Archive for July 18, 2018

A newcomer takes the top spot at the first round of the NM IPA Challenge.

TAOS — After a long drive through some rather crazy construction zones, I (Stoutmeister) made it to Taos for the first round of the NM IPA Challenge. My reason for visiting was quite selfish, as it meant for a great chance to hang out with my friend Merril for the first time in far too long (she has never been in town during a beer event), but it also gave me a chance for a new perspective.

Albuquerque and Santa Fe dominate the state’s beer scene, as evidenced by 14 of 16 breweries participating in the knockout rounds from those two metro areas. The folks in Taos, and those from towns nearby, have a different perspective on what makes a great IPA. Need proof? Well, how about Red River Brewing’s Bad Medicine Honey Double IPA taking the most votes (23) in the first round of the NMIPAC.

More than 80 people showed up at the Taos Mesa Tap Room in downtown, a nearly four-fold increase from the last time the NMIPAC held a round up here (that was at the Mothership, which is admittedly quite far from town and not a safe ride home or to a hotel for those that drove). It was an impressive gathering, regardless.

This is always harder than it looks.

There were four obviously hazy IPAs on the tray, with a few others that might have been hazy, but not hazy enough, or just IPAs that weren’t clarified properly. I found Bow & Arrow (#1 on the tray) to be the best, but it garnered just five votes. Still, in a more haze-crazed city, it might conquer the masses.

As it was, Red River did a hell of a showing. Second and third were a tie between Blue Corn and two-time defending champion Boxing Bear with 14 votes apiece. I did not mind either beer, though my personal choice was the Simcoe-heavy entry from La Cumbre (#10 on the tray). Merril went with #14, which turned out to be Quarter Celtic. Other than the final vote, we agreed on almost everything (that is another reason we are friends, I suppose).

The first-round leader from just about every NMIPAC that we have covered has never managed to hold onto the lead, so it will be quite interesting to see how Red River fares as the competition moves south. The next round will be at Second Street’s Rufina taproom on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Get your tickets at the NM Brewers Guild’s website. If 80-plus are gonna show up in Taos, expect 100-plus in Santa Fe, so get those tickets in advance!

Finally, we close with a quote from Red River’s head brewer, Chris Calhoun, who could not stop smiling from before the votes were announced until well after.

“I’m pretty surprised, pretty happy,” he said. “When we advanced out of the (preliminary) round, I was just happy to compete with the big boys like Bosque, Boxing Bear, Marble and La Cumbre. This is our first year, so to make to the next round is remarkable. Our honey double IPA is not traditional; we use locally sourced honey. It takes out some of the hoppiness that can overwhelm people.

“But still, to stand out on a tray of 15 (other) IPAs, that means something.”

Congrats to Chris and the Red River team. Now comes the big test to see how the ABQ and Santa Fe crowds respond. Either way, if you have not put Red River on your list of breweries to visit, it should be there now.

Luke will have full coverage from Rufina on Saturday, and then all of us will be at the grand finale at Bosque North on July 28. Look for an updated photo-heavy story about Bosque North soon!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s seven breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, one in Red River, and one in Las Cruces also joining the party.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

The preliminary round is in the books, so now the rounds that count for the NM IPA Challenge are getting underway starting today (Wednesday) at the Taos Tap Room, with Round 1 going from 4 to 8 p.m. The Crew will have live coverage for this and Saturday’s noon-to-4 p.m. Round 2 at Second Street Rufina. We know a lot of you cannot go north, especially for today’s midweek round, but that does not mean you won’t be able to taste many of the IPAs at their brewing locations. Here are all the ones that we know of that are on tap: Blue Corn, Gatekeeper IPA; Bow & Arrow, Tropic Rodeo; Boxing Bear, AlbuMurky Hazy IPA; Marble, Safeword IPA (Westside taproom only); Quarter Celtic, Gondola Party Starter XH; Red Door, New England IPA; Red River, Bad Medicine Honey DIPA; Rio Bravo, Level 3 DIPA. We do not know the exact identity of the IPAs for Bosque, Duel, Kaktus, Kellys, La Cumbre (yeah, it’s probably Project Dank), Santa Fe, Second Street, and Taos Mesa, but you can ask if you visit them and see if they are available.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bosque goes the session IPA route with Backyard Campout. Canteen has two variations on its Summer Ale, the regular and the special Valle De Oro version. La Cumbre brings back three favorites in the Fievre d’Abricot, Hell Froze Over (Brown Ale), and Can You Drive a Sticke? Marble goes east for some Cape Cod Gose, plus the new DIPA, Calypso, is available. Ponderosa unveils Premium American Lager. Sidetrack shakes things up with Citrus Punch IPA, Sunburst Pale Ale, and Apricot Tart Pale Ale. Starr Brothers has more Starrgazm IPA and the new Japanese Garden, a hibiscus lemon blonde. Tractor rolls out Dry Cider, Pineapple Cider, Muddlicious Session Cider, Break Pointe Pale Ale, and Acreage DIPA. Turtle Mountain goes dark with Yum Yum Noir.

Up in Santa Fe, things are quiet, but further north in Red River, RRBC has a new Scottish Ale.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of July 16.

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