The Dandy Dozen was reduced to six at the National IPA Challenge this weekend, with one of the two remaining New Mexico entries advancing to the championship qualifier of its respective bracket. It probably was not the one most people expected.
Two-time past champion Scale Tipper from Bosque was ousted in the fifth round, while Canteen’s Hop Baller survived to fight another week. Scale Tipper lost to Triumvirate from Rueben’s Brews in a semifinal of the Bracket 2 championship qualifier, ending its bid to become the first three-time champion in the history of the event held annually by the Brewing News. Scale Tipper is still the only back-to-back winner (2015, 2016), and one of only two IPAs with multiple wins, the other being La Cumbre’s Project Dank (2014, 2017).
If New Mexico is to make it five titles in a row, it will be up to Hop Baller. Canteen head brewer Zach Guilmette told us this week that was surprised Hop Baller advanced further than his other entry, Tuttle IPA, but he was quite happy to make it as far as being one of the last 12 IPAs standing. Now, Hop Baller is one of the final six. It upended Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack, the 2013 champion that had previously eliminated Project Dank back in the second round and The 377’s El Cucuy in the first round. Hop Baller kept Pallet Jack from being a three-time NM killer.
Next up for Hop Baller is a showdown with Tricksters Brewing’s JuiceBox IPA. The winner of Bracket 3 will go head-to-head with the winners of Brackets 1 and 2 for the championship, though we are not quite sure of how the format will work as this year was the first time the main IPA bracket had to be split into three.
Results from the next round of the NIPAC should be posted next weekend. Good luck to Hop Baller!