When I raise conversation about the Beerdrinker of the Year Competition held by Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver, Colorado, I am often met with one-liners and guffaws from those who are unfamiliar with this esteemed contest. Purge the immediate mental image of liquid gluttony from your mind, dear Friend! Such lack of control is not deserving of exaltation or reward.
Beerdrinker of the Year is a national competition that celebrates accomplishment among the cultures of the world, passion for the art of homebrewing, and a lifetime commitment to experience as many beers and styles as possible – logging your impressions of each one along the way. It demands that you become an advocate for good beer and develop a willingness to share your cultural experiences with others. The culmination of such dedication can lead to the Finals Competition at Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver, Colorado, including airfare and accommodations, and a chance to claim the title as Beerdrinker of the Year.
The winner is awarded free beer for life at Wynkoop Brewing plus $250 worth of beer at their local brewpub or beer bar, clothing proclaiming them Beerdrinker of the Year, and their name engraved on the Wynkoop BDOTY trophy. They also are given the opportunity to design a beer recipe that will be brewed for the next BDOTY competition. In addition, they carry the illustrious title as Beerdrinker of the Year, with fortuitous opportunities that arise, as a result.
Beerdrinker of the Year 2007 Diane Catanzaro, Professor of Organizational and Industrial Psychology at Christopher Newport University, Virginia, noted that being crowned Beerdrinker of the Year was right up there with receiving her doctorate and transitioning into the lifestyle of marriage. Her opportunities throughout the past year have included media spots on television and satellite radio, having her recipe for a lavender-infused, saison-style beer brewed at Wynkoop by brewer Thomas Larsen, and receiving free beer for life at Cantillon in Belgium. She led a parade as Beer Queen - her petite 110 pound frame and golden throne, gingerly carried by scantily-clad “gypsies.” Says Catanzaro, “Beerdrinker of the Year has helped me to dream big and realize that with beer, all things are possible!”
This year, the 2008 Beerdrinker of the Year Competition will be held on Saturday, February 23rd at 2:00 p.m. at Wynkoop Brewing Company, 1634 18th Street, Denver, Colorado, in the J.S. Brown Mercantile Building in LoDo. Throughout January, resumes for BDOTY were meticulously reviewed by the country’s top beer experts, beer journalists and past Beerdrinker of the Year winners and votes cast for the top 3 Finalists.
The 2008 Finalists
Richard Pedretti-Allen is a recording producer, and comes live from his home pub, Bavarian Grill, in Plano, Texas. He graduated the Intensive Brewing Science Course at University of California-Davis, solely for the purpose of improving his homebrew skills. Speaking of his most award-winning beer, Pedretti-Allen says it is, “... Old BattleAxe Barleywine, (named, with her approval, after my ex-wife).” He is a certified beer judge, has organized homebrew competitions, festivals, and pub crawls, and has visited over 100 Brewpubs throughout North America.
Pedretti-Allen notes, “Throughout history, [beer] has accompanied such contrast as providing comfort or inciting a call to arms. It unifies a group of friends with a common bond and ‘buying a round’ is elevated to a social grace. This makes beer, in itself, a reason to celebrate…”
J Mark Angelus hails from his home pub, Bill’s Tavern in Cannon Beach, Oregon. Author of “Letters from the Monkey: Postmark Portland Oregon 97204,” a guide book of Portland breweries, Angelus has completed the Professional Brewers and Master Brewers Certificate Programs at UC Davis. He has a collection of over 150 books on beer, and in 2007, sampled 916 different beers, visited 68 brewpubs in 7 states, attended 9 beer festivals and 4 beer conferences/workshops. Of beer, Angelus says, “Nothing on my personal beer road less traveled has been wasted. I share the history of beer as the foundation of civilization, with whoever will listen. But above all else, I enthusiastically support my local brewers/brewsters, their breweries, and all their products.”
Matt Venzke comes from his home beer bar of The Taphouse on Queensway, Hampton, Virginia. He is an aircraft maintenance manager who has logged 3,000 miles in 2007 visiting breweries from Alberta to Savannah. Along the way, he gathers life-lessons: “Beer cures altitude sickness…cools you down and soothes a sunburn…warms the soul and cures hypothermia…and breaks thru any language barrier.” He has visited 454 breweries in 16 countries and 39 states; when unable to physically travel, he sees the world through a virtual beer glass, and has recorded notes on over 3,250 beers since mid-2002.
Expressing his personal beer philosophy, Venzke states, “Small breweries are one of the few remaining vestiges of local uniqueness. Internationally, breweries reflect the local character, history and flavor. So to experience all the world has to offer, I’m consumed with visiting as many breweries as I can.”
With Marty Jones as emcee, these Finalists will be expected to whisper to their beer, rattle off obscure beer trivia, offer their opinions in tastings, display their enthusiasm, and face the contenders in a serious battle for the title in front of a learned panel of judges, appropriately clad in black robes and powdered white wigs. They will need nerves of steel.
Do all these Finalists reflect meritorious dedication to the culture of beer?
Photos (from top): Marty Jones, organizer and emcee of BDOTY; (Next 3 photos - courtesy of Marty Jones)Richard Pedretti-Allen; J Mark Angelus; Matt Venzke