Super Bowl weekend is upon us, which means it is time for the Dark Side Brew Crew’s annual Stout Challenge. For the second year in a row we are changing things up slightly, with a new location and on a different day.
In the past, we have usually held this blind-taste test of the finest local stouts at Franz Solo’s house, but due to COVID-related precautions, we are moving for the second time. After our friend Dan squeezed us into his cozy little house last year, we are headed to Andrew’s spacious downtown condo, which is where we held our portion of the take-home IPA Challenge in 2020 (and several bottle shares since then).
We are also going to hold the event on Saturday night, instead of right before the game on Sunday, as that just worked out better for everyone. As of this writing, at least six (and possibly seven) of the nine Crew members will be in attendance. We may also have a couple guest judges, as we have done in the past, because there are a lot of potential stout participants this year.
For those who have not followed us in years past, we treat this similarly to the New Mexico Brewers Guild’s IPA Challenge. We all collect stouts in crowlers and growlers, bring them to one location, and an official pourer of the stouts will divide them into a numbered order, so we have no knowledge of which stout we are drinking at any given time. We have worksheets where we jot down our thoughts on the categories of aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, and finish, scoring them from zero to five points (with half-point scores allowed). At the end of the competition, all scores are added up, and a champion is crowned.
Last year, with just 12 stouts on hand, Canteen’s Dark and Lusty Stout prevailed for a second time (the first was in 2018) with Steel Bender’s Brickie American Stout and Kilt Check’s Obliviscaris Stout grabbing the silver and bronze. Well, there are no actual medals, but the winning brewery does get year-long possession of a medieval helmet (you can see it at Canteen on the shelf above the door between the taproom and brewery). Here is hoping Zach Guilmette and his team cleaned it this time around. Dark and Lusty is one of three two-time winners, but none have ever won back-to-back titles.
As mentioned above, there are a lot of stouts this year. Our rules are that a stout must be adjunct-free (no coffee, vanilla, chocolate, nuts, lactose, etc.) and be under 8-percent ABV. In the past we required a stout to be a year-round offering, but over time, most breweries have moved to having their stouts only available in the colder months of the year. Here are the stouts we believe will be available for pickup between now and Saturday night, though usually a few run out before we can acquire them, or even another brewery offers us a late “we have one, too!” before it is too late. If you are one of those breweries not listed here and have a stout that meets our criteria, email us ASAP at firstname.lastname@example.org, or message us on social media.
- Beer Creek San Marcos Stout
- Bombs Away Blacked Out Stout
- Bosque Driftwood Stout
- Boxing Bear Standing 8 Stout (4th in 2021)
- Brew Lab 101 Event Horizon Oatmeal Stout (10th in 2021)
- B2B Grande Oatmeal Stout
- Canteen Dark and Lusty Stout (1st in 2021)
- Ex Novo Penguin Tuxedo
- Flix Island Boy Tropical Stout
- Harmon Lane Tin Cup Stout (8th in 2021)
- Hidden Mountain Oatmeal Stout
- Kaktus Stout
- Kilt Check Obliviscaris Stout (3rd in 2021)
- La Cumbre Malpais Stout (11th in 2021)
- Lizard Tail Black Bearded Oatmeal Stout
- Marble Cholo Smooth
- Palmer Export Stout
- Quarter Celtic Mac Lomas Stout (12th in 2021)
- ReSource Equality Stout
- Sobremesa Lullaby Dry Stout (their Siesta Stout was 9th in 2021)
- Steel Bender Brickie American Stout (2nd in 2021)
- Thirsty Eye Bruiser the Pitbull American Stout
- Toltec Shaman Stout (5th in 2021)
- Tractor Oatmeal Stout (6th in 2021)
- Turtle Mountain Metal Snake (7th in 2021)
Oh, and because we figure some people might be curious, here are the past winners: Marble Oatmeal Stout (2012), La Cumbre Malpais Stout (2013 and 2020), Tractor Double Plow Oatmeal Stout (2014), Boxing Bear Standing 8 Stout (2015), Chama River Sleeping Dog Stout (2016), Starr Brothers Foggy Monocle (2017 and 2019), Canteen Dark and Lusty Stout (2018 and 2021).
Wish us luck with all of those stouts, and yeah, we will probably have to take it pretty easy during the big game on Sunday. It’s OK, none of our teams made it this year, and there is no villain to root against (we will not miss you, Tom Brady).
Keep supporting local!