Re: Any brewer opinions of the GABF categories, as current?
Posted by Tomme Arthur on 10/03/2006 01:12:11 PM
Before I launch myself off the deep end of the pool, let me state that I don't stand much benefit from answering some of the ramblings but there are few things that I believe I can clear up. Flame away if you must but as a judge at the worlds biggest dog and pony show, I have looked the bitches in the eyes on numerous occassions and have an excellent idea of why things end up the way they do.
First, The GABF and World Beer Cup are the two most professionally organized and executed competitions and that is a direct quote from Micheal Jackson himself Dare I say he knows a thing or two about judging international competitions.
Is it possible we have reached too many categories? Doubtful. Don't forget that we are in the midst of a brewing renaissance not likely encountered ever before in the history of brewing. 150 years ago they hadn't learned how to control color and all beers were dark. Let's not forget that these beers were likely sour or bordering on sour as well. Oh yeah and then there was the oak stuff going on.
Fast forward to today. There is a complete top to bottom expression of brewing being driven by American Brewers on a sort of Barley Brigade of Manifest Destiny to be the best and most innovative brewers in the world. WHY? I say why the hell not. When you have no history...you are set free to do as you please. When was the last time any of us tried to "sneak" into a 300 year Abbey in Southern California to view their brewing equipment? Righty ooh. I'll let you know when I get an invitation as well. There is a revolution afoot and the consumers as well as the the brewers have their feet squarely on the throttle with a finger on the nitrous ready to G. O. period GO! For the record, I have my Q & A lab working on an Imperial Non Alcoholic Beer so that I can move into the top 50 on every rating site for NA beer. Brewers are stretching the limits of palates everywhere with wild yeasts, imperialisms and barrel aging. Pretty damn cool I think.
The GABF and World Beer Cup have evolved into barometric devices measuring the present and future of brewing. Each and every year in Jan/Feb the Brewers Association goes back and reopens the book on the categories. Judging feedback is considered and categories are rewritten. This updating allows for "drift" in judging, market conditions and new categorization of beers. Did anyone notice there was no NA category this year? They chopped it in favor of the aged beer category.
Now, I will address what I really thought was the most important piece. First, I don't despise styles. I don't loathe nor abhor them either. They have their place and certainly one of them is in competitions. That being said, the categories only serve as boundaries that as I have written about in the past serve and almost ask to be invaded. Please understand that these are my assumptions and mine alone and are not reflected in any literature we receive from the brewers association in our judging instructions.
There are several "types" of categories within the total of 69. First are the narrowly defined beers like pilsners, wheat and many of the American Lager Beers. These categories do not allow vis a vis germanic traditions for stylistic and color palate variations. Within this structure, beers don't vary with much gusto. Same= Same.
Next up are categories with similar backdrops and where "expressions" creeps in. These categories are full of a wider spectrum of beers- IPA, Pale Ale, Stout Porter and things of the like. In the case of Pale Ale, they may be straw yellow to dark golden and even amber. Then, you throw in the fact that the category "should" be defined by hops or should it be defined by the balance of malt and hops? Dunno, but I know which way I lean.
The third sort of category in my mind is the newly added specs. These categories are not clearly laid out in terms of historical facts and stories. Anyone care to give me the three classic examples of Imperial Red Ale? Don't forget to cite the ins and outs of why. These things get discussed. In these newly adopted categories, there is no one paradigm to point to- Sierra Pale Ale, Pilsner Urquell, Schneider Aventinus etc... And every time the judges sit down they are defining the category. Pliny the Elder anyone? It sure is on a good run. Pliny the Paradigm?
The last type of categories are my favorites(go figure). These are the ones that "allow" for and demand interpretation. Most of the Belgian Categories fall into this pool. Belgian Sour Ale- 6 different expressions. Experimental Beers- 39 or so different expressions. The new category that showed up this year- Aged Beers. Here, judges must put on the gloves and duke it out and sometimes we do. Hours of thrashing have ensued. It is in these categories where anything can and often does happen.
I would like to take the opportunity to address several of the other points noted. First, I have judged the keller bier category and find it to be wishy at best. The fact that "any" beer can be entered in the competition and designated as "unfiltered" is strange to me. Many of our beers aren't filtered either. However, the spirit of the category is to address a need for lagered beers that aren't brite and brewed this way. Typically, I would expect to see pils, helles and kolsch style beers. I have judged this category and seen nice ales thrown out because it was too difficult to determine what exactly the special value of the "unfiltered" beer was. Still, many of the "keller biers" that win are Germanic based lagers and that was the mission for the category.
FYI, when we enter the competition we sign a form that states when adverstising our "win" at the worlds greatest dog and pony show, we MUST include the category, year and type of medal won. So Keller Bier 2006 Silver Medal it is.
As to brewers entering categories vs what they call their beers back at home, I have the following to say. Brewers choose names for beers that don't always fit the category. Jeff Bagby our brewer in Carlsbad won a medal for his "Beech Street Bitter." Ask him and he'll tell you it's an English IPA. But the board says Bitter. Year after year, brewers spend $180 dollars to enter the GABF only to have a judge say this should be entered somewhere else. Well, sometimes you get tired of ramming into the same wall. Go to beertown.org and look at the style sheets and see how close some of the categories really are and you'd be amazed at the splitting of hairs that goes on. So Stone Pale Ale is a nice ESB... Who knew? Sure isnt about to hurt their sales.
I guess I should go back to my real job. Before I head into the brewhouse, remember this is the Golden Age of American Brewing right now. The internet is fueling an interest in all things beer and brewers are responding on numerous levels. Support your local brewer and brewery and if possible go check out the dog and pony show for yourself and see what all the hoopla is about.
Brewer and Bitch Evaluator
|Biere de Garde's at the GABF - Joel F, 09/29/06 01:07:18 PM|
| Biere de Garde's at the GABF *redux* - Joel F, 10/03/06 05:57:39 PM|
| Goose Island Matilda - Loren, 10/04/06 06:37:07 AM|
| Re: Biere de Garde's at the GABF - Loren, 10/02/06 07:26:22 AM|
| Re: Biere de Garde's at the GABF - Mark A, 10/02/06 02:44:45 PM|
| Re: Biere de Garde's at the GABF - Loren, 10/03/06 07:02:54 AM|
| Re: Biere de Garde's at the GABF - SteveG, 10/03/06 09:53:27 AM|
| Any brewer opinions of the GABF categories, as current? - Loren, 10/03/06 10:28:27 AM|
| Re: Any brewer opinions of the GABF categories, as current? - Tomme Arthur, 10/03/06 01:12:11 PM|
| Re: Any brewer opinions of the GABF categories, as current? - SteveG, 10/03/06 01:30:57 PM|
| New style next year at GABF? - Smoked Hops? - jmull, 10/03/06 01:36:45 PM|
| Yow, that ain't hickory! - SteveG, 10/03/06 02:49:30 PM|
| Re: Any brewer opinions of the GABF categories, as current? - Loren, 10/03/06 01:13:58 PM|
| Re: Any brewer opinions of the GABF categories, as current? - SteveG, 10/03/06 10:48:12 AM|
| Re: Any brewer opinions of the GABF categories, as current? - LStaff, 10/06/06 11:57:04 AM|
| Re: Any brewer opinions of the GABF categories, as current? - SteveG, 10/06/06 12:30:27 PM|
| Re: Any brewer opinions of the GABF categories, as current? - Loren, 10/03/06 11:00:21 AM|
| Re: Any brewer opinions of the GABF categories, as current? - Mark A, 10/03/06 11:44:04 AM|
| Re: Any brewer opinions of the GABF categories, as current? - SteveG, 10/03/06 12:42:18 PM|
| Re: Any brewer opinions of the GABF categories, as current? - Mark A, 10/03/06 03:47:57 PM|
| Re: Any brewer opinions of the GABF categories, as current? - Loren, 10/04/06 07:18:51 AM|
| You should know by now it does not work that way. - SteveG, 10/04/06 10:20:50 AM|
| Re: Any brewer opinions of the GABF categories, as current? - Loren, 10/03/06 11:53:09 AM|
| Alt/Steam - Mark A, 10/03/06 12:14:44 PM|
| Re: Alt/Steam - Loren, 10/03/06 12:19:08 PM|
| Re: Alt/Steam - Mark A, 10/03/06 12:29:24 PM|
| Re: Alt/Steam - Loren, 10/03/06 12:35:22 PM|
| Re: Any brewer opinions of the GABF categories, as current? - SteveG, 10/03/06 11:18:51 AM|
| Re: Any brewer opinions of the GABF categories, as current? - Loren, 10/03/06 11:22:04 AM|
| Whoa, how to market a GABF winner? That IS a problem! - SteveG, 10/03/06 11:50:56 AM|
| Re: Whoa, how to market a GABF winner? That IS a problem! - Loren, 10/03/06 12:02:08 PM|
| Don't flatter yourself - SteveG, 10/03/06 12:16:30 PM|
| Re: Don't flatter yourself - Loren, 10/03/06 12:22:05 PM|
| Re: Don't flatter yourself - SteveG, 10/03/06 12:50:51 PM|
| That's annoyed to you? HA! OK...nfm - Loren, 10/03/06 12:52:22 PM|
| Yep... - SteveG, 10/03/06 01:04:23 PM|
| I was done trying to defend your assinine insults... - Loren, 10/03/06 01:11:44 PM|
| Apparently not! nfm - SteveG, 10/03/06 01:14:05 PM|
| Re: Biere de Garde's at the GABF - Loren, 10/03/06 10:09:58 AM|
| Re: Biere de Garde's at the GABF - SteveG, 10/03/06 10:30:20 AM|
| Re: Biere de Garde's at the GABF - Loren, 10/03/06 10:33:46 AM|
| Re: Biere de Garde's at the GABF - SteveG, 10/03/06 11:13:10 AM|
| Re: Biere de Garde's at the GABF - Loren, 10/03/06 11:19:40 AM|
| Re: Biere de Garde's at the GABF - SteveG, 10/03/06 12:22:01 PM|
| GABF styles - Loren, 10/03/06 12:25:50 PM|
| Re: GABF styles - SteveG, 10/03/06 12:47:44 PM|
| Re: Biere de Garde's at the GABF - SteveG, 10/02/06 03:26:27 PM|
| Re: Biere de Garde's at the GABF - Mike Tessier, 10/02/06 10:52:23 AM|
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