The guide to the preliminary round of the NM IPA Challenge

Yes, we know this is an awesome poster, but we’re not sure if Bullard and Hamilton actually know how to use pistols of that sort.

In case you have somehow missed it, the preliminary round of the NM IPA Challenge is this Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at the Duel Taproom in downtown Albuquerque. The purpose of this round is to narrow down the ever-growing field of breweries who make great IPAs in order to have a more manageable number to taste at the final three rounds.

To make sure we had all the details lined up, I fired off an email to NM Brewers Guild director John Gozigian. He was quick to respond, so thank you, John!

In a change from last year, there will be three trays of beers for people to sample. There were 39 (!) entries this year, so trays A, B, and C will have 13 different samples, each numbered. The goal is to have an equal number of each tray handed out for sampling, thus giving every participating brewery an equal chance to advance. You can only vote off one tray per person, but if you want to try more, then make sure you have two friends/relatives come with you and stand in line together. Then each of you will get a different tray, and once you’re done with making your selection off your own tray, pass the favorites around amongst each other. If you don’t have two people to bring along, find a table with good folks with different trays and see if they will share upon voting completion.

We are sending just Brandon to cover this event, so he may need some company. We promise, he won’t bite. (Unless you mention something about how the Stanley Cup Finals have gone the last two years, then you’re taking a big risk.)

Once the final votes have been tallied, the top 15 will advance to the final three rounds, which will take place at Picacho Peak Brewing (July 19) in Las Cruces, the new Second Street Rufina location (July 22) in Santa Fe, and the grande finale at Steel Bender Brewyard (July 29).

John said that the early demand is high for tickets, so to make sure you have a spot Saturday (and in the following rounds), your best bet is to visit Duel and buy a ticket, or head to the Guild website and buy it online.

Beyond that, our advice for NMIPAC remains the same as always:

  • If you can, don’t drive, instead use Uber/Lyft/a taxi/bike/bribe someone to be your DD. Remember, especially for downtown, parking can often be a hassle (though Saturday afternoon should be OK, just be prepared to walk a couple blocks in the heat).
  • You can bring pretzels to help your palate reset itself from hop bomb to hop bomb. There will be water provided as well.
  • Take your time. There is no rush unless you arrive at 3:30 or something. Enjoy the aroma of every beer (in fact, do this immediately upon getting your tray). Take time to sip, analyze, and then revisit your beers. You do not have to go in order of numbers, either. Do it however you want.
  • The last few champions, in case anyone forgot: Boxing Bear (2016), Bosque (2014-15), Blue Corn (2013), Canteen/Il Vicino (2009-12)

If anyone has any questions, don’t hesitate to email us at, or contact us via social media.

Good luck to all the attendees and breweries!


— Stoutmeister

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