Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

Craft Beer Crosscut 8.1.17: A Flight of World Beer Awards

Ron Swarner


Peaks-and-Pints-Tacoma-Beer-FlightThe World Beer Awards is a prestigious competition for beer globally. The annual tasting selects, awards and promotes the “World’s Best Beers” to consumers and the trade. The annual competition features thousands of beers from around the world, with regional heats of blind tastings taking place in various countries in Europe, Asia and The Americas, followed by a final tasting of style winners from each region to select the World’s Best. The 2017 World Beer Awards is closing in on the final round of judging where the best beer in each style from the first two rounds are then tasted against each other in their category to find the “World’s Best” in each of the eight overall taste categories. For this round the World Beer Awards invited not only experts from the beer world but also its entrant brewers to join the judging in London Aug. 10 for the final round. Notable beer writer Jay Brooks chairs the United States tasting panels. The winners will be announced Sept. 18. Today, Peaks and Pints presents five past World Beer Awards gold medal winners in our beer flight Craft Beer Crosscut 8.1.17: A Flight of World Beer Awards.

Unibroue-Trois-Pistoles-TacomaUnibroue Trois Pistoles

9% ABV, 16 IBU, World Beer Awards Gold 2000, 2002, 2011, 2012, 2014

Drawing on Quebec folklore, Unibroue chose the name Trois Pistoles to honor the city’s historic importance and pay homage to the legend of the Black Horse. Conjured up by a priest to help build a new church, this incarnation of the devil ran off when its bridle was removed. Because construction was still underway when the horse vanished, a stone remains missing from the church to this day. Soft brown in color, Trois Pistoles appeared milder than its name would suggest. Then you bring it to your nose — bam! The first blow arrives with the brown sugar smell. Pow! The second shot, a coffee bitterness. Boom! A sip of the beer packs a final punch with an alcoholic taste, balanced with a nutty sweetness.

Widmer-Hefeweizen-TacomaWidmer Hefeweizen

4.9% ABV, 30 IBU, World Beer Awards Gold 2008

It began on May 15, 1986, when Rob and Kurt Widmer dropped off the first keg of their cloudy, unfiltered wheat beer to the Dublin Pub, the small Southeast Portland bar that at the time served as the brothers’ entire distribution network. Widmer Hefeweizen became Portland’s first breakthrough beer. The unfiltered version of the Widmer’s Weizenbier was unlike anything most people had ever seen, or tasted. Brewed with Cascade this hefeweizen has a nice citrusy, lemony flavor and aroma, but it’s balanced and smooth.

Maui-Brewing-Coconut-Hiwa-PorterMaui Brewing Coconut Hiwa Porter

6% ABV, 30 IBU, World Beer Awards Gold 2006

Brewed with hand-toasted coconut and six varieties of malted barley, Maui Brewing‘s Coconut Hiwa Porter is a very dark, almost impenetrable, black coffee color. The aroma recalls baked coconut macaroons or, on the other end of the spectrum, coconut suntan lotion. The coconut flavor is present, but not overwhelming in the mouth, along with other roasted earthy lactose flavors.

Ballast-Point-Sculpin-IPA-TacomaBallast Point Sculpin IPA

7% ABV, 70 IBU, World Beer Awards Gold 2010

The classic Sculpin was a foundational West Coast IPA, a palate-expanding beer for a generation of young hopheads. Sculpin, Ballast Point’s original IPA, has been winning major awards since 2006, and has spawned three more excellent strains — the Grapefruit, Pineapple and the Jalapeño. The original, however, remains our favorite, with its clear complexion and a color like polished brass. Most notably, the Sculpin smells like no other IPA out there — it gets in your face and your nose and doesn’t let go, with dark, dry-hemped aromas mixed with fiery herbal notes. The taste complements these scents, rather than mirroring them, with fresh flavors of pine and grapefruit rind and a light and airy mouth feel.

North-Coast-Old-Rasputin-Russian-Imperial-Stout-TacomaNorth Coast Old Rasputin

9% ABV, 75 IBU, World Beer Awards Gold 1996

According to legend, it took copious amounts of poison, three gunshots, a beating and a drowning to take down Grigori Rasputin. Fortunately, North Coast Brewing‘s Old Rasputin is more refined than its namesake and easier to drink than most of the imperials we’ve come across. Old Rasputin is a giant beer, true to style, with an alcohol content of nine percent by volume and a huge hop bitterness of about 85 to 95 IBUs, thanks to Northern Brewer, Cluster and Centennial hops. Black as night and tasting of dark roasted malts and bitter chocolate, this is a complex, strong beer, both in flavor and alcohol content. Though slightly astringent, Old Rasputin finishes clean and refreshing.