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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

GABF - Oregon Screwed Again!

As I mentioned last week, Oregon tends not to do so well at the Great American Beer Festival, despite the fact that we empirically brew the best beer. And so has the 2006 festival confirmed. Among all states, Oregon finished fourth, just a nose in front of famously beery Illinois, with only half the medals of Colorado and a third of Cali's. Behold the horror of the medal count:
39 - California
28 - Colorado
18 - Wisconsin
14 - Oregon
12 - Illinois
19 - Washington
Yeah, Oregon and Washington together have less world-class beers than Colorado. And George W. Bush is one of the great presidents of American history.

However, due props to those that did manage to get beyond the obviously untutored palates of the "judging" staff--you must stand in the stead of the rest of Oregon's great brewers!

  • Barley Brown's Brew Pub, Tumble Off Pale Ale (American-Style Pale Ale category)
  • Bend Brewing Co., HopHead Imperial IPA (American-Style India Pale Ale)
  • Laurelwood Brewing Co., Organic Deranger (Imperial or Double Red Ale)
  • Pelican Pub & Brewery, Doryman's Dark Ale (American-Style Brown Ale)
  • Pelican, Tsunami Stout (Foreign [Export]-Style Stout)
  • Pelican, Kiwanda Cream Ale (Golden or Blonde Ale)
  • Widmer Brothers, Hefeweizen (American-Style Hefeweizen)
  • Alameda Brewhouse, Black Bear XX Stout (Foreign (Export)-Style Stout)
  • Full Sail, Black Gold Imperial Stout (Wood- and Barrel-aged Strong Beer)
  • Pelican, MacPelican's Scottish Style Ale (Scottish-Style Ale)
  • Pelican, Stormwatcher's Winterfest (Barley Wine-Style Ale)
  • Widmer, Brewmasters' Pale (American-Style Pale Ale)
  • BJ's Restaurant & Brewery, Lasto's Oatmeal Stout (Oatmeal Stout)
  • Widmer, Export Lager (European-Style Pilsener)
Oregon should have its own awards: the Beervana awards for transcendent ales. Now that would be a mighty honor.


Anonymous said...

While Oregon brews a lot of great beers....

There is ongoing problem with the Northwest being heavy handed on the hops. Yes! The rest of the country knows WE grow hops, but this doesn't mean every beer or beer style is supposed to be inundated with a truck load of hops...

If we list the the winners of this years GABF, we would see that Oregon kicked butt in the hoppy beer style, but not much else....

So...If Oregon brewers want to win more GABF awards, they're going to have to learn how to hold the hops back a little and the balanced/low beer styles.

I think that the Oregon Brewers can win in any category of beer style...

It's more important to educate the beer drinkers of beer style profiles first! Oregon brewers brew what the masses want to drink, but if the Oregon masses think that English Bitter, Pale ale, Brown ale and the whole lager genius are supposed to be hopped 2x-3x the amount, then the awards will be going to those who brew within style profile and not hop abundance....

Anonymous said...

Understanding the problem, is the first step to moving forward. Bashing the GABF and their judges solves nothing.

Having judged for the GABF in the past, I can testify that while not all 100% of the judges are well seasoned BJCP judges,the GABF picks the BEST available judges, who have a worldly understanding of the world of beer and beer styles.

The Northwest, while it brews great beers, is known for hoppy beers. I'd like to see the breakdown of beer styles submited to the GABF. If they all entered IPA's, Imperial IPA's and other hoppy styles, that's where the awards are won. If another state won a ribbon for a hoppy beer...Then I would guess they know HOW TO USE hops too... Probably not a whole bunch of Scotch ales, Pilsners or Dopplebocks entered from this state

Understanding the classic profiles of the worlds beer styles is the first step in producing a quality award winning beer. These judges don't judge quality by the amount of hop bitterness that is left on their tongue; They are judging the whole package: Aroma, Malt character, Hop, hop uusage, balance, flavor profile, etc.

Apparently, the author may benefit from a better understanding of the judging and beer formulation/style profile processes. There's an entire other world of beers out there, and the Northwest is only brewing about 1/3 of the styles possible...

Jeff Alworth said...

It's not a "problem," it's a regional style. Germany had this relationship to Belgian beers for centuries, thinking they were degenerate offspring of the true and noble brew.

I would argue that the Northwest is the only region in the country to have developed a regional beer style. The result of this is that we drink far more beer than the rest of the country and have far more breweries.

Other regions hew to tradition in the absence of an emergent indigenous style. The result is that while some Oregon beers are over-the-top, in general, almost every brewery in Oregon must make exceptional beers or face extinction--because those "uneducated" drinkers would abandon them in a Beervana minute. Like the Belgians, we know good beer. And we know it ain't Flat Tire.

(Dismounting the soapbox now...)

Jeff Alworth said...

Whoops, I appear to have replied too quickly--you posted a second comment whilst I responded to your first.

But you got even more condescending! Look, I have a hard time taking anyone seriously who writes (anonymyously):

Apparently, the author may benefit from a better understanding of the judging and beer formulation/style profile processes.

But even more difficult to take seriously is someone who who asserts:

Understanding the classic profiles of the worlds beer styles is the first step in producing a quality award winning beer.

Come on man, you can't take a wide general swipe at Oregon brewers not knowing the business end of a lauter tun if you've tasted their beers. Come out from behind the anonymity and give some examples of bad Oregon beers.

As to the multiplicity of styles--you're right, Oregon's ale heavy. So what? Germany's lager heavy. Do they also need to understand the world of brewing, like Oregon brewers?

Suds Sister said...

I think there are two reasons why Oregon doesn't bring home as many medals as others:

1. All of our breweries don't compete.

2. The beers submitted, while great beers, don't fit the style categories as defined by the GABF.

Michael said...


This is a typical "Defensive" answer I get from a lot of Northwesterners. Why so defensive? I stated more than once and in different ways that "Oregon brewers are capable of producing award winning beer and that a lot of Oregon beers are exceptional." Why would you personal defend an entire structure?

I've been been brewing for over 20 years; I've worked in the beer business from the homebrewing level to the professional level. I've travel across the country drinking beer and abroad. You know what's indiginous to the Northwest when it comes to brewing? Nothing! Maybe over hopping....

I've lived in California, Oregon, Washington and in the mid west. I can tell you some facts:

1. Their are only one original INDIGINOUS beers to the USA. Steam beer from Anchor. Every other sub style created in the US is of European decent...

So, what would you say Oregon's indigenous beer style would be?

2. In redefining a European style, I would say Sierra nevada's Pale Ale redefined American Pale Ales by over hopping it with the OVER used Cascade hops which is also indigenous to the US.

What new beer style has Oregon produced?

Imperial IPA - CA which brewery is an agrument
Imperial Red - Lagunitas
Imperial Brown - Dogfish
Amber ale - Arguabley a nation wide mass production of a undefined style that fits unknowledged beer drinkers who go by color.
Barrel aged beers - North Coast BC
American Belgians - Still in delelopment, but CA is carrying the torch with Pizza Port and Russian River BC. Ommergang and New Belgian were first...

So...What's the claim to fame my friend? Rogue's Mocha Porter? Was done before!

Maybe we can count Widmer's bastardized version of hefe-weizen as a sucess...albiet Commercial..

3. Oregonian's are great drinkers, but most have very little beer knowledge and there's nothing wrong with that, until they want to pretend they know more. asked for me to name a BAD Oregonian beer? Foolish request mu over defensive friend... Every state has it's good beer and it's bad beer.

Bad beer is a personal opinion, according to taste. Unless you want to talk about being served a BAD (meaning infected)... I've had infected beers from the tasting room taps from Widmer, Lucky Lab, Cascade Brewing, Roots (numberous times), Old Market, McMenamins (multiple) and others.... These are not just beers that are not to my taste, these are beers that have spoiled or are infected.

I'd perfer to debate a subject rather than blurt out my opinions like the original "Iregin screwed again" article.

I've judged beer and wine for 20 years....Are we at least arguing on equal ground?

There is not a true beer advocate in this coutry that would argue that educating the public on beer styles brings a better product from the local breweries... I've read this documented in many articles and have seen it to be true.

Originally, "I" was taken back by your nasty tongue against the GABF and thought you may have a someone "Narrow" (meaning local) view of the beer community. I thought a general email would help or at least make you think that Oregon is NOT an island.

OK...Let me reread your comments...I don't want to miss anything.

The Belgian thing... The Monks never considered themselves second wheels to German brewers. They did it for religoius beleifs and monastic structure. Not sure where you were going with that.... Explain...

"I would argue that the Northwest is the only region in the country to have developed a regional beer style. The result of this is that we drink far more beer than the rest of the country and have far more breweries." This statement is a joke! Arogant and narrow... I think that's blunt enough...

Portland has more breweries per capital in the world, period! Other states have MORE breweries..

Exceptional vs. extintion... Hmmm, try Philadelphia's pub..

Then we have this statement: "Come on man, you can't take a wide general swipe at Oregon brewers not knowing the business end of a lauter tun if you've tasted their beers. Come out from behind the anonymity and give some examples of bad Oregon beers."

I distintly made the following statement...

"While Oregon brews a lot of great beers...."

"The Northwest, while it brews great beers, is known for hoppy beers."

"I think that the Oregon Brewers can win in any category of beer style..."

Obviously, I have respect for the Oregon Brewers. I have tasted beers from every brewery it Portland, Eugene, Bend and other area in Portland. I think I'm covered the state fairly well..

Even Sudsister agrees on the style profile concept... Better burn that soapbox my friend... ;-}

(BTW, I consider the word "Cali" an insult to the great brewing state of California. As would many others... BTW, it's San Francisco, not Frisco)

Feel free to continue with the debate... I'm having fun...


Michael Jackson

Michael said...


Debating aside... I like your web blog! You're ontop of local events!

Dave Selden said...

Dude, Michael Jackson posted on your blog. Wow.

Jeff Alworth said...

Great, an anonymous--then lying!--beer blog troll. Sorta like an opinionated drunk you try to slink away from in a bar. But you have now insulted Oregon beer, Oregon brewers, and Oregon beer drinkers, so I'm done with you.

(It is this comment in particular that demonstrates your foolishness: "Oregonian's are great drinkers, but most have very little beer knowledge..." In fact, Oregonians know more about beer than drinkers in any region of the country--by several factors.)

Good luck elsewhere, "Mike"--

Suds Sister said...


Regardless of whether or not this was MJ, he does have some valid points.

I sat in on a mock-beer judging put on by the GABF to show the press how a judging was done. An interesting point that one of the judges made was that they are looking for 'drinkability'. When it comes to high hops, the judges want balance.

FWIW, I saw MJ at the GABF this past weekend. He is a doddering old guy. Does he have Parkinson's? He was kinda shakey at 11 a.m.

I wrote a piece about the GABF on, if you are interested in reading some of my opinions about the festival.

Jeff Alworth said...

Suds Sister,

The question of the GABF is indeed an interesting one, and I wouldn't mind discussing it, but I hate to be lectured to about how I and everyone else associated with beer in Oregon are half-wits who know nothing about beer.

I believe Oregon had 16 breweries competing, and half were winners. So on the one hand it's not actually such a rebuke of Oregon beer.

Two things I'll say in defense of the post. First, I actually haven't really heard anyone complain about how poorly Oregon and Washington are represented by GABF medals, and I think it's worth at least mentioning it.

But more importantly, there's a political context here. Despite what "Michael" said, beer in the NW is developing an indiginous character--it's charactized by hops, but not, as critics claim, merely bitterness. One of the ways we see this reflected is by the way other regions and countries are making "NW-style" beers. I was surprised to see at this years International Beerfest how many Belgians have been inspired by NW brewing.

Coloradans, by contrast, brew beers that tend to be at the low end of both hop and strength for style. That's fine--Coloradans want lighter, sweeter beers--but that style exercises a disproportionate influence over the GABF. After all, Charlie Papazian and his national beer empire are all Coloradan. That influence is undoubtedly evident in the judges' proclivities at the GABF. I chafe at the tyranny of the GABF as the arbiter of brewing merit in the US.

(BridgePort's IPA is a good example. A world-class beer celebrated across the planet at beer tastings, it fails in Denver.)

But in the end, I think the matter's settled. Oregon and Washington will continue to be national leaders in innovation and sales, and they will continue, year after year, to post meager wins at the GABF.

Suds Sister said...

"but I hate to be lectured to about how I and everyone else associated with beer in Oregon are half-wits who know nothing about beer."

Please don't misunderstand me. It's not my contention that locals know nothing about beer. To the contrary...afterall, you and I both live here and we seem to know it all. :)

Absent Mindful said...

Well, if anonymous isn't Michael Jackson, whoever he is he can sure pound out some brewing verbiage. My comments are text messages compared to the articles he's attaching to this post.
BTW, kudos to Pelican. They dodged the Colorado Curse and brought home a tresure chest of medals!

Chris said...

Personally I think we did quite well considering how few of our brewers actually attended. As someone else mentioned, only 16 OR brewers submitted beers to the festival.

Of those 16 breweries, 8 won medals (with Pelican and Widmer taking home multiples), which means half the OR brewers that entered received an award. I doubt too many other states can claim that half of their representative breweries took home medals...

To look at it another way, Oregon won one medal per 285,000 people, while Claifornia only won one medal per 846,000 people.

Statistics are fun!

Anonymous said...

I don't want to cause any waves and don't want my name attached, because that is within my rights.But I think "Michael" makes some real good points and "Jeff" can't admit he's wrong on some of these subjects.

I think stiffling others opinions is against the whole purpose of having a blog. Especially, when the author can't defend a rebuttal without name calling.

Not very diplomatic.

Is this the Dictator Beer Blog?

BTW, I think Oregon did a fine job at the GABF...

BIG ROSE said...

Love it....

Jeff Alworth said...


I did overreact, and I hope you all feel comfortable using your own names. I've been blogging for almost four years and I do understand the value of anonymity--I started out anonymously.

Beer should be more about enjoyment and getting along than in-fighting. I actually disagree with a large portion of what anonymous Michael has said, but as some of you have indicated, my rebuttal was more of a dismissal. I'll write up a proper version and let you have a go at it. Anyway, the dictator abdicates his throne--

Will Von Wizzlepig said...

arr. if you'll suffer a comment from a lowbrow beer snob, that is to say, one who doesn't know what all the fuss is over, it seems all to simply laid out for me.

Most people are happy with their weak pilsner crap, and can only tolerate the mostly-like-budweiser beers of the world. There are some who like the other end of the scale, where Guiness lives. And then there's us pacific northwesterners.

I can just barely stand to drink anything golden and light no matter how finely crafted it is, and can almost never find beer with any character to it when I leave the Pacific Northwest.

I still wish full Sail hadn't stopped making the Very Special Pale.

It's no surprise at all to me that most of the rest of the world doesn't understand. I'd just like to know why a 6-pack of dead guy is usually $9+ when the brewery is right up the street.

Markm said...

Wow, first time to this site and not sure if I willbe back. I just have to say that I too live in the great NW. I love and dispise Oregon beer. While we are making progess the beer community needs to open their minds and hearts to ALL the beer styles of the world. Yes Germany does lagers, Belgains do Belagin beers, etc but it gets old seeing IPA after IPA. I had to start homebrewing to get the styles I wanted. I love seeing Oregon breweries doing different things like Deschutes doing a wine barrel Jubel or full sail doing a black gold but get tired of the Thuinderhead IPA's and what not. DOn't get me wrong I like a nice IPA but it is overdone and it shows on the GABF wins. Hopefully Oregon brewers will continue with their creative minds and blow everyone away next year.

markm said...

Sorry about some of the spelling. Never was good at proff reading.


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