20th annual IPA challenge returns to in-person tasting in Albuquerque

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The New Mexico Brewers Guild’s longest-running beer competition is now underway.

The IPA challenge is entering round two Wednesday, but there was a little controversy brewing in round one, as people gathered together in-person for the taste testing for the first time in two years.

“This is also a celebration of how much our industry has grown over the last twenty years,” said Tess Vidalis executive director of the New Mexico Brewers Guild. 

New Mexico beer drinkers are in the middle of picking their next favorite craft brew.

“This competition started out with literally just a handful of brewers and it was like, every brewery in the state. And since then we’ve grown to over 100 breweries in our state,” said Vidalis. 

The guild is putting on the 20th annual IPA challenge. In the IPS competition, the public can vote on their new favorite India Pale Ale.

During the last challenge, they were able to get everyone together at Bow and Arrow Brewery, before the pandemic.

“This last Saturday was the first round that we were able really to sell out and get — pack the house basically,” Vidalis said. 

However, round one at Second Street Brewery’s Rufina Taproom in Santa Fe, had a little hiccup.

“Unfortunately, one of the wrong IPA was hooked up. It was hooked up to the right tap, but it was the wrong IPA,” said Vidalis. 

Second Street’s special IPA for the competition was never tasted in round one. 

Vidalis says beer drinkers in round two in Farmington Wednesday will get to try it, and they will average their final scores to give their brewery a shot at the coveted IPA trophy to be awarded after the final round in Albuquerque this Saturday.

“We think that’s the most fair way to go about everything,” Vidalis said. 

The serious business of beer continues.

“It was great! It was great, a lot of smiling faces, a lot of people enjoying, you know, New Mexico beers, so it was a lot of fun,” said Vidalis. 

Boxing Bear Brewery has historically been a favorite. They won in 2019 and again in 2021, and the logo this year was actually designed after their brewer.

But Lava Rock Brewery in Albuquerque has the early lead after round one.

List of competing breweries:

  • Bosque Brewing Co.
  • Boxing Bear Brewing Co.
  • Canteen Brewhouse
  • Downshift Brewing Co.
  • Ex Novo Brewing Co.
  • Gravity Bound Brewing Co.
  • La Cumbre Brewing Co.
  • Lava Rock Brewing Co.
  • Marble Brewery.
  • Nexus Brewery
  • Ponderosa Brewing Co.
  • Quarter Celtic Brewpub
  • Second Street Brewery
  • Starr Brothers Brewing Co.
  • Three Rivers Brewery
  • Tractor Brewing Co.

For information on tickets or the breweries competing, visit, nmbeer.org.