It was a little over a month ago, August 11 to be precise, that the Crew launched our first bracket-style online polling tournament to determine the best brewery patio in New Mexico. We could have never imagined at the time how popular this little just-for-fun competition would become.
More than 6,000 votes were cast in the final round, and thousands more were cast in the rounds leading up to it, as we went from 96 initial competitors down to a final four. So who came out on top? In a close vote, the kings of the Northeast region topped the rulers of the Southwest, as Red River Brewing edged out 575 Brewing of Alamogordo.
Here were the final voting totals: 1. Red River 2,562 votes, 2. 575 Brewing 2,408, 3. Sidetrack Brewing 635, 4. Lauter Haus Brewing 424
Despite the low voting total in the final round, we tip our caps to Lauter Haus and its legion of loyal supporters in Farmington and areas nearby. It is an impressive achievement for a brewery that has yet to even celebrate its first anniversary.
Another tip of the cap to Sidetrack, which surprised us more than once, first to capture the ABQ Southwest Region over local heavyweight Marble Brewery, and then to surge past Steel Bender in the first championship round in the final hour of voting to reach the final four.
Then there was the top two. 575 Brewing opened back in January, but has already built up a loyal and passionate fan base in the Alamogordo area. It simply dominated the Southwest Region, earning a bye from the first round to the regional final, and then holding off Spotted Dog Brewery to reach the championship round. 575 piled up a round-leading 372 votes to reach the final four, and then racked up even more in the final round. Now more than ever, it is clear that the Crew needs to trek southward soon to visit this little gem of a brewery with a big following.
In the end, however, there was no stopping Red River. Its gorgeous patio in one of the most scenic small towns in the state was too much to overcome. We will have to come up with some sort of plaque or poster so the brewery can celebrate its victory.
We would like to thank all the breweries for silently, or sometimes actively, participating in this tournament. There was nary a complaint directed to us, not even about geographic placement or anything of the sort (some members of the public disagreed on a few of our choices, but the criticism was far more muted than, say, for the IPA Challenge most years). We hope it was fun for some of them, though the top vote-getters were probably enjoying it a bit more than others.
Our purpose in this was not to divide, but to celebrate how wonderful our brewery patios are during these difficult days. Though the patios have always been there, neither the public nor the brewery staffs have ever relied on them as much as in 2020.
The biggest thanks goes out to all of you for voting. As we noted in the beginning of this article, we never imagined this would blow up like it has, resulting in the two best months in our site’s history for page views. We don’t make any money off this, but it is still something, just like the title of best patio, that we can brag about during a year where there’s not much to keep our spirits up.
Above all else, please keep supporting the breweries by continuing to visit their patios, whether big or small, urban or rural. Wear your masks, don’t forget to vote in the IPA Challenge, and above all else, stay safe and have fun as we transition from summer to autumn.
Until we come up with another brewery polling tournament, please enjoy the return to your regularly scheduled beer news stories. We will have more on Nexus, Sobremesa, and the NMIPAC coming up this week.
Keep supporting local!