Saturday, June 5, 2010

Anatomy of a Beer Competition

Anatomy of a Beer Competition

Story and Photos by Christopher J. Davies

We have been running professional wine competitions since 2004. Our annual Denver International Wine Competition has grown to become one of the nation's well respected double-blind wine competitions with a rapidly growing amount of entries received every year.

Over the past several years Darcy and I have become friends with Keith Villa, the Brewmaster at Blue Moon Brewing a division of Miller/Coors. Keith is an interesting guy who also likes to make his own wine every year!

I was excited to learn that gourmet food and beer pairings are just starting to become popular in the US. I am talking about the typical beer and a hotdog at Yankee Stadium. I mean premium craft beers and gourmet food.

It should not be hard to do you think? After all, the Germans have been pairing brews with their cuisine for centuries. Want an nice beer and food pair? Visit the Hofbräuhaus in Munich and try Two original Munich veal sausages with a Münchner Weisse. Yummy!

August 6-8, 2010
14th Berlin Beer Festival
The International Berlin Beer Festival attracts around a million visitors to the Karl Marx Allee. Every year at the first weekend in August more than 240 breweries from 80 countries present 1,800 different brands of beer.

Denver International Beer Competition

Our goal this year was to recreate our popular chef contest "The Taste Of Elegance" replacing award winning wines with award winning craft beers! After consulting with fellow journalist and beer expert Dan Rabin, I was surprised to learn that there were as many as 70 different styles of beer nowadays. After careful review Dan was able to provide us with a food friendly list of 24 beer styles.

We launched the Denver International Beer Competition in March. The double-blind competition was held on May 1, 2010 at the Omni Interlocken Resort. Eighteen certified beer judges and 7 beer stewards participated.

I learned a lot during this judging. Beer competitions are more precise and by the book than wine competitions, primarily because beer can contain a lot more ingredients than fermented grape juice. In contrast wine is subjective and 6 different judges may have different opinions about what they are tasting.

The beer judges awarded 33 medals that day including three best of show.


Best of Show
Gold Samuel Adams Imperial Stout, Boston Beer Co.
Silver Full Sail IPA, Full Sail Brewing
Bronze Samuel Adams Stony Brook Red, Boston Beer Co.

Category 1: Lagers
Gold Mama’s Little Yellow Pils, Oskar Blues Brewery
Silver Saranac Adirondack Lager, F.X. Matt Brewing Co.
Bronze Samuel Adams Octoberfest, Boston Beer Co.

Category 2: Amber Ales/Hybrids
Gold Samuel Adams Irish Red, Boston Beer Co.
Silver Red Mountain Ale, Silverton Brewing Co.
Bronze Samuel Adams Boston Ale, Boston Beer Co.

Category 3: Dark Ales
Gold Strom Bomb Stout, Wind River Brewing Co.
Silver Black Butte Porter, Deschutes Brewery
Bronze Bear Ass Brown, Silverton Brewing Co.

Category 4: Pale Ales
Gold Fuller’s London Pride, Fuller Smith & Turner P.L.C.
Silver 5 Barrel Pale Ale, Odell Brewing Co.
Bronze DPA, Great Divide Brewing Co.

Category 5: IPAs/Double IPAs
Gold Full Sail IPA, Full Sail Brewing
Silver Odell IPA, Odell Brewing Co.
Bronze Gordon, Oskar Blues Brewery

Category 6: Strong Ales/Lagers
Gold Russian Imperial Stout, Boston Beer Co.
Silver Old Chub, Oskar Blues Brewery
Bronze Samuel Adams Doppelbock, Boston Beer Co.

Category 7: Wheat Beers
Gold Samuel Adams Imperial White Ale, Boston Beer Co.
Silver Don De Dieu, Unibroue
Bronze Blanche De Chambly, Unibroue

Category 8: Belgian-style Ales
Gold Samuel Adams Stony Brook Red, Boston Beer Co.
Silver Trois Pistoles, Unibroue
Bronze Samuel Adams New World Tripel, Boston Beer Co.

Category 9: Fruit Beers
Gold Samuel Adams Coastal Wheat, Boston Beer Co.
Silver Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat, Boston Beer Co.
Bronze Ephemere, Unibroue

Category 10: Spiced and Specialty Beers
Gold Samuel Adams Utopias ’09, Boston Beer Co.
Silver Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock, Boston Beer Co.
Bronze Samuel Adams Honey Porter, Boston Beer Co.

Many of these winners including Samuel Adams Utopias(54% Alcohol/$150 per bottle) will be showcased in the Taste of Elegance Chefs Competition on June 9, 2010 at the Omni Interlocken Resort, Broomfield. Tickets and details are available at

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