There was a time when I would excitedly wait for the results of beer awards, reading the pages and assigning power rankings in my head to beer and breweries alike. It was a fun way to bring beer into the world of sport… but it was stupid.
See, I learned early on that beers and Breweries were not awarded for the subjective best beer in each category but rather for closest to style guidelines… Some of you are probably saying “what the hell does that mean?” Well in most beer competitions beers are rated on their ability to meet style guidelines like this:
Who came up with this guidelines? Beer dorks many years go (not to say I’m not a beer dork myself, but when they came up with this stuff I was a Power Rangers Dork). So, to continue on my sports analogy that would be like awarding the Stanley Cup not to the team who won in subjective circumstances (the playoffs) but to the team that best resembled a hockey team according to Toe Blake. That’s stupid…
Moreover ,it also means that innovation is rendered insignificant until some beer dork decides it is worth create a new box around the new style (Style Guide).
Of course some will say the brewers are not beholden to these style guide lines and can brew what they want. Sure, but winning an award such as brewery of the year or best in show or for some stupid reason European Style Amber to Dark Lager (actual stupid category at the Canadian Beer awards) often means sales to the breweries. This means there is an incentive for breweries to brew boring similar beers. This is the same logic that got us to MACRO LAGERS. Furthermore, the depth of awards for different lame versions of German lagers and English ales and the contrasting dearth of awards for sours and new styles of IPAs (y’know the shit people actually drink) again incentivizes brewing boring beer.
Now, I’ll pause for a moment because I’m sure you might recognize many flaws in my argument, foremost that no one is forced to brew anything. But i’ll stop you there because my argument is simple – “Brewing boring beer is lame, and beer awards that incentivize boring beer are lame.”
I reject all your objections to this opinion because my opinion is not objective, its subjective just like tasting beer is. It is imperfect and impossible to replicate, and to do so would be foolhardy (dumb). So if you are going to award a beer do it because you like it not because it totally hits those SRM guidelines (SRM is the colour of the beer… THE COLOUR).
My Case Study- Mount Begbie Brewing out of Invermere. A small brewery who’s stuff I’ve had I’ve generally liked, good beer. Mount Begbie won awards for:
German Style Kölsch
Gold: Mt. Begbie Brewing Company, High Country Kolsch
Bronze: Mt. Begbie Brewing Company, Brave Liver Scotch Ale
Gold: Mt. Begbie Brewing Company, Begbie Cream Ale
Brewery of the Year
Hold Up! you won brewery of the year hot on the heals for Gold medals for your Kolsch and Cream Ale!? Can you imagine bringing those beers to a bottle share down in Bellingham? or New Westminster even? You’d get laughed out of town. Kolsch, Scotch Ale, and Cream Ale are figuratively the old white guys of craft beer they literally are consumer examples of fucking colonialism – but hey Canada, this is the best god damn beer we make! Don’t be bothered by a Hill Farmstead beer or a hazy Monkish IPA, oh no, you come take a seat on the beach in your pantaloons and sip on a fucking scotch ale, like fuck, when did you turn 124?…