A trove of medals for American brewers at European Beer Star competition

Judges at work at the European Star Beer competition in Nuremberg, Germany.
(Photo courtesey Private Brauereien Bayern)

American craft brewers came away big winners at the recent European Beer Star competition, Europe’s biggest beer competition.

Twenty-one American craft breweries won 37 medals, including 14 gold (up from 12 in 2011) in 22 different categories at the competition, one of the world’s most-recognized beer competitions.

The best showing at the competition, now in its ninth year, was by Pelican Pub & Brewery, of Pacific City, Ore., with two gold and two silver medals. The 16-year-old beachfront brewery, along with Brewery Ommegang of Cooperstown, N.Y., was among the few entrants to win multiple medals. Ommegang won one gold, one silver and two bronze medals in various Belgian style categories.

“We are delighted to have won four medals  at this year’s European Beer Star. It is a competition we have done well in over the past few years but this is the first time we have come away with this many medals,” said Ommegang brewmaster Phil Leinhart. “It’s a testament to everyone who works here at Brewery Ommegang.”

The winners were announced on Nov. 14 at the Brau Bevialebeverage industry trade show in Nuremberg, Germany

American gold medal winners included:

•Belgian-style sour ale: Samuel Adams Stony Brook Red, Boston Beer Co.

• Belgian-Style Tripel: Ommegang Gnomegang, Brewery Ommegang
• Dry Stout: Tsunami Stout, Pelican Pub & Brewery
• English-Style Bitter: Calico Amber Ale, Ballast Point Brewing Co.
• English-Style Golden Ale (Summer Ale): Twilight Summer Ale, Deschutes Brewery
• English-Style Pale Ale: Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Deschutes Brewery
• German-Style Schwarzbier: Samuel Adams Black Lager, Boston Beer Co.
• Imperial India Pale Ale: Double Jack, Firestone Walker Brewery
• India Pale Ale (IPA): Union Jack, Firestone Walker Brewery
• Sweet Stout: Left Hand Milk Stout, Left Hand Brewing Co.
• Ultra Strong Beer: Stormwatcher’s Winterfest, Pelican Pub & Brewery
• Wood and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer: Imperial Eclipse Stout-Grand Cru 2011, Fifty Fifty Brewing Co.

To be sure, there was plenty of competition. Judges tasted 1,366 European-style beers from 45 countries on all continents in October. The competition, limited to 50 beer categories of European origin, was launched in 2004 by Private Brauereien Bayern – the Bavarian private breweries association and – and the German and European federations.

The judges, a collection of 102 brewmasters, beer sommeliers, and specialized journalists from 25 countries, spent two days blind tasting entries. Beers were evaluated on the basis of purely sensory criteria familiar to all beer consumers: color, aroma, foam, and, of course, flavor.

Brau Beviale 2012 attendees sample medal-winnng brews at Winners Night.
(Photo courtesy Privaten Brauereien Bayern)

In addition to style medals, Firestone Walker Brewery, of Paso Robles, Calif., received gold for its Double Jack in the Consumers’ Favorites category, a publicly judged blind tasting of 50 gold medal beer by visitors at the Brau Beviale. The consumer’s silver went to Kronenbrauerei Alfred Schimpf in Neustetten, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, for its South German-style hefeweizen hell, Schimpf Hefe Hell, and the bronze to Weiherer Rauch produced by Brauerei-Gasthof Kundmüller in Viereth-Trunstadt, Bavaria, Germany,

“It is a great honor to be recognized by the judges of the European Beer Star for beers with big American hop character. This competition brings in some of the very best brewers in the world and is judged by a heavily weighted European panel of experts,” said Matthew Brynildson, Firestone Walker’s brewmaster.

“Our collective results send out a strong message that our beers are world class and changing the way the rest of the brewing community is thinking about better beer,” Brynildson added. “The interest in American brewing and American hops is at an all time high and professional judges are awarding these beers top honors.”

German breweries won gold medals in almost all typically German beer categories, a first for the competition, according to the organizers.

“The European Beer Star has become broadly established,” Roland Demleitner of Private Brauereien, said in a press release. “Our award has long become an accepted quality seal, which explains why the competition is getting tougher from year to year!”

Belgian breweries won just eight medals, only three of them gold. Interestingly, an Italian brewery, Birrificio del Forte in Pietrasanta, won gold for its Belgian-style strong ale; a Japanese brewery, Konishi Brewing, of Itami City, won gold with its Belgian-style witbier; and a Spanish brewer, Bolets Petras, of Barcelona, won gold in the Belgian-style dubbel category.

Also, a Chinese brewery, Hainan Asia Pacific Brewery, took gold for its mild lager, while Israel’s Golan Brewery in Katsrin won a silver in the doppelbock category. Africa’s Namibia Breweries in Windhoek won silver for its mild Lager and German Leichtbier, or low-alcohol beer.

A complete list of winners is available for download.

Hav you had any of the winners? Let us know.

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