Another year, another best of list. 2013, more than any other, has been full of great beer, so much so that choosing a best of was practically an impossible task. Like previous years, we have assembled a panel of twelve beer critics and experts from the local beer scene, first to nominate the entries in each category and finally vote on the winners. Unlike previous years, few outright dominated the running, showing that the overall quality of Oregon beers is better than ever.
BestOregon Beer of 2013 – The Commons: Bier Royale
Runner-up – 10 Barrel Brewing: Swill
One of the most contested and wide open fields this year was Oregon’s Best Beer. During the nominations round it seemed that no two people were going for the same beer, but when narrowed down to a tight race, The Commons Bier Royale–originally created for the Portland Fruit Beer Fest–wins. All the nominees should be proud, as no one held a distinct voting advantage when it came down to it.
- Laurelwood Megafauna
- Logsdon Fresh Hop Seizoen
- Deschutes Fresh Squeezed
- Double Mountain Killer Green
- Block 15 Sticky Hands
- Gigantic F’n Legit Fresh Hop
- pFriem Mosaic Pale
- Ninkasi Sterling
BestNon-Oregon Beer – Stone Brewing: Enjoy By IPA
(Allowing foreign or domestic draft or bottled beers, but must have been available at some point in Oregon in 2013.)
Runner-up – Ballast Point Brewing: Sculpin 4 vote
Voting in Best non-Oregon beer was a tight race between two favorite San Diego area brewers, Stone and Ballast Point. Both IPAs, the recently-launched Enjoy By series from Stone Brewing narrowly achieved victory against one of the most respected year round IPAs, Ballast Point’s Sculpin.
- Sierra Nevada Narwhal
- Green Flash Green Bullet
- Ballast Point Sculpin
- New Belgium Le Terroir
- New Belgium Coconut Curry Hefeweizen
BestNew Bottle/Canned Oregon Beer – The Commons Bier Royale
Runner-up TIE – 10 Barrel Brewing: Swill / Breakside Brewery: Wanderlust IPA
If The Commons Bier Royale’s victory in Best Oregon Beer was not decisive enough a win, then a 2nd win in Best New Bottled or Canned Beer most definitely was. Does this signal the embracing of fruit beers by the larger beer snob community? I certainly hope so.
- Ft George/Lompoc/Gigantic 3 Way IPA
- Gigantic Most Premium RIS
- Good Life Sweet As Pacific Ale 1 vote
- Breakside Wanderlust
BestOregon IPA- Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack
Runner-up: Boneyard Brewing: RPM
2013 is the year that perennial award winner and cult favorite Barley Brown’s Brewpub went mainstream and captured a gold medal at the GABF for American IPA, as well as the hearts of critics and fans in Oregon. Narrowly beating out last year’s winner and best-seller, Boneyard’s RPM IPA, the Pallet Jack is seeing expanded availability with the brewery’s expansion and new Oregon distribution through Point Blank Distributing. 2014 may be the year that Barley Brown’s goes from respected and well-kept Oregon secret to nationwide beer geek subject of envy.
- 10 Barrel Apocalypse
- Fort George Vortex
- Block 15 Sticky Hands 2 vote
- Breakside Wanderlust
- Gigantic IPA
- Double Mountain Killer Green 1 vote
- Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack 6 vote
- Oakshire Watershed IPA
- Breakside IPA
Most Underrated Oregon Brewery – Old Town Brewing
Runner-up: Silver Moon Brewing
While early nomination voting showed Goodlife ahead of the pack in this category, Old Town Brewing dominated the pack in the final round. Contributor Bill Night sums up the fitting underdog win well: “Old Town is so underrated that I forgot to nominate them.” Hopefully that will not be the case from now on.
- Goodlife Brewing
- Occidental Brewing
- Widmer Brothers
- Lucky Lab Brewing
BestNew Brewery(Oregon) – Ecliptic Brewing
Runner-up: De Garde Brewing
A handful of new breweries vied for attention this year, some debuting with massive hype and others with no buzz at all. In the end, one of each dominated the category, with John Harris’ much-hyped Ecliptic Brewing winning out by only 1 vote above the word of mouth-based new cult favorite, De Garde Brewing. Either way, we expect big things from these breweries in 2014.
- Worthy Brewing
- Agrarian Ales
- Planktown Brewing
Best Oregon Brewery – Deschutes Brewery
Runner-up: Breakside Brewery
One of this year’s most difficult categories with a wide-open strong field ended up having voters choose a classic, with Deschutes Brewery winning top honors for the 2nd year in a row. It’s a bit of a surprising win, as Deschutes beers did not dominate any other category, but shows that the overall quality and the strength of the brand makes it an All-Star.
- Block 15
- The Commons
- Barley Browns
BestOregon Brewpub – Breakside Brewery
Runner-up TIE – pFriem Family Brewers (Hood River, OR)
& Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom(Hood River, OR)
Choosing this category was among our voters’ most difficult tasks; a tie breaker vote had to be cast between a 4 way tie, with Breakside Brewery walking away with the win after not even being nomintated in 2012. It says a lot that just a few years ago there was not much to write about for Oregon brewpubs, but with brewers stepping up their games–especially with new guys like Pfriem entering the ring–this category looks promising for the future.
- Deschutes Portland Brewpub (Portland, OR)
- Burnside Brewing (Portland, OR)
- Block 15 Brewing (Corvallis, OR)
- pFriem Family Brewers (Hood River, OR)
- Double Mountain (Hood River, OR)
BestOregon Brewer – Ben Edmunds (Breakside Brewery)
Runner-up 3 way TIE:
Josh Pfriem (Pfriem Family Brewers)
Nick Arzner (Block15 Brewing)
Sean Burke (The Commons)
Wow, what a difficult category this one was. I think a strong late year showing from Breakside Brewery (100 beers brewed in 2013) helped push ex-New School columnist Ben Edmunds into the winner category above last year’s winner, Nick Arzner, and strong showings from The Commons’ Sean Burke and Josh Pfriem of the up-and-coming Pfriem Family Brewers.
- Alex Ganum (Upright Brewing)
- Tom Bleigh (Hopworks Urban Brewing)
BestOregon Taphouse – Bailey’s Taproom
Runner-up: Belmont Station
Pulling out a win after last year’s tie for first is Bailey’s Taproom, which one could say is one of the most influential beer bars in the state. Bailey’s has continued to innovate, from the digital tapboard to the new upstairs annex space. Also, much credit to Belmont Station, which this year expanded by adding a patio, new food options, and more taps.
- Horse Brass
- The Beermongers
- The Bier Stein
BestNew Trend – Popularity and Increasing selection of Wild/Sour Beers
Runner-up: Rise/Return to popularity of Pilsners/Lagers
- Rise/Return to popularity of the Radler
- More and Better Food Options with Beer
- More Barrel-Aged Beers
- More lower alcohol session beers
- Single Hop Beers
Worst New Trend – Overpriced Beer
Runner-up: Beard Beer
- Nano Breweries
- Collaboration Beers
- Fresh vs Wet Hop Debate
Our Esteemed 2013 Best of the Year guest Voters:
Kerry Finsand (Taplister), Warren Wills (American Craft Beer.com), Jason Notte (The Street), Martin Cizmar (Willamette Week Arts & Culture editor), Paul Kasten (Beer Chef at Wildwood Restaurant), Nicole Kasten (BeerConnections.com), Hilda Stevens (owner of Bazi Bierbrasserie) and Alex Kurnellas (owner of Imperial Bottleshop & Taproom)
and from The New School:
“SNOB” Ritch Marvin, El Gordo Feighner, Bill Night (Piss & Vinegar column), Brian Yaeger (New School & freelance beer writer) & Samurai Artist (New School founder).