Awards for the 18th-annual U.S. Beer Tasting Championships were announced this weekend in Manchester, New Hampshire, and Big Bear Brewing Co. in Coral Springs came away a big winner. Its Paw Print IPA won the Grand Champion award in the category of India pale ales.
There are 15 categories -- sour beers, pilsners, ambers, fruits, bocks, Belgians, golden ales,
Helles lagers, bitters, wheat beers, red ales, bitters, imperial IPAs, pale ales, and
session beers. The IPA category had 73 entrants, the most out of any category, making Big Bear's win especially notable.
In total, 502 beers from 127 breweries throughout the U.S. were judged.
To enter, breweries send in four bottles of the beer they want to enter. According to the US Beer Tasting Championshp's website, judges then "conduct a series of field trials" over the course of a month in Boston, Chicago or DC. They use "a hedonic scale indicating overall pleasure achieved from tasting the beer." Their scale "incorporates aroma, flavor intensity, balance, complexity, and mouth-feel."
They choose a winner from each of six geographic regions; the best advance to the final round where a Grand Champion is named.
There are many annual beer tasting contests throughout the world and excuses for having them are as valid as drinking beer for breakfast, but the USBTC appears to be independent from the National Homebrew Competition, which is the largest beer tasting contest in the world.
Yet independence does not necessarily imply less objective, so we'll have a beer to that! It's hard to pin down the judges' proper credentials from the information provided on their website. Maybe the USBTC is just a group of dudes who figured out the ultimate way to score some free beer. If that is the case, we'll drink to that too.
Big Bear also brews Polar Ice, the best German Kolsch beer of the year based on accumulated results from the 2012 Open Beer Championships, the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup.
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