ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Nico Ortiz remembers opening his doors 16 years ago and being the only one in the city of Rio Rancho making its own craft beers and serving them up with specialty pizzas, calzones and other intriguing edibles.
“For 14 years we had the beer environment to ourselves, now there’s a ton of competition,” Ortiz, who is the owner of Turtle Mountain Brewing Company said. “It’s great for the consumer to have more choices and it’s raising the level of the quality of beer.”
In the beginning Turtle Mountain had a constant rotation of beers under previous head brewer Mark Matheson, who now makes wines at his Rio Rancho winery. Matheson and also creates beers for Kaktus Brewing Company in Bernalillo.
Ortiz made a change last March and hired Tim Woodward, as head brewer, who had previously brewed a couple years for Chama River Brewing Co.
Woodward did away with the constant rotation of beers and focused on revamping the recipes to Turtle Mountain favorites, which are now constantly featured on tap. They are McDay’s Cream Ale, Heidelberg Helles, Okú Amber, Parasol White Pale Ale, Hopshell IPA and Stauffenberg Stout.
In celebration of its 16th anniversary, Woodward came up with a specialty of his own, each of which were hand-bottled, all 600 of them. The limited edition Wilde Jagd is available for purchase today, it is only available in bottle.
“It’s a winter warmer that we brewed last year,” Woodward said. “It was aged in Gruet pinot noir barrels. Winter warmers typically area a higher alcohol ale with a different variety of yeast. It was in the barrels a little over three months. What you get out of it is the distinct red wine quality coming out of it with a little vanilla from the French Oak.”
The anniversary revelry continues with a comedy show on Saturday. On Sunday, there will be selected food items being offered at “throwback prices” to when Turtle Mountain opened its doors.
Currently, Turtle Mountain is serving up its spring seasonal, Märzen, which is a German-style amber lager, according Woodward. Another specialty currently on tap is Timber!, which is aged on American Oak spirals in a bright tank for about three weeks. This gives it an “earthy, woody quality,” Woodward said.
In the next few weeks, Woodward expects to release a Double Stout. For more on Turtle Mountain beers and its food offerings, visit turtlemountainbrewing.com.