Craft beer lovers can rejoice.
An annual event to find the best IPAs in the state kicks off Saturday, Nov. 6, at Red Door Brewing Co. Downtown.
The New Mexico Brewers Guild holds the IPA Challenge each year, allowing the public to cast votes and decide the winner. The challenge gives breweries an opportunity to face-off in a friendly competition while helping raise money for the guild. This is the organization’s largest yearly fundraiser.
Leah Black, executive director of the guild, said last year’s event was not public because of the pandemic. Instead, judges took home the samples. This year’s challenge will return to the traditional voting conducted in person at hosting breweries.
A great thing about the event, she said, is that the public gets to be involved in the judging.
There will be a brewer’s round where judging is done only by brewers who entered an IPA in the contest. They will narrow the selection down from 37 to 16 beers and those remaining beers will move on to the four rounds of public judging.
Red Door operations manager Ali Cattin, who also sits on the guild board, said last year the guild decided to let brewers narrow down the initial 37 entries to the final 16 instead of the general public.
“They (brewers) felt that a decision coming from their peers was more fair,” she said. “It was less a popularity contest and more based on the merit of the beer. Brewers have a lot of knowledge the general public might not have.”
The public can buy a ticket to attend the Nov. 6 VIP kick-off event, although attendees cannot vote. Ticket-holders will get a T-shirt and the opportunity to sample all 37 beers.
“We will have a live reveal of who is moving forward,” Black said.
The 16 finalists will move on to four rounds of public judging, which will be held around the state. Anyone who purchases a ticket gets to participate in the judging.
Judging is based on a blind sample. Tasters do not know which beer they are trying or where it was brewed. Points from all four public rounds will be added up and the guild will crown a winner at the final event Nov. 20 at the Boxing Bear’s Firestone Taproom near Balloon Fiesta Park.
Rio Bravo Brewing Co. was last year’s champion.
Tickets are $25 each and limited. Visit nmbeer.org and click the events tab to purchase a ticket for each round. The guild promotes craft beer across the state and beyond and works to protect the interests of the industry in New Mexico.
Editor’s note: This post has been edited to include updated numbers from the New Mexico Brewers Guild.