So we made it back from the Great American Beer Festival empty handed, having been awarded nothing for our beers. I had told Cameron before we went to Denver that if we won a medal I would write about how GABF awards are meaningless, and if we didn't win anything I would write about how they are the most important things in the world. That's just the way we roll around here. So here goes:
Awards at the GABF represents a major achievement for brewers and breweries being recognized as having the best Pale Ale, Pumpkin Cherry Stout or Gluten-free beer in the nation is an accomplishment that can make or break a brewery. The 1700 plus entries are judged by some the the most knowledgeable and well respected brewers, brewery managers, beer writers and doped-up, noodle armed, jean short wearing Colorado hippies in the world.
Now we at BBC have had our share of success at the festival. I can distinctly remember the beers that were awarded medals. We won the gold medal in 2003 with a smoked porter. I remember while I was smoking the grain with a mixture of apple and hickory wood, I went inside for something and when I returned, flames were shooting out of the smoker and my grain had been reduced to ashes. Our chef at the time Jeff Grubbs offered to smoke some more grain for me so I took him up on the offer. I watched him throw the grain in with a bunch of raw salmon fillets. Close your eyes and imagine the smell of smokey barley malt melded nicely with fatty fish, Yum Yum. But it was too late to make another batch so we entered the beer in the competition and won gold. The knowledgeable judges must have liked seafood.
The second medal we received was the same year with a Dortmunder. I remember the day I brewed this golden lager, that night the switch that controls the temperature of the brew tank broke. This sent the fermenting beer's temperature up to 78 degrees only about 25 degrees too warm for this style. But it was too late to make another so we entered the beer into competition and won the bronze. One cold argue that if the beer was brewed at the right temperature it could have taken gold, but I doubt it since Miller won the gold in that category in 2003. Miller? WTF?
The thirdGABF medal we won was last year for our Oktoberfest. Now we love our Oktoberfest here at BBC, but the 2006 batch just did not turn out right.Cameron and I would have a glass, shake our heads and lament that it just wasn't as good as our previous batches. Well as you probably guessed, the one beer we didn't particularly care for won the bronze. Go figure, I guess our palates are just not as refined as the hemp wearing California peaceniks that judge at the GABF.
The moral of my rant is that its very hard to win medals when our tastes differ so much from coast to coast. The Southeast is usually underrepresented because there just isn't any large national brewers from the south that can shape and influence the national palate. It is far more important to us to brew the things we and our customers like than try and focus on winning medals that nobody outside to the brewing industry cares about. That brings me to next years GABF strategy, we are going to purposely screw up in some way all five entries and see what happens...Brewery of the Year 2008?
never trust The Sober Brewer