Archive for February, 2019

Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s seven breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, and one in Red River also joining the party.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

We can all use some good beer news this week, and Bow & Arrow is here to provide it. The Sixth Street brewery is celebrating its third anniversary Saturday from noon to midnight. There will be a pop-up by Four Corners Navajo Tacos from noon to 4, followed by Curbside Pies. Red Mesa, with Spanish flamenco guitar player Reynaldo Baca, will provide the music from 5 to 7. Special merchandise will include commemorative glassware from illustrator Dale DeForest and Desert Revival T-shirts from Darko Printshop. Oh, and of course there will be special beers. Bottles of Desert Revival, a barrel-aged raspberry sour, will be for sale. There will also be special tappings of Dark Mesa Belgian Quad, Coyote Waits Imperial Molé Stout, and Rancho Bizarro Sour Red.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bosque has Scale Tipper coming back in cans and on tap Thursday. Boxing Bear tapped Red Eye Lager and Hazy Featherweight IPA late last week. La Cumbre goes light and malty with Schwarzbier and big and malty on nitro with From Putin with Love. Nexus serves up some Mango Milkshake IPA. Red Door brings back New England IPA later this week. Steel Bender will have bottles of The Village Wit for sale Thursday. Toltec is feeling the holiday with Fake Love, a cherry/pomegranate kettle sour, and Sippin’ on the Bock of the Day, a collaboration with Turtle Mountain that will be on tap at both breweries.

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn flies in with more Gatekeeper IPA, this time with Galaxy hops.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of February 11.

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The new primary logo for Bosque Brewing debuted at a special gathering.

Bosque Brewing is giving its brand a little upgrade. During a Tuesday night gathering of Bosque Insider members, plus at least one beer writer, an updated logo and new can and merchandise designs were unveiled as pints of Scale Tipper, back this Thursday, flowed inside the brewing space adjacent to the San Mateo taproom.

“We started the process of the refresh in August of last year,” said Jessica Griego, Bosque’s director of culture and engagement, to the assembled crowd. “We settled on the final round last week.”

Bosque’s partner, the Utility Agency, “brought our brand new life,” Jessica added.

The updated primary logo emphasizes the brewery’s name over the ubiquitous leaf, which is now more of a background element on most of the designs.

“We are super excited to do something fresh and new,” Jessica said.

Say hello to the designs of the year-round can lineup. The two new additions are on the left.

That new will include two more year-round canned offerings alongside the four current staples of Elephants on Parade, Scotia, Lager, and IPA. Open Space Haze will soon appear in the new cans, and Jetty Jack is the renamed Brewer’s Boot Amber Ale.

“We feel (the refresh) pays tribute to the past six years of Bosque,” Jessica said. “We also feel it incorporates everything, the mountains, the river, and of course the Bosque (wilderness) in between. It pays homage to New Mexico.”

Jessica said the new can designs will start hitting shelves in April, so if you are a fan of the more classic almost-all-black design, go snatch them up now.

As for Scale Tipper, it will now be part of what will be dubbed the Boutique Line, which will encompass all of Bosque’s seasonal/specialty releases in package. The core beers will still be sold in 12-ounce cans sold in six-packs, while the Boutique beers will be sold in 16-ounce cans in four-packs.

Old friend, new look. Hello again, Scale Tipper.

You can pick up the swanky new Scale Tipper four-packs at all Bosque locations on Thursday. Be forewarned, even with the simpler design, this big IPA was gone from some of the taprooms before the sun set in the west the last time it was available. Since we did get an advance tasting, this batch has more of a fruity element, but still has that good old hoppy kick. It remains one of the more complex specialty IPAs in the state.

Overall, it was a nice presentation from Bosque, both for this here beer writer and the other people in the audience. Look for a revamped website to launch this month, with plenty more beers coming down the pipeline.

Thanks to the staff for the invite, too. It is always appreciated, especially for writers between day jobs.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The National IPA Challenge has been sullied after the publisher of the Brewing News, which organizes the competition, wrote a sexist and offensive article this month.

Late Monday night, during a final perusal of Beer Twitter posts, I stumbled upon something truly horrific. Bill Metzger, the publisher for the Brewing News — that little once-every-two-months, regional mini-newspaper that you see scattered around breweries — had published an article in the Great Lakes edition (UPDATE: link now disabled) that could be best described as … well, horrific. It’s the one titled “Scottish Hopping to Real Ale.” (See below for a link responding to the original article.)

You only need to read the part on the front page to get the gist of how wholly inappropriate, and downright offensive, that the article is, and why it never should have been written in the first place. Heck, even just as an article about cask beers in Scotland, it is quite terrible, and deeply insulting to anyone with even an ounce of Scottish DNA in their bones.

Though Bill has since attempted to claim it was just satire in one of those non-apology-apologies, the damage has been done. Other beer writers are tackling this misogynistic catastrophe far beer than us, so we will let them do the primary talking here. So why bring it up? The National IPA Challenge, that’s why.

Originally, we were going to write a post today that breaks down the NIPAC for all the New Mexico entries. For those who need a refresher, the NIPAC is an annual competition for breweries around the country to have their IPAs compete in a bracket-style format. It is organized by, you guessed it, the Brewing News. Even as multiple breweries are pulling their advertising from the publication and demanding that it no longer be distributed in their taprooms, the beers for the NIPAC have already been shipped out.

We would not expect, nor demand, that any New Mexico brewery is suddenly going to pull its entries from the competition. It does have to give all the participants pause, however, not merely for this year, but certainly next year.

In our humble opinion, no brewery that claims to support equality can ever again associate itself with the Brewing News as long as Bill Metzger is publisher.

It is truly a shame that one man has undone the good work of many people, from the writers and editors who contribute to the publication, to everyone who has helped organize and judge at the NIPAC.

The craft brewing industry, and those industries associated with it such as the “beer media,” have taken major steps to address a lack of diversity and equality in what was traditionally a white male-dominated scene. It is clear we still have a ways to go, however.

Brandon wanted to add this: The craft beer community should be based on one thing: love and appreciation for craft beer. That has no room for racism, sexism, misogyny, or any other discriminatory behaviors.

We welcome all of your comments and input on this issue, but please, keep it civil. This is not a red-blue political issue, so let’s not make it one.

No cheers today, folks.

— Stoutmeister

The exterior of the renovated space that will house Differential Brewing at 500 Yale SE.

Three years after we first spotted the pending license, Differential Brewing (also known as Brewstillery) is finally ready to open its doors in Southeast Albuquerque. The grand opening starts this Friday at 4 p.m. and runs through the weekend. In advance of all that, I met up with head brewer Peter Moore for a tour of the property at 500 Yale SE, which is one block south of Coal on the east side of the street, not far from Quarters and the UNM sports facilities and Isotopes Park.

Rather than go for a fancy mishmash of treated wood and industrial metal, like so many other breweries in town, Differential will have a bit of a throwback look and feel.

“We’re looking for our vibe as brewery dive,” Peter said. “We all grew up in kind of the punk scene. It’s like a Joe’s except people aren’t chasing people out with knives, that kind of stuff.

“It doesn’t look pretty, but it’s functional.”

The north end of the taproom figures to be a popular spot for people watching.

The taproom space is an old gas station/garage, while the brewery room is located in an adjacent building on the property. There is a small patio beneath the garage doors facing Yale, and a much larger patio on the north side of the building. The entire property is owned by the Nellos family, who own Quarters, and Tino Nellos is one of the owners of Differential, along with Anthony Hanson, the former liquor store manager.

“That’s how we were able to get a hold of the buildings and that kind of stuff,” Peter said. “That has saved us a lot of money not having to pay rent while we’re doing construction. That would have wiped us out.”

Like so many others, Anthony was a homebrewer first, and that love of beer led him down the path of wanting his own brewery.

“I had been a homebrewer for over a decade,” Anthony said. “(Tino) had the property here and we thought that was the location to do it. Peter just happened to stumble into our orbit and was like, I can show you how to do that for real real. I used to run the liquor store down the street, so I know that side of the business just fine.”

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Austin Giorgetta, the new head of brewing operations, aims to get Rio Bravo’s beer up to par with the rest of the New Mexico craft scene.

Around this time last year, the staff at Rio Bravo Brewing told us that some big changes were coming in 2018. Not all of those that did occur were obvious, but arguably the biggest move of all will start to have a telling impact in 2019.

That would be Austin Giorgetta, the new head of brewing operations, who is tasked with bringing Rio Bravo beers up to par with the rest of the vibrant Albuquerque craft scene. I sat down with Austin, and co-owner Randy Baker, for this entry in our annual Look Back/Look Ahead Series.

“We had to make the change to bring our beers up to what people expect,” Randy said.

Head brewer Ty Levis is still working at Rio Bravo, but Austin is clearly taking point on revamping the entire beer lineup, with an emphasis on making sure that all the Rio Bravo brews reflect the tastes of the modern craft consumer.

“I’m the head of brewing operations, so I pretty much decide what goes in the kettle, what we’re going to be producing, things of that nature,” Austin said. “There’s only two of us, so we’re still both brewing, we’re still both doing other work around the brewery. I guess, to say the least, I have the executive order on what we’re brewing, when we’re brewing it, how we want to change the taps, what we want to put in, things of that nature.”

To begin with, Austin will refocus the sizable beer menu.

“I’m looking to really change the menu here, make it unique,” he said. “We’re going to dwindle down to 16 different beers, probably actually 14, with two ciders on tap. I’m looking to keep eight core, three experimental, and three seasonal-type brews.”

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The name had to change, but everything else about Kilt Check is the same quality neighborhood pub as before.

The name change still trips up some customers every now and again. They walk into Kilt Check Brewing and ask if it is a new brewery, only to see owner/brewer Mike Campbell is still behind the bar, the throwback decor still adorns the same walls, the Groundskeeper Willie Cream Ale is still on tap, and so on.

“It was like starting new again, people poking in (and asking) new brewery? We still are (seeing that) almost every day somebody comes in and (asks),” Mike said with a laugh.

The former Drafty Kilt Brewing had to change its name due to a trademark dispute with an Atlanta brewery. It was another bump in the road for the small Northeast Heights brewery, tucked away at 4814 Hardware Drive, nestled just west of San Mateo and south of McLeod near the dollar theater. I sat down with Mike over a pint of Black Sunshine Robust Porter last week for our annual Look Back/Look Ahead Series.

Mike said the one thing he learned over the course of 2018, besides being thankful that the name change stress is behind him, is that any brewery, big or small, has to find a way to stand out.

“It was a pretty good year,” he said. “We do have to provide entertainment, we have found. We’ve got to try to stay relevant with 40-plus breweries in town.”

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Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s eight breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, and one in Red River also joining the party.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Well, we have a big chunk of good news this week, and one bit of bad news. First, the good, as High and Dry is throwing a two-day anniversary celebration this Saturday and Sunday. Two new beers will be released, one each day, in the Desert Mosaic Pale Ale and Desert Perle. There will be a Polaroid Selfie Station on Saturday, plus the Porter Draw will perform from 2 to 4 p.m. Shane Wallin will take the stage for the same times on Sunday. Market vendors participating from 2 to 5 on Sunday will include Kimshe Kimche, Blue Fly Farms, Thunderhead Farms, Farm Shark, and Eldora Cholcates. There will also be a birthday cake for everyone to share at 2:30. Make sure to join the fun whenever you can.

The sad news this week is that Duel Brewing has apparently closed for good in Santa Fe. We heard rumblings a while back that even closing the Albuquerque Taproom was not enough to save the brewery. Then on Monday, word spread quickly through the community of musicians and artists, as many were informed that their upcoming sessions at the brewery were canceled. All that, coupled with the disappearance of all of Duel’s social media pages, confirmed it as much as it can be confirmed. Farewell, Duel, and thank you for the memories of some brutally tough Belgian brews.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out of the non-stout/porter variety. Bombs Away lands with some fresh Dunkelweizen. Bosque managed to sneak in A Fistful of Churros. Bow & Arrow added some coffee to a saison and voila, Saison Buzz debuts Friday. Boxing Bear went hop crazy again with Citra Double-Dry-Hopped Albu-Murky Hazy IPA. Canteen rolls out Hop Baller IPA, North 14 Pale Ale, Dixie Dean ESB, and Barrel-Aged Wee Bit Loco, plus the charity beer Vienna de Valle debuts Saturday. Cantero strikes a tune with Kenny Weisse. Flix Brewhouse celebrates The LEGO Movie 2 with Pale Full of Brix. La Cumbre gets a wee bit English with Bitter Sons. Marble recently added Amber Lager and Berry White, which is Double White with a whole lotta berries added to the mix. Sidetrack keeps things fresh with Oldschool IPA and Ringwood English Ale. Starr Brothers reminds everyone Don’t Fear the RIPA. Steel Bender unveils two of its National IPA Challenge entrants, Mañana Tropical IPA and Hole in the Bucket IPA, on Thursday. Tractor introduces the first of its Beer for a Better Burque charity brews, Field Beer.

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn discovers Messages From Nowhere ESB.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of February 4.

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Things have been busy behind the scenes at Dialogue over the past year.

By the time I arrived for the interview at Dialogue Brewing, it was bustling with projects and work, both getting ready for the day and continuing to push forward on recent ambitions. Luckily, the crew at Dialogue put few minutes of their time aside for us so we could get caught up and see how one of ABQ’s particularly unique breweries had fared in 2018, and for their ideas and thoughts going into 2019.

This is another chapter of the Dark Side Brew Crew’s annual Look Back/Look Ahead Series, covering New Mexico’s breweries big and small through the years. For those that have yet to make the trip, Dialogue sits amidst warehouses and machine shops at First Street and Kinley. At first, this may seem somewhat peculiar, but it has created an incredibly one-of-a-kind experience for those looking to satiate both their love of craft beer and their taste for some incredible local art. Just look for the massive metal trees that tower above the building in the large patio and performance area.

Before getting into the story however, just a quick correction on our part for previous stories in which we titled then-manager Eliot Salgado as owner/operator.

Taking in the busy atmosphere and settling in behind a pour of the Dry Stout, I was greeted by owner/operator Daniel Gorman and head brewer Ian Graham. Before getting into the interview, I was given a quick tour and introduction of some of the workspace that their current projects are focusing on. It was a behind-closed-doors tour that one wouldn’t have assumed existed when looking at it from the outside, such as the very impressive, professional quality sound booth that operates the equally impressive sound system, which is actually mounted onto the large tree sculptures outside.

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Look at us, all happy and positive, mostly because that dreadful game had not yet started.

Dear lord, that was probably the worst Super Bowl we have seen since … man, maybe Super Bowl XXXV? (The one where the Ravens annihilated the Giants, if your memory is too fuzzy.) At least we had lots of stout!

Four members of the Dark Side Brew Crew, plus our good friend Tim, gathered on Super Bowl Sunday to judge 14 stouts from around the ABQ metro area in a blind taste test. For the first time in eight years, a past winner took home its second title.

We judged the stouts on aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, and finish, with a maximum score of five points per category, for a total maximum of 20 points. A few breweries from our projected list were left off, either due to the stout not being eligible (no coffee/chocolate/milk/imperial stouts), or not being available for us to pick up.

For now, here are the results of Stout Challenge VIII, from bottom to top. As always, these are just our opinions, we could be wrong.

The helmet is headed back to a prior haunt, while the beers and ribs were vanquished.

14. Turtle Mountain Stauffenberg (16): The toughest thing about these blind taste tests is when a brewer you know, who is a really good dude and an award-winning brewer, nonetheless presents a crushing disappointment. Sorry, Mick, but that was this. The stout had a medicinal flavor, a thin mouthfeel, an aroma that came off lie fertilizer/band-aid to some, Franz Solo picked up on a heavy amount of DMS, and, well … we still love the other TMBC beers. That counts, right?

13. Palmer Switch Stance (17.5): An Irish dry stout, we have had it before at the brewery and it tasted far different (better) than this batch. The aroma was all smoke, with Maureen even picking up a little curry, while Brandon thought it was more of a burnt gose/kettle sour. There was a weird, tobacco-like flavor, with an exceptionally thin mouthfeel and almost non-existent finish. We have no idea what went wrong here.

12. Hops All About the Stout (34.5): Maureen was really the only one of us who liked this Irish dry stout. She enjoyed the aroma (“smells like breakfast”), smooth mouthfeel, and “a little bit of bite” on the finish. The rest of us, well, we found the aroma ranging from a mild roast to downright sour, with an astringent flavor, possibly from using too much Black Patent malt.

11. Toltec Oatmeal Stout (37.5): If the nose knows, then our noses knew little as the aroma was barely there. The flavor was mild, with a hint of burnt caramel and toffee. The mouthfeel was thin at best, with a dry, barely-there finish.

10. Tractor Double Plow (46.5): The 2014 champion failed to shine through this time. The dark roast aroma was pleasant, but the flavor (slight coffee), mouthfeel (thin), and finish (bitter) were just off.

9. Kellys Sleeping Dog (47): The 2018 runner-up, and a past champion when it was still Chama River’s beer, this batch did not live up to its predecessors. The aroma came off as either minimal or a bit like burnt coffee. The flavor was roasty, with a hint of nuts. The mouthfeel was more like what you would expect from a schwarzbier. The finish produced mixed reactions from clean to funky.

8. Boxing Bear Standing 8 (48): The demotion from year-round to seasonal has taken a bit of the bite out of this one. The aroma was not really there, with a tinge of roast mixed with some sort of odd chemical that no one could quite identify, though Brandon wrote that it came off like a musty Merlot. The flavor packed some roast and a hint of dry chocolate, but it produced an unusual off flavor in the finish. The mouthfeel was a bit thin in our opinion.

7. La Cumbre Malpais (59): The 2013 champ ended up in the middle of the pack in many categories. Most of us found the aroma to be a bit light, with a slight whiff of coffee/roast. Thoughts on the flavor ranged from cake frosting to light roast. The mouthfeel was average-to-thick, while the finish ranged from sharp to balanced. We still don’t mind those random nights at Launchpad when they have cans of this for $5. It’s a tall boy for a more sophisticated metalhead.

6. Quarter Celtic MacLomas (60.5): Another Irish dry stout, this one still held up fairly well. Our thoughts seemed to be all over the place on it, with some picking up a dark fruit aroma, almost like black currant, while others got a lot of coffee and toffee on the nose. The flavor comes off closer to a porter than a stout, with some light chocolate, more dark fruit, and little roast. The mouthfeel was thin, which one would expect from the style (though, of course, we did not know what beer we were drinking).

5. Red Door Mail Order Stout (61): This new stout is not on tap yet, but head brewer Matt Meier nicely asked us if we would include it, since he wanted to see how it stacks up to the local competition. We all got a little something different on the nose, ranging from mild chocolate to hoppy fruits to cookie dough. The flavor was heavily roasted, with a dry, fairly thick mouthfeel. The hops all pop up on the finish, leaving it a little dry and slightly bitter.

4. Bosque Driftwood (63.5): The aroma on this oatmeal stout produced a lot of different responses, ranging from coffee to dried fruit to cookie dough. The flavor was heavy on the malty sweet/roast, but the mouthfeel was not quite up to par. Feelings on the finish ranged from clean to cocoa to dry.

3. Canteen Dark ‘n Lusty (76.5): The 2018 champ just missed out on being our first back-to-back winner. There is a lot of roast on the aroma, with a tinge of dark fruit. The flavor was heavy on the chocolate, with a bit of an unexpected alcohol burn, which some liked and others were not too sure of, while the mouthfeel was thick and chewy. The finish was clean and yet complex.

2. Marble Oatmeal Stout (77.5): Our first champion, way back in 2012, came oh-so-close to a second title. A sweet, almost floral aroma from the hops draws you in. There is a chocolate flavor, almost cookie-like, with a rich mouthfeel and a sweet finish. We are gonna have to go pick up a couple sixers of this one. Never underestimate a classic!

And, that means the winner is …

1. Starr Brothers Foggy Monocle (80): The 2017 winner reclaimed the title! We all got a lot of oats on the aroma, though responses ranged from doughy to smoky in addition to that. The flavor and mouthfeel was all oatmeal and cream, with a clean finish. After tumbling far down the list last year, we were told by head brewer Rob Whitlock that he recognized what had gone wrong in 2018, and that he would correct it for this year. Well, Rob was a man of his word. Congratulations!

In the end, we had cake. Stout cake. Because of course we did.

For each Crew member, the rankings varied, of course. Here are everyone’s top three picks.

Stoutmeister: 1) Starr Brothers 18.5, 2) Bosque 16, 3) Canteen 15.5

Franz Solo: 1) Canteen 16, 2) Marble 15, 3) Starr Brothers 14

Brandon: 1) Starr Brothers 17.5, 2) Marble 14.5, 3) Canteen 14

Maureen: 1) Hops 18.5, 2) Marble 18, 3) Boxing Bear, Red Door, Starr Brothers tied with 17

Tim: 1) Marble 17, 2) Canteen 16.5, 3) Red Door 14

A big thanks to the breweries for their contributions to the Stout Challenge. We always encourage everyone to go out and try all the beers for themselves. Let us know which is your favorite from around town, and beyond!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Last year’s Stout Challenge participants, not all of whom are returning for 2019.

The days of the regular stout may be coming to an end. Declining sales has led to many breweries dropping stouts from their year-round lineups. Meanwhile, the Crew continues to change and evolve. We have lost members to moving out of state for work, others are greatly limited by parenthood or other personal matters, and thus, there is a chance this could be our final Stout Challenge. (Though we really, really, really hope not.)

For those who have not followed us for long, every Super Bowl Sunday the Crew gathers at Franz Solo’s house, armed with as many house stouts as we can fit into growlers. With the lovely Ms. Margaret as our volunteer pouring guru, we try them in a blind taste test not dissimilar to the IPA Challenge. Our goal is to try the stouts that are on regularly throughout the year and determine which one is our personal favorite, based around the categories of aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, and finish.

For anyone who thinks that this probably just means we are ranking the same top four or five stouts every year, er, well, no. In fact, in seven past years of doing this, we have never had a brewery win twice, much less even repeat. Here are the past winners.

We added up the liquid total for 2018 and it was approximately four gallons of stout.

This year the field is wide open. We could have as many as 17 stouts to choose among, though we will not know for sure on some until we visit the breweries to fill our growlers/crowlers this weekend.

Here are the potential 16 stouts that we will be sampling in alphabetical order by brewery. Any marked with a * would be a first-time participant. The others have numbers in parentheses for their finish last year out of 17 participants.

  1. Bosque Driftwood (14th)
  2. Boxing Bear Standing 8 (3rd)
  3. Canteen Dark ‘n Lusty (1st)
  4. Hops All About the Stout*
  5. Kellys Sleeping Dog (2nd)
  6. La Cumbre Malpais (7th)
  7. Marble Oatmeal Stout (6th)
  8. Palmer Switch Stance Stout (12th)
  9. Quarter Celtic MacLomas (5th)
  10. Red Door Stout*
  11. Rio Bravo Velvet Udders (8th, then known just as Oatmeal Stout)
  12. Sidetrack Dark Engine (16th)
  13. Starr Brothers Foggy Monocle (13th)
  14. Toltec Oatmeal Stout*
  15. Tractor Double Plow (11th)
  16. Turtle Mountain Stauffenberg (9th)

UPDATE: It turns out Kilt Check is out of Obliviscaris Oatmeal Stout, which came in fourth last year.

We will share some pictures and the like on social media Sunday, but the full results will wait until Monday. Enjoy the game, if you can, or at least the commercials. Please remember, if you do go past the limit, Lyft and Uber are there for you as options, or make sure there is a designated driver if you are leaving home to watch the game.

Cheers to the darkness!

— Stoutmeister