Visiting Holy Hops / Monastery of Christ in the Desert

Last week was spring break, and my wife and I hoofed it to her childhood home of Albuquerque to visit some family friends, see the sights, etc. One of our day trips was to Ghost Ranch, Georgia O’Keefe’s home in the desert for fifty-some years, and lo and behold, guess what’s only two miles up the road?

Christ in the Desert Monastery, purveyors of Holy Hops and Abbey Brewing Company. Well, anyway, their website said the turnoff is two miles up from Ghost Ranch–true–but somehow we missed the fact that it’s then 13 miles up a dirt road that meanders up, down, and around through grazing land, national forest, river gorge and striking red bluffs. The landscape certainly fits the feel of what you would expect for a monastery.

We hadn’t made an appointment, so we were only able to walk down to the hop fields, where it’s still too cold for them to have sprouted just yet. But it was a chance to see something somewhat unique within the landscape of US brewing. Holy Hops is unusual in that they only grow and sell humulus lupulus neomexicanus, some of which makes its way into their reserve Tripel, and most of which seems to be sold via their webstore.

I’ll admit I was trying quite hard to track down some neomexicanus rhizomes for planting this year given that I’ve read they tend to yield in the first year and it looks more and more like San Diego will be a place I’m only passing through. Alas, maybe I’ll just wait and pick my own in August at one of the 20-something hop farms in SD county.

I had a chance to try their Monk’s Wit later and I swear up and down there’s a handful of chamomile thrown in at the end (based on a number of wit experiments we carried out in Bolivia for what will be Cerveceria Bendita in the near-ish future in Santa Cruz.

And then yesterday was Orval Day, so I took the opportunity to finally try it down at Hamilton’s. The eight month old bottle certainly had developed a lot of brett character, and it was bitter, dry, and deeply satisfying. Plus the barkeep let me take home 11 bottles, which will be great for letting other brett-spiked beers age indefinitely without fear of explosion.

I leave you with a selection of photos from the very scenic monastery:

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1 comment
  1. Patrick Dezothez said:

    very interesting, thx for sharing.

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