Brewing Exceptional Beers Behind the Scenes
La Cumbre Brewing Co.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
As the story goes, La Cumbre’s eventual founder Jeff Erway was hung over somewhere in Flagstaff. His wife, Laura, was headed into a clothing boutique, which Erway wanted no part of. “What do you know …” he reflects. “There was a homebrew store right across the street from there. I’d never even thought about homebrewing.”
Erway snagged a copy of John Palmer’s How to Brew, which he thumbed through for hours on the way home. “Good book?” his wife asked. Erway looked up at her and said, “I could really get into this.” Laura had heard him. But she hadn’t really heard him.
“Nononono,” Erway explained. “I could really, really get into this.”
Fast forward: Through homebrewing for thirsty fellow teachers while working on the Navajo Nation, through the American Brewers Guild, plus a highly educational brewing job at Chama River. “During the five years Laura and I were on the Navajo reservation,” Erway adds, “we visited over 500 breweries.” They traveled across the country three times, reaching 46 states.
Less than a year after Erway’s La Cumbre opened in late 2010, the brewery took home three GABF medals, including gold for Elevated IPA in the highly competitive American-style IPA category. La Cumbre’s been experiencing about 65 percent annual growth, and a new 30-barrel brew house just came on line in May. “A lot of my time lately has been taking new equipment that we’ve recently put on line and getting it to work perfectly.”