By now, the annual green chile harvest and selling season have nearly wrapped up, with tens of thousands of bushels of roasted peppers from both Colorado and New Mexico safely stored in freezers. But the fiery rivalry between the Pueblo growing region and the world-renowned Hatch Valley in New Mexico lives on.
At Mountain Toad Brewing in Golden, the battle will take on liquid form today when co-owner Thad Briggs taps two different chile beers, one made from Pueblo chiles and one made from the Hatch version.
"We do a Smoked Hatch Pale Ale every year," Briggs says. But this time around, when the brewery posted about it on social media, a regular customer "teasingly called us out for not representing Colorado's Pueblo chiles. We accepted the challenge and said if he could bring us some hot Pueblo chilies, we'd brew with them. So he did, and I asked him what he thought the base should be, and he agreed that a light crisp pale ale would be best."
In the Hatch beer, "the smokiness [from the smoked malt] pairs well with the bold assertiveness of the Hatch chiles," Briggs says. In the Pueblo chile pale ale, on the other hand, "a light, crisp grain bill goes nicely with the bright, grassy and subtle-yet-complex flavors of the Pueblo chiles."
Mountain Toad is far from the only brewery to use Hatch peppers in its beers — at least a dozen other local breweries also make annual chile beers — but it might be the first to do a taste-off. (Just down the road, Golden City Brewery plans to tap its famed Hatch chile beer on Friday.)
Last fall, the governors of Colorado and New Mexico got into a spat over which state grows the best green chiles, with the New Mexico Tourism Department eventually spending nearly $300,000 on a spicy ad campaign that teased its "unfortunate neighbors to the north," and showed a car with Colorado plates picking up Hatch chiles in New Mexico. The battle rages on.