A couple weeks, I barked at the value of Beer Awards. Today, I muzzle my yappiness in favor of some positive reinforcement. No more dog puns! Two separate incidents, judging the Best of Craft Beer Awards (photo of my flight of Bocks above) and then heading to the Oregon Beer Awards ceremony the following week, put some gas in my tank as both a brewer and appreciator (appreciant?) of what makes a beer “award winning.”
Since joining the brewing community in an “official” capacity nearly two years ago, as the junior member of a very small brewing team, I’m closer to understanding what keeps a brewpub brewer up at night. It’s mostly yeast management, but also includes: Did I set the timer to fire the kettle for tomorrow’s brew? Is all the CO2 off? Why isn’t [obscure style] selling better when it’s totally rad? What info does front-of-house need? What if I combine [hop][hop]and[hop] for the next IPA? Did I make an ass of myself at the OBAs, because I had fun but…
At the risk of becoming a postmodern mess, I’ll rehash my discussion of Paul Arney’s notion that “it’s hard out here for a brewer.” Shoot me now.
For a small brewing team, the beer is just the tip of the frosty mug, upended in the ocean so that it resembles an iceberg. The noun usage of the word “overwhelm” comes to mind. But it’s the beer I’m concerned about, and which you should be, too. What does an Award Winning beer taste like to you? (Genuinely curious, shoot me a note.) Does it have to be a “world class example” of its style?
There are plenty of ranking systems beyond competition, from the Untappd and Beer Advocate communities to your own beer journal, should you be so dedicated. I don’t use any of those things, preferring to live in the moment and understand that you can’t drink the same beer twice; your mood, setting, company, etc. all contort our experiences.
Outsized example: Agrarian Ales. Tossing a disc in the sun by the hop yard with a pint of Sylvan Saison in hand, there was nothing better. Sitting at a beer bar inside? Different beer. And none of those were ever submitted to a competition; word had to travel the old fashioned way and be accredited on a tongue-by-tongue basis.
And in the other corner we have Alesong, Eugene’s own black hole for bling (and I mean that in the nicest way possible). Not a year has gone by without a handful of awards for their blended, barrel-aged strong and wild beers. That means a couple things: 1) they are submitting beer to competitions, and 2) they regularly produce beer that elicits categorical pleasure.
Those two things are not mutually inclusive, mind you. The Alesong folks have also decided to use an unusual quarterly-release model that behooves and allows them to spend more time crafting each beer than your average brewer. The extra steps of barrel-aging and blending require precision, confidence, and familiarity with the process; the bottle was dusty but the liquor was clean.
Below is what you can find from our local breweries (plus local beer events!), and here are links to all the winners from OBA and Best of Craft Beer Awards.
Oregon Beer Awards
GOLD ColdFire Brewing, Italian Style Pilsner
Classic UK Styles
GOLD Oakshire Brewing, Line Dry Rye
SILVER Falling Sky Brewing, Upside Brown
Belgian, German Wheat, and Traditional Brett Beers
SILVER Ninkasi Brewing Company, Belgian Quad
India Pale Ale
BRONZE ColdFire Brewing, Skyline Dreams
BRONZE Alesong Brewing & Blending, Señor Rhino
Fruited Mixed-Culture Beers
GOLD Alesong Brewing & Blending, Raspberry Parliament
Best of Craft Beer Awards
Porters and Brown Ales
BRONZE Gratitude Brewing, Sasquatch Hunters Alliance
Wood & Barrel Aged Specialty Stouts
BRONZE Alesong, Señor Rhino
SILVER Hop Valley, Malt Mountain
Upcoming Beer Events
Ninkasi, 7pm – Universe on Tap! Grab a beer and learn about astronomy done in Oregon and around the world from University of Oregon physicists!
The Wheel Apizza Pub – Tangie IPA beer release at various locations: The Bier Stein, PublicHouse, Beergarden, Tacovore, The Kind Hop, and Pandita Taqueria
Beergarden – Earth Day at Beergarden
Thursday— $4.20 4/20 Specials! Stay Tuned for all of the details. Live Music with Sweet N’ Juicy, 7pm
Friday— Live Music with Inner Limits, 7:30pm
Saturday— Beergarden’s very first Propagation Event! We’ll have some of ours so bring some of yours, starting at 12noon. Live Music with Left on Tenth at 5pm and The Whiteaker Hot Club at 7:30pm
Sunday— Beergarden’s very first ADOPTION EVENT with Lucky Paws at 12noon ($1.00 from every drink will be donated to their Rescue) followed by singer / songwriter Chris Baron at 4:30pm Get your Earth Day on
The Bier Stein, 2-5pm – Buoy/PakTech Carnival.
Come celebrate Earth Day with some fun carnival games and free samples! Buoy is trying to fill their van with PakTechs you have sitting on a shelf at home! Prizes for winning games, and for the individual that brings the most PakTechs back in to be recycled! **More details to come**
Ninkasi – Pints for a Cause: The Toolbox Project. $1 from all pints will go directly to the Toolbox Project.
The ToolBox Project shares home and garden tools with our community so we can all build and grow together.
Plank Town Brewing – Mount Pisgah Ale Release. Pale ale double dry-hopped with McKenzie and Citra. A portion of proceeds go to Mount Pisgah Arboretum in celebration of their 50th Anniversary.
The Bier Stein, 5-8pm – Thursday Tasting Series featuring Alesong Brewing & Blending
PublicHouse – Block 15 15th Anniversary Party
Join us in welcoming Block 15 for their 15th Anniversary. We’ll be featuring the 3 anniversary collaboration beers that Block 15 is releasing:
Amber Ale made with Corvallis Brewing (Past)
WCIPA made with Coldfire (Present)
Japanese Rice Lager made with OSU Science and Fermentation (Future)
Block 15 will be in the house from 6-8pm doing tastings and beer talk. Find out all about their Anniversary Distribution Tour HERE and stop by to get a taste of 15 Years of Beer Awesome-ness.
Oakshire – Public House 10th Anniversary Weekend. TEN YEARS of Oakshire Public House! We’re celebrating a decade of fresh beer flowing from our Whiteaker taproom with a weekend celebration starting April 28th. Live music, plus Whiteaker Community Pop-up on Saturday.
Ninkasi – Pints for a Cause: Elakha Alliance. $1 from all pints will go directly to the Elakhaa Alliance.
Elahka Alliance’s mission: To restore a healthy population of sea otters to the Oregon coast and to thereby make Oregon’s marine and coastal ecosystem more robust and resilient.