Another edition of the Okanagan Fest of Ale is in the books. Once again, it was a privilege — and a lot of fun — to take part in picking the winners of the Judges’ Choice awards at this year’s festival.
Judging took place Saturday morning, with 127 beers entered in 12 categories. With such a large field to evaluate, we were split into three panels of three people. Each team was responsible for judging four categories and picked a winner in each class via blind tasting. (Translation: we weren’t told the names of the beers.)
The 12 category winners advanced to a Best in Show competition involving all nine judges. We decided on the champion after another round of blind tasting and a lively discussion.
Judging beer isn’t “work” in the conventional sense, but that doesn’t mean it’s a frivolous pursuit. Brewers work hard to hone their craft, so their beer deserves fair consideration from judges who approach the task with knowledge, a finely-tuned palate and concentration. Cheers to my fellow judges, who brought all those qualities to the table: Lundy Dale (B.C. beer writer and ambassador), Wade Dhooge (Cask & Barrel Liquor Store), Mike Garson (Pacific Beer Chat), Michelle Gowing (Two Wolves Brewing), Aaron Johnson (Cascadian Beer Podcast), Rob Mangelsdorf (The Growler B.C.) Dave Smith (What’s Brewing B.C.), Joe Wiebe (aka The Thirsty Writer and author of Craft Beer Revolution).
Enough of my droning! Here are the winners we chose:
Best in Show: Would Crush — Twin Sails Brewing
Pilsner/golden lager/dark lager/Kolsch: Nightwatch Coffee Lager — Lighthouse Brewing
Pale ale: Squirrel Chaser — Yellow Dog Brewing
Wheat ale: Dim Wit — Parkside Brewery
ESB: English Subtitles — Kettle River Brewing
Amber/dark ale: Smoke & Mirrors Imperial Smoked Ale — Coal Harbour Brewing
IPA: Loop Line — Iron Road Brewing
Specialty IPA: Dreamboat Hazy IPA — Parkside Brewery
Stout/porter: Tennessee — BNA Brewing
Sour: Tart Wild Ale With Pineapple & Guava — Luppolo Brewing
Fruit beer: Would Crush — Twin Sails Brewing
Specialty beer: Beermosa — Bad Tattoo Brewing
Cider: Broken Ladder Rosé — B.C Tree Fruits Cider