The month of March is synonymous with a tournament of NCAA hoops, but for the past five weeks craft beer enthusiasts have been following a very different set of brackets. The Brewing News, a periodical dedicated to the brewing industry, has been conducting the National IPA Championship this month, a tradition launched in 2008. Crowning the champion has become more exciting for New Mexicans with local favorite La Cumbre Brewing Company winning with their Project Dank.

This year, the 2015 brackets started with 128 beers submitted for the competition, including ten entries from eight breweries based in New Mexico. Over the last month judges have been narrowing the field down to the best IPA in the country.

Albuquerque was well represented in the Elite Eight, capturing three of the top eight spots with Canteen Brew House Exodus IPA, Bosque Brewing Scale Tipper and La Cumbre's return champion Project Dank. In the round of four both Bosque and Canteen were holding strong and as we approach the final round, it is down to these two Albuquerque brewers. The Brewing News will announce the winner later today.

"It's only a matter of time before the country starts referring to Albuquerque IPA as a known style, much like West Coast or East Coast IPA, said Christopher Goblet, beer ambassador for New Mexico Brewers Guild. "Albuquerque is producing some of the best IPAs in the country with bold flavors and unabashedly strong hop aromas."

It comes as no surprise to locals that New Mexico IPA is nationally recognized for excellence and quality. For 15 years the New Mexico Brewers Guild has been hosting the annual IPA Challenge with Canteen's Exodus IPA and Bosque's Scale Tipper taking home the top prize 5 out of the last 6 years. This year's IPA Challenge in July will up the ante as 28 NM breweries battle for the top prize and bragging rights.

For those interested in judging the best IPA in New Mexico, New Mexico Brewers Guild's will be hosting the 2015 IPA Challenge over July 11th -18th at various venues around the state including Draft Station Santa Fe, Pecan Grill & Brewery in Las Cruces and Boxing Bear in Albuquerque.

National IPA Championship link:
New Mexico IPA Challenge link: