This past weekend I returned to the Best of Craft Beer Awards judging in Bend, OR. This year my wife joined me and served as a steward, helping run the competition. This event continues to grow, surpassing 2,000 entries this year, and they announced that it is now the third largest competition in the country only trailing GABF and the World Beer Cup. In 2016, the World Beer Cup had over 6,500 entries, and GABF in 2017 had nearly 8,000 entries. BoCB has some catching up to do, but still impressive to be third largest.
Last year it was extremely cold, with 3+ feet of snow on the ground. Thankfully this year it wasn’t nearly as cold and there wasn’t as much snow. Although, we did wake up Saturday morning to a surprise of snow on the ground from overnight. It was only an inch or so, and over the course of the day it melted, but still a bit shocking to see this out of the hotel window.
This year I judged an interesting range of styles. Before lunch on Saturday I judged American Style IPA, British Bitters and then Double/Imperial American IPA. After lunch I judged Northeast Style IPA (new category this year), Brett Beers and then Wood and Barrel Aged Strong Beers. Needless to say, I was pretty beered out by the end of the day. Sunday was a much calmer day. I judged medal rounds for Fruited Berliner Weisse, Belgian Table Beers and Wood and Barrel Aged Dark Beers. I don’t know if I paid that much attention last year to which flights were preliminary, semifinal or medal rounds, but this year I got to judge at least one semifinal and 4 medal rounds. When they announce the results I’ll get to see which beers I awarded those medals to!
And of course this year ended again with the granddaddy of all bottle grabs. All of the leftovers have to be destroyed (they can’t be resold since they are industry samples) and well, nothing says they can’t get “destroyed” in someones belly. Stewards get a head start to grabbing bottles, so my wife already grabbed some nice stuff before I got out there. With two of us picking, and more trunk space, we ended up with a tad more bottles than I brought home last year.
Represented on the table are beers from 14 U.S. States (Mass., Washington, North Carolina, Hawai’i, California, Oregon, Virginia, Nevada, Utah, Texas, Indiana, New York Michigan and Colorado). Also, two bottles from Bogotá Beer Company which I originally mistook as being from Mexico, but is actually from Colombia. Very excited to try my first South American beer.
We already have specific plans to share some of this (because no way can we take care of all of it..) including some gluten free beers we grabbed specifically for friends. Needless to say, we’re going to have some very happy friends in the next couple of weeks! Now, off to go find some room in the cellar…..