Preliminary round of NM IPA Challenge produces some surprising finalists

The brewers were there in large numbers at the preliminary round of the NM IPA Challenge, including, from left, Red Door’s Lindsay Schenker, Ponderosa’s Antonio Fernandez, Lava Rock’s Dan Cavin, Santa Fe’s Bert Boyce, and Canteen’s Zach Guilmette.

The brewers had their say Saturday afternoon, narrowing down a field of 35 IPAs to a final 16 for the upcoming public rounds of the 2021 New Mexico IPA Challenge.

As one might expect, there were some surprises in the breweries that advanced, and those that did not. Here are the 16 finalists.

  • Boxing Bear Brewing
  • Canteen Brewhouse
  • Ex Novo Brewing
  • Hidden Mountain Brewing
  • Icebox Brewing
  • Lava Rock Brewing
  • Nexus Brewery
  • Palmer Brewery & Cider House
  • Quarter Celtic Brewpub
  • Red Door Brewing
  • Second Street Brewery
  • Sobremesa Restaurant and Brewery
  • Thirsty Eye Brewing
  • Three Rivers Brewing
  • Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery
  • Turtle Mountain Brewing

Boxing Bear, Canteen (as Il Vicino), Hidden Mountain (as Blue Corn), and Turtle Mountain are all past champions. This will mark the first time that Lava Rock, Sobremesa, and Thirsty Eye advanced to the public rounds.

The public was allowed to sample the IPAs after the brewers finished judging.

Two breweries that were supposed to participate — Cloudcroft and JUNO — did not submit their entries Saturday. That left 19 breweries on the outside looking in, including two-time past champion Bosque Brewing, last year’s champion Rio Bravo Brewing, and local notables Brew Lab 101, Gravity Bound Brewing, High and Dry Brewing, La Reforma Brewery, Marble Brewery, Ponderosa Brewing, Sidetrack Brewing, Starr Brothers Brewing, Steel Bender Brewyard, and Tractor Brewing.

Breweries from outside the Albuquerque metro area that did not qualify were Bathtub Row Brewing, Beer Creek Brewing (which will host the second round on Nov. 13), Enchanted Circle Brewing, Lauter Haus Brewing (which will host the third round on Nov. 17), Milton’s Brewing, Taos Mesa Brewing, and Truth or Consequences Brewing.

After the judging was completed, IPA fans were allowed to come into Red Door Downtown and meet with the brewers, while also tasting the IPAs.

The public will judge the final 16 IPAs over the next four rounds, which start at Icebox Brewing in Las Cruces on Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m., and end at Boxing Bear’s Firestone Taproom on Nov. 20 from 1 to 4 p.m.

We had to promise the dynamic duo of Quarter Celtic general manager Allison York, left, and Red Door operations manager Ali Cattin that we would take a better photo after they didn’t like the one from Beer Premier.

“I’m so proud of Albuquerque and beyond for showing up for the return of an in-person IPAC, and it was such a cool, unique, new event that we’ve added to the mix of things,” said New Mexico Brewers Guild executive director Leah Black. “It’s been awesome, so I can’t wait to see how it progresses, as these sweet 16 are narrowed down to one!”

Tickets for all rounds are now available online. Go to the guild website to find the links.

Keep supporting local!

— Stoutmeister

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