Yeah, we had fun. As if you couldn't have guessed that beforehand.

Yeah, we had fun. As if you couldn’t have guessed that beforehand.

Well, that was fun! The Brew Crew was part of the 90-plus judges who took part in the inaugural VIPA Challenge on Sunday afternoon at the Sandia Casino. This preliminary round of the annual New Mexico IPA Challenge was designed to narrow what has become a crowded field of 25 IPAs down to the 14 the masses will taste at the regular three-round NMIPAC that starts this coming Saturday.

Did it go off without a hitch? No, but overall it was an outstanding event. It was efficient, well-organized, and went smoothly for those of us who were judging. For the record, the Crew was represented by myself, Franz Solo, Mrs. Solo, Brandon, Adam, and Laura. We were joined at our table by Dana, the organizer of Babes in Brewland, and her husband Matt (two of our more frequent partners in crime, for the record). As a collective, we mostly agreed on the top seven or eight beers.

And about those seven or eight, it is going to be a heck of an upcoming NMIPAC. It is a tight, vicious field, filled with so much hop-tastic excellence that we can only pray most of you have an easier time than we did (we didn’t have to rank them 1-14, but most of us did anyway).

The beers were sent out in batches of eight. We also had lots of food and water to help cleanse our palates.

The beers were sent out in batches of eight. We also had lots of food and water to help cleanse our palates.

Now for the part you have all been waiting for, here are the full results from the VIPA. The number in parentheses is what the beer was numbered on our trays. The top 14 advance to the regular NMIPAC.

  1. Chama River (9) 94 votes
  2. Bosque (19) 91 votes
  3. Canteen (4) 89 votes
  4. Marble (18) 85 votes
  5. Boxing Bear (13) 84 votes
  6. Blue Corn (11) 79 votes
  7. La Cumbre (7) 73 votes
  8. Turtle Mountain (3) 68 votes
  9. Second Street (20) 62 votes
  10. Ponderosa (10) 60 votes
  11. Three Rivers (23) 56 votes
  12. Spotted Dog (1) 54 votes
  13. Back Alley (17) 46 votes
  14. (tie) Pi (8) 45 votes
  15. Taos Mesa (6) 45 votes — so yes, both will participate
  16. Lizard Tail (5) 41 votes
  17. Red Door (21) 36 votes
  18. Bathtub Row (12) 28 votes
  19. Sierra Blanca (22) 25 votes
  20. Tractor (14) 21 votes
  21. High Desert (15) 20 votes
  22. Kaktus (2) 19 votes
  23. Roosevelt (16) 16 votes

Yes, there were supposed to be 25 breweries, but something happened (we were unclear) and Sandia Chile Grill’s IPA was not available. It may be allowed into the main NMIPAC, but that is to be determined. UPDATE: We received an email from the Guild about what happened to SCG. This is what Chris Goblet had to say: “I just wanted to let you know that Mick and Clinton Coker did deliver their keg and it was our oversight that kept them from participating today. I want to be sure that I, meaning Chris Goblet as the representative of the the Guild, am accountable for the mistake.

“I have offered Mick and Clinton the opportunity to put their beer forward to be judged as the rest. It may seem unfair to some, but all beers are judged in the IPA Challenge for their merit, and every Challenger’s beer deserves to be judged. I am not certain if Mick and Clinton will choose to continue but I honestly hope they do. Please note the Guild is taking the responsibility for this oversight if you make any updates or further comments.”

As for the 25th entry, Santa Fe’s IPA simply would not pour. We got a sorta-sample and smelled … something bad. Something went horribly wrong with a beer that Luke told us was downright epic when he had it at SFBC itself.

Besides that, as I said before, this was an excellent event. Kudos to Chris Goblet and everyone else from the NM Brewers Guild who put it together. We were happy to help in our small way, getting people to sign up and doing our best to promote the event. It was fun getting to meet some of our readers for the first time.

Cheers to the first VIPA Challenge!

Cheers to the first VIPA Challenge!

Oh, and the best part is the whole thing ended in time for us to see Carli Lloyd go straight Gojira on poor Japan in the Women’s World Cup final. U-S-A, U-S-A!

The Crew will have full coverage of the next three rounds of the NMIPAC. Look for our writers in Santa Fe, Las Cruces (hopefully), and finally at Boxing Bear here in Albuquerque on July 18, where the next IPA champion will be crowned.


— Stoutmeister

  1. Chris Goblet says:

    I want to thank the Dark Side Brew and all the VIPA Judges out there who came to Sandia Casino today. Great review of the event, you all are too generous with you kind remarks. The event was not without hiccups, but it was a memorable.
    Our deepest apologies to Sandia Chile Grill and to all judges who missed their beer in this round.
    We hope to make it up to everyone.

    Chris Goblet
    Beer Ambassador

  2. Burritoman says:

    Because The Brewers Guild did not take it to the event. They left it in their fridge. Still feeling like the little guys even from ya’ll. I hope you get your story straight.

  3. Mick Coker says:

    Thank you for the update, however it is not fair for us to move forward as we received “ZERO” votes for our beers. It would be a disrespect to our brew brothers that can not move forward because they were actually in the event. Therefore we will not compete in this tournament!! My only question is how does a professional event not enter ever beer delivered to them and make arrangements for a beer to move forward? Seems like an amateur mistake to me…..

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