You love the blog, so subscribe to the Beervana Podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud today!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Hopworks is Your Winner

Via Twitter, Brian alerts us that the winner of the Cheers to Belgian Beers Fest (and his blog post on the matter): Hopworks, with their impressive Dubbel Suplex. I'm quite pleased with this selection--it was one of four beers I thought was distinguished and worthy of winning. I don't wish to ruffle feathers, but suffice it to say that last year's winner, the Lucky Lab, was not in my top echelon. Hopworks deserved it.

Top Ten finishers (alpha order):
  • Astoria Brewing Co.’s-Avante Guarde Akloo(say it with a French accent)
  • Deschutes Brewery & Public House Bend La Fleur
  • Deschutes Brewery Portland Pub Streaking the Quad
  • Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom Ingelmonster-Barrel Fermented
  • Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom Ingelmonster
  • Fort George Brewing Co. XVIth Chapel
  • Lucky Labrador Brewing Co. Beljamin
  • Pyramid Breweries Smooth Operator
  • Roots Organic Brewing Co. Feudal Surfer
  • Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. Forever and a Day Trippel
Two passing thoughts upon seeing the winners:
  • Could it be that Corey Blodgett's excellent Zen Lunatic didn't win because drinkers, disrespecting the McMenamin's brand, didn't try it? My only disappointment is not seeing it among the winners.
  • Half the top five were dark beers, half were light.
As winner, Hopworks may host next year, select the yeast strain, and also select the benefiting charity. I would say now is the time to begin lobbying them on the yeast strain. Say it with me now: Saison, saison, saison!


  1. Did the Zen Lunatic have coriander in it?

    But to validate your point about McMs not getting respect, I came back with a pour of the Zen Lunatic and my friends looked at me like I'd just made fun of their mom.

  2. No coriander...any spice notes come from the fermentation level reaching 90 deg F. C'est la vie! At least I have the respect of the bloggers. Have to start somewhere.


  3. Corey - I'm sorry, I had the Crazy Enough Blond and missed yours. Good luck in Bend and thanks for the follow up!

  4. Corey was robbed!

    HUB's Dubbel was a nice beer and deserves it's top marks, but the fact that Zen Lunatic didn't make a top placement is ridiculous!

    Looking at the top marking beers, all I can say is, "What a shame of blatant favoritism vs. quality of taste and Belgian integrity.

    HUB deserves it's win, but many of the other ranking beers and brewers should be embarrassed to be on that list!

    This is disturbing and highly disgusts me. Does this demonstrate the lack of locals Belgian beer knowledge or just blind favoritism? It's one or the other. Either way, the results are embarrassing.

    The following beers were so bad, they should be at the bottom of the list. These beers have either NO Belgian character or are majorly problematic.

    * Deschutes Brewery Portland Pub Streaking the Quad

    Extremely phenolic, fusel and cloyingly sweet. A big gloppy mess.

    * Fort George Brewing Co. XVIth Chapel

    This isn't even a Belgian beer!!! It has appeared at a DIPA fest and Barelywine Fest. This should be ROCK BOTTOM of the list if picking a Belgian beer, let alone the fact that they were supposed to be judging Ingelmunster brewed beers! It shouldn't have been allowed in this event!

    * Lucky Labrador Brewing Co. Beljamin

    Very problematic. No Belgian yeast characters were detected.

    * Roots Organic Brewing Co. Feudal Surfer

    The big roasted Porter with no Belgian characters??!!

    The rest I didn't try... Of course, Double Mountain was sold out. That in itself is a joke!

    I can't imagine how someone with even the minutest knowledge of Belgian Beer could right down Fort George's name on a ballot!

    That cinches my choice to NOT attend next year.

  5. Thanks, Doc...

    For those of you who have not read my response to the festival (really just a thank you to those who tried my Lunatic) it is here...


  6. I'm on the east coast so I missed the fest unfortunately. I would have definitely tried the McMenamins' brew. There pub brews range from below average to slightly above average, but I find a lot of their brews created for festivals seem to be pretty awesome.

    I personally like the McMenamins. I don't expect great food or great beer. But it's nice that there are taking care of historic marks in town that would otherwise be abandoned and/or decrepit.

  7. I'm optimistic that Christian, as an owner-brewer, will be more practical when it comes to the next year's event, i.e. the selection of the yeast (Saison would be popular). However, having braved his packed-to-the-gills pub more than once, I'm intrigued as to where they might conduct the festival.

    And I wish I could wager on the bike organization(BTA?)that will get to be the designated charity.

    Corey, is the Zen being served at any of the McMenamins - Broadway maybe?

    Now don't let me get started on certain of the Fredfest beers (*cough, Bridgeport*)

  8. "This is disturbing and highly disgusts me. Does this demonstrate the lack of locals Belgian beer knowledge or just blind favoritism? It's one or the other. Either way, the results are embarrassing."

    There's no accounting for taste… :) I was standing with 2 people when I first tried the Zen Lunatic (my 2nd sample of the day, BTW, right after the Upright Four, so I think I got a good taste); one of them thought it was bland and uninspiring (after he'd had the Ingelmonster-Barrel and Streaking the Quad… also, the Upright Four was "nothing special"), the other thought (as did I) that it had a nice light-Belgian quality - not overly strong on the yeast, but noticible - with a tad more hops than we might be accustomed to in a Belgian - certainly not objectionable, but again… noticable; I called it a Belgian Pale.

    The former usually doesn't like Belgians ("too fizzy," I still have no clue what that means but I know it's not the carbonation), the latter seems to like them but may not be all that educated (Who is? :-P ); the former knows Corey about as well as I do (we've been to a dozen or so last-Wednesday's-of-the-month, bumped into him countless times at the Green Dragon and elsewhere), the latter has never met him before. This wasn't a case of blind favoritism; it was strictly about personal taste, and in this region of nuclear hop/malt bombs, Belgians usually don't cut it… unless they amp up the alcohol.

    Thus, Streaking the Quad - "Extremely phenolic, fusel and cloyingly sweet" - the star of the ball; it probably would've garnered more votes had it not run out so early. I liked it a great deal - I didn't find it cloyingly sweet (that was the Ingelmonster-non barrel, can't speak for the barrel), but maybe a tad more than I'd like, sure. I also didn't mind the fusels at all (that's the kind of thing I could just sit there and smell… I love it), and as for phenolic… yeah, I didn't get that at all.

    The point is, not everyone's going to like the same thing, and even if this was a competition to try to divine the best Belgian, most people aren't going to suspend their own personal preferences for the sake of an experiment.

    Thus, XVIth Chapel made the top 10… now that's a crime. ;-)


  9. Patrick said:

    "However, having braved his packed-to-the-gills pub more than once, I'm intrigued as to where they might conduct the festival."

    I'm assuming they'll use that acre of open grass besides the building, because there's no way in hell that everyone will fit in the pub...

  10. anónimo,

    I could continue to argue, but I don't see a point. You have a very valid and commonly made stance. Years of beer judging showed me one thing... Some people will take the big sweet malt bombs over the more finessed artistic beers every time. I've argued till I've been blue in the face and rarely won. "What takes more effort? Close you eyes and add bucket loads of different grains and sugar, cross your fingers and hope for something big and good vs. artistically planing and plotting which small nuances you want to stand out in the beer and making precise measurements to balance or intensify. It's flop vs. Finesse. The argument is endless..... You can probably guess which side of the fence I'm on...?

    I once had a Big named veteran Beer judge argue with me forever to give the highest marks to a big ass sloppy Belgian Dubbel vs. a beautifully made Wit. He won and the Dubbel got the Gold Ribbon... At the post party, he can up to me and said, "It's really been bothering me... Artistic skill vs a heavy hand? You were right, we should have went with the Wit..."

  11. I think what there is some validity to all the points of view here. But my interpretation of what DW is getting at is this:

    If we as a beer community want to hold ourselves up as world class, we need to hold our brewers accountable at events like CtBB. The beer brewers make at these events form the opinion of what the general public beleives these styles to be.

    As such, we as consumers need to educate ourselves about the product so we can do that. I realize that in many cases the number of styles for beer competitions have become a joke, and as a result beer drinkers reject categories and focus on taste only. In most cases I agree with this approach. However in this case I don't. Belgian beers have evolved over the course of centuries and brewers there have honed their skill in order to coax the most pleasing results out of their products.

    I'm not asking for local brewers to make clones, but to make an effort to understand the processes and ingredients that maximize the yeast (many did and did a fine job). Making a typical NW ale and simply substituting a Belgian yeast may taste good to me (hell, I basically homebrewed one a little bit ago) but I don't think it's appropriate for this type of fest.

    Perhaps the problem lies in the structure of the event itself. It can't be easy to formulate a recipe, buy the ingredients, brew and age in the short amount of time allowed.

    I don't know, I think it would be a shame if this event died though. There is a lot of knowledge to be gained by everyone that participates and there is no better place to gain knowledge than over a well made beer.

  12. "Perhaps the problem lies in the structure of the event itself. It can't be easy to formulate a recipe, buy the ingredients, brew and age in the short amount of time allowed."

    Therein lies the crux of the problem. The world classics aren't designed, brewed, fermented, and conditioned in 2-3 months. Expecting our local brewers, talented as they may be, to pull off such a feat is simply setting yourself up for disappointment.

    They need to pick next year's strain NOW so that folks have time to experiment, order ingredients (so they're not limited to whatever happens to be lying around the brewery), and maybe even get a couple of test batches out before brewing the competition entry. Hell, if they had a whole year they could even barrel age some stuff...

  13. Bingo.... Joe!


    Formulating a world class belgian beer wouldn't be an easy task. Brewing a beer that tastes like a belgian beer shouldn't quite as hard.

    Obviously, the larger task is teaching a community what Belgian beer is supposed to taste like... which the event wasn't very successful at achieving.

    I'm all for dropping the COMMUNITY Belgian Yeast concept and just giving the brewers a year to hone down a beer that tastes (in some way, shape or form) like a Belgian beer. Then, have a Belgian beer fest. :-)