Monday, July 22, 2019

Everybody Gets a Vote: IPA Challenge Round 2

Tumbleroot hosted the Santa Fe leg of the 2019 NM IPA Challenge, which saw some breweries make huge leaps in votes from the first round. For instance, Rio Bravo received 6 times the votes that they did in the first round. Yup. Only problem is their total went from 1 vote to 7. But things could always be worse: Marble only received 3 votes in the second round, bringing their 2 round total to...3. Tough competition this year, though it looks as if Boxing Bear can dust off the Apollo Creed trunks and get ready to receive the trophy if Albuquerque voters continue the trend. Boxing Bear picked up another 32 votes in round 2, giving them 49 total. Bosque had a strong second place showing with 23 votes, though the only 7 votes in round 1 could hurt their chances in the final. Icebox's following thawed a bit in the second round, going from 16 votes in the first to only 4 in the second. Peculiar. That would put Ex Novo in the position to be Rookie of the Year, though having a pedigree of years in the Portland market earns them an asterisk. It may take a Buster Douglas-type upset to unseat Boxing Bear this year. My office pool was messed up from the beginning: I had Santa Fe as my dark horse winner.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Icebox Can Be My Wingman Anytime

It's a good day for ice. I was talking about "The Iceman" George Gervin earlier today. And then we have the results of the first round of the NM IPA Challenge, where Icebox came in a strong second place to multiple winner Boxing Bear. Pretty skewed results overall, with five breweries getting zero votes, defending champ Blue Corn getting one, and Rowley and Starr Brothers getting two apiece. A landslide for the top two, with Boxing Bear amassing 17 and Icebox only one behind. Knowing nothing of tonight's actually event other than the tally sheet and the overall history of NM Challenge in general, I will say that there have been some strange numbers to come out of the non-Santa Fe and Albuquerque events over the years, with relative unknowns doing really well. Interesting to see that has happened again.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

NM IPA Challenge: A New Hope

A format change from last year put the elimination round of the NM IPA Challenge in the mouths of the brewers this year, which could be seen as a blessing if you tried some of the beers last year. I did kind of enjoy going to previous events with a couple of people and sharing from both (or in last year's case) all three trays. I can see that people would be bummed they didn't get to try all the entries and decide who made the finals. It also seems like the Guild would welcome the cash flow from a public elimination event but I've been worn out from getting one keg for a party. I can't imagine the fun of organizing 45 kegs and trays for a million people. Yeah, 45. That's the astounding number of breweries who competed in 2019. The usual favorites were all represented, with some first-timers like La Reforma (home of the traditional Mexican IPA!), Ex Novo, and Icebox on the list as well. And who better to judge who got to the final round than the people who brewed the beer, or at least represented a brewery who entered? Well, me for one, but that's another argument. The judges were tasked to narrow the field to 15, which will compete on July 17th in Las Cruces, July 20th in Santa Fe, and wrap up with the finale at Bow and Arrow on July 27th (tickets available here. And the results...

Wow. Missing anyone? You'd expect Marble, Bosque, Boxing Bear, 2018 champ Blue Corn. But Rowley? IPA is not their strong suit, or so I thought. Icebox and La Reforma??? Good job guys! Rio Bravo is in, but not Canteen? No Quarter Celtic, whose brewer won this competition at least five times by my count. But probably the biggest upset (with some of the most upset followers) is La Cumbre not making the finals. The GABF gold winning, two-time National IPA Champion is out. Hard to believe, especially considering that their entry was the current Project Dank, which I thought was one of their best versions. In years past, I would have argued that the people who did the voting were dopes, and that would be mostly true. But who are we to blame if brewery people do the judging? Blind tasting eliminates all biases, unless you are biased against hazy/clear/darker IPAs. So does it suck that some of our favorites didn't make the finals. Yes. Is it fair? I'll leave you with this from a brewer whose beer didn't make it to the finals, "I like the way we did this and if that's how the judges voted then cool. Good luck to all that made it."

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Tractor Bets on Old School and Remember Rogue?

I paid a visit to Jubilation the other day to see what was new on the shelves. While there were a few new beers, what stood out was the number of old. Barrel-aged Stouts of years past are abound on the shelf near the register. How times have changed from when we were grabbing every last bottle of KBS or Parabola, if we could even find any. But onto newer beers!
Bucking the trend of the NE IPA can release, Tractor Brewing has released Acreage IPA to the Albuquerque market. It's a curious move for a couple of obvious reasons. 1. It's not hazy. 2. It's not meant to be served with a lime. But hand it to Tractor, they're willing to take chances. I've never found IPAs to be a strong style for them, as I think they've had consistency issues. They have excelled at cider making, having just won five medals at the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition. Every time I try cider I am thankful that I can drink beer. Acreage is probably the best IPA I have had from Tractor, though I'm curious to see if future batches keep the same quality. With four locations across the "metro" area, Tractor is a force in the local scene. I picked up a single can of Acreage at Jubilation (it sells in a 4-pack of 16 oz. cans) for $2.50.

Remember Rogue? That brewery that people who weren't in the know would bring up when you talked about going to Portland? "Oh, did you guys go to ROGUE???" Well, they're still around, though canned craft cocktails is their new big thing. But they're trying their hand at the hazy IPA. Batsquatch hazy IPA, named for something that is like the Chupacabra of the Pacific Northwest. Maybe the person who came up with the beer names "Rhubard Schmubarb" and "Combat Wombat" was busy, or Rogue did market research and found that one word beer names make for better sellers. Beer names are getting more annoying as they become harder to create, aren't they? Hill Farmstead is going to run out of old dead relatives to name beer after at some point. I could never relate to the naming of those beers anyway- "made with honey from our own beehives and hand-pulled arugula, this is the beer I dreamed of sharing with my Great-Aunt Margaret." And here I am feeling like shit because I used to hate having to go see Great-Uncle Jimmy with no legs. But anyway, Rogue hazy: it's comparable to the class of large breweries making hazies like Boston Beer, Sierra Nevada, Deschutes, etc. It's not bad. Very drinkable. An interesting taste that I would have pegged as coming from Summit hops, as it reminded me of the old Green Flash Imperial IPA. But no, Rogue lists the hops as Mosaic, El Dorado, and Belma. Good old Aunt Belma.