Sunday, November 8, 2015

Hi-Wire Stout Bout 2015: For Stout Lovers and Non

Something for everyone is how I saw it, not just for stout-heads. Hi-Wire's first ever Stout Bout (featuring a blind tasting) certainly pleased hardcore stout drinkers (Narwhal, anyone?) but there was more than enough variety to entice folks to try something new. ABVs ranged from 5.% (Highland's entry) to 12.9% (Sierra Nevada) so it was possible to find one that agreed with your palate and safe driving obligations.

Despite the occasional rain showers, this event was well attended and the impression I got was that most folks there knew their stouts. I know there were some newbies but overheard conversations tended to discuss comparisons with favorites.

 I thought this whole concept was inspired (thanks to Marketing Director Abby Dickinson) and really made it a contest. I am partial to any brew with peppers or chiles in it so there were several to try my taste buds. But I also like chocolate and coffee so there was no shortage of any of those. The only one that really tested my tolerance was a sorghum based dry stout. Sorry, but an aftertaste just didn't work for me.

My favorite chile-infused brew was from Asheville's Twin Leaf, their MDXXI (or 1521 in English) which used arbol chiles, a new one for me. Enough heat to make an impression but not overpower and the chocolate-cinnamon combination was well balanced. The finish was lighter bodied than you might expect and I could see myself having a second pint, a criterion of mine when judging.

Their Instagram post lists the top three winners, voted on by participants:

And your winners of the Stout Bout 2015 are... 1st Place: @burialbeer | #burialbrewing - Piston Espresso Stout, 2nd Place: @highlandbrewing | #highlandbrewing - Black Mocha Stout w/ Cherries & Oak, 3rd Place: @sierranevada | #sierranevada - Barrel Aged Narwhal, Congratulations!! 


One small complaint was the serving temperatures. I and several others were vocal in our opinions that the jockey boxes were chilling the stouts way too much. I understand the viscosity issue, but hopefully next time a method can be found that serves the stouts warmer. As serious stout lovers know (and I don't quite fit that group), as a stout warms, it releases more flavors and adds body. Anyway, just thought I would pass that along.
 Some photos and more notes:

Rain held off most of the day.

Hi-Wire's Big Top brew house/pub is a good size for eventsl

5 Tables in all, each with different stouts and voting pitchers.

Fellow stout enthusiast, Bob Muller, gets his first taste.

Decisions, decisions.

More tokens were available, $2 per, a token for each taste

One of my faves, and second place winner, HIghlands Black Mocha Stout with cherries and oak.

This is how the blind tasting stouts were revealed. Tasted blind for two hours!

My congratulations to the top winners and mucho thanks to Abby and the folks at Hi-Wire for hosting this very special event. #nextyear


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