Santa Fe brew pub Rowley Farmhouse Ales made another big splash at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver over the weekend.
The brewery behind Auto Zone on Cerrillos Road won gold in the German-Style Sour Ale category for its lemony Meier gose, silver for Côte d'Or – Double Cerise for the Mixed-Culture Brett Beer category, and bronze for the Agent Orange apple brandy barrel-aged sour beer.
But perhaps more significantly, the Denver independent beer festival judges also named Rowley as Small Brewery and Brew Pub Brewer of the year. While 318 medals to 283 breweries were awarded for suds of all varieties, just seven winners are recognized in the brewer and brewpub categories each year based on their overall performance.
"It's huge," brewer and co-owner John Rowley tells SFR. "It's like a validation of our hard work. Our peers have shown us that they respect our beer. It just means a lot. It's truly humbling."
Rowley drove the beer up to Denver himself earlier this summer. A chemist at Los Alamos National Labs, he's also a Deadhead from way back who combined that errand with a planned trip to see Joe Russo's Almost Dead. He could have shipped the bottles, but what fun is that?
Rowley's farmhouse style ales often feature locally sourced fruits as well, like the winning cerise that includes bing and Montmorency cherries from Palisade, Colorado. He likes those sourcing plans, Rowley says, because they mean he can find trusted organic growers.
"They don't use any chemicals," he explains. "I don't want any extra shit in the beer. They are not good. The don't taste good. They are not good for you. I am a chemist, so I don't like chemicals."
While production at the brewery has gone from 70 barrels in 2016 to nearly 300 last year, most of the prize winning brews are long gone—but Rowley plans to crack the last keg of Meier on Wednesday. Shh! It will go fast. The brewery is also due for some more national attention this week when it appears Friday night on an episode of Diners, Dives and Drive-Ins. A watch party starts at 7 pm at the brew pub (1405 Maclovia St., 428-0719), and work begins this weekend to winterize the covered patio.
Rowley notes that success for him—and assists from brewers Jami Nordby, now at Beer Creek, and Rowley's own Wes Burbank and Tyler King—is good for the whole New Mexico craft brew scene. Last year, the brew pub earned a silver medal for its Germophile, beating out more than 100 others in the Berliner-Style Weisse category.
Santa Fe's Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery also won a bronze this year for its double brown in the Other Strong Beer category and two Albuquerque brewers, La Cumbre and Toltec Brewing Co., also won medals along with Sierra Blanca Brewing Co. in Moriarity.