Archive for the ‘IPA Challenge 2019’ Category

The voters in Las Cruces have spoken, nearly helping their one local brewery overtake a two-time past champion. (Photo courtesy of Tyson Brown)

The results are in from the first round of the 2019 New Mexico IPA Challenge, held today at Picacho Peak Brewing in Las Cruces. Two-time past champion Boxing Bear garnered 17 of the 65 votes cast, one more than the only Southern New Mexico brewery in attendance, newcomer Icebox Brewing (16).

Perhaps the biggest surprise, or disappointment depending on one’s perspective, was that five breweries did not earn a single vote. Bombs Away, Enchanted Circle, La Reforma, Marble, and Toltec all came up empty handed. Others that struggled included defending champion Blue Corn (one vote), Rio Bravo (one), Rowley Farmhouse Ales (two), Starr Brothers (two), and Tumbleroot (three).

The middle of the pack included Bow & Arrow (eight), Ex Novo (eight), and Bosque (seven).

If there is a silver lining for all of the breweries, there are still two rounds to go. Blue Corn, RFA, and Tumbleroot will surely be hoping for some home-field advantage at the second round in Santa Fe on Saturday. Tumbleroot will host at its spacious Agua Fria taproom from noon to 4 p.m., and tickets are available online. Keep an eye out for our man Luke among the hopheads.

In general, the Santa Fe round usually has more than 100 votes cast, though the Albuquerque final round tends to more than double what comes before it every year. The final round is at Bow & Arrow on July 27, and tickets are also for sale online.

Thanks to all the thirsty denizens of Southern New Mexico, and a few from El Paso, who came out to support the New Mexico Brewers Guild today.


— Stoutmeister

Here’s the final list. Surprising? Yes, but it’s all for fun, so let’s have some! (Photo courtesy of the NM Brewers Guild)

A collection of 45 brewers and other brewery representatives gathered at Central New Mexico Community College on Saturday afternoon to judge the top IPAs in the state that will take part in the public rounds of the New Mexico IPA Challenge.

The results were, well, surprising, with a few well-known breweries left off the list, and a few underdogs advancing.

“I think it went really well,” said New Mexico Brewers Guild executive director Leah Black. “The feedback (from the brewers) has been amazing. I’m just really happy that it was more about camaraderie and all the powerhouse breweries from all over the state being in one room, and chilling out, and asking, ‘What do you think about this beer?’”

The final 15 were selected through a different process than in the past with the public vote.

“Groups of nine, there were five groups of nine,” Leah said. “They each got a flight of nine, and as a table they advanced three. Now it’s down to 15. They rule their least favorites, and then they had to come together as a jury and advance the three that they collectively thought was the best.”

The man behind that judging format was former Santa Fe brewmaster Bert Boyce.

“I gotta give a big shoutout to Bert, previously of Santa Fe Brewing, he was instrumental in helping execute the judging format,” Leah said. “It went smoothly.”

The crowd of brewers and their comrades selected the following 15 breweries. We are listing them with their finish in 2018, where applicable, and noting who will be new.

  • Blue Corn (2018 champion)
  • Bombs Away (did not advance out of preliminary in 2018)
  • Bosque (13th in 2018, champion in 2014-15)
  • Bow & Arrow (14th in 2018)
  • Boxing Bear (second in 2018, champion in 2016-17)
  • Enchanted Circle (new)
  • Ex Novo (new)
  • Icebox (new)
  • La Reforma (new)
  • Marble (third in 2018)
  • Rio Bravo (tied for sixth in 2018)
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales (did not advance out of preliminary in 2018)
  • Starr Brothers (did not advance out of preliminary in 2018)
  • Toltec (did not advance out of preliminary in 2018)
  • Tumbleroot (did not advance out of preliminary in 2018)

That, in turn, means the following notable names did not advance: Canteen, Cantero, La Cumbre, Nexus, Ponderosa, Quarter Celtic, Red Door, Red River, Santa Fe, Second Street, Sidetrack, Sierra Blanca, Steel Bender, Taos Mesa, Three Rivers, Tractor, Truth or Consequences, and Turtle Mountain.

In the end, though, there was no dissension in the ranks.

“No one in the crowd, no,” Leah said. “It just goes to show you that double blind (works).”

The first public round is this Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Picacho Peak Brewing in Las Cruces. Get your tickets online ASAP!


— Stoutmeister

Once again, it is time to test those tastebuds with an onslaught of hops, only this time it’s after the professionals whittle down the list of candidates.

The 2019 edition of the New Mexico IPA Challenge kicks off this Saturday with the annual preliminary round, but there are changes afoot. The biggest change is that the preliminary round is no longer open to the public.

“This year, they wanted to make it a little more along the lines of GABF judging,” said Guild executive director Leah Black. “Where it really is blind tasting who gets in the top 15. That’s what we’re going to start with. We had just under 50 entries, and for whatever reason, they didn’t get their check in on time, but we ended up with 45 breweries. From 45 (down) to 15 this Saturday, then for each public round there will be the same 15 breweries there. It will be a buildup to what the hopheads love. You can go to all three rounds if you want to drive. It should be a lot of fun.”