The IPA Challenge returns to Santa Fe

Hoppy times are here again!

This Saturday, the New Mexico Brewers Guild is headed to Santa Fe for the first public round of the 2022 New Mexico IPA Challenge. Second Street’s Rufina location will play host once again to another grueling tournament of taste, where votes from this round will be added to the tally that will eventually choose the best-brewed IPA in New Mexico from the competing breweries.

Having survived some stiff very competition in the preliminary round, 16 breweries (down from 38) have successfully moved on to face the toughest judges of all: you.

As a reminder, these are your 2022 IPA Challenge competitors:

  • Bosque Brewing
  • Boxing Bear Brewing (defending champion)
  • Canteen Brewhouse
  • 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

Edit: For those new to the challenge, it is a blind taste-test, where you will receive a tray of 16 taster-sized pours, randomly numbered. From those, you will decide which ONE IPA is your favorite, and cast your vote to the guild. At the end of the challenge (around 5:00-5:30), the votes will be counted, and we will find out which brewery is currently in the lead heading into the next rounds. And as always, you also get a cool commemorative glass and a pint of your favorite IPA for your efforts.

We all know that this fundraiser for the Guild can get pretty competitive, and I had a reader remind me that last year there was a slight mix-up during the Santa Fe round with the beers at Beer Creek. I asked friend-of-the-Crew and northern sales manager for Second Street Brewery, Steve Anderson, how is Second Street planning to ensure a good clean fight?

He replied, “All that happened at Beer Creek last year was that two of the beers were transposed from coupler to tower, on a draft system that was brand new. The BCBC crew was good about it though, and fixed it fast.”

“Some things to know about tomorrow,” Anderson continued. “The draft system at Rufina has been in use for a while, and without over-explaining, it’s pretty straightforward in regards to what keg goes to what tap.”

So basically, friends, it won’t be an issue as the votes come in.

For Saturday, taproom manger Wes Keener further explained that the beer will mostly be handled by the Guild. Since Second Street has a horse in the race, they won’t even be allowed in the cold room to touch or change the kegs.

At Rufina, from 1 to 5 p.m., the focus will be on the IPAs and the Challenge, with a limited menu for the kitchen staff’s sake during the event, and a few non-IPAs on tap, but Keener added that Rufina will be back to normal with full taps and menu as soon as the votes are counted up, or as humanly possible thereafter.

Everyone at Second Street is expecting a good turnout, so make sure you get your tickets while they’re available and cast your votes for your favorite New Mexico IPA.

I’ve always believed that we have such award-winning IPAs in New Mexico because of this event, so do your part to make our beers better and beer styles best.

For the next rounds, the favorite breweries will be collecting votes from a night up in Farmington on Wednesday, August 10, and finally the big, bad, some would say deciding-factor-round in Albuquerque will at Santa Fe Brewing Company’s taproom inside Tin Can Alley on Saturday, August 13.

There are still tickets available for all time slots and all rounds, but they do sell out, so get them while you can! And, be sure to check back with the Dark Side Brew Crew on all social platforms for results!

May the best IPA win!


— Luke

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