Monday, February 25, 2013

Congratulations Warren Monteiro - 2013 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 2013 Beerdrinker of the Year competition.  I had the honor of being a judge (for the fourth straight year) along with outgoing champion J. Wilson, Wynkoop head brewer Andy Brown, Ginger Johnson – Women Enjoying Beer, and Kyle Clark - beer lover and anchor of Denver's 9-News.   After more than two hours of questioning, presentations, and being asked to identify three different blind beer samples (Hoegaarden Wit, Fuller's ESB, and Odell Woodcut #5), Warren Monteiro a New York freelance writer, beer traveler, homebrewer, and beer columnist took home the top honors.   Warren edged out Jen Schwertman, also from New York, and Kevin Cox of Muncie, Indiana to become the 17th Beerdrinker of the Year.  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

Winning the Beerdrinker of the Year has nothing to do with quantity or speed - it has everything to do with passion, wit, and knowledge.  And Warren proved that he is the type of person that any beer-lover would enjoy sitting down with for a few pints.

Being a homebrewer helped Warren stay sharp on sensory perception and on top of the technical aspects of the brewing process.  He also has a great deal of practice traveling the world gaining new beer-related experiences.  He has sampled beers throughout the United States, Europe, Central America, India, Sri Lanka, and numerous other nations.  In 2012 he visited breweries and beer festivals in England, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the US.  As a matter of fact, Warren lives part of the year in London.  He samples an average of 350 beers each year.

It was a long trip, but Warren actually drove out to Denver from New York for the competition.  I suspect he did this so he could tap a homebrewed cask-conditioned Firkin version of Pliney The Elder (a Double/Imperial IPA) during the event.  (Warren drove, the Firkin rode shotgun...)  If you love hops and missed it, I feel sorry for you.  It was an excellent, well-balanced explosion of pine, citrus and malt.  I loved it.  The Mercantile Room crowd drained Warren's keg in less than one hour!

This year's judging was extremely difficult due to the quality of the finalists, but in the end Warren squeaked ahead of the competition.  All those at the event, judges and observers, hope to see Jen and Kevin back next year.

It is good to be the winner!

As the winner Warren will receive, among other things, $250 to spend at his home pub (Blind Tiger Ale House in New York), 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 Jen and Kevin 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!

Previous Winners:

1997: Jack McDougall of Cranford, New Jersey
1998: Bobby Bush Jr. of Hickory, North Carolina
1999: James Robertson of Pomona, California
2000: Steve Pawlowski of Roselle Park, New Jersey
2001: Cornelia Corey of Clemmons, North Carolina
2002: Gary Steinel of White Plains, New York
2003: Ray McCoy of Clemmons, North Carolina
2004: John Marioni of Bothell, Washington
2005: Tom Ciccateri of Alexandria, Virginia
2006: Tom Schmidlin of Seattle, Washington
2007: Daine Catanzaro of Norfolk, Virginia
2008: Matt Venzke of Hampton, Virginia
2009: Cody Christman of Golden, Colorado
2010: Bill Howell of Sterling, Alaska
2011: Phil Farrell of Cumming, Georgia
2012: J. Wilson of Prescott, Iowa
2013: Warren Monteiro of New York, New York
2014: Are you next?  Start working on your resume!

Monday, February 11, 2013

2013 Beerdrinker of the Year Finalists Announced

The three finalists for the 2013 Beerdrinker of the Year National Finals have just been announced.  This year’s lucky but deserving trio is Warren Monteiro from New York City (a return finalist from last year), Kevin Cox from Muncie, Indiana, and Jen Schwertman, also from New York City.  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, Kevin, and Jen will be flown in for the long weekend and pampered at the Brown Palace Hotel at the Wynkoop's expense.

The competition is open to the public and will be held in the Wynkoop Mercantile Room on Saturday, February 23th starting at 2 pm MT. Get there early to nab a seat and have time to enjoy happy-hour priced beers, including a barrel-aged Belgian specialty brewed to honor last year’s champion J. Wilson.

More information about the event can be found at:

Here is a bit of background on the three finalists:

Kevin Cox, a Muncie, Indiana beer hunter, homebrewer and beer advocate. Cox has visited over 400 breweries, tasted over 6000 different beers and “stalked the perfect pint” on 4 continents and in 12 countries. In 2012 he drank beer at numerous beer festivals in the US, Belgium, England and Germany. He’s been a member of the American Homebrewers Association since 1983 and a member of Britain’s Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) since 1985.

His philosophy of beer drinking: “Beer is my passion, it’s a religion. I like to think of it as my beer ministry, teaching the virtues of good beer and safe drinking.”

Warren Monteiro, a New York City freelance writer, beer traveler, homebrewer and beer columnist. Monteiro has sampled beers throughout the United States, Europe, Central American, India, Sri Lanka and other nations. In 2012 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.”

Jen Schwertman, a New York City bartender and beer evangelist who got her start in beer in 1992 at Wynkoop Brewing Company. An NYC resident since 1999, Schwertman has worked at the city’s famed Ginger Man and now works at the equally famed Blind Tiger Ale House. She has a consulting business for beer servers, co-hosts an Internet radio show about beer, and in 2012 drank and brewed beer at festivals and breweries across the US and Belgium.

Her philosophy of beer drinking: “The volume of incredible beer I’ve been lucky enough to consume is immeasurable. The number of people I’ve helped to educate is significant. But the greatest gift of my beer career has been the phenomenal people I’ve been able to meet, learn from and claim as friends. They hold an infinitely valuable place in my heart.”