that he plans to work on in the near future and add those craft beers to Chama River’s current rotation.

“It’s fun to be a part of something where people have fun,” Guilmette said of brewing. “It all adds to your perspective on life. Everything you do molds who you are.”