Posts Tagged ‘Spotted Dog Brewery’

This year's many, many IPA entries.

This year’s many, many IPA entries.

And we are off! The preliminary round of the 2016 New Mexico IPA Challenge is complete, with 16 15 breweries advancing to the three main rounds that will begin next weekend at Santa Fe Brewing. This came out of the 28 beers that were sampled in a blind taste test Saturday afternoon at Rio Bravo.

Editor’s note: We have been updated by the Guild that Rio Bravo does not advance.

Were there surprises? Of course, both in some of the breweries that scored well and in some that did not. One of the new wrinkles in NMIPAC is that the three host breweries — Santa Fe, 3 Rivers, Tractor — were guaranteed to advance no matter their voting totals. In the end, only the first needed that bye to advance, as 3 Rivers (nine votes) and Tractor (seven votes) would have qualified regardless.

The results of the preliminary round, with the breweries listed by their numbers on the left, voting totals on the right.

The results of the preliminary round, with the breweries listed by their numbers on the left, voting totals on the right.

Every brewery that was eliminated garnered less than seven votes. Those are, with voting totals included, Bathtub Row (4), Cazuela’s (1), Chama River (2), Enchanted Circle (2), Kaktus (2), Little Toad Creek (4), Lizard Tail (3), Marble (6), Rio Bravo (3), Roosevelt (4), Sierra Blanca (6), Spotted Dog (1), and Turtle Mountain (2). While some of those breweries are newer or in more remote locations, seeing big names like Chama, Marble, Sierra Blanca, and Turtle were all surprising.

The advancing breweries, including the hosts, are Blue Corn (10), Bosque (13), Boxing Bear (33), Canteen (33), Chili Line (10), La Cumbre (13), Quarter Celtic (24), Red Door (7), Santa Fe (3), Second Street (7), Sidetrack (7), Starr Brothers (17), Taos Mesa (13), 3 Rivers (9), and Tractor (7). In terms of the two trays, numbered 1-14 and 15-28, the leaders were Boxing Bear and Canteen for the first tray and Quarter Celtic for the second tray. It was nice to see some of the newcomers, all of whom opened this year, make the final cut in Chili Line, Quarter Celtic, Sidetrack, and Starr Brothers.

In the interest of full disclosure, Brandon had the first tray and picked Canteen. I had the second tray and picked Starr Brothers, though it was close between their offering and Quarter Celtic.

The next round of NMIPAC will be Saturday, July 16, at Santa Fe, followed by a stop at 3 Rivers in Farmington on July 20, and the grand finale at Tractor Wells Park on July 23. Luke will have the SFBC stop covered for us, and the rest of the Crew will see you all at Wells Park.


— Stoutmeister

p.s. Kudos to the staff at Rio Bravo for putting on such a smoothly-run event. All of us attendees appreciated your hard work!

One IPA to rule them all!

One IPA to rule them all!

The announcement went out on Tuesday, and hopheads across the state rejoiced, for the New Mexico IPA Challenge is returning to the land. Now 28 breweries will do battle, as all seek to remove the three-time king, John Bullard, from his iron throne.

OK, fine, it is a bit of Game of Thrones there, but that is the theme this year, said NM Brewers Guild director John Gozigian. We met for some pints and a good old information download at Bosque Brewing on Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re kind of running with a Game of Thrones theme,” John said. “It all makes sense. The brewing community in New Mexico is kind of incestuous, it really is. Everybody’s worked here and there. All the houses have been mixed, kind of, so it kind of lends itself to that.

“You’ve got a guy like John Bullard who’s won it three years in a row for two different breweries. He’s the guy that everybody wants to dethrone. You’ve got all these usurpers out there that would love nothing better than to make him pay.”

Bullard has won three in a row, the last two at Bosque and two before that Blue Corn. His title defense starts on Saturday, July 9, at Rio Bravo for the preliminary round. After that, the scoring rounds will be at Santa Fe Brewing on July 16, at Three Rivers Brewery in Farmington on July 16, and the grand finale will be at Tractor Wells Park on July 23.

The other 27 combatants who will face off with Bosque are, deep breath, as follows (* = confirmed first-time participant): Bathtub Row, Blue Corn, Boxing Bear, Canteen, Cazuela’s, Chama River, Chili Line*, Enchanted Circle*, Kaktus, La Cumbre, Little Toad Creek, Lizard Tail, Marble, Quarter Celtic*, Red Door, Rio Bravo*, Roosevelt, Santa Fe, Second Street, Sidetrack*, Sierra Blanca, Spotted Dog, Starr Brothers*, Taos Mesa, Three Rivers, Tractor, Turtle Mountain

Last year there were 23 participants, so to get to 28 is immense in and of itself. Rather than copy the same format as the VIPA Challenge, there will instead be a new format for the opening round at Rio Bravo.

“It’s going to be a little different though it’s going to accomplish the same end,” John said. “Last year was the first time that we had to winnow the field down to a manageable amount of beers to take on the road, so attendees at the subsequent stops got all of them in one sitting.

“We capped it this year at 28 breweries. They can only enter one beer. It all goes back to the lunch lady trays that we’ve always used. You can fit 14 of those plastic tumblers on one of those trays. You can fit 2-to-3 ounces in there, a big enough sample where you can reasonably evaluate the beer. So, that limits it to 14 in a flight. Plus, given the quantity of each one, you can’t go less than 2 ounces, so that ends up (28) ounces of beer per flight, plus you get the complimentary pint. We don’t want people to over-consume.”

The format now will feature two separate trays, labeled A and B. One will have beers numbered one through 14, the other 15 through 28. Each attendee will only receive one of the two trays, and will rank the beers on his/her tray only. An equal number of the two trays will be distributed so all beers will have an equal chance, regardless of which tray they are on.

“We’re going to be smart, the ones that have done well in the past, they’re not going to all be on one flight,” John said. “They’re going to be spread out in a way that makes sense. We’re going to take the top 12 to 14 out of that first round at Rio Bravo and then take those to the next stops.”

Yes, you and your best friend/significant other/old drinking buddy can each get a different tray and sample from the other, but you can only vote for one. Basically, drink up as much as you want off your tray first for proper voting, then, if your palate can take it, try from the other tray.

“So, the first one is going to be fun,” John said. “That’s where we get the field down to where it’s supposed to be. Even with 28, there’s going to be some good IPAs that get left behind. There are a lot of good IPAs out there now. For sure, those top 12 or 14, they’re going to be some great beers.”

Tickets for all four rounds are now on sale online, and paper tickets will begin appearing at the breweries (full list TBA) in the next couple of weeks.

Get them early this year. Even as big as Rio Bravo is, and Tractor WP will be (they are going to close the front parking lot along 4th for additional capacity), there will be ticket caps. This should be the biggest NMIPAC ever, both in terms of participating breweries and attendees.

After the opening round, the remaining rounds should be what you have come to expect, 12 to 14 beers numbered on a tray for a proper blind tasting. As attendance outside of Albuquerque has always lagged behind, the folks at Three Rivers are trying something new this year to get their numbers on par with at least Santa Fe.

“Actually, those guys are going to try to get people from Durango,” John said. “They’re going to put up posters at the breweries in Durango. I hope we get some attendance from there because, I think New Mexico’s beers, especially the IPAs, are well enough known now, at least in our neighboring states, it’ll be worth the 30-mile trip for somebody from Durango to come check out. Especially when we have gold medal winners and National IPA Challenge winners all submitting beers.”

Start doing your hop homework people. Prep those palates, get your ticket(s), and the Crew will see many of you at Rio Bravo and/or Tractor sooner than later.

One IPA to rule them all! We can get behind this theme.


— Stoutmeister

And festival season is a go!

And festival season is a go!

The unofficial kickoff to festival season is upon us once again as Blazin’ Brewfest returns to downtown Las Cruces on Saturday. This annual event, put on by the NM Brewers Guild, is definitely the biggest and most important festival for craft beer lovers in Southern New Mexico and surrounding areas.

The festival runs from 5 to 9 p.m. at 211 Main Street. There will be 15 breweries present, plus food trucks, and live music. The cost is $15 in advance or $20 at the gate. You can still buy tickets at High Desert, Spotted Dog, the Bosque taproom, Main Street Bistro, and of course online.

While the Crew will be otherwise occupied Saturday up here in ABQ, we will have correspondents writing about the fest and the best beers to seek out after it’s over. That, of course, leads to the question of what will be served at the festival. We only heard back from eight nine of the participating breweries, but if anyone else sends us a late list, we will update this story.

Abbey: TBA

Bosque: Riverwalker IPA, Driftwood Oatmeal Stout, Brewer’s Boot Amber Ale, Scotia Scotch Ale, Bosque Lager, Elephants on Parade, Amber Rye, Beermosa

High Desert: TBA

La Cumbre: BEER, Elevated, Red Ryeot, Malpais, Slice of Hefen, plus there will be a special tapping of Project Dank at 7 p.m.

Little Toad Creek: TBA

Marble: Double White, Pilsner, Red, IPA

Pecan Grill: TBA

Picacho Peak: Javelina Black IPA, La Bruja Porter, High Noon Hefeweizen, Sunset Summer Saison, Smooth ‘n’ Stout

Ponderosa: Ghost Train IPA, Spanglish New Mexican Lager, Manzanita Milk Stout, Saison Chat Sauvage

Red Door: Unhinged Cider, Roamer Red, Shift Ender Golden Lager, Bad Moon Ryesing

Santa Fe: Gold, Black IPA, Nut Brown, Happy Camper, Western Bloc IPA

Sierra Blanca/Rio Grande: Pancho Verde Chile Cerveza, Red Beer, Bone Chiller Brown, Rio Grande IPA, Rio Grande Desert Pilsner, Alien Stout, plus a limited pour of Cranberry Sour

Spotted Dog: Milk Stout, Hop Dog, Prickly Beaver Wheat, Angry Beaver Wheat, Shep Farmhouse Ale

Taos Mesa: TBA

Tractor: TBA

Remember, this is a Brewers Guild event, so it needs all the support our community of beer lovers can provide!


— Stoutmeister

Get off the couch and head southwest this weekend.

Get off the couch and head southwest this weekend.

Toad Fest, the street festival hosted by Little Toad Creek in Silver City, will not only feature live music and other fun this Saturday, but it will have 12 other New Mexico breweries serving up 20 different, unique beers.

The list, as provided to us by the NM Brewers Guild.

  • Abbey: Monks’ Tripel
  • Blue Corn: Fuzzy Snuggler
  • Bosque: Riverwalker IPA, Tu-Bock Shakur
  • Canteen: Marzen
  • Chama River: Class VI Golden Lager, Broken Spoke Wheat Ale
  • La Cumbre: BEER, Red Ryeot
  • Marble: Imperial Red, Double White
  • Red Door: Roamer Red, Bad Moon Ryesing
  • Santa Fe: Happy Camper, Santa Fe Gold
  • Second Street: Pivotal IPA, Schwarzbier
  • Sidetrack: Crossbuck Pale Ale, 3:10 to Belen Brown
  • Spotted Dog: Spring Thing (Belgian-style saison)

It’s a great opportunity for folks in Southern New Mexico, as well as those who wish to trek up from El Paso or from Arizona, to enjoy a lot of beers you can only get up north. Spotted Dog will represent the Las Cruces area, too. Plus, of course Little Toad Creek’s own beers will be available, and their spirits.

Admission is free to the event, which starts at 2 p.m. and runs until midnight. The music will be provided by Wylie Crazyhorse Jones at 2, Compas at 4, and JB & the Jackrabbits at 8. There will be games for kids and adults, too. Food-wise, look for a special menu featuring lots of grilled meats (ribs, brisket, etc.) and the like.

Remember, this is a Guild event, so a portion of the proceeds of beer sales will go to helping the Guild help breweries across our state.

Considering the weather right now in ABQ, it might not be a bad idea to trek south to Silver City for a day. Let us hope the sun stays out down there.


— Stoutmeister

WinterBrew is sold out for 2016, so 800 lucky people are going to have some awesome beers this Friday!

WinterBrew is sold out for 2016, so 800 lucky people are going to have some awesome beers this Friday! (Photo courtesy of the NM Brewers Guild)

Well, the good news is WinterBrew is as popular as ever. The bad news is that means 800 tickets disappeared in the blink of an eye and the event is completely sold out. So for the lucky 800 of you who are going, we did our best to compile the list of what the 17 participating breweries will be pouring.

Our best, however, was not great this time around (UPDATE: It’s gotten better!). Now 10 of the 15 breweries we contacted (we do not have contact info for either Taos Mesa or Little Toad Creek) responded with beer lists by our publication deadline. If any others do send us their list, we will update this post as many times as necessary.

On a side note, the majority of the Crew will not be present. Fear not, we are doing fine, one of our members is getting married Saturday and Friday night is the rehearsal dinner. Enjoy this one without us!

Abbey Brewing (Monks): TBA

Bathtub Row: Hindsight Doppelbock, Uncle Smokey’s Pumpkin, Asian White IPA, Wit Rock.

Blue Corn: Russian Imperial Stout, McLeonard’s Scotch Ale, Road Runner IPA, Atomic Blonde (NOTE: The RIS and McLeonard’s are already out at the brewery, so this is your last chance to get them if you have not tried them before.)

Bosque: Bosque Lager, Scotia Scotch Ale, Riverwalker IPA, Josh a Skosh Irish Red (Nitro), The Schwarz Awakens, Summer in Germany, Just for Fun Double India Black Ale, Slow Burn Red Chile Brown Ale (NOTE: Those last five beers are making their debut. See below for more details.)

Chama River: UPDATED — due to the change in brewers, Chama will not be attending

Duel: TBA

La Cumbre: TBA

Little Toad Creek: NA

Marble: UPDATED — Pilsner, Double White, El Mysterio, Imperial Red, Imperial Stout

Red Door: Gateway Blonde, Unhinged Cider, Dark Side DIPA, Strong Scotch Ale

Santa Fe: UPDATED — SF Gold, Adobe Igloo, Happy Camper, Snowflake IPA, Brown Session IPA, La Bete Noir, and Adobe Igloo randalled through surprise ingredients in R2Beer2

Second Street: We just got the update that they will not be attending.

Sierra Blanca: Pancho Verde Chile Cerveza, Bone Chiller Brown, Milk Stout, Cran Sour

Spotted Dog: IPA, Milk Stout, Smokey Oso (Porter), Winter Harvest (Belgian farmhouse winter warmer)

Taos Mesa: NA

Tractor: Luna De Los Muertos, Et Tu Brute Cider, Barley Wine, Mustachio Milk Stout, Pilsner #15, Scotcholate

Turtle Mountain: Heidelberg Helles, Hopshell IPA, O Tannenbaum, Stauffenberg Stout, Wilde Jagd

So, those five new Bosque beers all came with a description. Josh a Skosh Irish Red (5.6% ABV, 18 IBU), nicknamed the “malt monster” by the brewery staff, this red ale was born out of an attempt to make a lower ABV version of the Scotia; The Schwarz Awakens (5.4% ABV, 25 IBU), a Franconian-inspired schwarzbier; Summer in Germany (6% ABV, 25 IBU), a German-inspired summer ale dry hopped with a whole lot of Noble hops; Just for Fun Double India Black Ale (8.7% ABV, 90 IBU), roasted malts plus Mosaic and Nelson Sauvin hops; Slow Burn Red Chile Brown Ale (6% ABV, 15 IBU), a malt-forward brown ale infused with New Mexico red chile. Take note, Bosque will not guarantee all five of those will be ready in time, but they are doing their best to make sure all will debut at WinterBrew.

Considering how many of you have been asking for something exclusive at festivals, voila.

That alone has us a little jealous that we will not be there. But alas, duty calls. And you gotta see the bright green vests under our tuxes.


— Stoutmeister

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.


— 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.


— 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).


— 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.


— Stoutmeister