I took part in the first round of judging in the 2016 Alpha King Challenge and we had quite a few very nice hop-centric brews, but what came as a surprise, at least to me, was the winner and runner-up came from Montana breweries.

Tamarack Brewing Company, a family brewery in Lakeside, Montana, was named the 2016 Alpha King during the 18th annual Alpha King Challenge at Rock Bottom Brewery located in downtown Denver. Among 152 entries from 107 different brewers, Headwall Double IPA took first place for its hop-forward yet well-balanced qualities.

Placing second in the competition is last year’s Alpha King Champion Mark Hastings of Überbrew located in Billings, Montana for his Alpha Force RapDom Triple IPA. Third place goes to John Bullard of Bosque Brewing out of Albuquerque, New Mexico with his Moon Cannon Imperial IPA. Other breweries in the top twenty-two include: Cellarmaker Brewing Company, Comrade Brewing Company, pFriem Family Brewing, 4 Noses Brewing Company, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Melvin Brewing, Moonraker Brewing Company, Track 7 Brewing Company, Second Street Brewery, Pinthouse Pizza – South Lamar, Cannonball Creek Brewing Company, Ocelot Brewing Company, Artifex Brewing Company, Highland Brewing Company, Topa Topa Brewing Company and Barley Brown’s Beer.

It is nice to see at least one NC brewery in the list, but what this tells me is I need to head out to Montana to get my hops on. Who knew?