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.
- 2018: Canteen finally feels the love with Dark ‘n Lusty
- 2017: Starr Brothers claims the title in its first year with Foggy Monocle
- 2016: Chama River’s last great feat is to win with Sleeping Dog
- 2015: Boxing Bear lands a knockout with Standing 8 Stout
- 2014: Tractor doubles down to win with Double Plow
- 2013: La Cumbre ascends to the top with Malpais
- 2012: Marble gets us off to a great start with its classic Oatmeal 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.
- Bosque Driftwood (14th)
- Boxing Bear Standing 8 (3rd)
- Canteen Dark ‘n Lusty (1st)
- Hops All About the Stout*
- Kellys Sleeping Dog (2nd)
- La Cumbre Malpais (7th)
- Marble Oatmeal Stout (6th)
- Palmer Switch Stance Stout (12th)
- Quarter Celtic MacLomas (5th)
- Red Door Stout*
- Rio Bravo Velvet Udders (8th, then known just as Oatmeal Stout)
- Sidetrack Dark Engine (16th)
- Starr Brothers Foggy Monocle (13th)
- Toltec Oatmeal Stout*
- Tractor Double Plow (11th)
- 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!