The IPA Challenge is one of the biggest events (after ABQ Beer Week) in the New Mexico craft beer scene. Four rounds of tastings are spread out between three towns that showcase each brewery’s best India Pale Ale. This year’s IPAC starts July 22 at Nexus, followed by rounds at Three Rivers in Farmington on July 24, Second Street in Santa Fe on July 26, and the grand finale at Il Vicino Canteen on July 28.
Now, I have to admit that I’m not an IPA fan, but even for me there are ways to make this event a little more enjoyable if you keep an open mind. The competition is a blind taste test. You pay, you receive a judging card and a tray with 16 samples (or however many breweries submitted), you find a place and taste what NM has to offer.
I have one challenge under my belt, but a bunch of beer festivals as well. Here’s a few tips I can offer to have fun at the challenge:
Get there early!
This event fills up fast! And with the first challenge being at Nexus, get there as early as possible to avoid a battle for the limited parking … or better yet, ride your bike!
Get a glass of water
You’re doing a taste test of 16 different beers, no two are alike and flavors will vary. Water is good to cleanse the pallet. Embrace the hops!
Bring something to snack on
I learned this last year at September Fest at Marble, pretzles are your best friends at these types of events. They are filling and will keep you from getting too buzzed. Plus a change of flavor will help you get through the challenge.
Use the score card
We did the math last night, the challenge itself is roughly three pints of beer (or at least it was last year) plus the pint of your number one pick. The card is good for notes; write down what you like and don’t like. Keep it simple.
Like any event, have fun. Talk to people and talk to the brewers! They love beer just as much as you do.
Those are my tips for the challenge. Also, like anything involving drinking in a public fourm, don’t be an jerk and don’t drink and drive afterward!