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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

People's Choice Winner (*)

Over the holiday weekend, I ran my annual people's choice award, somehow oblivious to the fact that we live in a fully Facebook age. (And Twitter.) Last year, no breweries were able to funnel their fans to my site, and so it pretty accurately reflected the views of my regular readers. Because I sprang it over Christmas, that almost happened again. Almost!

As it turns out, both Upright and Ninkasi got announcements out before last night's deadline. As a result, Spring Reign squeaked out a win. What's interesting to me is that before Ninkasi discovered the poll, they were getting absolutely killed. Before Upright rang in, I had about 200 votes. Deschutes Fresh Hopped Mirror Pond was out in front, followed by Widmer Drifter and Upright (which had tied itself for third place). In the end, Deschutes only finished five votes out of the lead. So, while this poll was never scientific, I think it's safe to say that without lobbying, it would have been the clear fave. Still, we can't reward counterfactuals, so Ninkasi Spring Reign takes the gold cup.

A few interesting lessons did emerge. First, if Deschutes was thinking of not repeating the fresh hopped Mirror Pond experiment in 2010, I'd like to to offer this poll as an argument for its popularity. I was nonplussed by it, but clearly, a lot of you were mighty impressed. Similar note to Hair of the Dog regarding Michael. Despite a very, very limited run, it managed to get a solid 20 votes. Finally, my choice, Upright Four, got a respectable 24 votes. Twenty three of you out there are pretty smart! :-)

Lesson two is that the bigs are doing a good job making beers that appeal to the serious beer geeks. Widmer Drifter got an unaided 40 votes. Mac's Grifter got 18 votes as did Session Black. Given that these beers were pitched at a broader market, I'd say they hit the mark.

Lesson three? Somehow I'll have to figure out how to foil brewery promotion if I do this again. Meantime, congrats Ninkasi--they loves you.


  1. Kinda blows me away.... more of just a fan base vote really. I would suspect many in Eugene have never once tried an Upright brew... or even a Widmer Drifter for that matter.

    I don't quite get how Deschutes Fresh Hop Mirror Mirror is a 'Seasonal' release. To me, a release is a beer that is 'released' into the wild... not only at their brew pubs. I still have yet to even go to any Deschutes brewpub... so I have never had the luxury of trying the beer.... and if many others did as well... and voted based on best beer... I am sure it would have won hands down.

    But for a great, and surprising release... my vote went to Widmers Drifter. I am sure only 10% or less of the voters have even tried only 4 or so of the beers on the list.

  2. From their website, it looks like Full Sail is going to add Session Black to their line-up permanently. I really enjoy that beer, and when I've found it, it only ran about 10-12 bucks for a 12 pack. I was hoping it would pull off the win, but oh well. At least I'll be able to keep on enjoying it.

  3. To foil online promotion--most of the "please vote for me" was on Twitter or in email--require that visitors download a printable PDF of the poll and mail it via USPS to you. My tongue is planted in my cheek, but it's the ease of navigating to a website and pushing a button that makes these things lopsided for those who can rally the faithful.
    On the other hand, a "People's Choice" poll does not really determine what beer is best or representative of a brewery's capabilities. A poll of this sort is all about getting a swarm of people to respond. As such, the poll represents fairly the overheated loyalty of some very good, but very small breweries that have a faithful following. Interesting that the Satori Award goes to one of the most popular breweries in your poll.

  4. To play Devil's advocate, those are real votes. It's true that Ninkasi lobbied people, but that's a testament to their loyal following. It totally screws with my poll, but it does show the passion and devotion of Ninkasi nation.

  5. Well, I live in Eugene and I voted for Four. Actually, Spring Reign is my least favorite Ninkasi brew.

    I wonder if Ninkasi actually thinks Spring Reign is a better brew than Radiant, or just asked people to vote for it because out of the two, it was leading in votes.

    I know Upright was pushing the vote for Five, I assume for the same reason.

    Drifter was the biggest surprise to me. Although I can no longer drink it*, it is a solid brew and I assumed it would get panned just for being produced by Widmer.


    * The only time I tried Drifter was on St. Patrick's Day. I put down several pitchers, then hurked them all back up...right into my dashboard. On occasion, I still get a whiff of Drifter when the heater is running.

  6. A problem with online polls of this nature is that they make it all too easy to not only vote early, but also vote often. With a little effort, one rabid fan or brewery partisan can skew the results in his or her favor.

  7. I originally expected Deschutes would win and was definitely cool with that.

    But yeah Ninkasi was doing nothing in the polls at first. Because the nominations were Spring Reign and Radiant. Two of the worst beers they have put out in my opinion. Now if it was Ninkasi Oatis. Well thats another story, that beer is great.

    Clearly Ninkasi is drunk with power and must be stopped.


  8. I think it's great that Widmer did as well as they did and it was definitely done with out lobbying of any kind. I just found out that the next Widmer reserve bottling won't be Brrrbon as suspected (next winter apparently), but get a load of this: a prickly pear braggot!

  9. I think Spring Reign was a decent beer when it was young and you got it from a good keg or bottle. It was deffinatly a floral beer that reminded me of spring from first whiff.

    There's no way to not skew a peoples choice poll, and it says alot about Oregons beer culture that breweries here have such die hard followingswho follow their beer Gods so blindly.

    Spring Reign may not have been the best beer this year, but it wasn't bad, and out of what I've tried from the poll list it was my favorite. Upright still has potential to change my mind on that when I finaly get around to trying their beers though. Just wish Portland brewers would share more of their bottle selection with the surrounding cities.