St. John's Wort Beery Musings And Amusing Beers

The Ontario Brewing Awards – A Thoroughly Biased Annotation

It is worth noting that Brewing awards tell you one very important piece of information: Which breweries entered beers for consideration. Labatt did. Apparently Molson did not. (Edit: Thanks to Mark Murphy for pointing out that they did, in fact, enter their Rickard’s brands. Not really a good strategic choice to take on craft breweries in categories where Rickard’s had little chance of succeeding. Canadian or even M might have had a shot.) Here we are then, with an entirely biased set of annotations for the awards given out.

North American Light Lager
Gold: Labatt Breweries of Canada – Bud Light
Silver: Sleeman Breweries – Old Milwaukee Light
People’s Choice: F & M Brewery – Stone Hammer Light

Well, that certainly matches the category title. St.Louis and Milwaukee are well represented in the Ontario Brewing Awards. This result will be meaningful if we can manage to annex Wisconsin.

North American Lager
Gold: Brick Brewery – Red Baron
Silver: Labatt Breweries of Canada – Brava
People’s Choice: Creemore Springs Brewery – Creemore Premium Lager

Good for Brick. It’s nice to see the oldest Ontario craft brewery get out there. Also, I’m beginning to wonder how the People’s Choice awards were arrived at.

European Style Lager
Gold: Labatt Breweries of Canada – Crystal
Silver: Cameron’s Brewing Co. – Cameron’s Lager
People’s Choice: Creemore Springs Brewery – Creemore Springs Traditional Pilsner

I’ve never actually heard of Crystal. I wonder whether I’m missing something here. I’m going to get on the horn to Labatt and see if they want to send over a sample.

Amber Lager
Gold: King Brewery – King Vienna Lager
Silver: Nickel Brook Brewery – Nickel Brook Organic Lager
People’s Choice: Nickel Brook Brewery – Nickel Brook Organic Lager

Category makes sense. Unsurprising that King wins, since that’s an excellent beer. Might want to produce more of that one, since it has been difficult to get a hold of previously.

Dark Lager
Gold: King Brewery – King Dark Lager
Silver: Brick Brewing – Waterloo Dark
People’s Choice: King Brewery – King Dark Lager

Again, glad to see King doing well. I have a soft spot in my heart for Waterloo Dark, since it’s available at Paddington’s Pump down at the market. It’s really the only beer you should consider pairing with “The Oink With Cheese.”

Bock
Gold: Mill Street Brewery – Franconian Bock
Silver: Amsterdam Brewery – Spring Bock
People’s Choice: Amsterdam Brewery – Spring Bock

About right. Both are good beers, but I think the Franconian Bock might have been a little more polished. I had the Amsterdam Spring Bock when it was quite fresh and it had some rough edges. Still a good beer though, and a nice example of the style.

Honey/Maple Beer
Gold: Sleeman Breweries – Sleeman Honey Brown
Silver: Labatt Breweries of Canada – Lakeport Honey
People’s Choice: Brick Brewing – Laker Honey

I don’t care about this category. At all. I tend to avoid maple and honey even when they’re used in big beers, since I dislike the mouthfeel it imparts. Congratulations to the winners, I guess. Well done. Huzzah!

German Style Wheat Beer
Gold: Denison’s Brewery – Denison’s Hefeweizen
Silver: Muskoka Brewery Summer Weiss
People’s Choice: Hop City Brewery – Lawn Chair ‘Classic’ Weisse

Again, about right. Seems like a tougher category than some of the others, because those are all really good. Grand River 1913 was in this category for some reason I don’t completely understand. It didn’t have a chance being judged to that style. Too bad.

Belgian Style Wheat Beer
Gold: Amsterdam Brewery – Amsterdam Orange Weisse
Silver: Mill Street Brewery – Belgian Wit
People’s Choice: Mill Street Brewery – Belgian Wit

I would have called this an upset, since the Mill Street Belgian is more traditionally a Belgian Style Wheat Beer. Then again, the Amsterdam Orange Weisse was tasty last year. Good job, Amsterdammers.

Cream Ale
Gold: Labatt Breweries – Labatt 50
Silver: Sleeman Breweries – Sleeman Cream Ale
People’s Choice: Labatt Breweries – Labatt 50

Cinquante for the win, I guess. I’m not sure it’s a Cream Ale. I guess that doesn’t matter. It could probably have been entered as an American Pale Ale or a Blond Ale or a Golden Ale. I wonder if Muskoka entered their Cream Ale.

British Pale Ale
Gold: Grand River Brewing – Plowman’s Ale
Silver: Mill Street Brewery – Extra Special Bitter
People’s Choice: Grand River Brewing – Plowman’s Ale

Glad to see Grand River dominating. Also glad Mill Street entered their ESB, which is a nice beer.

North American Pale Ale
Gold: Hop City Brewing – Happy Hour Premium Ale
Silver: Flying Monkeys Brewery – Hoptical Illusion
People’s Choice: Mill Street Brewery – Tankhouse Ale

Kind of a tough category, in the sense that they all have different qualities and it would more or less come down to the judges’ palates on the day. You could cycle the results into any permutation and they wouldn’t surprise me.

British India Pale Ale
Gold: Grand River Brewing – Curmudgeon IPA
Silver: Mill Street Brewery – India Pale Ale
People’s Choice: Grand River Brewing – Curmudgeon IPA

Interesting to see essentially a repeat of the British Pale Ale category. Grand River is doing something right.

North American India Pale Ale
Gold: Flying Monkeys Brewery – Smashbomb Atomic IPA
Silver: Amsterdam Brewery – Bonecrusher
People’s Choice: Flying Monkeys Brewery – Smashbomb Atomic IPA

Not surprising. Slight typo there on the awards that were given out. Here is a list of alternate names for the Boneshaker suggested to me by the Amsterdam staff:

Skulldingler, Skinrusher, Bonegrinder, Thighchafer, Ol’ Femur Snapper, Amsterdam’s Patented Lymph Node Exploder, Ow! My Vertebrae! IPA, Kneecapper (Now with hops!)

Amber Ale
Gold: Cameron’s Brewing Co. – Cameron’s Auburn Ale
Silver: Amsterdam Brewery – Big Wheel
People’s Choice: Railway City Brewing – Iron Spike Copper Ale

Pretty predictable result, there. Nice to see Bill Coleman from Cameron’s light up like a kid with a new lego set when given the award.

Dark Ale
Gold: Railway City Brewing – Iron Spike Amber Ale
Silver: Muskoka Brewery – Muskoka Dark Ale
People’s Choice: Black Oak Brewery – Nut Brown

Kind of a tough category here, as well. Might have to revisit the Iron Spike Amber.

Porter
Gold: Amsterdam Brewery – Two Fisted Porter
Silver: Mill Street Brewery – Coffee Porter
People’s Choice: Amsterdam Brewery – Two Fisted Porter

Both good.

Stout
Gold: F & M Brewery – Stone Hammer Oatmeal Coffee Stout
Silver: Muskoka Brewery – Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout
People’s Choice: Muskoka Brewery – Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout

I would have thought of the Muskoka Stout as an imperial. F & M’s Oatmeal Coffee Stout is pretty much above reproach, though. Deserved win.

Imperial Stout
Gold: Grand River Brewing – Russian Gun Imperial Stout
Silver: Amsterdam Brewery – Tempest
People’s Choice: Grand River Brewing – Russian Gun Imperial Stout

I guess I’m going to have to stop by Amsterdam and see if some nice person will get me a sample of this here “Tempest” which is apparently still under development. Good rule of thumb: If your beer wins an award without having made it out of R&D, you’re probably onto something.

Fruit Beer
Gold: Great Lakes Brewery – Orange Peel Ale
Silver: Amsterdam Brewery – Framboise
People’s Choice: Grand River Brewing – Blackberry Wheat

Flavoured Beer
Gold: Mill Street Brewery – Lemon Tea Beer
Silver: Brick Brewing – Red Baron Lime
People’s Choice: Mill Street Brewery – Lemon Tea Beer

I feel like those two could have been combined into a single category, since both Lime and Lemon are technically fruits. Good on Great Lakes, though.

Strong Beers
Gold: Grand River Brewing – Jubilation Winter Ale
Silver: Great Lakes Brewery – Winter Ale
People’s Choice: Nickel Brook Brewery – Cuvee

Seems about right.

Congratulations to Grand River and Amsterdam. Nice Showing, guys! You’re going to need bigger trophy cases.

5 Thoughts on “The Ontario Brewing Awards – A Thoroughly Biased Annotation

  1. Pingback: Okay, Whatever. » Blog Archive » Google Reader Shared Items 2011-05-12

  2. One possibility for the 50 placement is Labatt’s makes a 50 cream ale in quebec “le gout de Europe” don’ t you know. So they may have submitted that instead of the regular product.

    Also, what’s the direction with Amsterdam? I’m always interested in supporting a local company, especially when it comes to a product that is best local but I have not been impressed with any of the products in years. However, here they are winning with seasonals that I have never seen on tap or in the lcbo/beer store.

    Are they going to start selling bonecrusher or brown ales? I’d be interested in the product. An interesting post idea may be the business of brewery. I went to check out the Amsterdam seasonal page and they have a pomegranat wheat beer that sounds terrible. Do these types of beers sell well to non-beer drinkers as a sort of cooler cross over. I am aware that lambic or fruit flavoured beers are traditional but I’m really just wonder about sales volume. Do you need strange products to differentiate in the market or is that simply popular. A similar brewery is Great Lakes where I find their beers like Red Leaf(?) unremarkable but their seasonals too strange to want to try more than once. The Canuck pale ale sounds good though. However, they seem to be doing great things on cask events and one offs.

    • I think there was a period, probably not all that long ago, inside a decade anyway, when Ontario breweries didn’t really know what direction to go in. If the American craft beer thing has proved anything, it’s that you can pull off simply making good beer in a number of classic styles as a business model. There’s always going to be innovation on a small scale, but I think a lot of the beers like the Pomegranate Wheat stem from that period where brewers didn’t know how adventurous they could afford to be and tested the waters with fruit flavoured wheat beers.

      That said, the only time I had the Pomegranate Wheat was when I had it at C’est What with the Falafel platter. Good food pairing, anyway, so there’s probably a place for the beer. Periodically, I toy with brewing a Staghorn Sumac Saison because I think it might work out with food pairings.

      Canuck is going to be great. Watch that sell out faster than anything they’ve ever submitted. Especially in time for the May 24 weekend.

  3. S. St. Jeb on May 12, 2011 at 11:55 pm said:

    I must be somewhat older than you. While you have never heard of Crystal, I wasn’t sure it was still being made. It is an old brand.

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