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Nexus Brewery caps 2015 with Salted Caramel Stout

Nexus Brewery recently tapped its Salted Caramel Stout and has plans for a barley wine. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Nexus Brewery recently tapped its Salted Caramel Stout and has plans for a barley wine. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Ending the year on a salty but sweet note is how Nexus Brewery wrapped up 2015.

Nexus recently tapped its Salted Caramel Stout and will have the beer confection on tap for the next few weeks.

The idea is the brainchild of Nexus’ head brewer, Kaylynn McKnight, who was inspired to make the unusual stout after tasting one at a brewery in Portland, Ore. Ten gallons of caramel, made in house at Nexus, was used to create McKnight’s stout.

“It definitely has some coffee, some chocolate and finishes with the caramel sweetness,” McKnight said of her Salted Caramel Stout. “We serve it about 38 to 40 degrees, a little too cold for this style. When it warms up, the caramel comes out a lot more.”

McKnight suggests pairing the stout with Nexus’ BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich, which is complemented by a sweet and savory red chile barbecue sauce. She said one of Nexus’ cheesecake specials also would be a nice combination.

Another recent addition to the Nexus lineup is McKnight’s S.M.A.S.H beer. The acronym stands for “single malt and single hop.” It is the second one in the series that McKnight has made. Her debut featured Czech Saaz hops. Her latest, which is available now, uses Simcoe hops.

“Simcoe is popular with people who like IPAs,” McKnight said. “It’s very fruity, very citrusy with passion fruit and pine. It’s earthy and citrusy.”

McKnight now has her sights on creating a barley wine using Maris Otter malt. It is tentatively scheduled for release in late January.

“It’s strong in alcohol and pretty sweet but balanced out with a good hop bitterness,” she said.

McKnight’s craft beers have been recognized at some prestigious beer competitions including the 2015 Great American Beer Festival. McKnight, who is the only female head brewer in Albuquerque, brought home the silver medal in the Honey Beer category for her Honey Chamomile Wheat, which is available at Nexus. There were 52 entries in that category. Overall GABF awarded 275 medals to many of the best breweries in the United States, including four New Mexico breweries.