Monday, February 27, 2012

Congratulations J. Wilson – 2012 Beerdrinker of the Year

Some of the greatest beer minds in the country gathered at the Wynkoop Mercantile Room on Saturday for the National Finals of the 2012 Beerdrinker of the Year competition.  I had the honor of being a judge (for the third straight year) along with outgoing champion Phil Farrell, Wynkoop head brewer Andy Brown, Jill Redding – Editor-in-Chief at the Brewer’s Association, and the first person to ever win the competition - 1997 Beerdrinker of the Year Jack McDougall.   After two hours of questioning, presentations, and being asked to identify three different blind beer samples, J. Wilson a Prescott, Iowa writer, homebrewer, beer judge and beer blogger took home the top honors.   J. Wilson edged out Greg Nowatzki of Las Vegas, Nevada and Warren Monteiro of New York city.  All three finalists proved that they were more than worthy to be on the national stage with their deep knowledge of all things related to beer. 

What it takes

J. used a combination of wit, knowledge, and passion along with his keen sensory perception to sway the judges.  He also kept the packed Mercantile room crowd thoroughly entertained throughout the event.  The judges were impressed with his advocacy and outreach efforts relating to beer and his drive to educate others about the drink we all love so much.  His philosophy is to create a balance in life between friends, family, work and his appreciation for beer – to promote responsible beer drinking.  He is one of those people that you want to sit down and have a beer with – and that is what the event is all about.

2011 and The Fast

J. had numerous beer related accomplishments in 2011, which helped get him to the finals, but the most impressive was his 46-day fast living on nothing more than water and a Doppelbock he brewed with a local brewery.  The Doppelbock style originated with the Paulaner monks in Munich who would brew the strong, nutrient-rich beer to sustain them while fasting during lent.  The Bockbier of that time had a similar original gravity, but was far less attenuated, leaving more residual sugar and less alcohol.  This is a story known by many beer lovers, but I’ve never known anyone to actually give it a shot.  J. is not a big guy, weighing in at 154 pounds during Saturday’s competition.  In order to prepare for the experiment, he put on 20 pounds before the fast.  Over the next month-and-a-half he would drink between four and a half and five beers per day.  (This diet takes a very understanding boss!)  He said after a few days his body “shifted” and got used to the new diet without any major issues or hunger.  He did, however, loose 26.5 pounds during that time.   His blogging and notes became a book that he published last year titled “Diary of a Part-Time Monk.”  If you want to learn more about his experiences I recommend surfing over to Amazon and purchasing the book.  He gifted each of the judges one during the “bribe” segment of the competition, and I’m looking forward to diving into it.

It is good to be the winner!

As the winner J. will receive, among other things, $250 to spend at his home pub (El Bait Shop, Des Moines, Iowa), a beer brewed in his honor by the Wynkoop for next year’s competition, free beer for life at the Wynkoop Brewery, and worldwide recognition.

It is always tough to not win, but Warren and Greg should be very proud of their performances. I am sure both will be back in the finals in the future.  Finally, I want to thank those of you that came downtown to take part in the event.  I know I had a great time, as always, and I hope you all did also!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

2012 Beerdrinker of the Year Finalists Announced

Three new faces will be competing for the 2012 Beerdrinker of the Year National Finals on Saturday the 25th. This year’s lucky but deserving trio is Warren Monteiro from New York City, Greg Nowatzki from Las Vegas and J. Wilson from Prescott, Iowa. If you are in the Denver area, or have the means to travel, don’t miss this event – it is the most prestigious title in the country for beer aficionados. Being involved in the selection process, and having reviewed numerous resumes, I can guarantee you that these three are on a different level when it comes to beer knowledge and appreciation. Warren, Greg and J. Wilson will be flown in for the long weekend and pampered at the Brown Palace at the Wynkoop's expense.

The competition is open to the public and will be held in the Wynkoop Mercantile Room on Saturday, February 25th starting at 2 pm MT. Get there early to nab a seat and have time to enjoy happy-hour priced beers, including a whiskey-barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout brewed to honor last year’s champion Phil Farrell.

More information about the Friday and Saturday events can be found at:

Here is a bit of background on each of the finalists.

Warren Monteiro

Warren Monteiro, a New York City beer traveler, homebrewer and BeerSensei contributor for Alestreet News. Monteiro has sampled beers in Europe, Central American, India, Sri Lanka, numerous other nations and throughout the United States. In 2011 he visited breweries and beer festivals in England, Belgium, the Netherlands and the US. He samples an average of 350 beers each year.

His philosophy of beer drinking: “It’s not a habit, it’s a lifestyle. This is why I constantly travel – to get a taste of a new brew or one I’ve been missing, and to find a way to share it whenever possible. I consider creative beer drinking to be an essential part of the tapestry of art and fellowship contributing to a full life. The beauty of beer hunting now as opposed to the early ‘80’s is that I’ll never catch up!

His home beer bar: Blind Tiger Ale House, New York City.

Greg Nowatzki

Greg Nowatzki, a Las Vegas, Nevada accountant, home brewer and beer judge. Nowatzki has tasted over 13,600 beers from 84 different countries and all 50 states in the US. He has visited over 500 breweries in 32 different states and the District of Columbia, and attended over 150 beer festivals in 8 states. In 2011 he visited 16 beer festivals (including an 11th consecutive Great American Beer Festival) and visited over 100 different breweries in 7 states.

His beer philosophy:
“Everyone likes beer. Some just haven’t tasted enough to find the ones they like yet.”

His home beer bar: Big Dog’s Draft House, Las Vegas, Nevada

J. Wilson

J. Wilson, a Prescott, Iowa writer, homebrewer, beer judge and beer blogger. He has a 3-tap, 8-foot home bar supplied by a 10-gallon brewing system in his basement. An advocate for beer for 15 years, he organized numerous beer events in his hometown in 2011. The past year was highlighted by a research project in which he fasted for 46 days on water and a dopplebock he brewed with a local brewery. It became a book, Diary of a Part-Time Monk.

His philosophy about beer: Living life in search of brewvana (an ideal condition of harmony, beer and joy), I seek to educate and advocate on behalf of craft beer, folding good beer into a good life.

His home beer bar: El Bait Shop, Des Moines, Iowa