With more than 400 votes cast in the final round on Saturday afternoon, a single-round record, the 2022 New Mexico IPA Challenge was bound to feature some surprises at the end at the Santa Fe Brewing taproom inside Tin Can Alley.
Of course, to the many loyal followers of Gravity Bound Brewing, was it really that big of a surprise that they won their first championship?
Gravity Bound took home the title with 66 overall votes, topping a crowded field with the first hazy IPA winner in the 21-year history of the NMIPAC.
“Hazy IPAs are our style, but it means a lot,” said co-owner/general manager Chris Frigon. “It’s a terrific event. Hats off to the Brewers Guild. It’s a lot of fun.”
Here are the final vote totals. See the photo for the corresponding numbers to the beers on the final tray.
- Gravity Bound, 66 votes
- Three Rivers, 57 votes
- Lava Rock, 51 votes
- Nexus, 49 votes
- Second Street, 49 votes
- Bosque, 44 votes
- Ex Novo, 42 votes
- Marble, 42 votes
- La Cumbre, 40 votes
- Canteen, 38 votes
- Downshift, 27 votes
- Starr Brotehrs, 24 votes
- Boxing Bear, 22 votes
- Ponderosa, 19 votes
- Quarter Celtic, 15 votes
- Tractor, 13 votes
The top vote-getter for the round was Gravity Bound with 48. Three Rivers was second with 43, and Second Street was third with 34. To help Second Street after the wrong beer was poured for it in the first round, the Guild averaged out the votes in the next two rounds. That boosted its first-round total from two votes to 11.
As for the overall winner, Gravity Bound produced something that was rather simple (well, sort of) to claim its first title in just its second full year of existence.
“That was the only IPA that we had on tap at the time,” Frigon said. “It was 100-percent Citra (hops). It’s a really good tasting hazy. It was a good beer, but there’s a lot of good beers here today.”
The IPA was called Quick Take, and sadly it is no longer on tap at the brewery. It may be a while before it returns.
“Cameron is actually (camping) off the grid, he doesn’t have a phone,” Chris Frigon said of his brother, the head brewer and co-owner. “I don’t know where he’s at. I’ll text him and see what happens.”
Frigon said they will showcase the trophy somewhere in the brewing area, though only after he confirmed that they actually get to hold it for the next year. Hey, first-time winner, first-time knowledge gained.
“Again, this means a lot,” Frigon said. “This is the second year that we’ve entered the IPA Challenge. Downshift (Brewing) did fantastic as well, and I know it’s their first year. It’s really cool, hopefully everyone is going towards hazies these days, (because) that’s all we brew. (Laughs) No, we actually do have a West Coast (IPA) on tap right now. It means a lot.”
Congrats to Gravity Bound on their victory. They were fourth on my personal list, tops among the hazy entries, of which there were fewer this year than last year. Despite the greater number of West Coast IPAs, it was finally time to see the end of their dominance. I voted for No. 6 on the tray, which turned out to be Marble, which tied for seventh overall, thereby clinching an 11th straight year where I did not pick the winner (hence, my nickname is not “IPAmeister” or anything like that).
Outside of the long lines to get into Tin Can Alley, things went fairly smoothly overall. Once inside, it was all quick and efficient, and hats off to New Mexico Brewers Guild executive director Tess Vidalis and her team of volunteers, many of them members of the Guild board of directors.
We tip our caps to Gravity Bound on their first title, and to all of the hundreds of craft beer lovers who showed up in Santa Fe, Farmington, and Albuquerque over the past week.
Keep supporting local!