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New CNM Pelletizer Machine Allows Students to Brew Beer with Locally Grown Hops

The first beer is a collaboration between CNM, La Capilla Hops Farm, and Second Street Brewery in Santa Fe
New CNM Pelletizer Machine Allows Students to Brew Beer with Locally Grown Hops
The pelletized hops from La Capilla.

Apr 21, 2021

This month, Second Street Brewery in Santa Fe will be releasing a limited-edition American Pale Ale that’s been crafted by their brewers and CNM students in the Brewing and Beverage Management program. To make the beer, the team is using hops from the La Capilla Hops Farm that have been pelletized by a new, CNM-owned pellet machine.

The collaboration is a big step forward for everyone involved. For CNM students, pelletizing hops allows them to get hands-on experience with an important step in the brewing process.  

“This new machine helps students gain exposure to the entire hop process, basically from field to glass,” says Brewing instructor Nick Jones. “In our classes we like to focus on the fact that beer is really an agricultural product, and seeing the hops go from a local farm to our beer brings that home.”

Photo of CNM Brewing student Kathryn Coss at the Second Street Brewery.
CNM Brewing student Kathryn Coss at the Second Street Brewery.

The collaboration is also an important proof-of-concept. As the CNM/Second Street beer launches, it could pave the way for more collaborations between local hop farms and local breweries.

“This collaboration is a big, big deal,” says Rich Headly, who owns Beer Creek Brewing Company and serves as the Deputy Director of the New Mexico Hop Growers Association. “It creates legitimacy for local hop farmers and creates viability for the field to glass concept.”

Rod Tweet, the Owner and President of Second Street Brewing says it's been great to partner with CNM students and also a good opportunity to include hops from a hyper-local hop farm. (La Capilla is located just a few miles south of Santa Fe.)

“The hop market is insanely competitive, so we’re excited about being able to offer useful feedback to a place like La Capilla,” Rod says. 

Photo of CNM Brewing Student Chris Keith weighing out hop pellets during the brewing process.
CNM Brewing Student Chris Keith weighs out hop pellets during the brewing process

La Capilla was chosen for the first collaboration because they produce a high-quality and well-regulated product.

“La Capilla farm stood out to me because they do an excellent job of growing and drying the hops, and moisture content is extremely important,” Nick says. “La Capilla has come up with a smart way of guaranteeing moisture content.”

Historically, some beers have been brewed with whole flower hops. But Nick says turning hops into pellets adds convenience in a number of ways including:

  • Storability: pelletized hops are much more compact and take up less space.
  • Shelf Life: whole flower hops can’t be stored for more than 12 months. But pelletized hops can be stored for three-five years without any loss of flavor.
  • Efficiency: it requires fewer pellets to achieve the same taste. Pellets also soak up less liquid, resulting in more beer.
  • Equipment: most modern brewing equipment is set up to use pellets instead of whole flower hops.
  • Taste: the only way to make an American-style IPA is by dry hopping the beer with pellets. This is what creates the strong hop flavor.

Second Street Brewery will have the CNM collaboration beer on tap by April 23 and it will be sold until it runs out. Nick got an early taste of the beer and says it’s delicious. He’s already looking forward to the next project that the new hop machine can facilitate. 

“This first beer is just the first step,” he says. “Down the road, we’re excited to partner with hop growers and breweries across the state.”

Learn more about CNM's Brewing and Beverage Management program here.