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Friday, April 09, 2010

Spring Beer Fest Winners

One of the more interesting aspects to the Spring Beer and Wine Festival is the tradition of voting for a "People's Choice." The fest hands out ballots and people identify their first, second, and third-place votes. I find it fascinating because it tells you something about what the market for craft beer is. Folks who go to the Spring Beer Fest are self-selected craft beer fans, though they're not by and large fanatics like the people who read and write blogs. The last three years, they've chosen Astoria Brewing's Bitter Bitch, one of my least favorite beers in Oregon. It's visciously hopped and magnificently out of balance. (And if I worked for Astoria, I'd make barrels and barrels of the stuff.)

This year, Bitter Bitch slid to number two. The winner? Gilgamesh Brewing's Black Mamba, the hop-free beer made with Earl Grey tea and tangerine zest. Block 15 took the bronze with their succulent barrel-aged Pappy's Dark. Incidentally, as far as I know, these results haven't been released. I saw the post on Gilgamesh's Facebook page and asked Lani Radke if she knew who came in second and third. So consider these unofficial:
Spring Beer Fest 2010 People's Choice Winners
1. Gilgamesh Brewing, Black Mamba
2. Astoria Brewing, Bitter Bitch
3. Block 15, Pappy's Dark
What do these beers tell us? A few things. First, that people like novelty. A number of breweries sent their same old, same old beers, and people weren't rewarding them. And clearly, they appreciated Gilgamesh's effort to build a better mousetrap. Second, that they like hops. Bitter Bitch's run is pretty amazing. The last lesson, which is a little speculative, appears to be that while barrel aged dark ales are all the rage among hardcore beer geeks, they are a niche minority. Pappy's Dark is exactly the kind of product that gets intense love at places like BeerAdvocate and RateBeer. But at the Spring Beer Fest, it was on the outside looking in.

Congrats to Gilgamesh, who was properly rewarded for pushing the envelope. Let's hope it's the start of a trend.


  1. Here's a post from yesterday: Gilgamesh Brewing Black Mamba (made w/black tea& 0 hops) wins People's Choice @ Spring Beer & Wine Fest! Astoria Bitter Bitch gets 2nd about 17 hours ago via Digsby

    the Goddess knows

  2. I suspect that people mostly like novelty in small doses. I wonder how many of those who voted Black Mamba into first place would actually make it their goto beer of choice?