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Monday, April 24, 2006

World Beer Cup Winners

I received two emails about the recent World Beer Cup awards--one from a BridgePort employee (I'll let him out himself is he wishes) and one from the BridgePort publicist. It should therefore come as no surprise that BridgePort took home the gold. They did. At the end of the post, I'll put a listing of Oregon and Washington winners (Washington being the northern province of Beervana).

But before I do, let me spend a few moments venting. There are two main US brewery awards, the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup. I don't exactly know what distinguishes them--both are part of the Brewers Association hive, and both claim to be the bee's knees in terms of competitions. (Admittedly, the Beer Cup is an international competition, though barely--of 2221 beers entered, 1433 are American).

I have two major problems with the fest(s), and I think any announcement of the winners should be prefaced by this acknowledgement. First, the Brewers Association long ago made the decision to judge beers by style. Thus the macropilsners, by virtue of being entered in the "stink-ass tin can, cheapo" category (I think it's actually called "American-Style Low-Carbohydrate Light Lager"), always take home some metal. Meanwhile Hair of the Dog, by virtue of not being brewed to any known style, has won exactly bupkis.

The second problem is geographic. Each region of the world--and now of North America--has developed a particular palate. The West Coast loves beer that's got rich mouthfeel and is hop hop hopilicious. This is particularly true of the Northwest. It is almost impossible to find a beer with less than 30 IBUs or less than 5% alcohol. Even Full Sail's "Session"--their offering as a competitor for Pabst--is 5.2%. The Colorado style is quite the opposite. They love sessions, don't like aggressive hopping, and tend to brew slavishly to style. And of course, the Brewers Asssociation is a Colorado production, and the founder and Lord, Charlie Papazian, has always been slavish about style. What results are competitions that favor precision over virtuosity, and Colorado beers over Oregon beers.

Oh, and what the hell--here's a final whinge. To compensate for the problems raised by deciding to judge according to style, the Beer Cup has now created a style for almost every beer, including such beauts as "Coffee Flavored Beer" and "Wood and Barrel Aged Beer," not to mention two or three different version of standard English-derived beers like "English IPA," "American IPA," and "Imperial or Double IPA." In all there are 85 "styles," a proliferation worthy of the DSM. Can "Northwest Style Double Pale Tall Skinny Machiato Flavored Beer" be far behind?

So anyway, having spent four paragraphs detailing why this fest sucks, here are the winners. Enjoy!

Oregon Breweries (by alpha)
BridgePort - Blue Heron Pale Ale - Gold
Caldera - Caldera Pilsener Bier - Gold
Caldera - Caldera Dry Hop Red - Bronze
Full Sail - Session Premium Lager - Bronze
Laurelwood - Organic Deranger - Bronze
Pelican - Kiwanda Cream Ale - Silver
Pelican - India Pelican Ale - Silver
Pyramid - Pyramid Hefeweizen - Bronze
Pyramid - Pyramid Crystal Weizen - Bronze
Rogue - Shakespeare Stout - Gold
Rogue - Morimoto Black Obi Soba Ale - Silver

Washington Breweries
Boundary Bay - E.S.B. - Silver
Boundary Bay - Cabin Fever - Bronze
Elysian - Dragonstooth Stout - Gold
Fish Brewing - Old Woody - Silver
Ram/Big Horn - Seattle - Total Disorder Porter - Bronze
Rock Bottom - Bellevue - Vienna - Silver
Rock Bottom - Bellevue - Hop Bomb IPA - Silver
Silver City - Fat Bastard - Silver
Snipes Mountain - Sunnyside Stout - Bronze
Walking Man - Blootvoetse Bruin - Gold
Walking Man - Walking Man IPA - Gold
Water Street - Big Phatty - Silver

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