Beer Polls: The final results were predictable and surprising

Chama River has claimed this trophy twice. So yeah, they want it back as much as anybody.
We’re too lazy and poor to make anyone a cool trophy like this for winning any of our polls. Sorry.

In the week between Christmas and New Year’s, the Crew put out a series of beer polls (you can find them here, here, and here) to see if all of you would vote differently than the readers of Albuquerque The Magazine in its Best of the City awards. In four categories, our readers and theirs were on the same page. The rest, well, no, often not even close.

To break it all down, we are listing all the pertinent info — total votes, winners, runners-up, and a reminder of the magazine winners. As always, these polls (or any polls) are hardly scientific proof of anything. There were even some accusations flying between the breweries that there was some ballot-stuffing going on, particularly in the last set of six polls. Next time around, if we ever do this again, we will make sure to activate the “one vote per IP address” option. If you scroll all the way to the bottom you will see the tallies of the seven voting members of the Crew.

Category: Best Red/Amber
Total votes: 196
Winner: Marble Red (64 votes)
ABQ Mag winner: Marble Red
Other vote totals: Bosque Brewer’s Boot (40), La Cumbre Pyramid Rock (35), Quarter Celtic Crimson Lass (32), Canteen Dougie Style (25)
Commentary: A rare win for one of the old guard. Being packaged and readily available at bars and restaurants across town did not hurt Marble Red, certainly, but that it held off the newer, shinier entries was still impressive. Marble was not so lucky in every other category.

Category: Best Scotch/Scottish
Total votes: 183
Winner: Bosque Scotia (127)
ABQ Mag winner: None, they didn’t have this category
Other vote totals: Bow & Arrow Crossed Arrows (27), Nexus Scotch (21), Drafty Kilt Wee Beastie (8)
Commentary: We subbed in this for Best Sour, since no one carries a sour regularly (at least not yet). Again, a packaged beer dominated here. If we were surprised by anything, it was that Nexus Scotch Ale, their co-best seller, did not get more votes.

Category: Best Pilsner/Lager
Total votes: 208
Winner: La Cumbre BEER (60)
ABQ Mag winner: Bosque Lager
Other vote totals: Boxing Bear Body Czech (52), Bosque Lager (45), Marble Pilsner (29), Chama River Class VI (12), Canteen High Plains Pils (10)
Commentary: This one was a close vote until the end, when the gold medal-winning BEER pulled away. Again, being packaged was a plus. This is kind of a poll we should revisit in the summer, when more people are drinking this style.

Category: Best Stout
Total votes: 218
Winner: Boxing Bear Standing 8 (77)
ABQ Mag winner: Tractor Mustachio Milk Stout
Other vote totals: La Cumbre Malpais (65), Bosque Driftwood (36), Mustachio (21), Red Door Paint it Black (19)
Commentary: Robust trumps sweet, say the beer geeks. The 2015 winner of the Crew’s Stout Challenge held off a late charge by one of our local stout stalwarts, Malpais, the 2013 winner.

Category: Best Hefeweizen/Wheat
Total votes: 291
Winner: La Cumbre Slice of Hefen (153)
ABQ Mag winner: Slice of Hefen
Other vote totals: Boxing Bear Hairy Mit Hefe (77), Nexus Honey Chamomile Wheat (26), Canteen La Luz (23), Tractor Haymaker (12)
Commentary: This was basically a blowout, with Slice of Hefen racking up more than half the votes. Even a pair of medals at the World Beer Cup and GABF could not vault Nexus into contention, which was surprising.

Category: Best Cider
Total votes: 255
Winner: Boxing Bear AppleBear (123)
ABQ Mag winner: Red Door Unhinged
Other vote totals: Unhinged (68), Tractor Delicious Red (64)
Commentary: We only included ciders made at the breweries, which led to a close race for a while before AppleBear pulled away with half the total votes.

Category: Best Unique House Beer
Total votes: 267
Winner: Bow & Arrow Sun Dagger Saison (96)
ABQ Mag winner: None, they didn’t have this category
Other vote totals: Bosque Elephants on Parade (63), La Cumbre Red Ryeot (45), Marble Double White (39), Nexus Imperial Cream (24)
Commentary: Wow, Double White didn’t win? This 0ne was a bit of a shocker. It might also be a sign for breweries that creating a saison that you can keep on tap year-round is a good idea.

Category: Best Packaged Seasonal
Total votes: 299
Winner: Boxing Bear Chocolate Milk Stout (80)
ABQ Mag winner: La Cumbre Project Dank
Other vote totals: Bosque Scale Tipper (70), Project Dank (68), La Cumbre La Negra (45), Marble White Out (12), Tractor Luna de los Muertos (11), Boese Brothers Double Dead Ale (8), Ponderosa Preacher’s Daughter (5)
Commentary: This one was neck-and-neck between two past National IPA Challenge winners, Scale Tipper and Project Dank, before the multi-medal-winning CMS roared past them both. Malts beat hops, for a change.

Category: Best IPA
Total votes: 303
Winner: La Cumbre Elevated (151)
ABQ Mag winner: Elevated
Other vote totals: Boxing Bear Uppercut (66), Bosque IPA (45), Quarter Celtic Mor-buck (15), Canteen Flashback (10), Chama River Jackalope (9), Red Door Threshold (7)
Commentary: This was no contest. Elevated is truly the standard bearer for IPAs in our hop-crazy town.

Category: Best Canned Beer Lineup
Total votes: 928
Winner: La Cumbre (335)
ABQ Mag winner: La Cumbre
Other vote totals: Bosque (238), Canteen (163), Marble (120), Rio Bravo (41), Tractor (31)
Commentary: The sheer variety and consistency of La Cumbre’s year-round lineup has not been overtaken by any of the new guys (or at least new to canning). It’s impressive to see Bosque in second since their beer has only been canned for a few months. And, yes, we know it’s technically canned in Denver for the time being, but the beer recipes were created in Albuquerque, so that’s why Bosque was still eligible.

Category: Best Food
Total votes: 909
Winner: Quarter Celtic (282)
ABQ Mag winner: Ponderosa and Starr Brothers (they had two food categories, which was weird)
Other vote totals: Nexus (183), Bosque (158), Canteen (132), Chama River (49), Turtle Mountain (49), Ponderosa (29), Starr Brothers (27)
Commentary: OK, color us surprised with this result. Long-time brewpub stalwarts Nexus, Chama, and Turtle could not hold off QC. Folks’ food palates are often even more selective than their beer palates, so this is a good sign for the new guys. It also shows how much the beer geeks disagree with the magazine voters, whose two picks were at the back of the pack.

Category: Best Front-of-House Staff
Total votes: 881
Winner: Quarter Celtic (270)
ABQ Mag winners: Boxing Bear and Marble (tied)
Other vote totals: Bosque (244), Boxing Bear (153), Marble (78), Tractor (46), Red Door (45), Sidetrack (45)
Commentary: The truth is, we love the staffs at almost every brewery in town. Service has gotten a whole lot better across the board, so credit to all the taproom managers across the metro area. When it gets busy, and at our finalists it often gets REALLY busy, they still manage to shine. Kudos to all.

Category: Best Atmosphere
Total votes: 955
Winner: Quarter Celtic (246)
ABQ Mag winner: Bow & Arrow
Other vote totals: Bow & Arrow (214), Bosque (197), Canteen (155), Boxing Bear (86), Tractor (35), Sidetrack (22)
Commentary: Defining atmosphere is hard enough, because there are so many factors that going into what you are looking for in a brewery. Heck, what you want on a Tuesday may be completely different than on a Saturday. This might be the most subjective category of all.

Category: Best Brewmaster/Head Brewer
Total votes: 955
Winner: Brady McKeown, Quarter Celtic (270)
ABQ Mag winner: Justin Hamilton, Boxing Bear
Other vote totals: John Bullard, Bosque (236); Jeff Erway, La Cumbre (178); Zach Guilmette, Canteen (149); Hamilton (94); Josh Trujillo, Marble (28)
Commentary: The guy who has been brewing longer than anyone is triumphant! Congrats to Brady, a truly nice guy who has been piling up awards for many years. There was not a bad choice in this bunch, but we gotta say, all of you need to start trying these new seasonals at Marble that Josh is creating at the Northeast Heights brewhouse. His skill and creativity are really starting to shine through again outside their regular lineup.

Category: Best Brewery Overall
Total votes: 950
Winners (tie): Bosque and Quarter Celtic (241 apiece)
ABQ Mag winner: Marble
Other vote totals: La Cumbre (176), Canteen (135), Boxing Bear (82), Marble (53), Tractor (22)
Commentary: I guess we’ll have to give John and Brady pistols at dawn to settle this properly. Well, no, because we want them to both keep brewing awesome beer. The truth is there was no bad answer to this poll. We are blessed with many, many great local breweries in the metro area, even those that did not crack the list of our seven finalists. It is a golden era for beer in Burque.

In summation, there were definitely some surprises above. Packaged beers almost always had an advantage over tap-only beers. Newer breweries, for the most part, ruled over the old guard. Marble, in particular, does not seem to get the same level of love from the beer geek audience as a more general audience. Times and palates change, we suppose. Another possibility is that the breweries that galvanized support among their die-hard fans via social media by sharing these polls did the best.

Oh, yeah, and how the Crew voted. Take note that some of our members either abstained due to not living in Albuquerque (Julie, Luke, Reid) or for reasons they did not disclose, which might have simply been that they forgot to email me back. These things happen. The seven voting members of the Crew, including yours truly, were AmyO, Andrew, Brandon, Franz Solo, Shawna, and Tom. For the sake of not infringing on our status of being publicly neutral, we are only listing the number of votes for our top choices in each category. A * means that the voter’s choice did not make the final poll due to a lack of votes from the rest of us. (We all voted to narrow down every category from upwards of 20 possibilities down to the five-to-seven finalists, FYI, while each noting our particular overall favorite.)

  • Best Red/Amber: Canteen Dougie Style (3), Quarter Celtic Crimson Lass (2), La Cumbre Pyramid Rock (1), Starr Brothers Red Zepplin* (1)
  • Best Pilsner/Lager: La Cumbre BEER (3), Boxing Bear Body Czech (2), Bosque Lager (1), Chama River Class VI (1)
  • Best Stout: Boxing Bear Standing 8 (3), Chama River Sleeping Dog* (2), Bosque Driftwood (1), La Cumbre Malpais (1)
  • Best Hefe/Wheat: La Cumbre Slice of Hefen (6), Nexus Honey Chamomile (1)
  • Best Unique: Bosque Elephants on Parade (2), Bow & Arrow Sun Dagger Saison (2), Nexus Imperial Cream (2)
  • Best IPA: Boxing Bear Uppercut (2), Bosque IPA (1), Bow & Arrow Hoka Hey* (1), La Cumbre Elevated (1), Quarter Celtic Mor-buck (1), Starr Brothers Starrstruck* (1)
  • Best Food: Nexus (4), Bosque (1), Cazuela’s* (1), Chama River (1)
  • Best Staff: Tractor (2), Bosque (1), Bow & Arrow* (1), Dialogue* (1), Nexus* (1), Pi* (1)
  • Best Atmosphere: Bosque (2), Bow & Arrow (2), Marble (2), Dialogue* (1)
  • Best Brewmaster/Head Brewer: John Bullard, Bosque (4); Luke Steadman*, Bow & Arrow (1); Jeff Erway, La Cumbre (1); Josh Trujillo, Marble (1)
  • Best Brewery Overall: Bosque (4), Bow & Arrow (1), La Cumbre (1), Marble (1)

The categories where we did not each individually pick a winner were Best Scotch/Scottish, Best Cider, Best Canned Lineup, and Best Seasonal. The reason for the first three was because there were so few entries we did not have to vote to trim the list down to something manageable for a poll. For the seasonal poll, we instead voted for our favorite for each brewery, rather than pick just one overall favorite. Also, only six of the seven voters picked a favorite in Best Unique House Beer. Our two most divisive categories were Best IPA and Best Staff, where six different winners were selected. Basically, if anyone thinks that we think about breweries exactly the same, well, there is your proof the Crew has a varied mix of palates and overall opinions.

All of this was just for fun, of course. We hope no one took offense, though any time opinions are expressed, that is probably inevitable. We may, or may not, bring these back at the end of the year. Until then, we will get back to just reporting on the news about local craft beer and let all of you make up your own minds about where to go and what to drink.

Thanks to all who voted.


— Stoutmeister

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