Boxing Bear Brewing Co. clawed its way to the top to take the grand title of best IPA in the state during the 2019 New Mexico Brewers Guild IPA Challenge.
Winning is not something new to Boxing Bear. Its aggressively bitter Bear Knuckle IPA won the challenge in 2016 and 2017. The trophy was snatched away by Blue Corn Brewery in 2018. Boxing Bear entered its AlbuMurky, a hazy IPA, that year. But the bear is back on top with its winning Bear Knuckle V2 IPA.
“We came in second with (AlbuMurky) for 2018, so we reevaluated the Albuquerque market and what IPA drinkers were kind of looking for and we actually shot right down the middle as far as somewhere in between our old Bear Knuckle and the AlbuMurky,” said Boxing Bear head brewer and co-owner Justin Hamilton. “It was almost a middle-of-the-road transition beer which we kind of put together and decided to see. The first time we brewed it was for this IPA Challenge. So this beer we actually called it Bear Knuckle 2 or Bear Knuckle Version 2. Once we tried the beer and realized it had a good aroma and flavor to it and it was really drinkable, we had good hopes for it.”
Bear Knuckle V2 is a recipe for success. It received the top vote in each round of the IPA Challenge in Las Cruces, Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Boxing Bear received 102 votes. Bosque Brewing Co. came in second, with 72 votes, and Ex Novo placed third, with 67 votes. There were 45 entries, which were narrowed down to 15 during the elimination round by representatives of each participating brewery.
Bear Knuckle V2 IPA has nice flavor components, with aromas of grapefruit and pine, according to Hamilton.