Posts Tagged ‘IPA Challenge’

Can anyone pry the trophy from Justin Hamilton’s hands this summer?

There was just enough news piling up to require a short notebook this week. The NM Brewers Guild released the list of 30 participating breweries in this summer’s NM IPA Challenge. We also have news on some of the new breweries coming to our state, plus a couple notes on American Craft Beer Week.

Thirty breweries will enter, only one will leave (with the trophy)

With more than 70 operational breweries in New Mexico, the annual IPA Challenge cannot possibly accommodate everyone in the state. There are 30 spots available for the preliminary round, so the Guild simply offered them up on a first-come, first-served basis this week (save for the defending champion, which always gets an automatic bid).

The NMIPAC will start off with the preliminary round July 14 in Albuquerque, followed by rounds in Taos on July 18, Santa Fe on July 21, and then back to Albuquerque on July 28. The host breweries have not been named yet.

Here are the preliminary round participants, with past championships in parentheses for those that have won.

  1. Blue Corn (2013)
  2. Bombs Away (first time participant)
  3. Bosque (2014, 2015)
  4. Bow & Arrow
  5. Boxing Bear (2016, 2017)
  6. Canteen (2004, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)
  7. Cloudcroft (first time participant)
  8. Duel
  9. Flix Brewhouse
  10. High Desert
  11. Kaktus
  12. Kellys
  13. La Cumbre
  14. Little Toad Creek
  15. Marble
  16. Nexus
  17. Ponderosa
  18. Quarter Celtic
  19. Red Door
  20. Red River (first time participant)
  21. Rio Bravo
  22. Roosevelt
  23. Santa Fe
  24. Second Street
  25. Sidetrack
  26. Starr Brothers
  27. Taos Mesa
  28. Three Rivers
  29. Toltec (first time participant)
  30. Tractor

For those wondering about the missing years, Chama River (R.I.P.) won in 2006 and 2008, while Turtle Mountain won in 2009, but is not participating this year.

Other notable breweries not participating include Abbey, Bathtub Row, Boese Brothers, Cazuela’s, Desert Valley, Dialogue, Enchanted Circle, Milton’s, Picacho Peak, Rowley Farmhouse Ales, Sierra Blanca, Spotted Dog, Steel Bender, and Tumbleroot.

When the host breweries have been named, we will let everyone know.

American Craft Beer Week is back

In case you missed it, and if you don’t check into Untappd, you have probably have, but American Craft Beer Week is happening right now. There aren’t really any local events going on around New Mexico, mostly because a good chunk of the state’s breweries are gearing up for ABQ Beer Week, which starts a week from today.

The main goal of ACBW this year is to get people to seek out breweries that have adopted the Independent Craft Beer logo. You can find the list of New Mexico breweries by going here and searching by our state. Most of the craft breweries here have adopted the logo.

If you would like to have a little more fun, you can always print out the ACBW bingo card. For those who enjoyed running all over town for the Beer Passport last month, this one might be for you.

New brewery updates

Grants has a local brewery again as Elkins Brewing is now open.

There have not been too many additions to our list, but there is some news on openings.

  • Well now, after months of being a total mystery, Elkins Brewing in Grants has a Facebook page. Not only that, but it has either opened or is awfully close to opening. Located at the Lavaland RV Park off Exit 85 of Interstate 40, Elkins is right by the entrance to El Malpais National Monument. Per the Facebook page, Elkins was scheduled to open Tuesday, but there is no official confirmation that it did open. The plan was to have an American IPA, English IPA, Blond Ale, Rye Ale, Gose, and Imperial Stout on tap. One or more of us from the Crew will head out there soon enough to check it out. Welcome to the scene, Elkins!
  • Another brewery now in possession of an active small brewer license is Bonito Valley Brewing in Lincoln. So when will this small-town brewery open? Bonito Valley has announced that its grand opening weekend will be August 3-5. If you are not heading up to Denver for the LA Galaxy-Colorado Rapids game that weekend like some of our friends (the power of Zlatan compels them), then this might make for a nice alternative trip if you need to get out of ABQ.
  • A restaurant in Las Vegas, B3-BBQ, Burgers & Beer, has a pending small brewer license, which give that town its first local craft since New Mexico Craft Brewing closed down years ago (and was later reborn down here in ABQ as Desert Valley).
  • It sure looks like Red River Brewing will be open this weekend (we await an official notice), but even if it’s not, head to town for the Bacon & Brews festival this Saturday. Brandenburg Park will host the event from noon to 5 p.m. Participating breweries will include Abbey, Comanche Creek, Enchanted Circle, Red River, Santa Fe, and from all the way down in Ruidoso, Lost Hiker. There will also be wine, games, music, and more.

That is all from us for now. If you know of any news we have missed about breweries in New Mexico, please contact us via social media or at


— Stoutmeister

None of the Crew could make it over to Nexus for round one of the 2012 IPA Challenge on Sunday (I know, I know, bad beer bloggers putting work/life ahead of beer).

Half Pint is pleased that Il Vicino is tied for first after the opening round of the IPA Challenge.

But thankfully the good folks at the New Mexico Brewers Guild posted the results on Facebook when all the votes were tallied.

A total of 14 breweries participated, with the most notable absentees including Sierra Blanca/Rio Grande, Eske’s, plus newbies Broken Bottle and Taos Ale House, and as-yet-unopened Boar’s Nest.

Anyway, of the 14 who did participate, two stood out above the rest. In the listing below we go by ranking, with the number in parentheses representing the number that the brewery was give in the blind taste test. Those numbers will not be the same for the next three legs of the Challenge.

1. (tie) Il Vicino (7) and Marble (6) with 28 votes

3. Chama River (13) with 14 votes

4. Santa Fe (12) with 13 votes

5. La Cumbre (3) with 12 votes

6. (tie) Tractor (2) and 3 Rivers (9) with eight votes

8. (tie) Turtle Mountain (10) and High Desert (11) with seven votes

10. Nexus (14) with five votes

11. 2nd Street (8) with four votes

12. (tie) Blue Heron (1), Blue Corn (4) and Mimbres Valley (5) with three votes

Il Vicino is the three-time defending champion and will play host to the final round (which the Crew will attend, we already have our tickets) on Saturday at noon.

If there is a surprise, it is award-winning La Cumbre only coming in fifth, but there are a lot of votes still to be tallied at the next three venues, so this battle for the coveted silver trophy is far from over.

And if anyone out there is attending either Tuesday’s event in Farmington or Thursday’s in Santa Fe, and you feel like sharing your experience, just contact us on our Facebook page or via the comment section below!

Until the next Isotopes road trip begins and I return to my natural habitat …


— Stoutmeister

The IPA Challenge is one of the biggest events (after ABQ Beer Week) in the New Mexico craft beer scene. Four rounds of tastings are spread out between three towns that showcase each brewery’s best India Pale Ale. This year’s IPAC starts July 22 at Nexus, followed by rounds at Three Rivers in Farmington on July 24, Second Street in Santa Fe on July 26, and the grand finale at Il Vicino Canteen on July 28.

Turtle Mountain’s entry for the IPA challenge is nearly ready.

Now, I have to admit that I’m not an IPA fan, but even for me there are ways to make this event a little more enjoyable if you keep an open mind. The competition is a blind taste test. You pay, you receive a judging card and a tray with 16 samples (or however many breweries submitted), you find a place and taste what NM has to offer.

I have one challenge under my belt, but a bunch of beer festivals as well. Here’s a few tips I can offer to have fun at the challenge:

Get there early!
This event fills up fast!  And with the first challenge being at Nexus, get there as early as possible to avoid a battle for the limited parking … or better yet, ride your bike!

Get a glass of water
You’re doing a taste test of 16 different beers, no two are alike and flavors will vary. Water is good to cleanse the pallet. Embrace the hops!

Bring something to snack on
I learned this last year at September Fest at Marble, pretzles are your best friends at these types of events. They are filling and will keep you from getting too buzzed. Plus a change of flavor will help you get through the challenge.

Use the score card
We did the math last night, the challenge itself is roughly three pints of beer (or at least it was last year) plus the pint of your number one pick. The card is good for notes; write down what you like and don’t like. Keep it simple.

Have fun
Like any event, have fun. Talk to people and talk to the brewers! They love beer just as much as you do.

Those are my tips for the challenge.  Also, like anything involving drinking in a public fourm, don’t be an jerk and don’t drink and drive afterward!


— Shilling