It’s IPA Challenge time again! The second leg of the 2016 NM Brewers Guild’s annual event continues Saturday at Santa Fe Brewing Company’s brand new venue, the Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing. And, just as that sentence was, this competition will be a mouthful. It’s the first leg after the elimination round where 28 IPAs were judged at Rio Bravo Brewing Company on July 9, and 13 were eliminated. That’s right, only 15 IPAs made the cut, those you chose and one whose brewery happened to be a host for the next legs of the competition.
Saturday at noon, the jockey boxes will begin pouring their hearts out. Fifteen IPAs will find their way onto each tray per ticket purchased. It’s a simple concept. You sample and choose your favorite. The numbers will then be counted and added to the following legs in the competition, where, at the final round, the numbers will be tallied up, and your 2016 IPA Challenge Champion will be crowned. Note: The numbers have all been reset from the elimination round, so everyone that moved on starts at zero votes.
After you select your favorite, stay for a complimentary pint of your favorite choice of IPA, or purchase any other beers that Santa Fe Brewing has on tap at the outdoor patio. At 5 p.m., local roof burners, Sean Healen Band, will take the stage for a free-to-the-public show. There will be food from Jambo Food Truck, Kebab Caravan, and Taqueria Gracias Madre in case you’re hungry, or just need to fill your stomach somewhere in the middle of 15 IPA samples and a pint. Remember, food is your friend at the beer events!
As with every poor sap that sits next to me at one of these competitions, I’d like to share my IPA Challenge strategy, thanks to the wisdom of Duel’s Todd Yocham. You’re picking one winner, right? So, there’s no need to drink each sample down to the end. You can sample, and if you don’t like something, put it aside, right away. I like to keep a “maybe” section so I can return to them, but your final, critical decision section, which you deem the best of the rest should be down to about two or three samples — this way you don’t get too drunk to really decide, and it cuts down on palate fatigue. And, insider hint, ask for small refills of those last two you’re still considering. 15 IPAs. Do yourself some favors. Also, if you can’t make it, Santa Fe Brewing Company will be live streaming from the event, so stay tuned to the SFBC Facebook page.
For me, I have personal nostalgic feels for this event. It was the first story I ever did for the NM Dark Side Brew Crew. That was two years ago at Second Street Brewery. I’m thrilled to still be writing for the Dark Side, and I’m so honored to have found a place in the NM brewing industry because of them. So, special thanks to Stoutmeister and the rest of the Crew for taking a chance on an untested dude from Santa Fe. Cheers to our great industry, and see you at the Bridge for Round One! Fight!
— Luke (Craft Crusader)