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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ontario Brewing Awards

Last night I spent my time judging beers for the Ontario Brewing Awards at the Bier Markt in the Toronto's Esplanade.

There was a lot of bad press surrounding last year's awards as Steelback won numerous categories. Many people were critcizing the judging because the panel were not all certified beer judges. Nevertheless, I figured it would be a good way to drink some beer and learn some new stuff.

There were seven different categories (North American Lager, Cream Ale, Amber Lager, Pale Ale, Honey Beer, Dark Ale and Porters/Stouts) to go through with no more than seven samples from each style.

I am by no means a "true" beer judge, although I did have me style guidelines handy and thought I did a respectful job while having a bit of fun. Some beers were recognizable the moment I smelled it, and were confirmed after the scorecards were handed in. That felt good. Out of all the beers I tasted, I was most surprised by Robert Simpson's Confederation Ale. I have never been a fan of this beer, I know many people who are, but I was not one of them. Until last night. From what I got out of the sample (I finished the entire cup) was not what I ever remembered the cream ale to be. I was plesantly surprised, but Michael Duggan (who formulated the Tankhouse recipe during his Mill St days) is brewing there now, so no surprise needed. Maybe the consistancy of RS's brews will improve with the recent development.

I was joined at the roundtable by Beerbistro's Brian Morin, OCB Marketing Exec Lisa Dunbar and OCB public relations Nic Schultz, LCBO beer guru and certified judge Bill George, Bier Markt general manager Robert Medal, beer judge John (didn't get his last name), and others whom I did not know (John, Ralph and Dan). The tasting got under way shortly before 7pm as the first tray of NA American Lager appeared on the table. Beers were scored on apperance, aroma, mouthfeel and overall impression; based on a 20 point score card. Some were good, some were bad.

The Awards Ceremony/Press Pub will be held on Wednesday April 22nd at the Bier Markt from 3-5pm. We will be handing out the awards and the Gold Medal Winner Consumer Sampling Event will immediately follow the Awards Ceremony from 5-7pm.

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