- BC Games
October is BC Craft Beer month and there are great events all month long (see craftbeermonth.ca). One highlight will be the 2013 BC Beer Awards this Saturday (Oct. 19) which will provide an excellent opportunity to sample some great beers and watch the winners receive their just awards (bcbeerawards.com).
I was honoured to be part of the judging. A fascinating, educational, enjoyable, and, yes, challenging opportunity. I think I can do without another pumpkin ale. One is delightful. Two is great. But after having to pick the best three from eight samples, it becomes more of a challenge than a pleasure. Not to mention 60 more beers to judge before the end of the day.
All of the judging was blind and glasses were marked with random sample numbers. First, teams of three and four judges whittled down hundreds of submissions to first, second, and third in each of 17 different style categories. Then the “Best of Show” panel (nine of the more experienced judges) took the top pick from each of the 17 categories and narrowed those down to No. 1, 2, and 3 overall.
By the way, each of the 17 style winners, indeed, the three finalists in each category, are all awesome beers. Unlike amateur brewing competitions, in a situation like this all of the beers are of excellent quality and narrowing 17 down to three is not only a cruel and unfair exercise, it is a bit of a coin flip and somewhat subjective (unlike the best-of-category judging which is a much more structured and objective sensory evaluation). After all, how can one compare a smoked porter to a blond American ale? If the blond is a more perfect example of that style one has to give that credit even if few at the table might order it as their preferred beer.
All of the judges are happy with the final three but I’m sure if any of the final six or seven had been chosen first, no one would have been upset. Or to put it another way, we are blessed to have a vibrant, excellent, and courageously experimental craft beer industry in B.C. and the winners to be announced will prove that in spades.
Hope to see you at the awards ceremony where we’ll all learn who won.
Beer of the Month - Hoyne Brewing Wolf Vine Wet Hopped Pale Ale
The single ingredient that contributes the most to the flavour and aroma of pale ales is humulus lupus, the wolf vine (aka hops). This is a very special time in the brewing calendar, Hoptober, when hops are harvested. To take maximum advantage of hops’ delicate floral notes, some brave brewers go out into the field and collect ripe hops then rush them back to the brewery to make what are called wet-hopped ales.
These are produced in extremely limited quantities, sell out in a matter of hours, and have an optimal shelf life measured in days.
Hoyne Brewing is one of several breweries producing this wonderful nectar, hoppy with a complexity and richness of aroma that only comes from fresh beer freshly wet-hopped.
Hoyne’s version is beautifully balanced, restrained yet assertive in its floral and citrus hop notes, balanced with sufficient maltiness to make for a delightful session beer.
Driftwood Brewing’s wet-hopped Sartori India Pale Ale, on the other hand, is a hophead’s delight of nose-hair-curling brewing exuberance.
- George Pajari is a BJCP certified beer judge and elected member (ret’d) of the Institute of Brewing, London, UK. Reach him at email@example.com and follow him at @zythesis.