The “sweet” 16 entries of the 2022 New Mexico IPA Challenge has been finalized after representatives from 38 breweries met at Boxing Bear Firestone on Saturday afternoon and cast their blind taste test ballots.
Rather than attempt some sort of long-winded recap first, here are the beers.
- Bosque Brewing (won in 2014 and 2015)
- Boxing Bear Brewing (won in 2016, 2017, 2019, 2021)
- Canteen Brewhouse (won in 2004, 2005, 2009-12)
- Downshift Brewing
- Ex Novo Brewing
- Gravity Bound Brewing
- La Cumbre Brewing
- Lava Rock Brewing
- Marble Brewery
- Nexus Brewery
- Ponderosa Brewing
- Quarter Celtic Brewpub
- Second Street Brewery
- Starr Brothers Brewing
- Three Rivers Brewery
- Tractor Brewing
All the brewery representatives told me how well organized and efficient this round was, which is of course a wonderful sign for future rounds.
“We definitely wanted to keep things on track, and so we did a ton of pre-planning,” said New Mexico Brewers Guild executive director Tess Vidalis. “We pre-printed all the numbers that were randomized; they could easily be put on cups. It was executed before everyone got here. It was a lot of pre-planning, and a couple people (who were) here from last year (helped). Bert (Boyce) and his wife (Tawny) did a phenomenal job.
“It’s such a complex event, but at the same time there’s a beauty in the simplicity of it. It’s straight forward, but it cane be complex if you don’t have it set for execution (in advance).”
The public voting rounds will be on Saturday, August 6 at Second Street Rufina, Wednesday, August 10 at Lauter Haus Brewing in Farmington, and Saturday, August 13 at Santa Fe Brewing’s taproom inside Tin Can Alley. Tickets are already online. You can also get $5 off the commemorative “Hop King” T-shirt.
“Everything should be ready to go,” Vidalis said. “The biggest thing was getting it down to the final 16. Everyone is super excited to host.”
To the best of our knowledge, Downshift is the only first-time participant, but considering they just opened in 2022, that kinda figures.
If your favorite brewery did not make it, that is OK. You can still hit up one of the public rounds and see if anyone else’s IPA compares to your longtime favorite hop bomb. Or, maybe, this will be the year that someone’s hazy IPA finally triumphs over the West Coast style ales that have dominated this competition for the past 20 years.
Above all else, just remember, this is a fundraiser (emphasis on fun) for the NMBG. The brewers take it seriously, but only up to a point; this is just for bragging rights. They enjoy the whole thing as much as the rest of us. At least we hope so!
The Crew will have coverage from at least the Santa Fe and Albuquerque rounds (we are looking for a Farmington correspondent). See you all in a week or two!
Keep supporting local!