I survived the state high school basketball tournament! Oh, thank the maker that is over. Now I can get back to beer. And baseball. And filling out my NCAA Tournament bracket.
Speaking of brackets, the Final Four of the Brewing News National IPA Challenge was set and New Mexico made up half of it … wait, what do you mean the championship is set? Checking the brackets again and HOLY @#$% IT’S AN ALL-NEW MEXICO FINAL!!!
Yup, as the headline above says, Bosque Brewing’s Scale Tipper will battle Canteen’s Exodus for the title of best IPA in America. Brewers John Bullard of Bosque and Brady McKeown of Canteen, who between them have won the last six New Mexico IPA Challenge trophies, will now get to square off for the title of best everywhere.
Everyone locally was pretty stunned, or so you all said on Facebook, that La Cumbre’s Project Dank lost in the Elite Eight to Melvin Brewing’s Morris IPA. Dank was the defending champion of NIPAC and obviously a beloved beer to the local community. Nonetheless, all good things have to end, including Dank’s reign as IPA champion.
Scale Tipper avenged Dank in the Final Four, ousting Morris from the competition. On the other side of the bracket, Exodus eliminated 10 Barrel Brewing’s SAM IPA.
So what do the brewers think of this all-ABQ final?
“It’s great,” John said. “We beat out some really good names. That alone felt good. But to go against Exodus is cool, especially since we’ve been battling for a while now. Exodus is a great beer.”
“Amazing, I’m glad we didn’t have to face (all) 128 beers, but it’s great,” Brady said. “I must have refreshed my browser about 20 times yesterday.”
For two breweries located less than 10 miles apart to end up facing each other in the final is fairly amazing.
“It makes me feel proud, it makes me feel good that I’m part of this community, that so many of us here are still making great beer,” John said.
“It doesn’t hurt,” Brady added. “All this good advertising really helps us. It can be the same thing that winning a GABF medal or World Beer Cup, it’s all in how you advertise it, how you spin it.”
It might have seemed like fate for the two heavyweights at the NM IPA Challenge to end up meeting here, but neither brewer expected it.
“I never would have guessed; I never expected it to go this far, I really didn’t,” John said. “There’s some fantastic names up there. Barley Brown’s, that guy has beaten me at everything I’ve been in for the last several years.”
It was actually Exodus that ousted the two entries from Barley Brown’s, knocking out WFO IPA in the quarterfinals and Pallet Jack, a past champion, way back in the first round.
“He probably doesn’t like us very much,” Brady said with a laugh.
John called Brady to congratulate him earlier this morning, though he did add one thing to the conversation.
“We traded some hops not too long ago, so I said I wanted my hops back,” John said with a laugh.
At that point in the interview with John, co-owner Gabe Jensen hobbled over on crutches (he was trying to show off his basketball skills in honor of his two alma maters, Mesilla Valley HS and New Mexico State, winning trophies this past weekend) and was all smiles.
“I’m excited, I can’t decide if I want to win or not, we can’t make enough of the beer,” Gabe said, noting that there is only a little Scale Tipper left at the original brewery on San Mateo off Alameda. “I keep going back to it being such a great storyline, with the two great beers, Brady and John going at it again.
“It’s great for Bosque, but it’s great for Albuquerque and New Mexico. The more Albuquerque and New Mexico are recognized, the better it is for Bosque, I would say. I’m looking at this from the big picture (since) we’re not going to get any sales off of it.”
While the Scale Tipper supply is low, expect a fresh batch of Exodus to hit Canteen’s taps this Friday, Brady said. There is about five gallons left of the previous batch, but it will only be available for sampling, no pints, growlers or crowlers.
But if Project Dank put our local IPA scene on the national map last year, our profile is only getting more enhanced by this year’s match-up.
“That New Mexico is going to have it two years in a row is just great,” John added.
When the finals of the National IPA Challenge are announced, possibly later today, we will have more here.