A collection of 45 brewers and other brewery representatives gathered at Central New Mexico Community College on Saturday afternoon to judge the top IPAs in the state that will take part in the public rounds of the New Mexico IPA Challenge.
The results were, well, surprising, with a few well-known breweries left off the list, and a few underdogs advancing.
“I think it went really well,” said New Mexico Brewers Guild executive director Leah Black. “The feedback (from the brewers) has been amazing. I’m just really happy that it was more about camaraderie and all the powerhouse breweries from all over the state being in one room, and chilling out, and asking, ‘What do you think about this beer?’”
The final 15 were selected through a different process than in the past with the public vote.
“Groups of nine, there were five groups of nine,” Leah said. “They each got a flight of nine, and as a table they advanced three. Now it’s down to 15. They rule their least favorites, and then they had to come together as a jury and advance the three that they collectively thought was the best.”
The man behind that judging format was former Santa Fe brewmaster Bert Boyce.
“I gotta give a big shoutout to Bert, previously of Santa Fe Brewing, he was instrumental in helping execute the judging format,” Leah said. “It went smoothly.”
The crowd of brewers and their comrades selected the following 15 breweries. We are listing them with their finish in 2018, where applicable, and noting who will be new.
- Blue Corn (2018 champion)
- Bombs Away (did not advance out of preliminary in 2018)
- Bosque (13th in 2018, champion in 2014-15)
- Bow & Arrow (14th in 2018)
- Boxing Bear (second in 2018, champion in 2016-17)
- Enchanted Circle (new)
- Ex Novo (new)
- Icebox (new)
- La Reforma (new)
- Marble (third in 2018)
- Rio Bravo (tied for sixth in 2018)
- Rowley Farmhouse Ales (did not advance out of preliminary in 2018)
- Starr Brothers (did not advance out of preliminary in 2018)
- Toltec (did not advance out of preliminary in 2018)
- Tumbleroot (did not advance out of preliminary in 2018)
That, in turn, means the following notable names did not advance: Canteen, Cantero, La Cumbre, Nexus, Ponderosa, Quarter Celtic, Red Door, Red River, Santa Fe, Second Street, Sidetrack, Sierra Blanca, Steel Bender, Taos Mesa, Three Rivers, Tractor, Truth or Consequences, and Turtle Mountain.
In the end, though, there was no dissension in the ranks.
“No one in the crowd, no,” Leah said. “It just goes to show you that double blind (works).”
The first public round is this Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Picacho Peak Brewing in Las Cruces. Get your tickets online ASAP!