It all began with beer...
In 2009, two friends, Rich Headley and Ryan McArdle, began homebrewing beer, inspired to use the hops a single Cascade hop plant that Rich had purchased at the Farmer's Market. This hobby quickly developed into a passion. Diving headfirst into the world of Pale Ales and IPAs, they strove to produce strong, flavorful, and, most of all, extremely hoppy beers. As their passion for making beer grew, so did the circle of friends involved in the process; every brew day became an event. Ultimately, two more friends joined the brewing team, Kelly McGuire and Matt Oler. Almost a decade later, the Cascade hop still grows in Rich's garden and hops of all varieties still make up the cornerstone of all of their recipes.
The idea for the Crossed Sabers Hop Company began to emerge in the winter of 2012-13 when Matt, foreman of the Crossed Sabers Ranch, and the ranch owner began looking into ways to revitalize their ranch and to bolster their agricultural activity. Based on their experience with the Cascade plant, and also a slightly selfish desire for a reliable source of locally grown hops, the group suggested the ranch look into the idea of growing hops on a commercial scale. In the spring of 2013, they planted five varieties of rhizomes to experiment, two rows of 100 plants. This experience allowed the group to learn a great deal about which hops would grow best in the northern New Mexico climate and altitude (roughly 6,000 feet above sea level).
The owner of the Crossed Sabers Ranch, excited about the expansion of agriculture on the property, had an 800,000-gallon spring fed water stock-pond built to supply the hops field, as well as to serve the other irrigation needs of the ranch. This project was a massive undertaking involving design and work from all the parties involved, especially Matt, the Ranch foreman. For this pond, Rich and Ryan helped design the water pumping systems, primarily using solar-powered pumps.
After three full seasons of growth, the group determined that the best producing hops were the Chinook and Columbus varieties, and began planning to expand the field to grow one full acre of each variety in 2017. Additionally, one cold afternoon that December, the four friends brewed two batches of beer using the selected hop varieties and invited several of Santa Fe's top brewing company owners to commit to future hop sales. At the event they held, the hops-growing friends received an overwhelming response-to the beer and the hops! With this inspiration, as with the endorsement of the local brewing community, the Crossed Sabers Hop Company was founded in the spring of 2017. Currently, the field grows hops over four acres, and is expanding every year, providing locally grown hops to the group of friends as well as to breweries in the Santa Fe area.