It's about the beer
Gina Miller and Bill Keeper
Hey Bill, did you check out some of the winners at the recently completed 2012 Great
American Beer Festival? There are the usual suspects from CA, VA, CO and OR (gee, what a
coincidence that the host state wins the most awards) and then there are the anger producing
winners like Old Style winnning a Silver in the "American-Style Specialty Lager or Cream Ale or
Lager" category and Pabst Blue Ribbon winning a Gold in "American-Style Lager, Light Lager
or Premium Lager" category.
But if you want to move beyond anger to outrage Pabst was named the winner of the "Large
Brewing Company and Large Brewing Company Brewer of the Year"! Are you kidding? Bill,
tell me the last time you drank any, repeat any, of their brews if you had another choice? Well?
I think it is time to either change or do away with the Brewery and Brewer of the Year Awards. I
know they give the association a chance to highlight its relationships with sponsors, but the
math behind these awards, largely not known, really confuses and upsets some brewers and
Beyond this, you have hundreds if not thousands of breweries competing against one another
in three main categories (the Small Brewpub, Small Brewing Company, and Mid-size Brewing
Company), far fewer competing in the Large Brewpub category, and a true pittance in the
remaining two categories, namely Brewpub Groups (2 or more locations) and Large Brewing
Companies. In the final categories, there are only a handful of breweries competing against
one another. This leads to some rather ridiculous results, such as Pabst winning an award that
it can tout in ad campaigns, thus bolstering its image.
Now before you start your retort let me tell you how gracious Pabst was after receiving the
award. From Twitter (I'll explain what that is to you later, Bill):
Pabst Blue RibbonVerified@PabstBlueRibbon
To bring home more golds at next year's #GABF we're going to start working on a Barolo
barrel aged Saison made w/ the tears of our haters
I couldn't have responded any better than Roger Baylor from the great New Albanian brewery -
"Where's your brewery again?" I also liked his partner's (Mark McDermott) retort to Pabst:
"How's that plan to get PBR Light into Oscar goodie bags going?"
We've come a long way in the craft beer revolution and now is not the time to stop using our
creation, the GABF, to promote companies who have fought and continue to fight craft beer
every step of the way.
That's it from me, chug-a-lug, Bill.....see you next month.
Well Gina, I’m here to say that PBR is decent for what it is. Don’t believe me? Do you believe the
judges? Because I do. Without getting into technicalities, the judges at the GABF are trained
professionals who are given a style guideline for whatever category they are judging, and they
pick the best beer according to that set of guidelines. And what are those guidelines? Here they
are, straight from the Brewers Association’s GABF Website.
A. Subcategory: American–Style Light (Low Calorie) Lager
These beers are extremely light colored, light in body, and high in carbonation. Calorie level should not exceed
125 per 12 ounce serving. Corn, rice, or other grain or sugar adjuncts are often used. Flavor is mild, and hop
bitterness and aroma is negligible to very low. Light fruity esters are acceptable. Chill haze and diacetyl should
Original Gravity (oPlato): 1.024–1.040 (6–10 oPlato) ● Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (oPlato): 1.002– 1.008 (0.5–
2 oPlato) ● Alcohol by Weight (Volume): 2.8–3.5% (3.5–4.4%) ● Bitterness (IBU): 5–10 ● Color SRM (EBC): 1.5–
4 (3–8 EBC)
Get it Gina? You and I may not really like the macro brews but in their world there are good
ones and bad ones. Pabst makes some good one in that context and deserves the award.
Having said that I actually agree with you on the point that changes are necessary at the GABF.
I think that a lot of the styles shouldn't even be on there or should be combined with some other
style. That would hopefully end the domination of American macros which while not very good at
all are legitimate winners according to the rules.
Now that you've got me started on the GABF I am always surprised at how many breweries I
haven't heard of win Gold medals. I love the fact that a great award winner can come from some
small brewery on one farther than the next block knows about but somehow that always bothers
me. Just jealous I guess.
I know my best beer list would differ greatly from what the professional beer judges select at the
festival but that's the fun of it - we all talk about a great subject, beer!
Here's looking at you, kid! See you next month.