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awards

2016 Oregon Beer Awards Winners and Recap

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Last night the 2016 Oregon Beer Awards were held at Revolution Hall in Portland, in an auditorium of nearly 800 industry professionals and fans. It was the first ever completely in-state Oregon beer competition, the first time the beers were judged double-blind, and the first time an Academy Awards-style presentation was applied to the awards ceremony. The community’s reaction was enthusiastic; it was a great night for Oregon beer and fantastic to see everyone together in one place to celebrate our industry.

The Oregon beer industry came out en masse to celebrate the best in Oregon beer in 14 judged beer style categories and 6 non-style beer categories voted on by an academy of industry professionals. The evening started out with droves of industry insiders and fans lining up at the three indoor bars to mingle  and watch Ron Gansberg’s Black Lodge band open the night. It was then time for the awards host, Amy Miller of Last Comic Standing, to take the stage and do a killer job MC’ing the 2016 awards ceremony.

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The awards started out with two well-deserved gold medals in a row for Widmer Brothers Brewing.

 

Pilsner/Helles/Kolsch

Gold:  Wider Brothers, PDX Pils

Silver: Widmer Brothers, Green and Gold

Bronze: Terminal Gravity, Wallowa Lake Lager

Wheat/Wit/Weizen

Gold: Widmer Brothers, Hefeweizen

Silver: Fort George, Quick Wit

Bronze: Occidental, Hefeweizen

Widmer’s Hefeweizen is often thought of as a common everyday beer that cannot be good because it is so ubiquitous. Not so! There is a reason Widmer’s Hefeweizen is the prototypical example of the style of American Hefeweizen. Also, the new PDX Pils, found at the Gasthaus brewpub in N. Portland, earned a gold and is worth seeking out, as well as the silver medal-wining Green & Gold Kolsch.

Fort George, Widmer, and Occidental also came home with well-deserved medals in the lighter traditional categories that often are overlooked, but take more skill than the heavier categories.

Belgian Beers

Gold: The Commons, Urban Farmhouse Ale

Silver: Mazama, Saison d’Etre

Bronze: Fat Heads, Pimp My Sleigh

Dark Hoppy Beers

Gold: Buoy, Cascadia

Silver: Sunriver, 2nd Anniversary Imperial Red

Bronze: Ecliptic, Orange Giant Barleywine

Experimental Beers

Gold: Breakside, Vienna Coffee Beer

Silver: Breakside, Bon Vivant

Bronze: The Labrewatory, Billy the Squid

Sessionable Hoppy Beers (6% or lower)

Gold: Deschutes Portland, Hoppy Pilsner

Silver: pFriem Family Brewers, Mosaic Pale Ale

Bronze: Sunriver, Rippin NW Ale

 

A bevy of beloved and new breweries captured medals in the Belgian, Dark Hoppy, Experimental and Sessionable Hoppy Beer categories. No surprise that The Commons, Breakside, Deschutes  and pFriem did well but it also shed a light onto Mazama, Buoy, Fat Head’s Sunriver, and the brand new The Labrewatory.

 

Best Beer Bar

Belmont Station

Best Bottleshop

Belmont Station

Best Beer Festival

Festival of the Dark Arts

Best New Brewery

Culmination

Best Brewpub Experience

Pfriem Family Brewers

 I personally was honored to introduce the non-beer non-judged award categories that were voted on by nearly 240 academy voters from across the state. These voters are brewers, homebrewers, bottleshop beer buyers, bartenders, writers, and other industry affiliated experts. They nominated and then voted on the winners in 6 different categories, five of which are posted above. It was a dominant performance by Belmont Station, an unsurprising win from Culmination as Best New Brewery (it also easily won The New School’s Best New Brewery), and pFriem Family Brewers won “Best Brewpub Experience” for the 2nd year in a row.


After a brief intermission for more beers and a set by Ron Gansberg’s Black Lodge band, it was time to present the Lifetime Achievement award, with the winner being inducted into our new Hall of Fame. Who else could it be but the recently passed away Oregon beer legend, Fred Eckhardt? After a fitting tribute video that is featured above, Lisa Morrison accepted his beer and lead everyone to raise their glasses and toast Fred.

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After that, Willamette Week arts and culture editor Martin Cizmar announced the weekly magazine’s own Top 10 Oregon Beers of the year, which will be revealed in the separate 2016 Oregon Beer Guide that is released today. It was a nice varied list of winners this year.

Willamette Week’s Top 10 Beers of the Year

10. Heater Allen: Roggenbier

9. Fat Head’s: Midnight Moonlight CDA

8. pFriem Family Brewers: Double IPA

7. Lompoc: Bloody Mary Beer

6. Sunriver: Vicious Mosquito IPA

5. Laurelwood: Laurelweizen

4. Oakshire: Cucumber Sour Berliner-Weisse

3. Upright: Coffee-Cardamom Barleywine

2. Block 15: Framboise White

1. Breakside: Fresh Hop Simcoe IPA

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Sessionable Hoppy Beers (6% or lower)

Gold: Deschutes Portland, Hoppy Pilsner

Silver: pFriem Family Brewers, Mosaic Pale Ale

Bronze: Sunriver, Rippin NW Ale

Stout or Porter

Gold: Ecliptic Brewing, Capella Porter

Silver: Fat Heads, Battle Axe

Bronze: Arch Rock Brewing Co., He-Man Imperial Stout 

Flavored Beers

Gold: Ex Novo, Nevermore

Silver: Three Creeks, TenPine Chocolate Porter

Bronze: Upright, Fatali Four

Fruit & Field Beers

Gold: The Commons, Clarabelle

Silver: Double Mountain, Peche Mode

Bronze: 10 Barrel – Bend, Cucumber Crush

Sour & Wild Beers

Gold: Stickmen, Kissed By Melons

Silver: Cascade, Foudre #1 2013

Bronze: Cascade, Kriek 2014

Barrel-Aged Beers

Gold: Gigantic, Pipewrench

Silver: pFriem, Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout

Bronze: Breakside, The Pathfinder

Strong Hoppy Beers (7.5%+)

Gold: Breakside, Hop Delivery Mechanism Double IPA

Silver: Breakside Brewery, Safe Word Triple IPA

Bronze: pFriem, Double IPA

Classic Styles

Gold: Buoy, Dunkel

Silver: Golden Valley, Atlas Elevator Doppelbock

Bronze: Golden Valley, Red Thistle Ale

The next beer style categories began to develop a winning pattern between pFriem Family Brewers and Breakside as the biggest winners of the night. Still, it was highlighted by other strong contenders and surprising new victors. Fat Head’s won a couple of awards, as did the one year old Buoy Beer Co, Gigantic and The Commons added another gold to their haul.

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It was nice to see Ecliptic Brewing get some much due credit. The brewery won a gold for Capella Porter, a beer that owner/brewer John Harris compared to Deschutes Black Butte Porter, which he also helped create. Ecliptic also won a bronze for its Orange Giant Barleywine.

Cascade dominated the sour categories with a bronze and silver, but was upset by perhaps the most surprising win of the night — a gold for Stickmen Brewery’s Kissed by Melons, a cantaloupe sour. I personally judged this category and can certify its quality of both the Cascade beers and an amazing calling card of a beer in Kissed by Melons. WOW.

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Breakside had a huge win in both silver and gold in the “Strong Hoppy Beers Category,” but was followed with a bronze for pFriem, which also picked up a silver and set the two breweries on a collision course for most award winning breweries of the night.

American IPA

Gold: Breakside, Wanderlust IPA

Silver: 10 Barrel Bend, Joe IPA

Bronze: Golden Valley, Bald Peak IPA

Unsurprisingly the most entries were in the American IPA category, and also not surprisingly Breakside WON the Gold, but not with its flagship IPA but the alternative Wanderlust IPA. 10 Barrel Brewing pulled a dilver with its new popular JOE IPA, but I think the bronze medal for Golden Valley’s Bald Peak IPA made it one of the breweries to be talked about. Golden Valley quietly won 3 medals from the often overlooked McMinnville, Oregon brewery, and a bronze in the IPA was the most surprising of all. I hope this garners GV a second look by beer geeks–perhaps a first look by many; the team there has obviously earned it.

Brewery of the Year

Pfriem Family Brewers

 The final category was chosen by the voting academy for the Brewery of the Year. I thought Breakside might take it, but I was equally excited to see pFriem Family Brewers take home the award. pFriem has been killing it for a few years now, but 2015 was this brewery’s year. It also won The New School’s Brewery of the Year and this helped solidify in my mind, our 2015 awards being on par with the entire community of experts.

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Pick up your copy of the Willamette Week 2016 Beer Guide for all the winners in print, extensive write-ups on 109 Oregon breweries, WW’s Top 10 Beers of the Year, a Beer Fest directory, a guide to bars and bottleshops and much more.

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Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: [email protected]

4 Comments

  1. David Chamberlain

    February 24, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    Great write-up! One correction though, Golden Valley is in McMinnville, not Forest Grove.

  2. Jesse

    February 24, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    Thanks for the kind words. For the record Golden Valley Brewery is still located in McMinnville, Oregon where they have been brewing for 23 years. Golden Valley has a second(pub/restaurant)location in Beaverton.

  3. Anon Amos

    February 24, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    Golden Valley is in McMinnville.

    • Samurai Artist

      February 24, 2016 at 10:25 pm

      Yes, those are the kinds of mistakes made when your trying to recap at 3am after drinking at the OBA’s all day! We caught the mistake early and corrected but the site cache took hours to actually update the public version of the site. Sorry GV!

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