Awards

2015 Oregon Beer Awards Winners and Recap

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The first annual Oregon Beer Awards were announced last night at an awards ceremony to remember at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland. The Oregon Beer Awards–organized by Willamette Week along with myself and Ben Edmunds of Breakside Brewery as conceptual and creative consultants–was founded to give the state’s beer industry its own awards as chosen by those in the industry itself, rather than a bunch of know-nothing critics like myself. About 20 experts in the field argued for 3 hours in determining the initial 15 categories for the first ever Oregon Beer Awards and narrowed down a list of nominees. At that point the voting was opened up to a large pool of 200 beer experts, mostly those who actually work for breweries, taprooms, and distributors, along with some homebrewers and writers. This means that the Oregon Beer Awards are truly the entire local community’s awards, not one person or even one publication’s picks but instead are based on a large consensus of people who know their stuff. For the first year we elected to keep the number of categories smaller and not get bogged down with styles and sub-styles that the public may not have heard of, yet cover enough bases to cover a wide range of styles and businesses. For a first year project, I think we did pretty well.

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Gold medal winners received a OBA tap handle

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The Willamette Week editorial staff announced their Top 10 Beers of the Year as well. This is a very subjective list lead by Arts Editor Martin Cizmar. This year is a really wild list of entries all over the board, most of which I have enjoyed. Not a lot would be on my top 10, but it is an interesting highlight on some under-recognized beers. I certainly can’t argue with a list that consists of the under-appreciated Upright Brewing Pilsner and my personal favorite beer from last year’s Portland Fruit Beer Fest, Deschutes Peach Slap.

WW Top 10 Beers of 2014

#1 – Upright Brewing’s Engelberg Pils

Alex Ganum of Upright Brewing

Alex Ganum of Upright Brewing

#2 Deschutes Brewery’s Peach Slap

New Ex Novo Head Brewer Jason Barbee with his former boss Ben Kehe of Deschutes Brewery

New Ex Novo Head Brewer Jason Barbee with his former boss Ben Kehe of Deschutes Brewery

#3 Boneyard Brewing’s Hop-a-Wheelie

#4 Feckin Brewery’s Top O’ The Feckin Mornin’

#5 Pints Brewing’s Schwarzbier

Fat Heads Head Brewer Mike Hunsaker

Fat Heads Head Brewer Mike Hunsaker

#6 Fat Head’s Brewing’s Alpenglow

#7 Breakside Brewery’s La Tormenta

#8 Caldera Brewing’s Red Sea

#9 Widmer Brother’s Altbier

#10 pFriem Family Brewers Golden Promise Single Malt Pale Ale

Jeff Alworth (Beervana), Doug Rehberg (Widmer) and Pete Dunlop (Beervana Buzz)

Jeff Alworth (Beervana), Doug Rehberg (Widmer) and Pete Dunlop (Beervana Buzz)

Rob and Kurt Widmer

Rob and Kurt Widmer

The first annual Oregon Beer Awards were based on categories and nominees from a 20 person pool of beer experts including the likes of John Harris, Drew Worden, Erin Grey Kemplin, Lisa Allen, Whitney Burnside, Geoff Phillips, Ben Edmunds, Jeff Alworth, Josh Grgas, Erika Huston, Steve Jones, Paul Kasten, Waylon McCallister, Amity Worden, and more. When categories that people on our panel would qualify for came up, those people would leave the room. For example, I organize a number of festivals, so I left the room when “Best Beer Festival” category was discussed. Our group of experts could be wider, but it was limited to those who were available to come participate, so naturally it becomes a little bit about proximity. Also, this was just the first year of the OBA, and organizers hope to continue to grow the voting pool. If you’re a beer expert or homebrewer, or work in the industry, you can apply to be a voter here: http://bit.ly/obavotingacademy

With that, here are the 2015 Oregon Beer Awards Winners.

Best New Brewery

Gold – Buoy Beer Company

Silver – Stormbreaker Brewing

Bronze – Ex Novo Brewing (Portland, OR)

Best Beer Bar

Gold – Belmont Station

Silver – Bailey’s Taproom

Bronze – Saraveza

Josh pFriem

Josh pFriem

Best Brewpub Experience

Gold – pFriem Family Brewers

Silver – Breakside Brewery

Bronze – Fort George Brewery

Best Beer Festival

Gold – Cheers to Belgian Beers

Silver – Hood River Hops Festival

Bronze – Oregon Brewers Festival

Breakside Brewery Crew

Breakside Brewery Crew

Brewery Of The Year

Gold – Breakside Brewery

Silver – The Commons Brewery

Bronze – Barley Browns Brew Pub

Best Lager

Gold – Heater-Allen Pils

Silver – Upright Brewing Engelberg Pils

Bronze – The Commons Dunkle

Best Dark

Gold – Barley Brown’s Turmoil

Silver – Fort George’s Cavatica Stout

Bronze – Pelican’s Tsunami Stout

George Dimeo of Maletis and Tim Ensign of Fort George

George Dimeo of Maletis and Tim Ensign of Fort George

Best Sour/Wild Ale

Gold – Logsdon’s Peche n’ Brett

Silver – The Commons Flemish Kiss

Bronse – TIE Breakside Brewery’s La Tormenta and The Ale Apothecary’s La Tache

Best Belgian Style

Gold – The Commons Urban Farmhouse Ale

Silver – pFriem’s Belgian Dark Strong

Bronze – Upright’s Five

Best Barrel-Aged Beer (non Sour)

Gold – Pelican’s Mother of All Storms

Silver – Block 15’s Super Nebula

Bronze – Crux’s Tough Love

Widmer's Ben Dobler, Deschutes Ben Kehe and Widmer's Aaron Burget

Widmer’s Ben Dobler, Deschutes Ben Kehe and Widmer’s Aaron Burget

Best Island of Misfit Beers

Gold – Burnside’s Sweet Heat

Silver – TIE Gigantic’s Too Much Coffee Man / Upright’s Flora Rustica

Bronze – The Commons Pumpernickel Rye Saison

Best Hoppy Beer

Gold – Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack IPA

Silver – Breakside IPA

Bronze – Fort George, Block 15, Boneyard Brewing 3-Way IPA

Jerome Chicvara from Maletis Beverage with James Buxman of Laurelwood Brewing

Jerome Chicvara from Maletis Beverage with James Buxman of Laurelwood Brewing

Best Strong Hoppy Beer

Gold – Laurelwood’s Megafauna

Silver – Block 15’s Sticky Hands

Bronze – Boneyard’s Notorious IPA3

Best Traditional Beer

Gold – Occidental’s Altbier

Silver – Pelican’s Kiwanda Cream Ale

Bronze – Old Town’s Kolsch

Best Session Beer

Gold – Barley Brown’s Handtruck Pale Ale

Silver – Fort George’s Suicide Squeeze

Bronze – GoodLife’s Sweeet As! Pacific Pale Ale

Alex Ganum of Upright Brewing accepts his award from WW's Martin Cizmar

Alex Ganum of Upright Brewing accepts his award from WW’s Martin Cizmar

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: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com

5 Comments

  1. Jeff Alworth

    February 24, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    Love that the Bens are drinking a Rainier and a High Life. (Though I think it had more to do with the downstairs beer line than absolute preference.)

  2. Amanda

    February 24, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    Out of curiosity, was a qualifier for these awards that breweries be defined as craft in the general sense? There is a big name in Oregon brewing conspicuously missing from this list…

    • Samurai Artist

      February 24, 2015 at 7:39 pm

      I dont believe there was any qualifier discussed. However 200 people voted so who knows their personal biases. Its worth noting that Widmer and 10 Barrel were nominees, they just didnt win except in Willamette Week’s Top 10.

    • Atom

      February 24, 2015 at 10:26 pm

      There seem to be a few big ones just outright missing. Like that one in Eugene, the one you can see from 84 in Hood River…

      • Jeffrey

        February 25, 2015 at 6:21 pm

        I get which breweries you’re talking about, but do you believe those breweries belong on this list and should be given awards based on the quality of their beer? A lot of people would probably say they don’t and shouldn’t.

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