Before the actual NM State Fair kicks off — and come on, you know it’s coming soon since friend of the Crew Lauren Poole is playing Lynette in the commercials again — they hold a Pro-Am competition where a bunch of judges figure out some of the best beers in the land.

Our friends at the Dukes of Ale have the full list of winners on their website, so you can go there or keep on reading and see what we think of the decisions. Because after all, we’re not professional beer judges, but we sure act like we are.

We don't have an actual picture of the beer La Cumbre won Best of Show with, so instead we recycled this photo of the beer wheel.

We don’t have an actual picture of the beer La Cumbre won Best of Show with, so instead we recycled this photo of the beer wheel.

The big winner of the event was La Cumbre’s new Jaramillo Hates Pale Ale, named after brewer Daniel Jaramillo, which earned Best of Show. He and Jeff Erway brewed up this beer and took home plenty of other medals and trophies. They also got Best Ale for JHPA. In terms of medals, La Cumbre took home three golds for Elevated IPA, Siberian Silk Baltic Porter, and the JHPA. Silver medals included Pyramid Rock Amber Ale and Second Anniversary Ale, that potent imperial stout beast they unleashed upon us months ago. La Cumbre also picked up three bronze medals. I can’t say we would argue with any of these decisions. The Siberian Silk, in particular, is a personal favorite. La Cumbre may be known for hoppy beers, but darn it, they do an amazing job with their darker concoctions as well.

Last year's batch of Milk Chocolate Cherry Stout at Il Vicino. Soooo good.

Last year’s batch of Milk Chocolate Cherry Stout at Il Vicino. Soooo good.

Il Vicino went out and cleaned up in its own right, claiming Best Specialty Beer with Saint Bob’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, which also took home a gold medal. Other gold medals went to the Dark American Lager, Red River Bitter, Odin’s Imperial Red, Fruit Cake Strong Ale, and Milk Chocolate Cherry Stout. Four silver medals and four bronze medals will also be hanging up on the Canteen’s crowded walls.

Other Albuquerque-area breweries pulled in a few medals as well. Sandia Chile Grill dominated the mead category, taking home Best Mead honors for Ruby Red and all three medals as well. SCG also picked up a silver medal for Barb’s Barrel Hefeweizen and for Mickey C’s Apple Cider.

Back Alley Draft House snagged two bronze medals for their White Ryeno and Summer Ale.

Chama River grabbed three gold medals and two silver. Claiming gold were the Serenity Milk Stout, Cold Crush Kolsch, and Rio Chama Amber Ale. The Class VI Pilsner and 3 Dog Night Baltic Porter earned silver.

The biggest surprise, in our opinion, was that Kelly’s Brewpub took home gold in the Irish and Scottish Ale category with their Red Ale. No offense, Pro-Am judges, but we have had much better beers. You can go across the street to Two Fools and try both Il Vicino’s Irish Red and Bosque’s Scotia Scottish Ale on tap now.

Nexus picked up two gold medals for their Tripel and English Brown Ale. The Cream Ale, Scottish Ale, Steam Beer, Belgian Dark Strong, and IPA all took home silver medals.

Turtle Mountain earned gold for the Cabo Lager and the Summer Scotch.

Blue Corn brewer John Bullard is piling up some serious hardware in recent months. So yes, we're going to go up to Santa Fe and do a big story soon. And drink his beer. Yay.

Blue Corn brewer John Bullard is piling up some serious hardware in recent months. So yes, we’re going to go up to Santa Fe and do a big story soon. And drink his beer. Yay.

Among the out-of-town breweries, reigning IPA Challenge winner Blue Corn picked up a fair amount of hardware. Best Lager went to BC’s Vienna Lager, which also snagged a separate gold medal. The Jemez Hefeweizen also took home gold, while the Gold Medal Stout was only silver-worthy this time (but trust us, it’s pretty darned good, medal or no medal).

Santa Fe Brewing brought home gold medals for Freestyle Pilsner, Saison ’88, and Los Innovadores Kriek. Skating home with silver were the Nut Brown Ale, Imperial Java Stout, 2011 Chicken Killer Barleywine, and Los Innovadores Oud Bruin.

And finally, Three Rivers up in Farmington took Best Cider for their Red Apple Flyer Cider, which also earned a separate gold medal. They also snagged silver medals for their Oktoberfest, Strawberry Chocolate Porter, and King Colona, a specialty beer that we admittedly know nothing about.

Other than the out-of-nowhere Kelly’s gold medal, we can’t complain too much about this list. It would be nice to see more breweries from around the state compete (where art thou, Marble?). And if the State Fair guys ever want us to put our money where our mouths (keyboards) are, hey, we’d love to volunteer as amateur judges next year.

Anyway, take this list of winners the next time you’re out and about and are wondering what brewery to visit and what beers to try. We’ll be sure to do some freelance judging of our own in the coming months. After all, it’s a while until the next major in-state beer event. We gotta keep our palates satiated in the interim.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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