‘Scuse Me Please… One More Drink…
Another Great American Beer Festival is in the record books, and Florida once again had a strong showing. With five different breweries bringing home medals, the Sunshine State took another step towards establishing itself as an up and coming Beer State. Congratulations to all of the medalists.
Florida Beer Company, Melbourne – Bronze Medal for American-Style Amber Lager – Florida Lager
Big River Grille and Brewery, Lake Buena Vista – Bronze Medal for American Style Amber/Red Ale – Rocket Red
Tequesta Brewing Company, Tequesta – Silver Medal for Rye Beer – Bock in Bock
Brewzzi, West Palm Beach – Silver Medal for Vienna-Style Lager – Cityfest
Cigar City Brewing, Tampa – Gold Medal for Extra Special Bitter – Minaret ESB
There were a total of 3,390 beers entered in the competition, with 248 taking home awards. Entries were received from 526 breweries from 48 states plus Puerto Rico, and 18 first-time entering breweries won medals. All in all, a good snapshot of the health of the craft beer industry as a whole.
Another Florida name bringing home an award was local distributor J.J. Taylor, earning the 2011 Craft Beer Distributor Achievement Award.
There were 83 different beer styles judged in this event, ranging from the well-known “American-Style India Pale Ale” (176 entries; Gold Medal won by La Cumbre Brewing Company of Albuquerque, NM for their Elevated IPA) to the more obscure “Indigenous Beer” (31 entries; Gold Medal won by 21st Amendment Brewing of San Francisco, CA for their Hqt. (Note: The GABF defines an “Indigenous Beer” as such: “These beers are brewed reflecting local beer culture (process, ingredients, climate, etc.). This category recognizes uniquely local or regional beer types and beers distinctively not defined in any recognized style in these guidelines. They may be light or dark, strong or weak, hoppy or not hoppy. They may have characters which are unique to yeast, fermentation techniques, aging conditions, carbonation level or higher or lower levels of profound characters normally associated with other beer types.)
Sounds pretty wide open, yes? Do we really need 83 different styles to award medals to? Some of the style variations only had about 20 entries, while the most popular are pushing 200. I have heard some people say “176 entires into IPA? Branch out, brewers!” Others questioning how certain breweries could win for both mid- and small-scale brewery awards. In the end, beer judging – like any other judging by people – is subjective. Even when there are “official guidelines” for what a particular style should taste/smell/look like, everyone’s palate is different.
So, as usual, I give the debate a big *shrug* and will continue drinking beer that looks and sounds interesting. I am not a huge believer in awards and whatnot (although it is good for business for the brewers) and usually am more motivated by recommendations from friends than “judges” I have never met.
In other news…
I have been watching the PBS series “Prohibition” with Ken Burns, a 3-part documentary on “The Big Experiment”. Now, as a student of the industry, I am familiar with a lot of the history of the 18th Amendment, its origins and rise and fall, but this series has gone deeper than i have seen before, and it is fascinating. One of the very interesting things to notice is how many of the issues and tactics used during the early 20th century are very similar to tactics used today in politics to affect change, and often not for the good of the nation.
Did you know that during World War I American sauerkraut makers relabeled their product as “Liberty cabbage” for the duration of the war because they were afraid of the backlash from anti-German sentiment? Freedom Fries, anyone?
I look forward to watching the rest of this series… I highly recommend it so far.