By Sarah Wentzel-Fisher · Photos by Stephanie Cameron
Missy Begay has just finished her last weeks of residency at the University of New Mexico Hospital. During her time there, she noticed that more than twenty percent of her Navajo patients supplemented their care with traditional medicine. Concerned about contraindications, Begay was curious about the substances used for traditional medicine and how they were administered. She sought a more integrative approach when working with patients. Her research led her to study with a number of Navajo healers to understand the nomenclature and processes associated with plants used for traditional medicine. This work led her to study a plant near and dear to her for other reasons—hops.
In addition to being a doctor, Begay co-founded one of Albuquerque’s newest breweries, Bow & Arrow, with her partner Shyla Sheppard and co-investors Mark and Asa Stone. In February the team opened their doors and their taps with a commitment to a hyperlocal approach to their business and their beer. They seek out local ingredients like blue corn and native hops, they employed local artisans to build the decor, and they serve Pueblo oven bread made by a friend and popcorn prepared by the Popcorn Cannery (just around the corner).
Their commitment to place has fueled their venture as much as anything. Since opening, they have done much to engage and build community in their space. Last month they hosted a fundraiser for a Native girls basketball team during the Gathering of Nations, a Dig & Serve pop-up brunch, the Innovate New Mexico student pitch competition, and the first Rio Grande Farmers Coalition farmer social.
They also love learning and sharing their passion for craft beer with others. The Bow & Arrow team prioritize appreciation for the beermaking process, ingredients, and history. Most of the Bow & Arrow team have been trained through the Cicerone Program, similar to sommelier training with wine, and love to talk technical about their brews. Starting in April, they initiated Brew Scholars, their craft-beer education series, where they invite patrons to enrich their craft-beer knowledge in an engaging environment, over beer, of course. The initial Brew Scholars convening gave a broad overview of beer types and history. In the second, “Hops in Beer & Traditional Medicine,” Begay presented alongside head brewer, Luke Steadman.
During the second Brew Scholars, Begay described how in most western Native American tribes, hops, specifically the
variety neomexicanus, has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to address insomnia and anxiety, and as an antiseptic for more acute conditions. She says that in the Navajo tradition, every plant has its own spirit life form. When a plant is taken, the taker offers a small token, and asks permission for the knowledge and medicine the plant provides. Begay also says this idea translates into how they make beer at Bow & Arrow.
Each of their beers is thoughtfully crafted from carefully sourced ingredients. Steadman started his career in Pennsylvania as a brewer at Sprague Farm & Brew Works, where he learned his craft from the ground up, literally; Sprague grows much of the grain and hops for their beers. His experiences set high standards for which ingredients pass muster for a Bow & Arrow beer.
Deep curiosity about the ingredients of a great beer and a successful brewery, and an unbridled enthusiasm to share this knowledge, sets Bow & Arrow apart. They welcome guests at the next for monthly Brew Scholars, sure to be an insightful conversation.
608 McKnight NW, Albuquerque, 505-247-9800
Edible celebrates New Mexico's food culture, season by season. We believe that knowing where our food comes from is a powerful thing. With our high-quality, aesthetically pleasing and informative publication, we inspire readers to support and celebrate the growers, producers, chefs, beverage and food artisans, and other food professionals in our community.