Wednesday, May 21, 2014

SAVOR Profile: Crazy Mountain Brewing Company's Neomexicanus Native Pale Ale

Over the years most of us have become accustomed to recognizing several hop styles, particularly when dry-hopped, such as the citrus-floral aroma from Cascade hops or the more floral Centennial. I've also come to appreciate the single hop brews such as Flying Dog Brewery's Simcoe. What all hops - used in American brewing - have in common is their European lineage (humulus lupulus lupulus); they may be grown in the Pacific Northwest; but the specific hop varieties originated in Europe. Until now. 

One of the coolest breweries I met at SAVOR was Crazy Mountain Brewing Company, out of Edwards, Colorado - not far from Vail. They were pouring their Neomexicanus Native Pale Ale which is bittered using the indigenous humulus lupulus neomexicanus hops. "This species of hops is completely native to the United States and is genetically different from other varieties of hops currently commercially available." For my wine friends, we are talking about lubrusca or aestivalis as compared to vinifera.

Kevin Selvy, the brewery's CEO & Brewmaster, spent 5 years searching for this hop - and found it growing at CLS Farms in the Yakima Valley, Washington. They had procured some rootstock from a farmer in northern New Mexico, who had spent his life collecting "eighty different genetic lines of the plant that were growing wild". CLS Farms planted 8 of these varieties and when Selvy saw them, he ordered the entire supply. Coming full circle, the humulus lupulus neomexicanus hop variety is native to Colorado, so perhaps one day, Crazy Mountain will plant their own estate hops. Pretty cool.

The Neomexicanus Native Pale Ale weighs in at 6% ABV and 46 IBU. The aroma is very strong - part agava and part white fruit - as I recall. The flavor is on the sweeter side, somewhat bready; with the long finish focusing on citrus flavors - grapefruit and lime. A rather unique flavor profile. And very tasty. For now, I believe you need to travel to Colorado to enjoy the beer. Painful. Cheers to Crazy Mountain. 
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