Four years ago, looking to satisfy IPA drinkers, we started a revolving series of hop forward recipes known as the Slap Happy Series. With each change of season we would feature a different IPA offering. The two standouts both in sales and feedback were the Winter Black IPA and the Summer Session IPA. It soon became obvious that we should feature each recipe for more than a mere three months of the year. In addition, the beer was quite popular at Mesa Verde National Park, our largest wholesale account for the Summer Session.
So we made the decision this year that the two beers would be offered six months a year. The Session would be available Spring to the beginning of Autumn (corresponding with Mesa Verde’s season) and the Black would go from Autumn to the beginning of Spring. Because this new brew schedule did not fit the Slap Happy time schedule, we felt new and fresh branding was in order.
The Summer Session was never a “traditional” India Pale Ale. For one thing, it was a “session” beer. That is, it was low enough in alcohol for most people so they could have several (at least a couple) pints in the course of a drinking session. Secondly, the recipe was fermented with lager yeast at much cooler temperatures than the usual ale yeast you might expect. Occasionally you will find IPAs that are fermented with lager yeast that are referred to as “India Pale Lager (IPL for short), or “cold IPA”. The reason for this change in yeast was to accentuate the malt flavor and give the beer more of a clean finish. Because this beer is a “session” beer it would have less body than the bigger traditional IPAs and the malt flavor would benefit from the cold fermentation. Craft brewers also make these kinds of changes because, well, we can! That’s what makes craft-beer Craft!
After much deliberation and a few name suggestions that we toyed with, the name Kiva Session ipa was the one that stuck. We definitely needed some new artwork to wrap the cans with! In walks Stephanie Mae Smith. I didn’t know or recognize her, but she seated herself at the back bar where you could view the brewing equipment. After some time enjoying her beverage she got my attention by asking, “Are you Mackenzie’s father?” My daughter moved to Portland, Oregon 10 years ago shortly after finishing High School to attend culinary school. So Who is this that knows my daughter?? Turns out she was Mackenzie’s 8th grade art teacher back in Moab! The two of them made enough of an impression on each other that they remained in contact through the years. Because Mackenzie is an avid craft beer enthusiast it eventually came up that I was the beer cook for Mancos Brewery. After getting to know Steph for myself and seeing some of her art, there was no question I wanted to have her do the artwork for the Kiva. Besides being amazingly talented, what a cool way to honor my daughter as well!
This inaugural collaboration between Mancos Brewing Company and Alpacka Raft will benefit the Mancos Creative District. And this being Mancos, there will be a most excellent party on Friday May 19th at Mancos Brewing Company starting at 4 pm.
We are excited to be partnering with Alpacka Raft to support the Mancos Creative District! Their mission is to build and sustain a welcoming, diverse and active creative culture that benefits the Mancos Valley both socially and economically. We are lucky to have the Mancos Creative District as a part of our community and couldn’t be more proud to be involved in such a great cause. And we are stoked to be in this collaboration with Alpacka Raft – A true partnership in so many ways! Here is a little bit about our journey and our cause…
On April 19th the Alpacka Raft crew traded in their river paddles for a brew paddle and took a field trip to the Brewery. Our building is very familiar to them. This used to be their home. You can feel the love, dedication, and determination in the air here.The countless hours spent creating rafts for endless adventures have turned into countless hours of making craft beer from grain to glass. Alpacka Raft is a legacy here and a role model for our community. So together on April 19th we brewed a very special recipe. The Alpacka Raft Pale Ale. A crisp and refreshing pale ale perfect for any river rafting adventure. Made with grains from Proximity Malt and featuring El Dorado hops with tropical notes and a fruity aroma.
Other than our building, Mancos Brewing Company and Alpacka Raft share an immeasurable amount of love and admiration for our community. Proceeds from the Alpacka Raft Pale Ale are going to the Mancos Creative District. A silent auction will feature an Alpacka Raft, packrafting & outdoor gear, and other items donated by Mancos businesses and community members. To add to the creativity of this special brew and event, an artwork contest for the Alpacka Raft Pale Ale label was launched. Many local Artists submitted amazing entries, and the winner was Jeremy and Silvina Moore! Their design truly supports the motto of the Mancos Creative District – “At The Intersection Of Art & Adventure”.
Our release party, appropriately nicknamed “Rafts & Crafts”, for the Alpacka Raft Pale Ale will be on Friday May 19th at 4pm at Mancos Brewing Company. This is a free family friendly event and your chance to get hands on with the best rafting equipment on the market while enjoying a pint of our collaboration brew. Our record snowfall this last season is going to provide some epic memories on the river and so will our Alpacka Raft Pale Ale! Whether you are brand new to rafting or a true connoisseur this is the event for you!! Expect plenty of photo opportunities as well as craft food, live music, a silent auction, and of course craft beer! We are hoping to make this an annual event, so come out and support the Mancos Creative District, learn some things about rafting, and enjoy an Alpacka Raft Pale Ale!
The Alpacka Raft Pale Ale will be available for purchase at the Brewery on tap and to go Friday May 19th while supplies last with proceeds benefiting Mancos Creative District.
Last summer we introduced a new recipe that started out as a collaboration with Anarchy Brewing Company in Durango. Anarchy was just getting their first year under their belt and we had been working on various recipes together as well as solving some of the birth pangs of a new brewery start-up. Due to the limitations of Anarchy’s grass roots beginnings (something we are very familiar with at MBC!), they were not able to do cold fermented lagers. Fortunately for us, we had just acquired a 600 gallon dairy tank specifically for doing more lager recipes and would be installing a second in the Fall. We were getting set to put more emphasis and production space into these slow and cold fermenting beers.
Right before this I had found myself in a bit of a fix when I realized my lager yeast strain needed to be retired and I had a series of lager recipes coming up on the brew docket. So I headed over to the very generous folks at Ska Brewing Company and picked up a keg of their Mexican Lager yeast strain. It was similar enough to the Pilsen yeast I had been using for years and it would save me the week it would take to build up another culture. Right from the start the yeast showed signs that it could get the work done of eating up the sugars a little quicker and would clear out of the beer sooner, leaving a brite sparkling beer. At the same time it had no perceptible differences in flavor from the Pilsen yeast. Soon after this I found that Cellar Science, our main supplier for dry yeast, was introducing their own version of a Mexican Lager strain called Baja. I was sold! This was going to be the new standard for our light lagers.
To celebrate the arrival of the new lagering fermentation tank and the new yeast strain, a new beer was in order! I had recently started playing with some of the new hops that were cultivated near Taos, New Mexico. These hops have a very unique flavor profile, unlike other North American hops.
We had not used flaked corn in a recipe before. Plenty of rye and even rice recipes, but never corn. Well it was time to change that. Something I did have some experience with, but had not used in a while, is agave syrup. I knew right away the sweet taste of agave would add the right amount of body and flavor I wanted with the pilsen malt base and flaked corn. At this point all the basic components were on the table, now we had to decide the portions and process to achieve the desired profile.
The first time we brewed the beer with Matt from Anarchy we knew we were on to something awesome! Immediately the beer was a hit, both on our taps as well as at Anarchy. We made some minor tweeks on our second run and then upscaled to a full size batch for the third run. By this time we knew we had a new main stay House Beer that would be served year round for the foreseeable future and be featured extensively at Mesa Verde National Park!
Only thing left to do was come up with a label for the cans. For this we relied on our good friend Stephanie Smith who did our VuDu Amber Lager and Fly Free artworks, as well as several other labels. She captured our vision with her first draft. After making a couple changes to suit the artistic ambitions of Stephanie and the focus of our marketing, we settled on what you now see on the can. Enjoy!