Southwest Brewing News

Southwest's winning R&D Labs
by Richard Vang
Southwest Brewing News. (Austin, TX) 1993, 1:6

Presented by the Upstate Chunk & Paradigm Company


The Southwest, long infamous for its nuclear weapons research and development laboratories, now has a new generation of environmentally friendly, medal-winning facilities devoted to one type of technology: brewing quality, hand-crafted beers.

A few years ago, the Southwest was a beer wasteland, well suited to nuclear waste dumps and fizzy, factory produced swill like Budweiser and Coors.  The profuseness of nuclear weapons, along with the rising sales of Anheuser-Busch products, had led this author to speculate that the creators (we don't call them brewers) of the so-called 'King of Beers' have been adding an aggression-inducing preservative to their beverage, designed to instill the martial spirit in its soldiers overseas and weekend warriors at home.  (Think about it for a second: whenever there's a fight in a bar, what are the combatants drinking? - - Bud!!!) 

Now, the end of the Cold War, combined with a shift in our enlightened government's policy to develop civilian technologies, has led to the rise and legalization of microbreweries and brewpubs across the region.  Not only is this "new generation" of  small R&D labs devoted to a technology which is of infinite benefit to humans everywhere, it does not destroy lives or pollute the environment.  In addition, four of these outstanding corporate citizens, any of which I would be proud to call my neighbor, have distinguished themselves by winning one of this great nation's highest awards for quality and excellence, and I'm not talking about the Baldridge Award either.  The Coyote Springs Brewing Company; the Hops! Bistro and Brewery; Eske's, A Brewpub; and The Celis Brewery all produced medal-winning beers at the 1993 Great American Beer Festival.   Congratulations to each!

Apart from some possibly damaged livers, you won't find any of the employees or patrons at the Coyote Springs Brewing Company having medical problems as a result of the brewpub's waste disposal. The Phoenix, Arizona operation garnered a Bronze Medal in the English Brown Ale category for its Bison Brown Ale.  At 4.7% abv, this mellow brew, with its deep amber-brown color and light malty aroma, is a revision of the former Frontier Brown.   Brewmaster Clark Nelson uses pale, crystal, and chocolate malts to produce his latest version.  Clark's inspiration for the beer came from a desire to educate his patrons as to the qualities of darker, unfiltered beers with more body and taste, and to wean them off the more popular, lighter colored beers.  He figured that if he could get the women to try the brown ale, that the men, not wanting to be outdone, would surely follow suit.  "Now," Clark adds, "the women hardly order anything but the brown ales and stouts."  Sorry ladies, but you've been had again.

Bison Brown Ale can only be had on the premises, for the time being anyway.  Owner Bill Girard has just recently been approved for a microbrewery license, and after a 90-day waiting period, will be shipping kegged beer to local hotels and resorts around the Phoenix area.  Don't wait around for a bad batch of beer to be tossed out; Clark claims that he hasn't run into that problem yet. As for the regular waste of spent grains and such, a local pig farmer gets that bounty.

Despite that nasty little hum that threatens to drive customers away, the always packed Eske's, A Brewpub celebrated its inaugural year by nailing down the Bronze in the  Fruit and Vegetable category for its Taos Green Chile Beer.  Owners Steve and Wanda Eskeback were inspired by millennia of brewing with herbs and spices, and unlike other brewers of "green chili" beer that we know, use real Sandia Green Chiles instead of jalapenos.  10% wheat malt helps to counter the bite of the chiles, and produces a slightly cloudy, full-bodied brew.  The chiles permeate every bit of the palate, but are never overpowering.  For you homebrewers, Steve recommends about one pound of chiles per five gallon batch, with a light beer recipe as a  base.  

At the present time, Eske's Bill Bockbrader (you gotta love these names!) benefits from the spent grains by using them for compost on his certified New Mexico organic farm.  Any excess water from their wort chiller is pumped out to water the trees and plants in Eske's beer garden, making this an extremely "green" operation all around.

You can only get Taos Green Chile Beer in Taos, New Mexico, but several area establishments (Murray's Deli, Wild and Natural Cafe, the Taos Inn, and Tim's Stray Dog Cantina) carry it in addition to Eske's.  You can also take it home with you, as bottles are now being sold at the brewpub, and soon 1/2 gallon growlers will be available for take home.

The best investment in Arizona the past few years has proved to be a Hops! Bistro and Brewery.  The Scottsdale version of this popular chain collected a Bronze Medal in the German Wheat Beer category for its' Hops! Hefe-Weizen, and added an additional Honorable Mention in the Barley Wine category for its' Hops! Barley Wine.  Brewmaster Peter McFarlane's wheat beer previously earned a Silver and Gold Medal in the '91 and '92 GABFs respectively.   Its' slightly cloudy, deep straw color, spicy clove aroma, and fruity malt flavor proved again to be a favorite in Denver.

As far as the barley wine is concerned, Peter feels that it's the "best barley wine in the nation," which is a tribute to its' original brewer Julius Hummer (now at Hops! in La Jolla, CA), who set out to create the country's "biggest and baddest" barley wine about three years ago.  This same original batch ( it is probably the oldest serving barley wine in the country today) previously won the Silver Medal at the GABF in '91, so it too was a repeater for Hops!

Where can our readers obtain these perennial favorites?  Only on the premises in Scottsdale, which is worth the trip to partake of the beers voted overall 'best in the state' by two Arizona newspapers.  The Hefe-Weizen is available all year round, and will soon be available (April '94) at a second Hops! location in the Phoenix Valley, at the Biltmore Fashion Park.  Unfortunately, the Barley Wine is available only around the Christmas holiday, and even then there is no guarantee it will be poured this year.  Check out the La Jolla setup to see if Julian has any on tap to cure what ails you.

Hops! also gives its' spent grains to a local pig farmer, who in turn provides an occasional porker to roast for the employee parties sponsored by the brewers.  Where can I get an application?

The Superconducting Super Collider may have failed (and lost a lot of money in the process), but the same can't be said for The Celis Brewery.  Since coming to Austin, Texas in 1991, Pierre Celis has made good on every promise he's made to the witbier deficient people of the Southwest, and he once again proved his brewing expertise, as Celis White was awarded the Gold Medal  in the Herb/Spice category for the second consecutive year.

What more can be said than has already been printed about this long lost, but recently revived style?   Pierre uses roughly equal parts of wheat and barley malt (both purchased in the U.S.), along with Cascade hops, and finally adds Curacao orange peel, coriander seeds and "more than one other ingredient." Its' 5% abv can tame any beast, but personally, I like the taste.  A friend of mine in New York recommended the beer to me, and I have enjoyed it ever since.  Whenever I head to my local package store for a six-pack, I always come home with Celis White.  Which brings me to my next point, and that is that the full line of Celis beers can be purchased  at most of your favorite beer stores and beer bars across our circulation area (except Louisiana and Arkansas), as well as providing a decent excuse to travel to Austin.

Celis gives all its spent grains to a local feed company, and although they don't repitch their yeast, they recycle it in a unique way by combining it with citric acid to clean and polish the kettles at the brewery.

So what's my point with all this? Why have I told you that which you already know?  Well, it's like this: if the Clinton Administration wants to shift its' national laboratory research and development funding to civilian technologies, then it need look no further.  Here, in the Southwest, are small, award-winning, environmentally and economically sound laboratories devoted to the research and development of the most civilian of technologies: brewing beer. It's time that the government start listening to the voice of the people, and put its' money where its' mouth is.  (That goes for you too, Ross.)

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