This City Is Producing Some of The Best IPA's Right Now
When it comes to the India Pale Ale, there are the people who insist that West Coast is best, those that sneer at the excessive hoppiness (and the punch-in-the-face bitterness) of those beers, preferring instead a more thoughtful, East Coast version of the thing. Then there's the crowd that absolutely can't stand the stuff, and will loudly tell everyone in the bar just how much they can't stand it, followed by, last but not least, the group that's caught in the middle, laughing softly at everyone else's dramatics, and drinking some of the best IPA's on the market right now.
No, you don't need to be near an ocean, or any water at all, really, to make a good IPA—you don't even need to live in a region where they grow copious amounts of hops. You just have to know how to make really great beer, that's enough, and for proof, just look at a city like Albuquerque.
New Mexico's biggest city is known for all kinds of things, that is, when people even remember that it's there—it's not the state capital, it's not cute, it's not charming, it's a big, brawling, sprawling thing that has been there forever, and only recently became anything approaching cool, in the minds of outsiders, and that was only because someone wrote a little TV show about meth—yes, meth—and decided to set it there.
But then, there's the beer. As in so many other cities not typically known for mass tourism, beer has become something of a calling card for Albuquerque. The beer can't stop winning awards, it seems, big awards, like at the Great American Beer Festival, the Great British Beer Festival, the World Beer Cup, or the National IPA Challenge, which apparently is a big deal, in IPA circles; for the last four years, New Mexico breweries have come out on top. Curious for a taste? Here are a few choice reasons to hop a plane to the Land of Enchantment.
Their Elevated IPA has won some key awards, and for good reason—brimming with hops (eight kinds, apparently) it's far from the usual carpet bomb on the palate, which is some kind of feat, all things considered. A nice, everyday beer that's pretty much the gold standard on the scene. Don't miss the chance to try their much-talked of Project Dank, a rotating hop series beer that changes with each release, is always fascinating, and is considered to be one of the best IPA's in the country.
Their eminently quaffable IPA (and the same, but more in-your-face, but also delightfully drinkable Double IPA) are two more local greats; if you're lucky, you'll get your hands on some of Marble's Brett IPA, a funky beast of a thing aged with brettanomyces in French oak chardonnay barrels, dry hopped (not too aggressively) and, rather quickly, sold out until the next batch is released.
This is another brewery that's been known to branch out from the basics, and with excellent results, but typically, you'll be trying their Bosque IPA, another drinkable number, one that ping-pongs back and forth between notes of pine, citrus, caramel and the tropics, with a nice, copper color.