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Birthday bash: Craft beer pioneer is celebrating with new double IPA

Back when Nico Ortiz opened Turtle Mountain Brewing Co., there was not much competition, but there also was not much of a local craft beer scene, and some days he was not sure his brewery would survive.

Ortiz’s brewery persevered, and Turtle Mountain celebrates its 18th anniversary Wednesday, March 22. This summer, it also will soon be distributing its beers on tap throughout Rio Rancho and beyond.

“A lot of people have been coming in here for a big chunk of that history, and they have a long memory of menu items and of beers and stuff and they constantly remind you of what you’re doing right and what you are not doing right,” Ortiz said. “… We’re kind of still doing the same thing that we’ve been doing all along. I’ve been kind of seeing a lot of the new breweries that are coming online are doing new and different things. We kind of have an established clientele that expect a certain thing, and we provide it.”

Turtle Mountain is commemorating its 18th anniversary with an “abusively hopped” double IPA called Consensual Sensation created by head brewer Mick Hahn. It will be on tap and on cask on Wednesday. Hahn, who came from Marble Brewery, has been at Turtle Mountain for about 10 months and has revamped Turtle Mountain’s signature beers and created some new concoctions of his own, including a dry stout that will be on tap starting today for its St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

Hahn has also come up with a coconut Scotch ale. He recently created a Scotch-style lager named SCH, his brother’s initials. A dollar from each pint goes toward Hahn’s brother’s brain cancer treatment costs. SCH can also be found at some local breweries.

“I’ve had fun putting my spin on the beers and playing with what we have as our house regulars,” Hahn said. “Coming up with some new recipes, switching things out. I’m so happy to be here, really. It’s a great place to be and I think Turtle has a good tradition here. I’m happy to be a part of maintaining that.”

In addition to the commemorative double IPA release, Turtle Mountain is hosting an 18th anniversary beer pairing dinner on March 29. It will feature five or six beers including the anniversary double IPA, coconut Scotch ale and dry stout served along with various food pairings. Once the menu is completed, it will be available for viewing on the brewery’s website.

“All these dinners are stuff we don’t serve on the menu,” Ortiz said. “… These dinners allow our kitchen guys to get real creative, and it gives them an outlet to go in a fun direction. They always take great pride in these dinners, and I just like the fact that it’s different food. It’s not pizzas and calzones and stuff. They’re always a much higher-level.”