Thanks to my nightly ritual of “adult NyQuil,” also known as beer, I rarely have a hard time sleeping. But the eve of the New Mexico IPA Challenge always brings an uncomfortable night of rest. Mixed with humid weather that left my swamp cooler helpless, the looming challenge had me tossing and turning all night. Last year’s judging in Albuquerque was held at Il Vicino Tap Room, and seating was scarce—most people sat on empty kegs. I was afraid if I didn’t get to this year’s competition early enough, I wouldn’t be able to get my fill of the best IPAs our state has to offer.
I grew up the oldest of six kids in a Japanese-American family. My mom honed her cooking skills working at her aunt and uncle’s diner in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, where she met my dad, a truck driver who delivered produce. It was 1940, and she was 18.