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Monday, May 16, 2011

Great Lakes Karma Citra Wins 3rd Annual Ontario Cask IPA Challenge

Saturday morning had me up unusually early for a weekend morning. Not only did I had a bunch of Toronto Beer Week stuff to prepare (for the next two week onslaught of signing up 2011 bars, pubs, restaurants, breweries and importers), but I was also scheduled to be one of the judges on the nine person panel for the 3rd annual Ontario Cask IPA Challenge at barVolo.

We started to assemble at Volo shortly after 10:30am and by 11am we were right into the first flight of samples*. We sat four people to a table, to help encourage discussion, and by the fourth glass we were actively discussing each sample - pro's, con's, aroma, mouthfeel, etc.

The judges consisted of two BJCP certified judges (Wayne Reeves and John Tyler), two media personnel (Jordan St. John {Sun Media} and myself {TAPS The Beer Magazine}), two beer enthusiast's (Nick Pashley and Ashok Argent-Katwala), two RateBeerians (Paul Bazinet and Joe McPhee) and one non-IPA producing brewer (Michael Hancock). The mix of backgrounds, judging-wise, is a neat concept. While some judge based on the BJCP style guidelines, others judge on personal appeal, which makes for a good discussion. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle.

Shorty before 1pm our score-sheets were handed into Cask Days founder Ralph Morana and we all scattered for the cask's sitting out on the patio. Even after scoring 23 IPAs we still wanted more.

The crew at barVolo did a good job updating curious minds on the results via the @caskdays account and by Sunday afternoon some of the results were coming in, allowing us judges to see how we scored the beers. And some of those results were interesting when looking over the scores I provided for some of them.

barVolo posted the results today on their Cask Days website, announcing that Great Lakes Brewing Co. won the challenge for the 2nd year in a row with their Karma Citra IPA. It was number 11 on the list of beers and I can tell you that each judge (at the table I was at anyway) had it ranked as the number 1 beer of the bunch.

Top Four:
1.Great Lakes Karma Citra IPA(37.71)
2.Camerons Coalition of the Willing(36.57)
3.House Ales Eastside IPA(36.87)
4.Flying Monkeys(34.50)

While Great Lakes won the event, I'm most impressed with the showing by Cameron's Brewing Co. Cameron's dabbles in the occasional one-off for certain events, and for their Cask Nights, but recently it was revealed that they've started a pilot program at the brewery in order to start doing some more experimental stuff. Seeing them finish in the top four is encouraging, and it shows that they can do it! And hopefully they'll continue.

Congratulations to the barVolo and Cask Days team for pulling off another successful Ontario Cask IPA Challenge! And congratulations to Great Lakes and Mike Lackey for producing the winning entry - for the 2nd year running.

*all product was judged blindly

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