Beginning Tuesday evening, I joined the forces of 80-some professional beer judges in the collaborative effort to award gold, silver and bronze medals in internationally recognized categories at the North American Beer Awards. We were split into groups of 6 and presented with blind samples from a field of well over 1300 professional entries. In the last 60 hours I have worked with several dozen different judges, evaluated approximately 105 beers in 15 different flights (8 of which were medal placement flights) and helped award 24 medals, none of which I know the brewery responsible at the time of this writing.
The level of professional expertise I have witnessed, both in the technical quality of the blind samples and in the sophistication of the judges, is a phenomena within this industry that is only getting better. We’ve made decisions that have kept high quality beers from being medal-recognzed simply because we found three that were better. Medals at the North American Beer Awards are hard to win. Any brewery that can win multiple medals tonight has my utmost respect.
Friday, June 1st at 1pm, 5 hours from the award ceremony.