Before the dark times arrived in March 2020, the last great beer event held was the New Mexico Brewers Guild Stout Invitational at Bathtub Row Brewing in Los Alamos. Flix Brewhouse took home the trophy in the February competition, a blind taste test of 16 stouts from around the state.
And then, COVID, and darkness, and not the kind we all like to drink.
Well, after two years and change, the Stout Invitational returns this Saturday at Bathtub Row, with one notable twist that should have everyone crossing their fingers for nice weather, as NMBG executive director Tess Vidalis told us in an email.
“While Stout Invitational will still be held at Bathtub Row Brewing, we will be hosting the tasting outside on their new beer garden and patio space,” she wrote. “We will have outdoor heaters, but it’s certainly a good idea to bundle up. We will also be checking vaccination cards or a negative COVID test for entry.”
Vidalis confirmed that photos of your card(s) are acceptable, and (EDITED) they will NOT be offering up rapid tests at the door, but patrons can take their own test at the door and present negative results. Any test taken beforehand must have been within 48 hours of the event.
As for the event, the format is unchanged, with three voting sessions at noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m.
“There will be no changes to tasting and voting,” Vidalis wrote. “There are 16 participating breweries and guests will not know whose stout they are drinking. They will only be identifiable by number. Guests will receive a full pint of their favorite stout at the end of their session, and the winner will be announced after the third session.”
The two later sessions are already sold out, so if you have not purchased a ticket left, your only option is the noon session, with tickets still available here.
Sixteen breweries, as noted before, are lined up to compete. Unlike the Brew Crew Stout Challenge, where no adjuncts or imperial-strength stouts are allowed, there are no such limitations this time around. Breweries are listed in alphabetical order, with their 2020 finish, for those that were part of the competition (much like WinterBrew in Santa Fe, there is a lottery for 15 spots beyond host Bathtub Row, so many breweries were not able to participate again).
- Bathtub Row (4th)
- High and Dry
- La Cumbre
- Nexus (12th)
- Piedra Blanca
- Quarter Celtic
- Red Door (10th)
- Red River (13th)
- Starr Brothers
- Thirsty Eye
- Truth or Consequences
- Tumbleroot (6th)
For anyone curious, here are the 2020 participants that did not return: Flix Brewhouse (1st), Rio Bravo (2nd), Boxing Bear (3rd), Hidden Mountain (5th), Palmer (7th), Three Rivers (8th), Blu Dragonfly (9th), Canteen (11th), Steel Bender (14th), Rowley Farmhouse Ales (15th).
Ultimately, this is another just-for-fun event, with bragging rights and a trophy going to the winner. It is also a great fundraiser for the Guild, and if you have never been to the picturesque Bathtub Row (or Los Alamos in general), it is a great opportunity to visit.
The only slight downside is there will not be a food truck on site, so we highly recommend you chow down on brunch or an early lunch before attending. Nearby restaurants include Rigoberto’s next door, Time Out Pizza and Boese Brothers Brewpub across the parking lot, and Pajarito Brewpub and Grill on the east side of town. All the other restaurants in Los Alamos are seemingly, and weirdly, closed on Saturdays.
I hope to see some of you up there on Saturday.
Keep supporting local!