DURANGO, CO — Steamworks Brewing Co.’s Berliner Weisse topped the German-Style Sour Ale category at the 2012 World Beer Cup, earning the unique brew a gold award in the international judging that was announced May 5, 2012. Steamworks’ Assistant General Managers Dave Woodruff and Steve Kammerer were on hand to accept the award.
The ninth bi-annual competition organized by the Boulder, Colo.-based Brewers Association, this year held in San Diego, Calif., boasted the strongest field of entrants on record, with 799 breweries from 54 countries and 45 U.S. states entering 3,921 beers in 95 beer style categories — a 17.7 percent increase in entries over 2010. The brews were eligible for gold, silver and bronze awards in their respective categories, and judges presented a total of 284 awards. Colorado brewers took home 27 awards, second only to California (55).
“Steamworks is garnering a growing reputation for brewing more exciting, specialty beers, in addition to our staples,” said Co-founder Kris Oyler, referencing the Steam Engine Lager, Colorado K├Âlsch and Third Eye PA. “We’re very proud of our ‘Brew Dawgs’ for pushing the envelope and taking Steamworks to new heights.”
Berliner Weisse as a beer style is said to have few contemporaries in the beer world. Considered a “sessionable” beer because of its lower ABV (alcohol by volume) of 3 to 4 percent, the style features a dry, citrusy finish with a low hop profile.
“Berliner Weisse is fermented with the souring bacteria Lactobacillus, and it’s the Lactobacillus that produces the sharp, clean, mouth-puckering flavor,” said Ken Martin, Steamworks head brewer, noting that the award-winning brew was barrel-aged in two Sutcliffe winery chardonnay barrels in Steamworks’ basement to ensure the Lactobacillus didn’t make its way into the main brewery. “This was what I called our ‘wild card’ entry in the World Beer Cup. Winning the Gold means we adhered to the style and excelled, according to the judges.”
Two hundred and eleven judges from 27 countries conducted blind tasting evaluations of the beers to determine the winners. According to the Brewers Association, the 2012 judging panel was the largest in the history of the World Beer Cup, with 67 percent hailing from international breweries. The judging criteria are said to be exacting, with some categories not given the full slate of awards, should the panel decide that the entries do not merit recognition.
“This was really a team effort,” added Martin. “(Assistant brewer) Spencer Roper and I are getting the pats on the back, but truly it’s the evolving culture at Steamworks that has allowed us to go in new directions. We’ve only been doing sour beers for about a year and a half and we’re still learning, so to win this award is a real honor.”
The mission of the World Beer Cup is to create greater consumer awareness around the world about the quality and diversity displayed by the various beers of the world. The World Beer Cup is dedicated to recognizing both the traditions and innovations shared by the entire brewing industry as well as those customs unique to specific countries and regions. The World Beer Cup also promotes the responsible consumption of beer as an alcohol-containing beverage and urges beer producers and distributors to encourage beer enthusiasts to savor the flavor of beer responsibly.
As a World Cup winner, Steamworks’ Berliner Weisse joins its sister brews Colorado K├Âlsch and Steam Engine Lager, which won silver awards at the World Beer Cup competitions in 2008 and 1998, respectively.
While Steamworks currently has no Berliner Weisse on tap, fresh barrels are now aging with the expectation to offer the award-winning brew sometime this summer.
Steamworks Brewing Co., open 11 a.m. to closing seven days a week, is located at 801 E. Second. Ave., Durango (970.259.9200). For further information, visit www.steamworksbrewing.com.