In another close vote, Boxing Bear claimed its second straight NM IPA Challenge championship on Saturday afternoon at Steel Bender Brewyard.
Justin Hamilton and his staff claimed 104 votes, with Bosque running a very close second at 101. Quarter Celtic (82), Canteen (76), Starr Brothers (59), Marble (49), Tractor (43) and Bow & Arrow (40) were closed behind.
“It means a whole lot for us, honestly,” Justin said. “With each competition with put forth we support the (New Mexico Brewers) Guild. But the fact that it’s blind and that people are really judging as to what they like the best means a lot. It means a whole lot. We honestly had some of the best beers in the world as far as New Mexico goes.”
Bear Knuckle became just the latest repeat champion. Exodus won three years in a row for Canteen from 2010-12 (a different IPA had started it off in 2009), followed by repeat wins for Scale Tipper from Bosque in 2014 and 2015.
“It’s obviously a super competition,” Justin said. “We have the National IPA Challenge winners from the last four years (here). It means so much. It’s really cool to be a part of it. Obviously the last two years the competition has been the closest it’s ever been. We have so many amazing breweries coming up, Starr Brothers, Quarter Celtic. They obviously put up some amazing entries.”
For the record, La Cumbre won the Brewing News IPA Challenge in 2014 and 2017, sandwiched around Bosque winning in 2015 and 2016.
“Bear Knuckle is one of those things where we try to keep improving it,” Justin said. “Hop varieties change a little bit. The recipe is pretty solid. We’ve got a good base for it, it’s doing well for us.”
Ultimately, Steel Bender was able to run a smooth ship Saturday afternoon. The weather cooperated (hooray!) and overall it was a well-run event. So far, at least, the complaints have not piled up about the final round, as they did with the preliminary rounds.
For Boxing Bear, the staff never lost sight of the ultimate goal of the NMIPAC.
“The main thing is it’s a big supporter for the Guild, for the community,” Justin said. “IPA is the most popular style in the country right now. It’s cool to see on a national level New Mexico doing well. Locally, it’s good to support the Guild with some awesome IPAs.”
Justin said he does not expect the reign to last much longer for Boxing Bear.
“There were a lot of beers that were out there that I could recognize,” he said. “That’s amazing, that you have things that are just really good beers in this city. It seems to be about another year, maybe two … people get the idea of what you’re doing as far as local IPAs go. Then three or four years, everything flip flops. They’re not catching up yet, but they will.”
Congrats to Boxing Bear on its back-to-back victories! We look forward to the next NM IPA Challenge next year.