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Smokin’ brew: La Cumbre marks four years with a party

La Cumbre Brewing Company’s Gracias Por Fumar smoked porter is aged in red wine barrels to create its unique flavor. (Courtesy of La Cumbre Brewing Company)

La Cumbre Brewing Company’s Gracias Por Fumar smoked porter is aged in red wine barrels to create its unique flavor. (Courtesy of La Cumbre Brewing Company)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — La Cumbre Brewing Company is getting the party started just in time for its fourth anniversary.

The brewery is celebrating with the release of its 4th Anniversary English Barley Wine and its Gracias Por Fumar Smoked Porter. La Cumbre made sure its anniversary brew was something special.

“We haven’t seen a lot of people do what we did,” La Cumbre president and master brewer Jeff Erway said of the anniversary concoction. “People tend to do bourbon barrel aging, so for this we decided to do rum barrels. We brewed it largely as a barley wine. We did it as an English style so it is more about the malt instead of the hop. We let it sit in the rum barrels for about four months.”

Erway said the goal was to create more of a confection without a prominent oak taste.

“We were going for more of a dessert-like hot-buttered rum,” he explained. “And the oak is not nearly as intense as in some barrel-aged beers. The oak is there but there is not simply that oh, I’m drinking oak (taste). We tried to avoid that.”

One of Erway’s favorite beers is Alaskan Brewing Company’s Alaskan Smoked Porter. He said the beer is aged about five years but La Cumbre did not have that kind of time so it used its recipe for its Gracias Por Fumar to come up with its version of a smoked porter.

“We aged it in red wine barrels,” he revealed. “There’s not an intense amount of oak flavors. We wanted to see what happens if we let it sit for a year. It’s been sitting in French oak barrels for a year. It’s a little smoky with huge red wine notes to it. It has a subtle tobacco finish. It’s definitely a ‘beer is art’ kind of release for us.”

It might be the go-to beer for those who don’t consider themselves beer drinkers.

“It’s for people who are not necessarily huge beer drinkers or dark beer drinkers,” Erway said. “This beer is different. We are pretty excited about it.”

Both beers will be available during La Cumbre’s fourth anniversary celebration on Saturday, Dec. 13. Some special beer releases also will be available during the event including La Negra and some bottled beers, which have not been available for months to a year, according to Erway. A keg of La Cumbre’s 3rd Anniversary Belgian-Style Quad and several interesting bigger beers also will be part of the event.

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