Posts Tagged ‘New Mexico Brewers Guild’

The Champ is here! Boxing Bear’s Justin Hamilton TKOs the competition for the third time in four years at the New Mexico IPA Challenge!

The masses have spoken, and the West Coast IPA has not lost its crown just yet.

Boxing Bear Brewing won its third New Mexico IPA Challenge trophy in the past four years, with its Bear Knuckle II fending off a host of hazy competitors.

Bear Knuckle racked up 102 votes to fly past Bosque (72) and Ex Novo (67), both of which entered hazy IPAs.

“It was good,” said Boxing Bear head brewer/co-owner Justin Hamilton “We had a fun IPA Challenge that went completely different this year. It was really cool to not only get the votes from the brewers, but getting votes from the general public.”

It was also the biggest win by margin of votes for Boxing Bear, which faced much closer finishes in 2016 over Canteen and 2017 over Bosque.

“The cool thing about this for us was we finally got a blowout (victory),” Justin said. “We won by more than two votes to win the Challenge!”

Defending champion Blue Corn was sixth with 43 votes, just behind host Bow & Arrow (47) and newcomer Icebox (47) of Las Cruces. Blue Corn was the only other brewery in the top six with a non-hazy IPA.

“I was more than happy to where we played the game last year with a hazy, this year we went back to a West Coast,” Justin said. “It was very neat to see that the general public is still kind of into it.

“Everyone had amazing beer this year. It was a really good competition, so we were really happy to pull forward and have a good time. There are so many breweries opening in the state and we’re still doing well.”

Pardon the glare, but Blue Corn had 43 votes. Otherwise, it was a runaway victory for Boxing Bear.

The victory also times out well for Boxing Bear, which will be throwing a big fifth-anniversary party on August 10.

“It’s a really good birthday present, it’s literally the best birthday present that we could ask for to get the IPA Challenge (trophy) back to Boxing Bear,” Justin said.

The competition was not without its hiccups. The line was initially slow moving, with the concentration of the tap handles at Bow & Arrow impeding the ability to fill multiple beers at once for the volunteers from the New Mexico Brewers Guild. Ultimately, though, things were straightened out, and things ran about as smoothly as the final round of an IPA Challenge can run. There are only so many breweries that have the capacity to host an event as crowded as the NMIPAC, and Bow & Arrow ultimately pulled it off.

Only a couple of us in the Crew could attend this year due to work and/or family matters, but we wanted to send out our thanks to Brewers Guild executive director Leah Black, all the members of the Board of Directors, and the many, many volunteers who stepped up to help this year. A particular shout-out to Angelo Orona for making sure the lines were clean and ready to go for the Challenge.

We will likely have more thoughts on the NMIPAC going forward this week. Until then, we shall rest.

After more beer, of course.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The hops, lo they do call to us. They bid us welcome in the halls of Bow & Arrow, where the beer may live, forever!

Every year as a public service, the Crew likes to provide a sort of survival guide for those who are new to the New Mexico IPA Challenge. The final round will be held at Bow & Arrow Brewing this Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., and we highly recommend that you buy tickets in advance, as this one almost always sells out. Think of this as a giant FAQ to help get you through Saturday with the best experience possible (well, unless your favorite brewery fails to win, but we can’t control that).

How do we get to Bow & Arrow?

Odds are, more than 90 percent of you know the answer to this question, but just in case we have some truly new newcomers, there are a few ways to get there. From Interstate 40 in either direction, get off at the Sixth Street exit. The brewery is located one block south of the freeway on Sixth, with the technical address of 608 McKnight Ave. NW.

Should anyone drive? How much parking is there?

Bow & Arrow has a very small parking lot, with street parking not available on Sixth, though it is available on Bezemek Ave. on the south side of the brewery. If 300 people show up again and everyone drives solo, it will be chaos. But, the truth is that after sampling 15 IPAs and enjoying a pint of your favorite, you probably should not be driving anyway. Take a Lyft or Uber, or find that friend or family member who owes you a ride.

How much space is at Bow & Arrow?

The main taproom is spacious, but again, if 300 people are there at once, it will be crowded. There is some additional space throughout the building that can be opened up if necessary, but if you plan to go early, it may be difficult to find space to stick around in until the winner is announced after 4.

Is there food?

Bow & Arrow does not have food beyond a few snacks. We figure there will be at least one food truck, if not two, parked outside. Eat a big brunch/lunch before you arrive.

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Yeah, we know, the 2009 at the top is worth a laugh. But, the results are all 2019, particularly since 13 of the 15 breweries didn’t exist a decade ago.

Our man Luke was at the second round of the New Mexico IPA Challenge on Saturday afternoon, but we will cut him some slack and let him enjoy all those hop-forward ales while we do a quick recap of the competition.

Boxing Bear, which edged out Icebox 17 votes to 16 in the first round in Las Cruces on Wednesday, added another 32 votes at Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery to take a commanding 19-vote lead into next Saturday’s final round at Bow & Arrow (get those tickets ASAP!).

Bosque added 23 votes to its total to move into second place with 30 overall. Last year’s winner, Blue Corn, tallied 19 votes for 20 overall, good enough for a fourth-place tie. Between them, Blue Corn (2013, 2018), Boxing Bear (2016, 2017), and Bosque (2014, 2015) have won the last six trophies.

Sneaking into the mix are Ex Novo, which added 14 votes to get to 22 overall, good enough for third place, and the aforementioned Icebox, which now has 20 votes. Bow & Arrow sits in sixth after adding 11 votes Saturday to get to 19 overall.

A total of 163 voters took part Saturday, well up from the 65 on a weekday at Picacho Peak in Las Cruces. There is a good chance that the final round will more than double the Tumbleroot total, so nothing has been decided yet.

At the very least, every brewery shut out in Las Cruces picked up anywhere from two (Enchanted Circle) to 12 (Toltec) votes on Saturday. Bombs Away (10), La Reforma (seven), and Marble (three) also managed to avoid a second straight shutout.

Luke will share more thoughts about this round on Monday, and we will preview the final round later in the week to make sure everyone is prepared, whether you are a veteran or a first-time participant.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

It was an informative gathering inside Tractor’s brewery area, with (from left) Bosque’s Jess Griego, Tractor’s David Hargis, La Cumbre’s Jeff Erway, Tractor’s Skye Devore, Senator Martin Heinrich, Taos Mesa’s Jayson Wylie, Canteen’s Jamie Schwebach, and higher up, Hollow Spirits’ Frank Holloway and NM Brewers Guild executive director Leah Black. Oh, and some beer writer on the far right.

Senator Martin Heinrich was in Albuquerque last week, and representatives of the New Mexico Brewers Guild were able to set up a meeting with him to talk all things craft beer in regards to the federal government.

Tractor Brewing co-owner/president Skye Devore spearheaded the event, which was held inside the brewery at Wells Park. The Senator certainly seemed to appreciate the informal nature of the event, which featured a sizable charcuterie tray and free drinks for all, not to mention being free of the usual political debate.

Over the course of a half-hour, numerous topics were discussed between the Senator and a group that included Skye, Tractor co-owner/brewmaster David Hargis, La Cumbre owner Jeff Erway, Hollow Spirits owner Frank Holloway, New Mexico Brewers Guild executive director Leah Black, Guild board members Jayson Wylie (Taos Mesa), Jamie Schwebach (Canteen), and Jess Griego (Bosque), and one beer writer who was there to chronicle it all.

The meeting featured both the Guild members asking questions of the Senator, and the Senator in turn asking questions of them.

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One last time into the breach, dear friends, one last time!

Well, this is it. Eleven days of fun have come down to one final day’s worth of events.

The final slate includes a sold-out golf tournament, a breakfast special, a brunch, an anniversary party, a celebration of casks, a unique charity drive, and one final sensory experience to close it all out. Thanks for being along for the ride with us!

Featured Event

Every day we will pick what we consider the biggest, most interesting, most unique event. This does not mean you should go to only this event and ignore the rest. All of them deserve your attention, but realistically, you can probably only attend a few. So we will make our daily pick, and you can either jump on it, or declare the Crew is foolish (we kinda are) and pick your own.

What: Le Cask Lunatique. Where: Steel Bender Brewyard. When: Noon. Cost: No cover charge.

Details: Once again, the Steel Bender brewers have gone a little overboard (in a good way) with six special casks on the patio bar. The Witty Gin is made from The Village Wit infused with the same botanicals and spices that Left Turn Distilling uses for its Old Tom Gin. Mulvaney’s Old Fashioned features the Irish red infused with cinnamon, orange peel, nutmeg, clove, allspice, and sweet cherries. Compa-rinha uses Compa Los Ranchos Lager conditioned with palm sugar, lime zest and juice. Stay Golden Sunrise utilizes the new Stay Golden Ale with maraschino cherries and fresh orange zest and juice. Funky George Porter adds a little brettanomyces for some proper funk. Finally, we cannot wait for Blue Bullet’s Wood-Aged Irish Whiskey, where the brewers took oak chips soaked in Left Turn’s NM Blue Corn Whiskey and added them to a cask of the Irish dry stout. Oh, and Le Chat Lunatique will be playing inside from 3:30 to 5:30.

Why you should go: If you can’t find a cask you like here, we’re not sure you really like beer.

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Get thee to Las Cruces this Friday!

There are only a few beer festivals left in New Mexico that no one from the Crew has attended. One was the Blazin’ Brewfest, but I will be heading down this Friday since it is not falling on my birthday or opposite a metal show this year (it was rather uncanny how many times that happened in past years).

This annual celebration of craft beer takes over Main Street and Plaza de Las Cruces, starting at 5 and running until 9 p.m. Tickets are still available online. General admission is $15 and designated drivers get in for $5, and they typically sell out in advance (though Guild executive director Leah Black said a few will be held back for sale at the gate), so it would be wise not to risk showing up expecting a ticket unless you arrive at the outset.

Blazin’ is a New Mexico Brewers Guild event, and it has drawn 18 breweries from around New Mexico, including all five Las Cruces breweries. Pecan Grill Brewery will be in attendance, but it does not have any beers available as brewer David Allan is currently undergoing treatment for cancer. Eight other breweries are donating beers to be sold by the pint at the Pecan Grill tent, with proceeds going to help the Allan family. Marble will be sending Passionate Gose, while Canteen, La Cumbre, Little Toad Creek, Palmer Brewery, Santa Fe, Sierra Blanca, and Steel Bender will also contribute.

There will be music from DJ D-monic and a number of food trucks on site.

As for the beer lists for the 17 breweries, here is what we have so far. If any others update us between now and the start of the festival, we will share those here.

  • Bosque: Pistol Pete’s 1888, Bosque IPA, Elephants on Parade, Scotia Scotch Ale, Open Space Haze, Pale Ryder, Sour Songs (blood orange and cranberry kettle sour), Rebble Pebble (cocoa pebble brown ale)
  • Canteen: Cabana Lager, Radiohead IPA, La Luz Wheat, Dougie Style Amber
  • Cloudcroft: TBA
  • High Desert: Mango Gose, New England IPA, Cerveza, Ekuanot Pale Ale, Peach Wheat
  • Icebox: Frostbite IPA, Black Ice Lager, Rasp-brrry Wheat, Cold-Hearted Cream Ale
  • La Cumbre: Elevated IPA, A Slice of Hefen, Acclimated APA, El Jugo, Strawberry Gose
  • Little Toad Creek: Smart Blonde Ale, Grumpy Old Troll IPA, Pendejo Porter
  • Lost Hiker: TBA
  • Marble: Double White, Double White Triple Berry, Desert Fog, Cerveza
  • Picacho Peak: Munich Helles, Bitchin Brown, Hefeweizen, Saison, NEIPH, Twisted Windmill (DIPA)
  • Red Door: Unhinged Cider, New England IPA, Vanilla Cream Ale, Irish Red Ale
  • Santa Fe: Pepe Loco, 7K IPA, Happy Camper IPA, Social Hour
  • Sierra Blanca: Alien IPA, Cherry Wheat, Green Chile Cerveza, Desert Pilsner
  • Spotted Dog: TBA
  • Steel Bender: Skull Bucket IPA, Raspberry Dynamite, Lloyd’s 3 O’Clock Kolsch, Compa Los Ranchos Lager
  • Tractor: Haymaker Honey Wheat, Blood Orange Cider, Stonewall Brut IPA with grapefruit
  • Truth or Consequences: Hot Springs Lager, Buckhorn IPA, Paddleboard Pale Ale, Irish Red

Hopefully I will see many of you at the festival. Look for me roaming about or over at the Brewers Guild tent.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Toadfest at Little Toad Creek in Silver City is always worth the drive.

The New Mexico Brewers Guild and Little Toad Creek Brewery and Distillery are teaming up for their annual event, Toadfest, this Saturday in Silver City from 2 p.m. to midnight. This free event will feature 21 different beers and ciders from 12 different breweries, all packed into the LTC taproom at 200 N. Bullard Street.

The setup of Toadfest has 10 beers poured on the back patio and the other 11 at the main bar inside. There will also be some live music indoors, and some fun and games in the alleyway behind the taproom (the other side of the alley is actually the creek that runs through the town, making for a lovely afternoon/evening setting). Luke and I got to go to Toadfest back in 2017 and we had a blast, so we highly recommend the drive down. Silver City is a very charming town, and worth the visit anytime of the year.

Guild executive director Leah Black was kind enough to send us the list of the beers/ciders, though we are all still waiting on Boxing Bear to identify which offerings they are sending south. UPDATE: See below.

Patio pours

  • Bosque Open Space Haze
  • Bosque Beyond the Trees (Cider)
  • Canteen Fill in the Blanco (White IPA)
  • Marble Double White Triple Berry
  • Sierra Blanca Green Chile Cerveza
  • Sierra Blanca Alien IPA
  • Steel Bender Compa Los Ranchos Lager
  • Boxing Bear Uppercut IPA
  • Truth or Consequences Cosmic Blonde
  • Rio Bravo Freak Juice (Hazy IPA)

Bar pours

  • La Cumbre Elevated IPA
  • Picacho Peak Green Chile Amber
  • Steel Bender Raspberry Dynamite
  • Canteen High Plains Pilsner
  • Tractor Blood Orange Cider
  • Little Toad Creek Grumpy Old Troll IPA
  • Rio Bravo Squirrel Nuts (Peanut Butter Hazelnut Brown)
  • Boxing Bear Ambear
  • Marble Cerveza
  • T or C Buckhorn IPA
  • Little Toad Creek Copper Cream Ale

For those of you that can go, remember this is an event that benefits the Brewers Guild, as well as our friends at Little Toad Creek. Have a great weekend!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Senate Bill 413 passed the Roundhouse and obtained the Governor’s signature.

The good news broke Wednesday night at the top of the page listing bills signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham. Senate Bill 413, which we profiled just recently, got the signature that craft breweries were hoping for and will become effective on July 1.

To sum up the benefits of the bill, breweries will now be able to sell beer at 11 a.m. on Sundays (no more waiting until almost halftime of NFL games); they can have private celebration permits for events like weddings, graduation parties, and so on; there will be minimum standards (50 barrels a year or 50 percent of all sales coming from beer brewed on site) for businesses to hold a small brewer license; and the excise tax has been ironed out, with breweries paying $.08 per gallon on the first 30,000 barrels produced. There are also benefits for cider producers and craft distillers.

In a legislative session crammed with so many bills, and an uncertain environment with the change in governors, no one was quite sure if the bill would pass. Thanks to State Rep. Javier Martinez and Senator Mimi Stewart, Guild lobbyists Al Park and Jason Weaks, and the tireless work of Tractor Brewing co-owner/president Skye Devore (who publicly spearheaded the Brewers Guild’s efforts), this bill not only passed both houses, but it reached the governor’s desk. At that point, all everyone could do was wait and hope it would not come down to Friday’s final deadline.

Thankfully, that wait ended Wednesday night, as Rep. Martinez tweeted out the news of the bill being signed, and a whole lot of online congratulations followed throughout the New Mexico craft beer community.

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All supporters of craft beer owe a huge thank you to SB413 sponsors Rep. Javier Martinez and Senator Mimi Stewart.

Senate Bill 413 is one of many sitting on the desk of New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham after the completion of the 2019 Legislative Session. It is, however, the one that will specifically affect our craft breweries, in a very good way, if it obtains her signature.

I sat down with Tractor Brewing co-owner/president Skye Devore, who spearheaded the effort on behalf of the New Mexico Brewers Guild, on Friday morning to go over what SB413 will mean to breweries if it is passed into law. The bill is pretty much as originally described by outgoing executive director John Gozigian, combining everything our breweries had hoped for into one bill in this legislative session. It passed the Senate by a 36-2 margin and the House by a 54-10 margin.

“I’m really proud of this because I feel like it has something in there for everyone in our membership,” Skye said. “It’s not a bill for the big breweries, or something that will just benefit the small ones. It had widespread support throughout our organization. I don’t think I got a single person saying I have a problem with any piece of this bill. And, that’s true across beer, cider, and spirits. We really all came together.”

Here is everything in the bill, summed up:

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