“I’ll Have Another” Beer Awards Wrap Up
November 22, 2004
First I want to thank everybody that helped make our inaugural “I’ll Have Another” beer awards a success. I want to also thank the brewers for all of their support and more than anything for making such great beers. As I sit here reflecting on the past month with a second place runner up in my glass, once again I am reminded that the beers nominated this year represent the best beers of North America.
If you want to start building your beer review shelf at TheManRoom the 45+ beers nominated this year will give you a phenomenal start. The “Ballsiest Move Of The Year” alone represents a trunk full of beers that are must tries. Stone’s Vertical Epic Series alone has already gifted us with 3 exceptional brews. Their vision for the Epic Series is ground breaking in the world of beer. To brew a series of beers that the first of which is not to be cracked for ten years goes against everything Madison Avenue has tried to brainwash us with.
Speaking of Stone they walked away with every category they were nominated in. I look at these guys as the anti-brewer. They tell us we won’t like their beers. They tell us we are not worthy of drinking their beers. When the big boys use beautiful girls in their marketing materials they give us a scary evil gargoyle. The fizzy boys use a “start the day fresh” beer campaign while Stone says “hold on to this beer for 10 years”. It seems like everything that the macro brewers of the world do Stone does the complete opposite. The macros brew fizzy, yellow beer; Stone brews beers with more than just flavor. Their beers have character, style, and a distinctly different personality in a hop laced Epic adventure that we never want to end.
Running through the category winners we find that Stone walked away with top honors in the IIPA or Imperial India Pale Ale category with Ruination. Back in July I said, “Once again Stone Brewing delivers us a perfectly made product.” It seems you people agree with me.
In the Imperial Stouts category Stone also walked with top honors. If you will indulge me while I once again delve into the archives of Suds With Securb it was back in August when I said, “If you are looking for perfection this beer is it in the Stout style. It is heavy on the palette and heavy in alcohol content. This is not for the faint of heart.”
Seems like the masses are not only ready for a beer like Stone Imperial Stout but they are actually embracing it. Stone continues to push the envelope with this style once again by recalibrating their recipe for ’04 proving that in spite of their taunting marketing they really like us, maybe they even love us. You would think I could stop there talking about Stone but no they grabbed yet another category.
In the India Pale Ales category Stone picked off top honors with Stone IPA. This is one of my favorite session beers. True to its style but still holding on to its Stone flair, this is a must try for any beer lover. The one beer drinker that may find Stone IPA to be too much for them is the yellow beer drinkers or as we now call them at TMR the Fizzies.
The Fizzies category was to be half joke / half serious. Taking top honors is a tie between Papst Blue Ribbon and Rolling Rock Extra Pale, both representing two finely brewed American beers. We also wanted to see which beer would come in last in this category and once again Milwaukee’s Best did not surprise us. Yes without knowing you TheManRoom faithful have voted Milwaukee’s Best this year’s worst beer. This will have to be one of the categories that we expand on next year putting the good, the bad and the ugly in separate categories. Rolling Rock and Papst are truly enjoyable products and don’t need to share real estate with Milwaukee’s Best next year.
We have a true player in the Strong Ales category: Long Trail Double Bag. Run, don’t walk to find this beer. It’s a year round staple in my fridge. Don’t let the label with the cute little cows fool you. This is a real deal German style ale. It’s brewed with Vermont’s best well water and the finest malts and hops available, all combined with a recipe that is pure genius. The next Long Trail I will have to sample is Long Trail Ale.
22 oz. bombers of Long Trail Ale are now available at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA for all Patriots home games. Look for it in the Craft Beer section located in the Upper Concourse.
This is a ray of hope for sports fans all over the country. We will never move all of the fizzy yellow beers out of the sports arenas, but it seems that great beers are finally making their way into America’s stadiums and sports venues.
If you want to really want to talk sports and beer let’s talk about Cooperstown. Cooperstown is not only the home of The Baseball Hall of Fame it is also the home to TMR’s winner in the Belgium Styles category: Ommegang.
This beer comes in traditional 12 oz bottles yet most people seem to be drawn to Ommegang’s caged corked 750 ml bottle. Throw all notions and preconceptions of New York out of your mind when picking up this meticulously balanced Abby Ale. The brewers of Ommegang somehow have leveraged centuries of brewing knowledge, applied it in New York, and have delivered it to my ManRoom. I don’t even know how to thank them. I guess the best way for all of us to thank them would be to support them and to drink as much Ommegang as humanly possible.
Ommegang is a serious East Coast brewer and for out next category we need to head out west to let tha’ West Coast once again represent.
What can I saw about Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot that hasn’t already been said? Once again I will quote myself, “This beer has a following like The Beatles”. Why they only make this beer once a year I don’t know. It has a terrific hop aroma, fantastic malt flavors, and a fantastic nice deep color. The taste profile hides the high alcohol content and has a great flavor.
The price point is also fantastic. I can pick up a case in New Hampshire for roughly $32 making this a 2 case must buy. Drink some, cellar some, and even cook with some. Marinate some chicken breasts in it for a couple of days before throwing it over the oak on the smoker and you are in heaven. This is also the perfect beer for you cellaring/aging novices to get your start with. As you see above I have 9 years of Bigfoot that shall soon be cracked for my next Suds With Securb: Barleywine column.
The next winner is an old timer in comparison to most of the others. Bringing home the Porter category is Anchor Porter. This beer first hit the market in the early seventies and has survived the light beer craze, the march of the green bottles when Holland and Dutch beers started gaining market share, and more recently the moronic low carb craze. How has Anchor Porter survived 30 odd years of beer trends?
Quite simply it’s a fantastic beer. It has the classic trappings of a porter with an opaque body and medium light brown head. What stands out the most for me is that it is incredibly rich, smooth and creamy. There are slight notes of coffee, chocolate and toffee. The finish is ever so hoppy and the hop bitterness balances the coffee and chocolate flavors perfectly.
One thing that surprises me is with all of the product positioning these days I haven’t seen any of our West Coast winners positioned in any major movies. This must be due to the fact big three macro brewers have the big advertising dollars to get their horrid brews top billing.
This brings me to the final and a winner the east coast and west coast can both lay claim to.
Saturday Night Live alum turned Mr. Hollywood Will Farrell walks away with Best Beer Scene in a Movie for his portrayal of Frank the Tank in the comedy Old School. Frank is a Firebird driving, bare-assed streaking, beer-funneling madman.
It is hard to pinpoint one great beer scene in Old School as there are a half dozen alone in the first party scene. Frank funnels beer, gets on stage with Snoop Dog and Bishop Don ‘Magic’ Juan buck naked then streaks nude through the center of town! Old School also holds an element that hits home with us here at TMR.
Mitch’s house is transformed into the ultimate ManRoom with the help of his buddy Beanie who owns a home theater store. Beanie sets up a party to be remembered complete with concert sound and lighting in Mitch’s backyard.
To be a member of TheManRoom you don’t have to go to these extremes. Hell you don’t even need a ManRoom! Just log on with a full glass of beer a sense of humor and let the good times roll.
Once again I would like to thank all of you for making our first beer awards a huge success. Usually I close each column with my favorite beer picks. You have made your voices heard and that job is done.
As a special treat this week I will close with my favorite acceptance speeches from your favorite brewers:
From Ommegang: “Thanks to all for voting Ommegang Abbey Ale the Belgian beer winner. Check out the continuing story on just released Cave-aged Ommegang Abbey Ale at www.ommegang.com. Cheers and proost!
(P.S., We believe Judas Priest would like our beers too.)”
Thanks Brewmaster Randy Thiel and Larry (in marketing) Ommegang Brewing
From Sierra Nevada: “It is with great pride that Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. accepts the barleywine style ale award for the first annual “I’ll Have Another” Beer Awards. It takes a special breed of animal to enjoy the hoppiness of such a big brew as our Bigfoot, and I would just like to say that I’d rather drink an ale with the folks from ‘TheManRoom,’ than with the finest people on earth!”
Ken Grossman President & Master Brewer Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
From Stone Brewing: “OK now. That’s a good step, yes. We appreciate your good taste, and yes, you’re right…Stone does rule. Don’t think that a few clicks of the mouse means your job is done though. You have to continue to take your appreciation for finer beers out into the real world. You have to talk to your friends, to publicans, to restaurant owners and store owners. For this whole tide to turn, you CAN NOT keep it to yourself. The more you spread the word about great beer, the more great beers will be available to you everywhere, and every time, you want them.” Cheers,
Greg Koch Chairman & CEO Stone Brewing