NM IPA Challenge preliminary round field of 37 entries is all set for judging

The brewers will reduce a field of 36 IPAs down to 16 this weekend, then it will be up to the public to crown a single champion.

UPDATE: A brewery was left off the list of participants. Lots of edits to follow.

Thirty-seven breweries enter. Only 16 will leave.

OK, it is not exactly the quote from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, but the preliminary round field for the 2021 New Mexico IPA Challenge is set for Saturday’s pro judging round at the Red Door Brewing Downtown Taproom.

The cool part this year is that after the judging is done, the public will be invited to the VIP Reveal Party from 4 to 7 p.m. You can sample the IPAs, meet the brewers (who are the judges) who made said IPAs, and then join them to learn their fate. Tickets are $25 and get you a commemorative glass, and you can purchase them online now.

After two somewhat contentious years of the public voting in the preliminary round in 2017 and 2018 at the now-defunct Duel Brewing Downtown Taproom, the decision was made for 2019 to have the professionals narrow down the wide field of entries. That was held privately at Central New Mexico Community College, with the advancing breweries later announced via social media and this here website.

It was not without controversy, however, as the loyal legion of La Cumbre fans were flabbergasted that their favorite brewery did not advance to the public judging rounds. Once that furor subsided, the remaining public rounds went smoothly all the way to the final at Bow & Arrow, where Boxing Bear Brewing won its third title in a four-year span.

Last year, with the pandemic raging at the time and no large-scale gatherings allowed by the State of New Mexico’s public health order, the NMIPAC became a take-home event, with the IPAs canned with the help of the CNM brewing school students. Rio Bravo won by a single vote with the first hazy IPA to be crowned champion, Dice Roll.

Well, this year it will be back to in-person gatherings, with the four public rounds scheduled for November 10 at Icebox Brewing in Las Cruces, November 13 at Beer Creek Brewing south of Santa Fe, November 17 at Lauter Haus Brewing in Farmington, and the grand finale November 20 at Boxing Bear’s Firestone Taproom.

So, who will win? Well, first we have to find out which 16 of the initial 37 breweries advance beyond Saturday. As promised, here is the list. We have noted breweries with past NMIPAC victories.

  • Bathtub Row Brewing, Los Alamos
  • Beer Creek Brewing
  • Bosque Brewing (winner 2014, 2015)
  • Boxing Bear Brewing (winner 2016, 2017, 2019)
  • Brew Lab 101
  • Canteen Brewhouse (winner 2004, 2005, 2009-12)
  • Cloudcroft Brewing
  • Enchanted Circle Brewing, Angel Fire
  • Ex Novo Brewing
  • Gravity Bound Brewing
  • Hidden Mountain Brewing, Santa Fe (winner as Blue Corn in 2013, 2018)
  • High and Dry Brewing
  • Icebox Brewing, Las Cruces
  • JUNO
  • La Reforma Brewery
  • Lauter Haus Brewing, Farmington
  • Lava Rock Brewing
  • Marble Brewery
  • Milton’s Brewing, Carlsbad
  • Nexus Brewery
  • Palmer Brewery and Cider House
  • Ponderosa Brewing
  • Quarter Celtic Brewpub
  • Red Door Brewing
  • Rio Bravo Brewing (winner 2020)
  • Second Street Brewery, Santa Fe
  • Sidetrack Brewing
  • Sobremesa Restaurant and Brewery
  • Starr Brothers Brewing
  • Steel Bender Brewyard
  • Taos Mesa Brewing
  • Thirsty Eye Brewing
  • Three Rivers Brewing, Farmington
  • Tractor Brewing
  • Truth or Consequences Brewing
  • Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery
  • Turtle Mountain Brewing (winner 2003, 2007)

For those counting past champions, three times (2002, 2006, 2008) the trophy went to Chama River Brewing (R.I.P.). All the other former winners are now confirmed to be participating.

The majority (26) of the entered breweries are from the Albuquerque metro area, but 11 do hail from other towns in the state. Only one brewery outside Albuquerque has ever won the NMIPAC, but it did not enter this time around.

To save everyone the time of figuring out who didn’t enter, La Cumbre is perhaps the most notable, but with the brewery currently going through a packaging line upgrade/expansion, they were not able to brew a special IPA this time around. Others that were not able to participate include Bow & Arrow Brewing, Rowley Farmhouse Ales, Santa Fe Brewing, and Sierra Blanca Brewing.

Regardless, this should still be a fun event Saturday, before we all have to prep our palates and pick the eventual winner over the subsequent two weeks. See some of you this weekend, and others at the rounds after that.

Keep supporting local!

— Stoutmeister

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