Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Canadian Brewing Awards 2015 Beer Geek Analysis

I was asked by a friend for my thoughts on the 2015 Canadian Brewing Awards. Let us break down the medals to prove that BC is the best place in Canada to drink craftbeer. Perhaps the perfect place start is with the brewery of the year, Four Winds Brewing in Delta. This brewery just celebrated it's second birthday with a very prestigious present. At this years CBA, they took home 5 medals from 14 entries (thank you Brent). This is a 36% success rate; most of my analysis of the CBA will feature this measurement. In turns of medal breakdown, BC breweries cleaned up. Of the possible 123 brewing medals, BC took home 45, Ontario 41 and Quebec racked up 23. As a percentage it reads BC 37%, Ontario 33% and Quebec 18%.
Macro breweries are allowed to enter this contest.  As a side note, macro breweries took home 11 medals or 9% of the total. I'm not sure who is and who is not considered a macro back east, so this is an estimate. Macros only scored higher than a craft brewery in 5 categories. Most of these were the ones you would expect: lagers, wheat ales, light lagers and cream ales. In comparison, Victoria breweries fared almost as well as the macros with 9 medals or 7%. In fact, Victoria received 23% of the medals won by BC breweries.
BC breweries also swept two entire categories: Black IPA and Red/Amber ales. Ontario also swept two: Wood/Barrel aged and Honey/Maple beers. This seems about right, we like our hoppy beers but do not get a lot of maple syrup on this coast.
At this point the comparisons between BC and Ontario breweries might seem pretty close. These next numbers pull BC to the front of the line. Of the 1097 total entries, BC submitted 336 and Ontario 408. While Ontario did enter more beers, BC had a higher percentage of winners based on entries. BC claimed medals 13.4% of the time, while Ontario only took the podium 10% of the time. To make BC appear more awesome, lets look at this based on our provinces population. In January 2014, BC had a population of 4.61 million and Ontario 13.6 million. This means that BC had a medal ratio of just under 1:100,000, while Ontario trailed far behind with 0.3:100,000. More great beer per capita! We will just ignore the fact the Ontario took home 15 golds and BC only 12. But BC did take claim the best IPA, which is the only category anyone cares about. Well done Russell Brewing. Apparently Mike really liked the Punch Bowl.
Now for some of the highlights and fails of the CBA 2015.
For highlights, many new BC breweries took home medals. Category 12 in Victoria took home gold in the BIPA category. Bad Tattoo in Penticton took home two silvers. Rossland Beer Company's 7 summit milk stout out classed last years beer of the year, the Sasquatch stout from Old Yale.
As for the fails, they all happened back east. Amsterdam Brewing entered the most beers, 29 in total. They only took home 2 medals. Mill Street entered 26 beers and took home nothing. Ouch. Even Canoe Club beat them and won a medal in the pilsner category.
Something I found interesting was that BC's favourite brewery, Driftwood, did not place a single entry. Also one of the largest brewery in BC, Phillips, only entered their top selling four beers. Too bad, Blue Buck Pale Ale did very well in the 2012 lager category
If you have any highlights or thoughts about this years CBA, leave a comment below. Or you can leave a comment if you think my math is wrong.

8 comments:

Brent said...

Four Winds received five medals.

Ian Lloyd said...

Right four for beer medals and one for overall Brewery of the Year

Brent said...

Nope, five for beer, plus brewery of the year.

Ian Lloyd said...

I am so ashamed, I missed one. There were so many number to sort through and I messed up the most important one. Thank you, numbers have been updated

Mark Atkinson said...

Might be a given, but I suspect the BC numbers would be even higher if the event was held in BC. I imagine that our idea of what certain styles should taste like are biased towards the regional beers that are familiar to us.

Ian Lloyd said...

Had this chat with someone recently. We felt the same way, you assume the style you taste everyday is the standard. If that were the case, an ESB would contain mosaic and taste like Naughty Hildegard and not Fullers. Still a big fan of the Hildegard, but is a certainly not a traditional English ESB. Might be an idea to see if the number of awards go up when CBA is held in Victoria/Vancouver again.

Brent said...

Rumour has it the CBAs will be in Vancouver next year. The CBAs are based on blind tasting to BJCP standards, so judging and awards SHOULD be consistent, regardless of locale. What would bring BC numbers up is if Driftwood chooses to enter next year (they didn't this year).

Ian Lloyd said...

Being in Vancouver next year will certainly increase the number of medals for BC for a few reasons. There are soooo many great breweries opening up and producing stellar beverages. More breweries equals more medal worthy entries. More awareness of a local CBA should also draw more entries. Perhaps shorter transit time/distance/cost in sending beers for judging might help with more entries. I wonder if shorter time in transit, agitation and temperature fluctuations will result in fresher beer for the judges. Driftwood entering might mean more medals in the sour, barrel aged, fruit and impy stout categories. Perhaps even the IPA category, but there are so many great IPAs in BC so the competition is tight. Might check and see if the ratio of medals goes up for a West Coast CBA