A few days before the South West Craft Beer Festival I received an email from Carolina at Buzz Marketing, the team behind the event, to tell me I had been chosen to participate as a beer judge as part of the People’s Choice Award.
Moi? A judge? It seemed a little strange since my only “qualification” is drinking. I have not studied brewing nor have I home brewed, I’ve just enjoyed drinking and recently done a little typing but hey, I was happy to run with it. It sounded like a good fun!
The People’s Choice Award was designed to be a collaborative effort between votes cast by the people and four judges consisting of Brian Fitzgerald, President of the Western Australian Brewers Association; Vic Crossland, beer writer for The West Australian, Jeremy Sambrooks, freelance beer writer for The Crafty Pint, Australian Brews News, Beer and Brewer Magazine and Menu Magazine; and little ol’ me, blogger and occasional Crafty and Brews News contributor.
Voting was done with good old fashioned paper and pen with punters asked to submit their top five. A smiley friendly man in a green beer bottle suit, Scotty, ran around in the afternoon to encourage people to get their votes in.
Next year I’d like to see a smart phone app, or something similar, to make voting even easier. Having said that, Scotty was a great sight running around the festival!
Whilst the votes were tallied the judges took the chance to sit and chat about beer, certainly not a shocking turn of events I’m sure. The Bootleg Brewery Bramling Cross had really impressed and we all agreed that Jeremy Good’s Cowaramup Pilsener was still sensational. There was a lot of beer to chose from and sadly all of us had a small list of beers we had not been able to get to in time, this is the first world problem of the craft beer judge.
For me, my top 5 was largely made up of new or limited release beers because they were the main ones I tried that day. With just a few hours and a self imposed restriction on booze intake, no-one wants a boozy judge, I skipped over beers like Old Coast Road Wheat, Bootleg Raging Bull, Eagle Bay Pale Ale, Colonial Kolsch and Cowaramup Pilsener because I knew they were great having drunk one or twelve in the past. Instead I tried to get my hands on new stuff and so my top 5 looked something like this, and in no particular order –
- Eagle Bay Summer Ale
- Bootleg Brewery Bramling Cross
- Duckstein Ubekannt
- Bush Shack Brewery Old Saint Nick
- Cheeky Monkey Hagenbeck Belgian IPA
The People’s Choice Top Five looked like this –
- Colonial Kolsch
- Eagle Bay Kolsch
- Eagle Bay Pale Ale
- Old Coast Road Acres of Wheat
- Bush Shack Brewery Twisted Lemon Lager
We were given the people’s choice top five, scrambled so we didn’t know what had been voted number one, and discussed the list for a while. All judges highly rated the Colonial Kolsch brewed by Head Brewer Mal Secourable and when we found out it was the people’s number 1 it was clear that we had ourselves a winner!
I know Mal has worked hard to get the Kolsch to be as close to a true Cologne (German) Kolsch beer as possible, keeping a careful eye over each batch and the result is clear. Fresh citrus, soft bitterness and a delicate mouth feel, it’s always a pleasure to have whether you’re at the brewery, The Royal on the Waterfront in East Perth or The Print Hall in Perth City.
Congratulations to Mal, Sorcha, Rich, Sarah and the rest of the crew at Colonial – looking forward to seeing the trophy behind the bar!
… part two down, one more to go!