It seems like only yesterday I was having a little moan about the awards handed out as part of the World Beer Cup, especially the Bohemian Pilsner category. As it is, that particular moan was from June 2010, when Gambrinus Excelent somehow contrived to come second in the aforementioned category. It was then with a modicum of interest that I read my way through the winners list for this year's edition.
Good news for this part of Virginia in the form of Devils Backbone taking gold for their Vienna Lager. As I mentioned recently, the Charlottesville area breweries do well with lager and now boast both the current World Beer Cup gold for the Vienna lager category and the current Great American Beer Festival gold, in the form of Starr Hill's Jomo Lager. There was also a silver in the grammatically incorrect "American-Belgo-Style Ale" category, for Blue Mountain's Blue Reserve. Correct grammar would have be "Americo-Belgian Style Ale".
I was also very pleased to see Jeff at Lovibonds picking up some shiny yellow bling for his Sour Grapes in the "Wood or Barrel Aged Sour Ale" category, and I say this more in hope than expectation - could someone please start importing Lovibonds beer in the US?
However, there were a few bits and pieces that I found either startling or down right ridiculous, let's start with my favourite hobby horse, Bohemian Pilsners. Of the 62 entrants, the top three were Starobrno Ležák, Krušovice Imperial and Gambrinus Premium, or to put it another way Heineken, Heineken and SABMiller. I have read that Krušovice has improved of late, and given that Starobrno is owned by the same company perhaps they have likewise got better, but Gambrinus Premium is the third best pilsner in the world? While it is true that I haven't had Gambrinus in a few years, I keep in touch with my mates back in Prague and they consistently tell me that it is getting worse than it was, and that many of them have given up on Gambrinus entirely in favour of Pilsner Urquell. Once again I would love to see who the other 59 entrants were, because if this crop of swill is the best available then there are real problems with the Pilsner brewing community (which I actually believe there are, but mainly because too many people don't have enough experience of proper pilsner within it's "sitz im leben" to brew it properly).
Then there are some of the categories themselves, but in particular "German-Style Kölsch/Köln-Style Kölsch" category. How gracious to allow for a "Köln-Style Kölsch", though the fact that Kölsch can only ever come from Cologne in order to be true to the Convention governing the style makes the category something of a tautology. Would it not be better to use a name like Kölsch-style Ale, which basically says everything necessary, a blonde ale made in the style of a Kölsch but not actually from Cologne. Now, I know nomenclature is not really wildly important to a lot of people, but I think these cack-handed categories simply breed confusion and are unnecessary when definitions such as the Kölsch Convention already exist.
I realise that competitions really need to be taken with a pinch of salt, but I wonder sometimes if all the meddling makes the pinch more of a hefty slug?