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And away they go…Part one

It’s that time of year. The Grand daddy of all brewing competitions is upon us. Ladies and Gentlemen, start your brewing engines. It’s fall and the kids are back in school. It must be time for the Great American Beer Festival.

If you are a professional brewer, chances are, you have had October 13th 2007 circled on your calendar since May. Today, hundreds of brewers, sales rep and owners will convene in Denver to see how well their beers stack up in what the late Michael Jackson once dubbed “the most well organized and professional of all beer competitions.” He’s right you know.

Each and every summer, brewers like me register for this grand spectacle wanting the same thing- to win and win big. It’s simple really. This is the olympics of beer and if you’re like me, you want to do well on this grand stage.

Each year, we are required to submit our bottled beers for evaluation by the judges. This year, the judges will sort through some 2800 beers in 75 different categories. It’s an arduous task to say the least.

It’s become a tradition for the brewers of Pizza Port and Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey to save extra bottles not sent for evaluation so that we can sample them before we leave to gauge our chances at winning. This past Sunday, October 7th (my birthday), we did just this.

As there are 3 Pizza Port locations plus the Port Brewing Facility, we were staring some 34 beers that needed to evaluated. These beers ranged from German Wheats, through a realm of IPA’s and finally culminated in Strong beers and Experimental Offerings all told, it was a crazy tasting.

I thought I would share with our readers the notes from our evaluations and offer what we think is a glimpse into the possibilities we envision for Saturday during the awards ceremony. In this role, I am acting like a handicapper at the track and giving you my thoughts on our beers and their relative chances of landing us in “the money.” So without further ado, here is the list of the beers and their chances.

Pizza Port San Clemente:

T Street Wheat– Nice beer with redeeming qualities. Tough category. Beer could use more body and yeast properties= We prefer others

Ba Donka Dunkel– Somewhat tired sample (brewed in May). At its peak, this had a chance. Will be running at the finish. Just not in the same direction as the medal winners.

Chronic– A perrenial favorite of Amber beer drinkers along the coast. I have never been a fan of this beer. It shows promise after getting a slight tweak earlier this year. Competition in this category is spotty and often sets up for the new guy. Me, not convinced enough yet.

Pier Rat Porter– A powerhouse beer with ample hops and interest. Should get very close to coming all the way with this one. I fear the hop presences but it might not be enough to trip up this black stallion. It gets a nod on my sheet as one to beat and will end up in the money.

Pig Dog Pale Ale– This one underwhelmed the tasting panel. Great recipe but out of sorts in the bottle right now. If you feel like going 75-1 to win be my guest. I’ve got others requiring my attention.

El Camino IPA– The biggest field in the competition with 120 entries. This is almost a never win proposition. Except, this beer has its merits. A very solid entry that would not suprise finding its way home.

DoHeny Double IPA– This recipe has proven in the past that it can play with the biggest of big boys taking home a gold medal 4 years ago. It certainly has that look in its eyes this year. I prefered the Carlsbad beers and somebody is going to have to take down Pliny. Looks promising but I think it will fall just short.

Way Heavy– Rough like a young colt. Given some more time to mature and seasoning, it’s a major score. We like this one for the spring edition of World Beer Cup. Not today. But you heard it hear first. April of 08 is when we’ll loosen the purse strings and take a chance that they too will be “way heavier” at World Beer Cup.

That’s it on the San Clemente Pizza Port front. When the dust settles, It is my opinion that Noah will have earned his first GABF solo medal and will truly come to understand the difficulty of this competition. I almost never put my money in first year head brewers to do well. It’s a brutal environment.

San Clemente Pizza Port equals one GABF Medal in 2007

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