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!