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British brewmasters raise a glass to ABQ

La Cumbre Brewing Company owner and brewmaster Jeff Erway pours one of the brewery’s craft beers. (Courtesy of La Cumbre Brewing Company)

La Cumbre Brewing Company owner and brewmaster Jeff Erway pours one of the brewery’s craft beers. (Courtesy of La Cumbre Brewing Company)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An Albuquerque favorite has recently been recognized by beer lovers in Britain.

La Cumbre Brewing Company took first place for its Project Dank in the American cask real ale category at the 37th Annual Campaign for Real Ale Great British Beer Festival, which was held Aug. 12-16 in London.

Project Dank, which is an American-style IPA, beat out 100 other cask ales from around the United States, which earned it the Michael Jackson Award named after the prestigious beer writer who died in 2007.

Project Dank changes with each brew.

“It’s an ever-changing expression of the brewer’s art that we are constantly changing the hops we are using and how we are using them,” La Cumbre owner and master brewer Jeff Erway said. “We are able to showcase amazing hop varieties because of the focus of our IPAs. We are one, if not the only one, who has South African hops. We’re also lucky to have relationships with growers who provide us new experimental varieties not really available to just anyone. It allows us to change it up and do something fun ever couple weeks.”

There will be a special tapping of cask-conditioned Project Dank, which uses a dry-hop method with meridian hops, today at La Cumbre, according to Erway. He said he collaborates with La Cumbre head brewer Daniel Jaramillo on various brews.

Erway said it’s important to create an experience when it comes to La Cumbre’s craft beers.

“A lot of people maybe have tried a crystal or single malt scotch and will be able to tell you the way it tasted or the way it made them feel when they were tasting it,” Erway explained. “A lot of craft beer interest is to create a real experience that goes beyond the tangible. It goes toward something else. It’s kind of what we are going for.”

Erway and his team are now gearing up for the Great American Beer Festival to be held in early October in Denver. In the past three years, La Cumbre has won four medals at the GABF as well as three medals at the World Beer Cup, according to Christopher Goblet, New Mexico Brewers Guild director.

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