Rowley Farmhouse Ales, a recent addition to Santa Fe’s craft brewing scene, was named Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year last week at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival.
It also took home three medals for its brews.
After receiving news, Rowley’s staff felt “sheer excitement,” co-owner and chef Jeffrey Kaplan said. The Small Brewpub of the Year award was a well-deserved honor for brewmaster and fellow owner John Rowley, Kaplan added.
“We’re just super excited about it,” said Rowley, also a full-time chemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “Our goal is to make the best beer we can. … To get recognition for that is really gratifying and humbling. I’m still mind-blown about the whole thing.”
A brewpub is considered an establishment that sells at least 25 percent of its beer on site, while larger breweries sell beer to other restaurants and bars as well as retailers.
Rowley Farmhouse Ales, which opened in 2016 on Maclovia Street in central Santa Fe, has participated in the national beer fest in Denver three times. It won its first award — a silver medal for its Germophile beer — in 2018.
This year, it brought home a gold medal in the German-style sour ale category for its Meier beer; a bronze for its Côte d’Or in the mixed-culture category; and a silver for its Agent Orange, an apple brandy barrel ale, in the barrel-aged sour category.
According to the Great American Beer Festival’s website, a first-place brew is a “world-class beer that accurately exemplifies the specified style, displaying the proper balance of taste, aroma and appearance.”
Given that nearly 3,000 breweries and brewpubs from across the U.S. entered the competition — and microbreweries are popping up all over the country — it’s becoming increasingly difficult to earn recognition for a unique brew, Rowley said.
That’s why winning in three categories “is crazy to think about. It’s a big deal,” he said.
A lot of it, Kaplan said, comes down to luck.“We just became very fortunate that we had beers tasting really good at the right moment of the competition. Beers evolve, so if we’d entered the competition one month earlier or one month later, we might not have medaled at all.”
Tumbleroot Brewery on Agua Fría Street, also competed in the festival, earning a bronze medal for its double brown ale in the “other strong beer” category.
Other Santa Fe brewers to compete last week were Beer Creek Brewing, Blue Corn Cafe, Santa Fe Brewing Co. and Second Street Brewery.
“We’re happy for the whole brewing community in Santa Fe,” Rowley said. “It’s awesome not just for us, but for everybody.”