The voters in Las Cruces have spoken, nearly helping their one local brewery overtake a two-time past champion. (Photo courtesy of Tyson Brown)

The results are in from the first round of the 2019 New Mexico IPA Challenge, held today at Picacho Peak Brewing in Las Cruces. Two-time past champion Boxing Bear garnered 17 of the 65 votes cast, one more than the only Southern New Mexico brewery in attendance, newcomer Icebox Brewing (16).

Perhaps the biggest surprise, or disappointment depending on one’s perspective, was that five breweries did not earn a single vote. Bombs Away, Enchanted Circle, La Reforma, Marble, and Toltec all came up empty handed. Others that struggled included defending champion Blue Corn (one vote), Rio Bravo (one), Rowley Farmhouse Ales (two), Starr Brothers (two), and Tumbleroot (three).

The middle of the pack included Bow & Arrow (eight), Ex Novo (eight), and Bosque (seven).

If there is a silver lining for all of the breweries, there are still two rounds to go. Blue Corn, RFA, and Tumbleroot will surely be hoping for some home-field advantage at the second round in Santa Fe on Saturday. Tumbleroot will host at its spacious Agua Fria taproom from noon to 4 p.m., and tickets are available online. Keep an eye out for our man Luke among the hopheads.

In general, the Santa Fe round usually has more than 100 votes cast, though the Albuquerque final round tends to more than double what comes before it every year. The final round is at Bow & Arrow on July 27, and tickets are also for sale online.

Thanks to all the thirsty denizens of Southern New Mexico, and a few from El Paso, who came out to support the New Mexico Brewers Guild today.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s seven breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, one in Red River, one in Silver City, and one in Truth or Consequences also joining the party.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Well, in case anyone missed it over the weekend, the 2019 New Mexico IPA Challenge got underway with the preliminary round narrowing down the field from 45 to 15 entries. A big question we annually receive is how many of those IPAs are currently on tap at breweries around the state, so folks can try them before the competition gets to their city. Well, there are a few that have been publicly identified and are on tap, including Blue Corn’s Gatekeeper IPA (which won last year), Bow & Arrow’s Wassabro Hazy IPA (on tap Friday), Boxing Bear’s Bear Knuckle II, Icebox’s Icebreaker IPA (if you are in Las Cruces), La Reforma’s El Combi NEIPA, and Toltec’s Guapo Hoppo, and Tumbleroot’s Keymaster IPA (releasing Thursday). Rowley Farmhouse Ales is holding back its supply of Thrace IPA until the staff knows for sure they have enough to get through all three rounds of the competition. If anyone out there spies the entries for Bombs Away, Bosque, Enchanted Circle, Ex Novo, Marble, Rio Bravo and Starr Brothers on tap, please let us know. In the meantime, if you are reading this and are within easy driving distance of Las Cruces, head to Picacho Peak Brewing today (Wednesday) after 4 p.m. for the first round of the NMIPAC. Otherwise, head on up to Tumbleroot for the second round on Saturday at noon, and then make sure to get a ticket now for the final round at Bow & Arrow on July 27! UPDATE: Enchanted Circle’s entry, Mr. Dankenslip, is on tap at both the brewery in Angel Fire and the taproom in ABQ at San Mateo and Osuna. UPDATE 2: Lost City of Gold Hazy IPA is Starr Brothers’ entry, and it’s already on tap.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Black Snout scored with Hat Trick Red. Bosque has a big release Friday with Weekend Trails West Coast Pilsner on tap and in cans. Boxing Bear has added Razz-Bearry Gose and AlbuMurky. La Cumbre is putting Sun Fade Hazy IPA back in cans and on tap this Friday. Marble is feeling Radler awesome. Palmer and Starr Brothers teamed up for 2 Robs Make a Rita. Starr Brothers also has Armadillo Trousers, a single-hop pale ale, due out this weekend. Steel Bender goes big with Skull Crusher IPA. Toltec is still feeling summer with Cherry Limonada Gose. Tractor brings back Ebony & Ivory Pale Stout, as well as Boot Girl IPA.

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn added Nebulous Nectar IPA. Rowley Farmhouse Ales flips ahead to Agent Scully – Season 2, Episode 9 (IPA). Tumbleroot added a Hazy IPA. Down in Truth or Consequences, TorC Brewing is dealing with the heat by releasing Cerveza Gold.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of July 15.

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Here’s the final list. Surprising? Yes, but it’s all for fun, so let’s have some! (Photo courtesy of the NM Brewers Guild)

A collection of 45 brewers and other brewery representatives gathered at Central New Mexico Community College on Saturday afternoon to judge the top IPAs in the state that will take part in the public rounds of the New Mexico IPA Challenge.

The results were, well, surprising, with a few well-known breweries left off the list, and a few underdogs advancing.

“I think it went really well,” said New Mexico Brewers Guild executive director Leah Black. “The feedback (from the brewers) has been amazing. I’m just really happy that it was more about camaraderie and all the powerhouse breweries from all over the state being in one room, and chilling out, and asking, ‘What do you think about this beer?’”

The final 15 were selected through a different process than in the past with the public vote.

“Groups of nine, there were five groups of nine,” Leah said. “They each got a flight of nine, and as a table they advanced three. Now it’s down to 15. They rule their least favorites, and then they had to come together as a jury and advance the three that they collectively thought was the best.”

The man behind that judging format was former Santa Fe brewmaster Bert Boyce.

“I gotta give a big shoutout to Bert, previously of Santa Fe Brewing, he was instrumental in helping execute the judging format,” Leah said. “It went smoothly.”

The crowd of brewers and their comrades selected the following 15 breweries. We are listing them with their finish in 2018, where applicable, and noting who will be new.

  • Blue Corn (2018 champion)
  • Bombs Away (did not advance out of preliminary in 2018)
  • Bosque (13th in 2018, champion in 2014-15)
  • Bow & Arrow (14th in 2018)
  • Boxing Bear (second in 2018, champion in 2016-17)
  • Enchanted Circle (new)
  • Ex Novo (new)
  • Icebox (new)
  • La Reforma (new)
  • Marble (third in 2018)
  • Rio Bravo (tied for sixth in 2018)
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales (did not advance out of preliminary in 2018)
  • Starr Brothers (did not advance out of preliminary in 2018)
  • Toltec (did not advance out of preliminary in 2018)
  • Tumbleroot (did not advance out of preliminary in 2018)

That, in turn, means the following notable names did not advance: Canteen, Cantero, La Cumbre, Nexus, Ponderosa, Quarter Celtic, Red Door, Red River, Santa Fe, Second Street, Sidetrack, Sierra Blanca, Steel Bender, Taos Mesa, Three Rivers, Tractor, Truth or Consequences, and Turtle Mountain.

In the end, though, there was no dissension in the ranks.

“No one in the crowd, no,” Leah said. “It just goes to show you that double blind (works).”

The first public round is this Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Picacho Peak Brewing in Las Cruces. Get your tickets online ASAP!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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Head brewer Andy Lane, left, and brewmaster Jason Kirkman get to the root of the issue.

Tumbleroot has been open to the public at both of its locations in Santa Fe for more than a year now. And, in that time, they’ve built a name for themselves in the local beer industry, established several haunts around town for their crafted spirits, and reshaped the landscape of Santa Fe’s nightlife scene, I would say, for the better.

I recently sat down with co-owner and co-founder Jason Kirkman and head brewer Andy Lane to talk about how far exactly Tumbleroot has sunk its roots into Santa Fe’s craft beer scene.

Tumbleroot has  two separate locations in Santa Fe — a brewing/distilling facility and taproom and a taproom/concert hall/event space — one of the only breweries to try such a feat right out of the gate.

It’s been a great learning experience, Kirkman said.

“I think that with our model of doing a full from-scratch brewery and distillery with a full lineup on premise, doing draft and (putting) bottled beer and spirits into distribution, it put a lot on our plate right off the get-go,” he said.

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Once again, it is time to test those tastebuds with an onslaught of hops, only this time it’s after the professionals whittle down the list of candidates.

The 2019 edition of the New Mexico IPA Challenge kicks off this Saturday with the annual preliminary round, but there are changes afoot. The biggest change is that the preliminary round is no longer open to the public.

“This year, they wanted to make it a little more along the lines of GABF judging,” said Guild executive director Leah Black. “Where it really is blind tasting who gets in the top 15. That’s what we’re going to start with. We had just under 50 entries, and for whatever reason, they didn’t get their check in on time, but we ended up with 45 breweries. From 45 (down) to 15 this Saturday, then for each public round there will be the same 15 breweries there. It will be a buildup to what the hopheads love. You can go to all three rounds if you want to drive. It should be a lot of fun.”

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Bosque Brewing provided us with this rendering of its future Westside taproom and brewery.

A rather important e-mail dropped in our laps during lunchtime, which revealed that Bosque Brewing is switching up a big part of its plans for the future.

The long-awaited and long-delayed Open Space Project at Venice and the I-25 frontage road, which was meant to serve as the specialty/seasonal brewery replacement for the original San Mateo location, has been abandoned. Instead, Bosque will build its secondary brewery on the Westside at a location near the intersection of Coors and St. Joseph’s.

Per the press release, this new space will have a 4,000-square-foot brewery, capable of brewing 5,000 barrels of specialty/seasonal beers per year, and an attached 5,000-square-foot taproom modeled after the other Bosque locations. In addition, there are plans for a 9,500-square-foot beer garden outside.

“Given our presence with Restoration Pizza and collaboration with La Reforma Brewery in Northeast Albuquerque, we felt it was a natural next step to serve Albuquerque’s Westside community,” Bosque Brewing Co. CEO Gabe Jensen said in the press release. “After some time of reflection, we decided it was in the best interest of Bosque Brewing Co. and the surrounding neighborhood to sell the land for what was originally planned as the Open Space Project. This decision was made so we can continue our focus on providing world-class beer and experiences throughout New Mexico and Southwest Colorado.”

When we are not all stuck at our day jobs in the middle of the week, rest assured that the Crew will be following up on this story.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s seven breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, one in Red River, one in Silver City, and one in Truth or Consequences also joining the party.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

The good folks at Canteen Brewhouse have stepped up recently in support of the Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, and this Friday will mark their big fundraiser for the summer at the brewery. From 5 to 9, stop by for the Valle de Oro Boysenberry Wheat, and get a pint and keep the special pint glass for just $10, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Friends. You can also enjoy the music of Dusty Low from 6 to 9. The beer should be on tap for the rest of the month, unless you all drink it up quickly, which sometimes happens with this style, but the beer-and-glass special will be available only during the times listed on Friday.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bombs Away flies in with Summer Bier and T50 Vienna Lager. Bosque is rolling again on the seasonals with Enargia IPA, Family Crest (Vienna Lager), Citronic Red, and Double Brown now available. Bow & Arrow is releasing its Western Beauty Grisette on tap and in bottles on Saturday (for more details, check out our recent interview with brewer Ted O’Hanlan). Boxing Bear ascends with Cascade Mountain IPA. Dialogue hops it up with Indo IPA and Mandala IPL. Ex Novo doubled the dry on Mass Ascension IPA for one batch and renamed it Mas Ascension, so get that while it lasts, plus Really Tied the Room Together Hazy Pale Ale is available on tap and in cans. La Cumbre brought back Pecos Porter and Blond Ale, while also adding Fruit Softly and Nelson Brut. Marble also brings back an old favorite in Dang Pale Ale, while also adding Dry Oaked Stout. Ponderosa kicks back with Ponderosa Pilsner. Sidetrack brings back Crystal Cream Ale and C-6 IPA. Steel Bender resurrects The Village Idiot on Thursday. Thirsty Eye smooths out with Cashmere Blonde.

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn keeps things hopping with New England Style IPA and Gatekeeper IPA with Galaxy. Second Street rolls out CerveSandia, Rod’s Steam Bitter, Pecos Porter, and Six Fruit Under. Over in Los Alamos, Bathtub Row goes old school with Jefferson Ale, plus adds Eureka! SMASH. Down in Truth or Consequences, TorC Brewing has limited amounts of its “Test Kitchen” beers, Cosmic Lager and Anonymous Blonde.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of July 8.

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Bow & Arrow head brewer Ted O’Hanlan loves his new foeder.

The Crew has long been remiss about sitting down and talking with Bow & Arrow head brewer Ted O’Hanlan. Upon seeing photos of a new toy that showed up at his brewery at the end of last week, I decided it was time that we rectify this matter, and lo and behold, our schedules permitted such a time.

Bow & Arrow parted ways with its first brewer in early 2017, just a year after it opened, which prompted a nationwide search for a successor. Ted, who has family ties in the area, came out from North Carolina, and ended up being hired in March of that year.

“I originally did IT work,” he said. “I worked at EPA for a while. Then, when the recession hit and I got laid off, I tried to find a new career path, which involved me going to culinary school. Working for a little while in kitchens and realizing that was not an environment that I particularly liked. I tried my hand at cheese making and farming for a little while.

“I’d been a home brewer that whole time. As I gradually got more serious about my homebrewing, which happened to coincide with the initial boom of brewery openings in North Carolina. That just kind of gave me a door in. I started working at Full Steam. They were originally interested in me because of my culinary background, and it just fit for me.”

After working at Full Steam from 2011 to 2014, and then at Black Tooth from 2014 to early 2017, Ted said he was ready for a change.

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The science theme is the defining trait of the new Brew Lab 101 in Rio Rancho.

On July 4, I stopped in to try the beer at Beer Lab 101 at 3301 Southern Blvd. SE in Rio Rancho. Immediately upon walking in, patrons will notice the science theme and the polished tap room.

Overall, this is a great addition to the Rio Rancho beer scene, having softly opened in early June after a long process to get to that point. Now there are three breweries within just a few blocks of each other on Southern, with Turtle Mountain and 1933 Brewing just a few blocks to the east.

The light fixture is made in part from an old beaker.

The servers were very friendly, and were happy to let me taste the three Beer Lab 101 beers and two ciders they had they had that day. There are also guest taps, but I was definitely there to taste their beer. Below is what I had.

  • Newton’s Apple Cider and Cherry Bomb Cider — I liked the cherry more than the apple, because there was an abundance of tart cherry flavor, giving it a super fresh taste. I felt both ciders were still just a touch on the watery side.
  • The Bull IPA — Not overly hoppy, but solid. This is what I ordered for my pint.
  • Sassy Brunette Amber — More complex than typical ambers, it feels more like a slightly hoppy red.
  • Event Horizon Oatmeal Stout — Very light mouthfeel, easy drinking. On such a hot day, though, I went for the IPA.

The brewing equipment is not in use quite yet, but patrons will be able to see the brewing team in action soon.

Beer Lab 101 is aiming for eight on tap, the five house styles, and three seasonals. The next beer they are hoping to put on tap is a hazy IPA. They are not yet brewing on their in-house equipment because they are still tweaking some of the engineering. They are contracting right now with Rio Bravo, but are hoping to switch over very soon.

The taproom does not serve food, but they are working with food trucks and there are several restaurants in close proximity that will deliver over to the taproom.

The science theme really is everywhere inside.

It’s the attention to detail in the taproom that is worth mentioning. The science theme is everywhere. The sample glasses are the cutest little beakers ever, and the wine decanters are a different style of beaker (flask). Also, the old-fashioned filament-design light bulbs rest inside large flask beakers. It is seriously pretty freaking adorable. The back of the shirts the servers were wearing say, “No science no beer.” That just about sums it up.

Cheers to science!

— AmyO

The time has come to feast once again at Pork & Brew! (Photo courtesy of Alex Archuleta)

The annual feast festival that is Pork & Brew returns to the Rio Rancho Star Center this weekend, with three local breweries joining in on the fun.

Tractor and Turtle Mountain went so far as to do their first collaboration beer (that we know of) in the form of the Chicharrón Red Lager. Per an email from TMBC head brewer Mick Hahn, the lager checks in at 5.3-percent ABV and 34 IBU, hopped with Chinook and Sorachi Ace.

“It is juicy up front and finishes with a spiciness that should complement BBQ really nicely,“ Mick wrote.

Star Center director of marketing Alex Archuleta got to visit TMBC on the day of brewing back in May.

“It was cool for those guys to do a collaboration,” Alex asaid. “I got to go over there and check it out. You guys know about brewing, but I’ve only seen it a few times. It’s awesome. It’s such a science and it’s cool.”

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