Another year has passed, so it is time for our New Mexico breweries to see who will claim the throne with the state’s best IPA, as the 2017 NM IPA Challenge kicked off today. With the prominence of our vast amount of great IPAs around these parts, this annual event has become a popular event for both craft beer fans and brewers alike.
Will this year see a repeat win from 2016 champs Justin Hamilton and Boxing Bear Brewing, or perhaps a third title in four years for John Bullard and Bosque Brewing, or will a new face claim top honors? Today gave some clarity to those answers as competition commenced.
This year’s event begins, as last year’s did, with an elimination round hosted by Duel Brewing at their downtown Albuquerque taproom. With a reported 39 entries this year, last year’s elimination format was expanded a bit, as patrons were given a flight of approximately 13 beers to sample and vote on. Since this was an elimination round, that means there was bound to be surprises … and, lo and behold, there were.
Check out the results:
1. The 377 27 votes
2. Bosque 21
TIE 3. Boxing Bear 17, Starr Bros. 17
5. Blue Corn 16
6. Tractor 15
7. La Cumbre 14
TIE 8. Marble 12, Bow & Arrow 12, Second St. 12
11. Quarter Celtic 11
TIE 12. Canteen 10, Ponderosa 10
14. Sierra Blanca 9
TIE 15. Bathtub Row 7, Rowley 7, The Wellhead 7
TIE 18. Dialogue 6, Duel 6, Santa Fe 6, Palmer 6, Rio Bravo 6, Steel Bender 6 (AUTO BYE TO NEXT ROUND)
TIE 24. Chama River 5, Drafty Kilt 5, Kellys 5, Spotted Dog 5
TIE 28. Desert Valley 3, Nexus 3, Sidetrack 3, Turtle Mountain 3
TIE 32. Cazuela’s 2, Red Door 2
TIE 34. Enchanted Circle 1, Three Rivers 1
UPDATE: There will be 15 breweries advancing, as Picacho Peak will automatically advance as a host of a future round. The folks from the Las Cruces brewery elected not to enter their IPA into the preliminary round, since it did not matter how they finished. Second Street and Steel Bender also advanced under this rule, though Second Street would have advanced no matter what due to its vote total above.
This seemed to be a year of cross style IPAs, at least in this writer’s opinion. I personally was given a flight of beers 14-26, in which I noticed the following:
- The “juicy” IPA trend is in full effect: a handful of entries on my flight were of the hazy, Northeastern-style that is becoming more popular these days. I had one of said beers as a top notch brew.
- Belgian style: Another noticeable trend was the Belgian style popping up in a few samples on mine and other patrons trays. A yeasty base could be found in several competition beers. Yeasty notes, with clove, banana, and spices were paired with lots of hops splashed in.
All in all, it was a successful event, with the up and coming The 377 Brewery taking the bulk of the votes, but NM IPA Challenge vets such as Bosque, Boxing Bear, and La Cumbre still moved on to the next rounds of the challenge. With a good cross section of sub-styles represented, the next few rounds will be quite interesting!
— Brandon Daniel