Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Blackout! Stout Fest

I never used to like stouts very much. My consumption was limited to a Guinness on St. Patrick's Day, and then I'd move onto an IPA. But drinking only Guinness and declaring you don't like stout is like trying a Swanson Salisbury Steak TV dinner and deciding you don't like steak. There are so many varities of stouts, along with American craft brewers focusing on aged and infused imperial versions that now have me looking forward to the next big release.

So when my friend Kelly (a.k.a. Buck) Wild approached me with the idea of a stout tasting party, I thought it was a great idea. We ironed out the details and decided to do a blind drawing where invitees picked a slip of paper and the name listed was their assigned beer to bring. I tried to include beers that are easily available in Albuquerque, but I didn't get it quite right. What do you mean Left Hand Brewing doesn't distribute their Milk Stout here anymore. Poor Dan got that hopeless assignment, and dutifully went around the city trying to find this beer.

Aside from that hiccup, plans worked out and Buck Wild Productions and Abqbeergeek.com presented the Blackout! Stout Fest. Guests began arriving en masse at Abqbeergeek headquarters Sunday evening. Ok. Headquarters = my house. Click the damn Google Ads and I'll rent some headquarters someday. The stouts were spread out on the counter according to their respective styles: Dry/Irish, Oatmeal, Cream/Milk, Chocolate, American, and Imperial.

The scoring was on an overall scale of 5, without the hassle of subcategories like color, aroma, body, etc. For one thing, this was a stout tasting, so the color is gonna be pretty similar throughout. And this was a non-formal gathering of friends who like beer. Why overthink things? I was lucky if I remembered to write down the beer I was trying at the time, as I was enjoying the people almost as much as the beer. Almost. After all, it wasn't just locally available stouts on the menu; Jenn and I also busted out some of our collected stouts for the event.

Of course, get some of these guys drinking and their gay tendencies seem to come out in full force. A harmless game of ping pong looked as if it was going to break out into "dong pong" until Marcus backed his ass up into one of my framed pictures and it went crashing into the floor. Thankfully at that point, all boners died down.

Well, almost. One non-beer drinker who will remain nameless spent most of the tasting on Jenn's laptop looking for prospects on Adam4adam.com, a website that I guarantee will never grace her computer again. Unless she goes away for the weekend.

The guests' stouts had all been sampled by this time so I started pulling out some of our stuff: Bell's Java and Cherry Stouts, Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout, Terrapin Coffee Oatmeal Stout, Green Flash Stout, Oskar Blues Ten Fidy, 2006 Victory Storm King, Avery Mephistopholes, Sweetwater Happy Ending, and Deschutes The Abyss. These beers were not part of the official judging because the crowd had thinned out by this point and not everyone got to enjoy these beers.

I actually had more stouts that never made it out: Oak aged Yeti, Peche Mortel, Hoppin' Frog B.O.R.I.S., Alesmith Speedway,Dark Starr Stout, Heavy Seas Peg Leg, Big Shot Espresso and a couple others. But man! We had already had so many good ones that we had to say enough at some point. Instead, it was time for a concoction of our own.

Corrine came up with the idea of mixing a special "Garlic Stout" that consisted of Old Rasputin Imperial Stout mixed with Papa John's Garlic Sauce. The unwitting guinea pig would be honored guest Andreas. At first, he was not willing to try the beer because he is not the biggest fan of garlic. However, his love of beer prevailed ane he took a healthy swig.

Judging by his reaction, I don't believe he liked the beer much, though he was unable to speak for awhile save for some groaning. I have to give a special thanks to him for always being a good sport and bringing laughter to any event he attends.

And good job to Corrine, whose Garlic Stout may not ever become the mainstream flavor people enjoy like chocolate or coffee stout, but at least SOMEONE was willing to drink it. And I believe I saw her savoring more than one sip of that beer without any prodding. Yuck.

On that note, the evening ended, and I have finally
tallied up the scores from the guests' judging. The order, from last to first:

14. Lost Coast 8-Ball Stout
13. Avery Out of Bounds Stout
12. Ft. Collins Chocolate Stout
11. Young's Double Chocolate Stout
10. Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout
9. Rogue Chocolate Stout
8. Samuel Smith Imperial Stout
7. Deschutes Obsidian Stout
6. Ska Steel Toe Stout
5. Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout
4. Port Brewing Old Viscosity
3. St. Peter's Cream Stout
2. North Coast Old Rasputin

And the winner, by one-one hundredth of a point: local favorite SLEEPING DOG STOUT from CHAMA RIVER BREWERY!!

Thanks to all attendees who made it to the event, with special thanks to Molly who made the #1 stout trophy and Kelly Wild for brainstorming the idea. Look for Buck Wild coming to your local public access channel soon!
Jenn and I enjoyed having you all and hope you had a good time as well. Cheers!

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