By Alan J. Wax
A small brewery in Oregon, a mid-sized California brewer and American beer giant Coors Brewing Co. each won top awards at the 2014 Brewers Association World Beer Cup awards, described by the group’s president as the “Olympics of beer competition.” Brewpubs in Pennsylvania and Kansas took home top honors in the brew pub category.
In all 284 awards were presented April 10 in Denver, where the bi-annual competition was conducted just prior to the annual Craft Brewers Conference. The awards were presented April 10 at the conclusion of Craft Brewers Conference.
The Boulder, Colo.-based Brewers Association (BA), the trade group representing America’s small and independent craft brewers, calls the World Beer Cup one of the world’s largest global commercial beer competitions. This year’ s competition drew 4,754 beers from over 1,403 breweries located in 58 countries – the largest number of entrants in the competition’s history. “This was huge,” Chris Swerzey, competition director, said prior to announcing the awards.
Brewers from five continents earned awards from an international panel of judges at this 10th biennial competition, with brewers from 22 countries—ranging from Australia and Brazil to Taiwan and the United Kingdom—honored.
The judges awarded 281 out of 282 total possible awards, reflecting the chance for one gold, one silver and one bronze in each of 94 beer style categories.
This year’s event was particularly competitive, the BA said, noting that the proportion of winning breweries garnering one or more awards was 18 percent, compared to 27 percent in 2012. Only three breweries won more than one award; 26 took two awards and 226 won one award.
“Brewers from around the globe participate in the World Beer Cup to win recognition for their creativity and brewing skills,” said BA president Charlie Papazian. “For a brewer, a World Beer Cup gold award allows them to say that their winning beer represents the best of that beer style in the world.”
A panel of 219 judges from 31 countries working in teams conducted blind tasting evaluations of the beers to determine the awards. They included professional brewers and brewing industry experts; 76 percent were from outside the United States.
The category with the most entries was American-Style India Pale Ale, with 223 entries followed by American-Style Pale Ale, with 121 entries and Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer, with 111 entries.
The competition also presented Champion Brewery and Champion Brewmaster awards in each of five brewery categories based on the awards won by each brewery.
The 2014 five Champion Brewery/Brewmaster award winners were:
Small Brewing Company Category: Pelican Brewery of Pacific City, Ore; Darron Welch and Steve Panos
Mid-Size Brewing Company Category: Coronado Brewing Co. of Coranado Calif., near San Diego; Coronado Brewing Co. team.
Large Brewing Company Category: Coors Brewing, Golden, Colo.; Dr. David Ryder.
Small Brewpub Category: Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Media, Pa.; Iron Hill Brewery team.
Large Brewpub Category: Blind Tiger Brewery & Restaurant, Topeka, Kan.; John Dean.
The complete list of winners can be downloaded at the competition’s home page.