Archive for the ‘IPA Challenge 2015’ Category

Yeah, the Crew enjoyed this one. From left, Stoutmeister, Adam, Brandon, Luke. And Laura is in the background, trying to mind her own business.

Yeah, the Crew enjoyed this one. From left, Stoutmeister, Adam, Brandon, and Luke.

We said it would be a battle to decide the best IPA of 2015. Some scoffed. Some were bewildered. Some guffawed, whatever that means. In the end, though, we were right.

This was really, really hard to pick the best out of 15 samples. On a warm, crowded (but not too crowded) day at Boxing Bear, the true IPA fans in the ABQ metro area and beyond gathered to determine once and for all who should take that coveted trophy home.

The result? Well, I have dragged it out this long … Bosque Brewing has repeated as NMIPAC champion!

Here are the top 15 IPAs in New Mexico, with their competition numbers for the final round in parentheses:

  1. Bosque (13) 146 votes
  2. Blue Corn (8) 78 votes
  3. Canteen (7) 57 votes
  4. Marble (5) 55 votes
  5. Second Street (10) 52 votes
  6. Chama River (14) 45 votes
  7. Boxing Bear (2) 39 votes
  8. Three Rivers (1) 30 votes
  9. Back Alley (15) 28 votes
  10. Spotted Dog (12) 18 votes
  11. Turtle Mountain (4) 14 votes
  12. Ponderosa (3) 11 votes
  13. La Cumbre (6) 9 votes
  14. (tie) Pi (11) and Taos Mesa (9) 8 votes

In the end it wasn’t very close. Bosque tallied 104 votes on Saturday, followed by Second Street (33), Canteen (32), Chama River (31), and Blue Corn (30).

The winning team of Bosque co-owners Jotham Michnovicz, left, Gabe Jensen, center, and brewer John Bullard, right.

The winning team of Bosque co-owners Jotham Michnovicz, left, Gabe Jensen, center, and brewer John Bullard, right.

“It’s the most expensive beer we’ve made since last year,” Bosque brewer John Bullard said of the current edition of Scale Tipper, which won for the second year in a row.

“It’s always different when it comes to Albuquerque,” John added. “You’ve seen it before, when beers really come from behind in Albuquerque. We’re making an IPA that’s dedicated for Albuquerque, really. That’s all we’re really trying to do. Las Cruces is catching on to that, but that’s really what it is.”

John has actually won three straight IPA Challenges, having captured his first title while still with Blue Corn back in 2013. He moved to Bosque and has not let up in his domination of the category.

“I would say it’s different for me; last year was his second,” Bosque co-owner Gabe Jensen said. “Really, I was thinking now we’ll sell the rest of the bombers.”

While Gabe was joking on that last point (somewhat, anyway), John stayed focused on the best way to handle the NMIPAC.

“It’s definitely exciting,” he said. “I wish more people would have more fun with this competition. That’s easy for me to say, (since) we’ve won it (twice). A lot of people were quite serious about this competition this year. But this competition was based on fun.”

It was a fun competition this year. Congrats to all the brewers who entered, it was a much tougher call for most of us than the final votes indicated.

A huge thank you to Boxing Bear for being an outstanding host. Kudos to your staff for their patience and timely service; we know it can get overwhelming at times with so many people on site.

Thank you to Chris Goblet and the NM Brewers Guild for putting on this competition, year after year, as it gets bigger and bigger.

And thank you to everyone who attended. We hope you all enjoyed yourselves as much as we did.

Until 2016, the Crew will see you all around the breweries and festivals.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Time to decide who shall be victorious!

Time to decide who shall be victorious!

The decisive final round of the 2015 NM IPA Challenge is set to kick off this Saturday at noon at Boxing Bear. The first two rounds of the NMIPAC have seen strong showings by current leader Blue Corn (48 votes), second-place and defending champion Bosque (42 votes), and local heavyweight Marble (41 votes). Can anyone else roar into the picture? Or will one of these three breweries finally separate itself from the pack and take the trophy home?

As always, for the newcomers out there, the NMIPAC is open to all members of the public. It costs $20 to join in. You get a tray of numbered samples (which beer is which is revealed after the votes have been submitted) and then a pint of your choice at the end, which is your vote. The competition will run from noon to 5:30 p.m., with the vote likely to be announced within an hour of the event’s completion. The Albuquerque round of the competition usually has in excess of 300 attendees, so plan accordingly in terms of arrival time and transport to the event.

To help everyone out, newcomers and veterans alike, I also checked in on a few points with Boxing Bear brewer Justin Hamilton, our host for the afternoon.

  • Boxing Bear is located at 10200 Corrales Rd NW, for those who have never been before. It is in the northeast corner of the shopping center that lies on that side of the Alameda-Corrales/Coors intersection. Because this is a shopping center with other businesses, please be mindful of where you park. There are no outright restrictions, but this is probably a time where carpooling, using Uber or a taxi, or even riding your bike up the nearby Bosque trail would be appropriate.
  • The folks at Boxing Bear would ask that you do not bring in your own food, such as pretzels or other “palate cleansing” snacks. Either the Brewers Guild or BBB will likely sell such food, plus there will be the full BBB menu available, with sandwiches, appetizers, chips, and the like.
  • Justin was unsure if there will be any tickets available at the door Saturday. You would be best off buying yours online here and playing it safe.
  • There will be separate lines for tray pickup and pint pickup. There should also be dump buckets available for the IPAs you either cannot or simply do not wish to finish. Staff members will also be moving about, helping to clear trays when you decide you are finished.

If we get any more updates from Justin or the Guild about anything you need to know, we will add them above.

Now that all that is out of the way, the rest of this is for NMIPAC newbies. Consider it sage advice from the Crew.

  1. Aroma is your friend. La Cumbre’s Jeff Erway once said a beer’s aroma is its invitation to you. When you get your tray, take a moment to indulge in the hoppy aromas of all 15 beers. Maybe jot down a quick note about each on the paper provided.
  2. Go in whatever order you want. Some people go 1 to 15. Others will go 15 to 1. Some will go even numbers, others will go odd, some will just go all over the place. It is totally up to you.
  3. These are not shots at a college party. Take the time to sip each beer once or twice. If there is food available (or at least water), try to cleanse your palate a bit in between beers. Unless you show up at 3:30, do not rush yourself. Give every beer a fair chance.
  4. Once the beers on your tray have warmed, give them first another sniff and then another taste. Aromas and flavors often change with the temperature. A good beer holds its quality, at least in our humble opinion.
  5. You do not have to drink every drop of all 15 samples. In fact, we would encourage you to not to do that. You will dull your palate and the beers you try last will not get a fair assessment. Once you narrow it down to a few favorites, dump the also-rans. And remember, you get 16 ounces of your favorite at the end.
  6. This is your vote, not anyone else’s vote. You do not have to corroborate your friend or significant other or even the person sitting next to you. If you hear some of the more notable beer geeks, like us (though we would never claim to be true expert judges), picked say No. 10, that does not mean you have to pick it as well. And even if your favorite brewery in all of New mexico is rumored to be No. 7, if that was not your personal favorite, then don’t vote for it. Back at VIPA most of us were convinced No. 4 was Bosque. It turned out to be Canteen. Sometimes even brewery staffers and brewers themselves have a hard time picking out their beer. The fun of this is the blind challenge part.
  7. Have fun. That is what this is about. Oh, sure, it is about getting the trophy and bragging rights for one brewery, but ultimately all of the brewers will still be friends on Sunday, regardless of the outcome. (At least we hope so, anyway.) Come on down and enjoy yourself!

Oh, and finally, to all of those people bashing the NMIPAC set-up and its participants on social media because of the surprisingly low vote total of a certain brewery, we really, really hope you show up and put your palates to the test. Unless you would rather hide behind the anonymity of the internet and continue to spew venom at your fellow beer drinkers, then by all means, stay home. The rest of us will have fun without you.

Shots fired. Couldn’t resist.

See you all Saturday afternoon.

— Stoutmeister

The numbering of the beers for the blind taste test is on the left, the votes are on the right.

The numbering of the beers for the blind taste test is on the left, the votes are on the right.

The second round of the NM IPA Challenge went down at Pecan Grill and Brewery on Wednesday night in Las Cruces and it featured a few surprises. First-round leader Marble scored just three votes after racking up 38 in Santa Fe last Saturday and now drops to third place. Everyone that was shocked at La Cumbre garnering just four votes in round one will further be floored after they got zero votes in Las Cruces.

So who is in first place? That would be Blue Corn, which led all breweries in Las Cruces with 22 votes for 48 total. Bosque added 16 to push their total to 42 and move one vote ahead of Marble for second place overall. Here are the standings with both rounds added together; Santa Fe is listed first and Las Cruces second in parentheses.

  1. Blue Corn 48 votes (26 + 22)
  2. Bosque 42 votes (26 + 16)
  3. Marble 41 votes (38 + 3)
  4. Canteen 25 votes (18 + 7)
  5. Back Alley 21 votes (9 + 12)
  6. Second Street 19 votes (15 + 4)
  7. Chama River 14 votes (13 + 1)
  8. Three Rivers 14 votes (10 + 4)
  9. Boxing Bear 13 votes (12 + 1)
  10. Spotted Dog 11 votes (8 + 3)
  11. Ponderosa 8 votes (7 + 1)
  12. Turtle Mountain 5 votes (0 + 5)
  13. La Cumbre 4 votes (4 + 0)
  14. Taos Mesa 2 votes (1 + 1)
  15. Pi 1 vote (1 + 0)

The third and final round will be held at Boxing Bear this Saturday from noon to 5:30 p.m. The Crew will be there to cover it all, and of course make our own choices. It should be quite the battle to see who takes the crown in 2015.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Feast your eyes upon the results. There were certainly some surprises! (Photo courtesy of Draft Station's Facebook page)

Feast your eyes upon the results. There were certainly some surprises! (Photo courtesy of Draft Station’s Facebook page)

The results are in from Round One of the New Mexico IPA Challenge at Draft Station Santa Fe. A total of 188 beer lovers showed up, which very well might be a record for a non-Albuquerque round. As our headline says, Marble takes the lead with 38 votes. Tied for second were Blue Corn and Bosque with 26 apiece, which is almost fitting since Bosque brewer John Bullard won the 2013 NMIPAC crown with Blue Corn before claiming it again last year with his current employer.

As for surprises, it comes from the disappointing end as La Cumbre finished 12th (out of 15) with just four votes, while Turtle Mountain did not get a single vote. Those breweries came in seventh and eighth, respectively, at the VIPA Challenge last weekend. Chama River, the leader at VIPA, was just sixth with 13 votes this time around.

In between Blue Corn/Bosque and Chama were Canteen (18 votes) and Second Street (15 votes), while Boxing Bear (12 votes), Three Rivers (10 votes), Back Alley (nine votes), Spotted Dog (eight votes), and Ponderosa (seven votes) were just behind. Taos Mesa and Pi Brewing had one vote apiece.

Round Two of the NMIPAC is set for Wednesday at Pecan Grill and Brewery in Las Cruces, followed by the final round at Boxing Bear next Saturday. A lot can and will happen, so do not take the first round as fait accompli for either the breweries at the top or the breweries at the bottom. To say there is a difference in the palates between southern, northern, and central New Mexico would be an understatement. But the gauntlet has begun; may the fans’ favorite brewery win!

The Crew will (hopefully) have things covered from now till the end. Until then, prep those palates. Many of the NMIPAC entries are available on tap, including Blue Corn (Hoplon), Bosque (Scale Tipper), Boxing Bear (Title Clincher), Chama River (Radioactive), and La Cumbre (Male Stripper).

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Yeah, we had fun. As if you couldn't have guessed that beforehand.

Yeah, we had fun. As if you couldn’t have guessed that beforehand.

Well, that was fun! The Brew Crew was part of the 90-plus judges who took part in the inaugural VIPA Challenge on Sunday afternoon at the Sandia Casino. This preliminary round of the annual New Mexico IPA Challenge was designed to narrow what has become a crowded field of 25 IPAs down to the 14 the masses will taste at the regular three-round NMIPAC that starts this coming Saturday.

Did it go off without a hitch? No, but overall it was an outstanding event. It was efficient, well-organized, and went smoothly for those of us who were judging. For the record, the Crew was represented by myself, Franz Solo, Mrs. Solo, Brandon, Adam, and Laura. We were joined at our table by Dana, the organizer of Babes in Brewland, and her husband Matt (two of our more frequent partners in crime, for the record). As a collective, we mostly agreed on the top seven or eight beers.

And about those seven or eight, it is going to be a heck of an upcoming NMIPAC. It is a tight, vicious field, filled with so much hop-tastic excellence that we can only pray most of you have an easier time than we did (we didn’t have to rank them 1-14, but most of us did anyway).

The beers were sent out in batches of eight. We also had lots of food and water to help cleanse our palates.

The beers were sent out in batches of eight. We also had lots of food and water to help cleanse our palates.

Now for the part you have all been waiting for, here are the full results from the VIPA. The number in parentheses is what the beer was numbered on our trays. The top 14 advance to the regular NMIPAC.

  1. Chama River (9) 94 votes
  2. Bosque (19) 91 votes
  3. Canteen (4) 89 votes
  4. Marble (18) 85 votes
  5. Boxing Bear (13) 84 votes
  6. Blue Corn (11) 79 votes
  7. La Cumbre (7) 73 votes
  8. Turtle Mountain (3) 68 votes
  9. Second Street (20) 62 votes
  10. Ponderosa (10) 60 votes
  11. Three Rivers (23) 56 votes
  12. Spotted Dog (1) 54 votes
  13. Back Alley (17) 46 votes
  14. (tie) Pi (8) 45 votes
  15. Taos Mesa (6) 45 votes — so yes, both will participate
  16. Lizard Tail (5) 41 votes
  17. Red Door (21) 36 votes
  18. Bathtub Row (12) 28 votes
  19. Sierra Blanca (22) 25 votes
  20. Tractor (14) 21 votes
  21. High Desert (15) 20 votes
  22. Kaktus (2) 19 votes
  23. Roosevelt (16) 16 votes

Yes, there were supposed to be 25 breweries, but something happened (we were unclear) and Sandia Chile Grill’s IPA was not available. It may be allowed into the main NMIPAC, but that is to be determined. UPDATE: We received an email from the Guild about what happened to SCG. This is what Chris Goblet had to say: “I just wanted to let you know that Mick and Clinton Coker did deliver their keg and it was our oversight that kept them from participating today. I want to be sure that I, meaning Chris Goblet as the representative of the the Guild, am accountable for the mistake.

“I have offered Mick and Clinton the opportunity to put their beer forward to be judged as the rest. It may seem unfair to some, but all beers are judged in the IPA Challenge for their merit, and every Challenger’s beer deserves to be judged. I am not certain if Mick and Clinton will choose to continue but I honestly hope they do. Please note the Guild is taking the responsibility for this oversight if you make any updates or further comments.”

As for the 25th entry, Santa Fe’s IPA simply would not pour. We got a sorta-sample and smelled … something bad. Something went horribly wrong with a beer that Luke told us was downright epic when he had it at SFBC itself.

Besides that, as I said before, this was an excellent event. Kudos to Chris Goblet and everyone else from the NM Brewers Guild who put it together. We were happy to help in our small way, getting people to sign up and doing our best to promote the event. It was fun getting to meet some of our readers for the first time.

Cheers to the first VIPA Challenge!

Cheers to the first VIPA Challenge!

Oh, and the best part is the whole thing ended in time for us to see Carli Lloyd go straight Gojira on poor Japan in the Women’s World Cup final. U-S-A, U-S-A!

The Crew will have full coverage of the next three rounds of the NMIPAC. Look for our writers in Santa Fe, Las Cruces (hopefully), and finally at Boxing Bear here in Albuquerque on July 18, where the next IPA champion will be crowned.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Behold, the hopped mysteries of the pint.

Behold, the hopped mysteries of the pint.

“In the broader sense, I’m wondering how many medals New Mexico will score at Great American Beer Festival,” said New Mexico Brewers Guild director Christopher Goblet. “IPA is only one section within GABF, but let’s wave that ‘NMIPA’ flag proudly.”

He’s right. I make a formal motion for all of us to turn that flag into a formal #NMIPA hashtag and brandish it proudly. Full disclosure — I’m a fan of hops. I know it’s trendy, and I accept all the responsibility (and the chance I may be called a hipster) that goes along with declaring myself an IPA fan. But there’s something notable happening here in New Mexico. These hoppy beers that we get to order at the local pub are being recognized nationally.

Christopher Goblet, the Beer Ambassador for New Mexico, tests a sip of Second Street's IPA entry in this year's glassware

Christopher Goblet, the Beer Ambassador for New Mexico, tests a sip of Second Street’s IPA entry in this year’s glassware

So what’s the big deal with the VIPA Challenge? And, wait … isn’t there an IPA Challenge coming up? Yes, there is. The bigger question is how do we narrow down all of this hoppy goodness to just 14 samples on a tray when there are 25 New Mexico breweries entering their finest concoctions? That’s where you come in. This is your chance to put your hops knowledge to the test and make it count. By attending the VIPA Challenge this Sunday, you will be casting your vote for those final 14 brews that make it onto next week’s tasting trays. Then, when your friends show up for the IPA Challenge later this month, you can say you had a part in deciding who was on (or off) the island.

Some of our own Dark Side Brew Crew members will be official judges at the VIPA Challenge. I thought it prudent to ask a few of them what their hops preferences tended towards, just so you know what you may be up against should you choose to show up and cast your vote.

Brandon: “What I like most is an IPA that has some complexity in its makeup with the malt bill and hop profile, and a hop profile that shows different dimensions of each strain used.”

Franz: “I am a lover of hops in all forms. American style is by far my favorite over English and I love both brutal bitter and aromatic tropical creations. Currently I’m on a tropical sweet trend as my own batch of Sturmbrau Blitzhammer double IPA will attest.”

Adam: “Grew up English style, convert to the way of the West Coast in recent years.”

Laura: “My IPA preferences are citrus and tropical fruit with a great malt balance. But any well-made, complex, balanced IPA is very much appreciated by my palate.”

Brewers beware. And hops fans, you’ve been warned! The hop-sophisticates this Crew represents could be a veritable tipping point for the VIPA Challenge.

For $40 (single entrance ticket) or $70 for two, you’ll enjoy the right to be an official hops snob alongside the judges and cast your vote for the best hoppy brews from around the state. To sweeten the pot, you’ll get a T-shirt, the official IPA Challenge glass, an insulated six-pack cooler, plus $5 off admission to any New Mexico Brewer’s Guild event for the remainder of the year. Learn more at www.nmbeer.org/vipa. (Editor’s note: This is the Enthusiast Membership we were helping people to sign up for during ABQ Beer Week. — S)

Cast your vote for your favorite hops concoction on Sunday, and help usher in the next phase of #NMIPA. Our state has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to hops, and we humbly plead for your help.

nmipaThe full list of breweries who will be participating in the VIPA, as provided by the Guild (subject to change).

  1. Back Alley Draft House
  2. Bathtub Row
  3. Blue Corn
  4. Bosque (defending champion)
  5. Boxing Bear
  6. Canteen
  7. Chama River
  8. High Desert
  9. Kaktus
  10. La Cumbre
  11. Lizard Tail
  12. Marble
  13. Pi
  14. Ponderosa
  15. Red Door
  16. Roosevelt
  17. Sandia Chile Grill
  18. Santa Fe
  19. Second Street
  20. Sierra Blanca/Rio Grande
  21. Spotted Dog
  22. Taos Mesa
  23. Three Rivers
  24. Tractor
  25. Turtle Mountain

The format of the event, for those participating, is as follows. The doors at Sandia Casino, ballrooms A & B, will open at 11:45 a.m. Settle in and grab a table with friends. Bring your ticket(s) and a valid ID. At 12:15 p.m. things will begin with some opening remarks from the Guild, at which point you will receive the first tray of 13 IPAs. There will be palate-cleansing snacks, water, and other finger food available to keep the hops from hammering you into submission. Take some serious notes, then pick your seven favorites from that tray. After a break, you will get a second tray of 12 beers. Take your time, take some notes, keep your palate as fresh as possible, and ultimately pick another seven. These 14 beers will be your choices to reach the main rounds of the IPA Challenge. Please remember, you do not have to finish every sample, not even the ones you really like. Dump buckets will be available.

Above all, have fun, enjoy the camaraderie of your fellow hopheads, and may the best IPAs win!

Cheers!

— Julie (with an assist from Stoutmeister)

We have no shame when it comes to stealing awesome fliers from breweries' Facebook pages.

We have no shame when it comes to stealing awesome fliers from breweries’ Facebook pages.

In case you have missed it, but judging by the social response you have not, Bosque Brewing is putting their award-winning Scale Tipper IPA into bombers and releasing it with a big old party at the Nob Hill Public House on Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m.

So what does this release party entail? Well, you get a chance to do what we do, which is meet the brewer. John Bullard will be on hand to answer your questions about the Scale Tipper brewing process. You can purchase 13-ounce glasses of Scale Tipper for $6, or you can get it to go in bombers for $12, with a limit of two bombers per customer per day. Bosque anticipates it will sell out fast, so do not wait too long. For the first 25 customers who choose the option (not just the first 25 through the door), you can also buy a bomber and a Scale Tipper T-shirt for $25. You can look as stylish as the Bosque staff … well, I mean, you can wear the same shirt. It’s hard to top that level of suave.

Beyond the beer, there will also be some serious food dishes prepared by the kitchen staff. It is all tapas/appetizer style. You can get Burger Sliders with bleu cheese and house-made pickles; Street Tacos with slow-cooked pork, red cabbage, and apple slaw on avocado crema; Curried Lamb on naan bread with mango chutney; and dessert will be a flourless chocolate ginger torte.

Behold the glory of the last batch of Scale Tipper, the reigning National and New Mexico IPA Challenge champion!

Behold the glory of the last batch of Scale Tipper, the reigning National and New Mexico IPA Challenge champion!

To get to the bottom of why Bosque would brew up this sort of event — besides the fact they are awesome — I sat down with co-owner Jotham Michnovicz to go over the finer details.

NMDSBC: So what in the world persuaded you guys to take one of the most expensive beers you make and put it in bottles, put it on tap, and throw a party for it?

Jotham: Scale Tipper is like our pride and joy right now. We like to put it on whenever we have it available. We don’t have enough hops to do it the rest of the year, but we just got a new bottling line. The whole idea behind the bottling line is to do limited release beers and get it in the hands of people, but not something we have to do on a regular basis. It just made sense to do it in bombers this time around.

NMDSBC: This is the month of hops. With the IPA Challenge and all coming up, do you guys feel like you’re the unofficial kickoff to hop season?

Jotham: I honestly really haven’t even thought about it. We just put it out because the IPA Challenge is coming up and we’re getting ready for that. This is perfect timing. Actually, I’ve been talking to some of the other brewers around town and there are going to be some epic beers in this year’s competition. I think I was talking to Tim (Woodward) over at Turtle Mountain (on Tuesday) and we were joking that this is going to be the most expensive IPA Challenge to date. He said he thinks the average hops-per-barrel is somewhere around eight (pounds) of hops per barrel for the competition.

NMDSBC: Well, Blue Corn did 60 pounds of hops in their five-barrel system, so that’s 12 pounds per barrel, so yeah, that sounds about right. … Because of Scale Tipper’s success, winning the IPA Challenge here (in New Mexico) last year and winning the National IPA Challenge this year, when you guys did the last batch it sold out so fast, is that part of the inspiration where you want to capitalize on that success and do all of this?

Jotham: It really has everything to do with timing. We just got (the bottling line) in. This is the first big beer we’re doing, so with the IPA Challenge it just made sense to do this. We obviously love the success of Scale Tipper and it’s something we’d like to get out in front of people more often. Next year when our hop contracts kick in we’ll be able to do it more often. But for the time being we’re going to celebrate its scarcity.

NMDSBC: A lot of big breweries will do that, release a special beer once or twice a year only. It makes it a little more special and exclusive. Are you guys picking up on a lot of excitement for this event through social media and the like?

Jotham: Yeah, a lot of people are tagging their friends in their posts, saying let’s go down to Nob Hill for the release, sharing the menu and everything. It seems like people are getting really excited. People are coming out of the woodwork. I’m getting text messages from people I don’t hear from very often. “Hey, can I get some Scale Tipper?”

NMDSBC: Are a lot of people trying to cash in favors? Save me a bottle and all that?

Jotham: Oh, yeah, all the time.

NMDSBC: With everyone else you guys are doing tomorrow, you’re definitely turning this into a major event, is this something you can see yourselves doing for future releases? Have the special food dishes, bring John out to meet people, and so on?

Jotham: Yeah, we don’t do a great job with beer releases. It’s something we’re trying to do a better job with. It’s kind of the first of its kind. Especially with the specialty beers, we’re likely to do something kind of fun. It gives our kitchen guys to play with a lot of fun recipes, too. We get to pair the beers with specific appetizers at that time. It also gives us an opportunity to just drive excitement for the different pubs. This time we’re focusing on Nob Hill whereas other times we might focus on San Mateo. Hopefully something in Las Cruces eventually, too.

NMDSBC: So after (Thursday) night, are the bombers only going to be on sale at Nob Hill or will they be on sale at the other locations?

Jotham: After (Thursday) night the bombers and tap will be available at all taprooms. (Thursday) night Nob Hill will be the only place with on tap and in bombers.

NMDSBC: This is probably more a question for John, but how would you characterize this batch versus last year’s? Is it any different, bigger, meaner, or just stupidly good like last time?

Jotham: Yeah, it’s change a little bit. It’s an aggressive beer. That’s what we love about IPAs for the IPA Challenge, right? But there’s still a nice balance to it; it’s still a highly drinkable beer even though the hops are so pronounced. What I love about it is the nose. It’s got this big, fruity nose. Right when you smell it, I think that’s one of the things that sets it apart. I think that’s what makes it unique to Scale Tipper is that it’s got a big, fruity nose.

NMDSBC: I would say over the years, the hop interests of the public have changed. About five years ago it was just the biggest, meanest hop bomb you could get, the one you could smell from three tables away. Now it has changed. Do you think people’s tastes have changed or is it something else?

Jotham: I think a lot of people have access to a bunch of proprietary hops now. I shouldn’t say everybody, actually, but proprietary hops are in high demand. So people are really trying to use those things to differentiate their beers. I think you’re right that palates change. This New Mexico IPA category is constantly evolving. But what’s happening right now is a lot of these proprietary hops that are out have big fruit characteristics that aren’t necessarily citrus. They create really fun flavors. I think that’s what makes this style of IPA so exciting. Citrus IPAs have been around for a long time and they’re excellent. Piney, dank IPAs have been around for a long time and that’s great. But this whole tropical fruit sort of idea, I feel like it’s kind of a new frontier of IPAs.

That’s the thing, right now with all these hops around, you can create so many flavors, blending different styles of hops. If you’re the one guy that gets that exclusive hop or that transitional hop, you can really make your IPA stand out. People are going “whoa, what’s that flavor I just had?” and then it will never be there again.

* * * * *

Thank you to Jotham for taking time out of his busy day to chat. And thank you to Nathan for the pint of Summer in Hallertau. I will “go big” at another time, which sadly will not be Thursday night as I have an Isotopes game to cover. So hopefully you all will not drink up the supply at Nob Hill before I get over there postgame.

For those who are going, have fun, enjoy the food, the beer, the conversation, and the general geeking out over this hoptastic beer.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister