A late summer bloom in the Southern Rockies is always a great setting for an enjoyable beer hike. Wildflowers bloom from early spring all the way into the Fall season, but the greatest diversity kicks in mid to late summer depending on the preceding rainfall pattern. This particular hike I wanted to try to improve my recall of the names of various flowers that I see all of the time, but I would be pressed to name. I’ve been using a smartphone app called PictureThis for a while now to answer the inevitable, “I wonder what that plant is,” questions that occur on hikes and I put it to work for this story from a hike near Los Alamos, New Mexico.
If you’ve never used one of these apps, the basic process is to take a picture of a flower, leaf, or plant and let the app tell you what it is. PictureThis requires an internet connection for an immediate response but will store your photo if need be until you get back to civilization. All of the identifications in the photo gallery below are from PictureThis so if you think you see an error, consider it a check on the accuracy of the app. Smartphone Apps that identify wildflowers include PictureThis, FlowerChecker, iNaturalist, Leafsnap, and Plantifier. There is a mix of free and paid products.
The wildflower… bred by no one, uncultivated;
raised hard, raised rough.
No glass pane to shield you, nor tender hand revealed you,
standing all the sweeter ‘gainst the grass.
There may be some the fairer,
though none so brave to dare her,
wild, wild flower in the wind.
— Clinton Arneson
Braupakt – a beer for a bloom
Braupakt, a nicely aromatic hefeweiss proved to be a wonderful refreshment near the end of the hike. Braupakt (I translate as ‘brewing pact”) is a collaboration beer by Weihenstephan in Freising, Germany and U.S. brewer Sierra Nevada. (read my story about a visit to Freising and Weihenstephan here). The classic Weihenstephan bear on the label is flashing one of those “bro” (“brau?”) hand symbols that I am too old to understand.
Judging by the classic German bier bottle, I imagine Weihenstephan takes the lead in brewing this beer. Braupakt is an unfiltered, cloudy brew presenting a creamy head. It is aromatic in a peachy, citrusy way although there is a stronger hops presence (35IBU) than in a typical German hefeweiss. I imagine this is the heart of the collaboration. The beer is brewed with Hallertauer Tradition hops supplemented by Chinook and Amarillo hops that add fruitiness. This brew goes down smooth and velvety.
Weihenstephan’s master brewer, Tobias Zollo said of the collaboration: “We brewers are always interested in exploring the differences in beer culture between the two countries. Unfortunately, Germany is often dominated by rivalry, while the USA instead focuses on exchanging ideas and finding mutual areas of inspiration. The mindset of this new approach was a very positive experience for us.” There is a nice short article about the collaboration at foodandwine.com.
I’ve come to really appreciate Sierra Nevada’s collaborations with German breweries and I seek them out. There are five other collaborations I know of (Bitburger Triple Hop’d Lager IPL, Oktoberfest Amber Marzen with Bitburger, Bayerisch Ale 2 with Brauhaus Riegele, Hopfenreiter Double IPA with Maisel, and Old Skool Double IPA with Kehrwieder Kreativbrauerei). Frankly, the Braupakt and the Bitburger IPL are my favorite beers that carry the Sierra Nevada label so I hope they keep it up. I am not positive, but these beers are likely only short-lived productions and I imagine COVID is in the way of anything new soon.
You may click on any gallery image to see it in a larger format and to open a slideshow viewer that lets you scroll through larger versions of all images.
For more stories about hikes and beers in New Mexico, CLICK THIS LINK.