Thursday 23 December 2010

Competition results

I've been very impressed with the quality and quantity of entries this year. Making a decision has been difficult and some of you will, I'm afraid, be disappointed.

First, the inaugural Not-been-given-a-name-yet Trophy for non-English language pieces goes to this entry by Atis:

 I have plenty of claims, but unfortunately none of them in English.

Just one quick translation from a quote from a recent press release (quoted by a news site below) by one of the largest Latvian breweries (Royal Unibrew).

Lacpleša Chestnut beer is a traditional ale, brewed in accordance with methods used in Europe since medieval times. Ale, similarly to Pilsener, denotes name of the beer style. Ales for the first time were brewed in the UK, London, in the 17th century. During those times, the most popular was the pale ale. Nowadays ales are widely available in England, Belgium and the North America.

Lacpleša Kastanu alus ir tradicionals eils, bruvets saskana ar metodem, kas Eiropa pastav kopš viduslaikiem. Eils, tapat ka lagera vai Pilzenes tipa alus, ir alus veida nosaukums. Pirmo reizi eila tipa alus bruvets Lielbritanija, Londona, 17.gadsimta. Taja laika popularakais ir bijis gaišais eils. Musdienas eila tipa alus ir loti izplatits Anglija, Belgija un Ziemelamerika.

The Papazian Cup caused me the biggest headache. Just so many entries. Finally I decided on multiple winners.

Craig is the first winner for this long piece of nonsense:

I, uh... woah, wow. There are so many.

Ron, The last sentence is going to make you cry.

"India pale ale was invented by George Hodgson, a brewer at the Bow Brewery in East London in the 1790s, who took his pale ale recipe, increased the hop content considerably, and raised the alcohol content by adding extra grain and sugar.

Hodgson also added dry hops to the casks at priming, when sugar is added to allow secondary fermentation, and conditioned the beer with more sugar than was typical for pale ales.

The high sugar priming rate probably helped keep the yeast alive during the voyage and resulted in a very bitter, alcoholic, and sparkling pale ale that could withstand the rigors of travel while having a reasonable shelf life in India.

With such large amounts of hops and alcohol, what did it taste like?

Hops are the most expensive ingredient in any beer and a modern brewery probably couldn’t brew a genuine nineteenth-century India pale ale economically.

With so many hops, a young IPA would hit the cheek cells like paint stripper. However, the long voyage and the pale ale futures market meant the beer usually spent 12 months aging. This turned the hop bittering from an aggressive taste to a fine bouquet, which some writers described as reminding them of a French white wine.

We have carried out much research on IPA. In the brews we made, especially those based on Edinburgh recipes of around 1840, the taste after a year was unlike anything currently on the market. It certainly wasn’t overpoweringly bitter.

The combination of hops and alcohol provided a very powerful antibacterial environment, but there was still much that could go wrong.

The ale was vented before the long voyage to prevent serious explosions during the crossing and this may have introduced bacteria. It was also not easy to sterilize the casks before filling them. However, it was a trade worth pursuing because of the huge volume of empty cargo ships returning to the colonies and the cost of carriage was very low.

Many brewers who exported porter, or Imperial stout, to Russia during the nineteenth century increased the beer’s life by boosting its hop and alcohol content.

These dark porters, brewed in England but popular with Russian royalty, were high in alcohol, sweet, and dense, and survived the journey from Britain to the Baltic and across Russia. They are still popular in the Baltic states, where they are still brewed. Samuel Smith’s of Yorkshire produces a fine example.

At the same time as IPAs were becoming popular, the first golden lagers of Plzen (known as pilsners) were spreading fast, making use of the new railways and liberal doses of Saaz hops.

Most IPAs tend to be bitters that are hoppier than the norm, although a handful of “historical IPAs” weighing in at 6 percent or more alcohol by volume, still less than the 10 percent plus of the originals, are brewed by such micro-breweries as Burton Bridge and Freeminer."

The second winner is Matt, for this classic:

One last entry for the Papazian Cup, it's brothers, Jason and Todd Alström, founders of BeerAdvocate, on altbier:

"long before lagers Germanic brewers brewed ales, which have been crafted in Germany for at least 3,000 years. Not many specific styles of beer can be traced thousands of years, however Altbier is one of them. An ale at heart, "alt" is German for "old" and helps to reflect how far back this style has been around."

Where to start?

The idea that altbier has existed unchanged for thousands of years. And the maddening, ahistorical insistence on fitting it into the American homebrewers' category of 'ales'. Their seeming ignorance that lagering is what makes an altbier makes me wonder if they have ever been to Düsseldorf and drunk it. If they ever saw it described as an 'obergäriges Lagerbier' their brains might just explode.

And finally the sheer quantity of Rod's entries has won him a prize. But I particularly liked these two:

"Pale Ale is an American term for Ales; other countries use different names for Ales. For example England calls them Bitters, Germany Altbier and so on. Although Pale Ales are generally medium bodied with a light golden to light copper color, India Pale Ale, Amber Ale, and Red Ale fall into the Pale Ale category."

"Stouts and Porters are generally very malty because they are made using roasted malts and barley. There are also other ingredients that are used like oatmeal, coffee, chocolate and milk. They are usually heavy bodied"

"England is one of the few countries in the world where ales are more the rule than the exception. Also beer is still traditionally matured in caskets at the pubs, instead of at he brewery. Beer in England is normally served at cellar temperatures.

Beers is eastern England generally contain more hops than other regions. Traditional styles of English beer are Bitter, Mild, Old Ale, Brown Ale, India Pale Ale, Porter and Stout."

 "When most of the United Kingdom weren’t using hops because of growing climates, Scotland imported hops extensively for their brews."

"Pale lager does not have a noticeable amount of bitterness or aroma. This type of beer includes quite a few varieties, but the best know are the Helles and the Pilsner. It can be difficult to differentiate the two, but it becomes easier when one remembers that in a Helles, the hops flavors should dominate, while in a Pilsner, the malt should take precedence."

Read more at Suite101: Types of Lager

You will have understood by now that this is a target-rich environment...........

And this one:

This is the bottled version of draught mild, thus the opposite number to pale ale (the bottled version of bitter), which is why a "brown and light" is the equivalent to a "mild and bitter" for the bottled beer drinker. Brown ale is dark brown in colour, slightly sweet to very sweet in flavour and often a touch stronger than it pale ale cousin. Despite its fame, Newcastle Brown is not a true brown ale, being much lighter in colour, less sweet and significantly stronger in alcohol"

Quite a lot of nonsense there, at

The pickings were much slimmer for the Protz Shield. But this entry from Ed just had to be rewarded:

Ben McFarland for saying before the invention of Pilsner Urquell in 1842 "all beer was dark, cloudy and more often than not a little lousy".

Or should it be him saying "Before white-coated boffins with spectacles, clipboards, pipettes and brains the size of Luxembourg discovered pasteurization in 1860, all beer was made using spontaneous fermentation"?

The winners should get in touch with me using the email address at my website:

Remember to say what prize you would like. You can choose either one of my books or some of my tacky merchandise.

Start saving those pearls of nonsense for next year's contest. Because I'll almost certainly be running it again.


Rod said...

I am over the moon to be a proud winner, and it's great news that these are to become an annual Christmas tradition!

Craig said...

Whoo Hoo!! First I'd like to thank my wonderful family, for their support and of course the amazing Ron Pattinson, for all his work and dedication.

*Starting to tear up*

But, most importantly, I want to thank all of the complete dolts, out there, purveying those beautiful golden nuggets of misinterpretation, fallacy and outright horse poop.

This award is for them.

MitchAtStone said...

Ron: We should probably have you read our IPA book before it gets published. We don't want to end up on this list next year!

Ed said...


I'd like to thank Ron for choosing my entry, I'd like to thank the lovely Lisa for buying me 'The World's Best Beers' which made this entry possible, but most of all I'd like to thank Ben McFarland for not letting the facts get in they way of a good story and so proving the material for my entry.

Matt said...

I second Craig's comment.

Let's not forget the Protzes and Papazians whose idiocy makes our Christmas fun possible.

I paricularly liked the one someone sent in about Protz claiming "lager" and "larder" were from the same etymological root meaning "store". Two seconds looking in the dictionary revealed that it comes from the French "lardier" based on the Latin "laridum", "bacon fat" (hence the English word "lard"). Clearly this level of research is beyond Protz.

Seanywonton said...

Matured in CASKETS at the pub? I am not the most savvy person in English terminology, but isn't that something you put a dead body in? Maybe it was a plague-era beer.

Rob Sterowski said...

I mentioned the lager/larder one. It wasn't even meant as a competition entry, just typical of the nonsense he spouts. Looking at a recent Morning Advertiser article, he also appears to believe that continental brewers today still have to do a decoction mash due to having undermodified malt. I guess being the world's leading beer authority means you don't have to check anything.

Flagon of Ale said...

I'm disappointed I missed out on this one. I just stumbled back on something I had read a while ago in Beer magazine, the biggest piece of crap magazine about beer ever

"Often brewed with toffee, caramel, or nuts, the Brown Ale is the perfect toasting beer to kick off a season of tossing around the pigskin"

in addition to:

"...100 years after the Reinheitsgebot (German purity law of 1516), we’d see England modifying the taste and appearance of their beer by experimenting with kilning their malt at higher temperatures. This “toasting” of their pale ale malt produced a more flavorful and robust burnished-gold beer with a smoky upfront aroma and a sweet aftertaste. During this era, brewers often crafted multiple batches of beer from the same grains by adding more water after the first batch was drained. This meant that the initial batch was usually the strongest, i.e. the stout, followed by a strong brown, and on down to the common brown ale which is similar to many Brown Ales of today."