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Boxing Bear Wins NM IPA Title

Boxing Bear Wins NM IPA Title

The Canteen takes second, Farmington's Three Rivers Brewery takes third

Corrales Brewery has won multiple honors, including a World Beer Cup gold medal

BY TY BANNERMAN

The month-long New Mexico Brewer’s Guild 2016 IPA Challenge hit its final round, and one champion emerged victorious: Boxing Bear Brewery.

As the temperature flirted with the 100-degree mark, drinkers and judges crowded into Tractor Brewery’s Wells Park taproom on North Fourth Street and did their best to drink the heat away. Some poor souls even thumbed their noses at the sun’s wrath and took seats in the fenced off parking lot, risking heat stroke in their dedication to local beer excellence.

After four previous events, the competition to determine the state’s best India Pale Ale had been whittled down to 15 New Mexico breweries, which made for a pretty full tray of samples.

Once a participant managed to balance their tray all the way to the table, the process was as straightforward as they come: drink the samples and choose a favorite. The one with the most votes takes the prize. The offerings ranged from floral West Coast-style hop bombs to more classic bitter and straw-colored varieties fit for a voyage to the subcontinent.

All were fine examples of the craft – well, except for one that quickly acquired infamy among the judges as the “bacon beer” and whose brewer shall remain nameless.

At 5 o’clock, after several hours of the judges’ eager and ever-more-joyful “consideration,” Brewers Guild Director John Gozigian took to the makeshift stage and announced that the results were in. Boxing Bear had claimed its spot at the top with a beautifully balanced pale. The Canteen, formerly known as Il Vicino Canteen, was nipping at its heels, only two votes shy of first place. Farmington’s Three Rivers Brewery came in third.

Boxing Bear’s head brewer, Justin Hamilton, was clearly pleased as he held the trophy aloft. And why wouldn’t he be? This victory is only the latest in a string of honors Boxing Bear has taken home over the past year, including a World Beer Cup gold medal for the brewery’s Chocolate Milk Stout. And frankly, every beer lover in Albuquerque should be proud that our city is home to the kind of high quality breweries that make a competition like this so lively and wonderful to be a part of.

Ty Bannerman is a beer drinker, co-host of the City on the Edge podcast, and author of “Forgotten Albuquerque” as well as a forthcoming memoir. He most recently served as feature and food editor at Weekly Alibi.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.