Sunday, May 9, 2010

Boulevard Pilsner Wins International Beer Competition

Here's the scene. Imagine it is the first part a June, weather is warm, and you are drinking a most refreshing beer on the patio at a tiki party. Your coconut bra and grass skirt are fitting well, you are looking good, with nothing but time and icy cold beer. What beer would you be drinking? That was the question posed to our panel of judges Saturday night at the inaugural Roe Circle Official Beer of Summer 1st Annual Beer Throwdown Battle Royal. It was a highly scientific process to determine the best summer beer and to determine the selection for the upcoming tiki party.
The competition was a single-blind randomized single elimination bracket-style tournament that put a selection of summer beers in a head-to-head battle royal for the hearts, minds, and most importantly the taste buds of the people. How might you ask did the lowly, local boulevard pilsner reign supreme? What was the competition? Alright here's how it went down. Let's meet the players.
What qualifies as a summer beer? While I love a good stout or porter as much as the next person, dark, heavy, float a spoon on the head type of beers that keep you warm in the winter do not fit the bill this time of year. A summer beer must:
1. Be crisp clean and refreshing.
2. Be able to quench the fire from a variety of spicy foods encountered from the backyard grill.
3. Be able to provide an evening's worth of drinkability, should certain revelers encounter a "finish the keg" situation.
The interesting thing is that one type of beer fits these criteria and is available in many forms. Pilsner style lager originated in the Czech republic and was quickly adopted by their German neighbors. As the Germans sought to spread cheer around the work, they brought along the delicious and refreshing pilsner. In the US that landed of course in Milwaukee where many of the typical domestic beers originated. However, a few Germans looking for a sun tan landed south of the border in Mexico and beyond. So yes, most of the Mexican summer beers we think of, owe their heritage back to the German pilsner. This is also why traditional Mexican music sounds like a German polka, because that's what it is.
So there we were in the liquor store selecting from a variety of tasty summer beers, which all turned out to pilsner lagers.
On to the competition. The rules were simple, unmarked beers were placed in clear glasses and provided to the beer commissioners. Similar beers were grouped together for the first round. The beer commissioners were allowed to talk, discuss, argue, beg, or whatever else was necessary until a consensus was reached to send the winning beer to the next round. As this was deciding a keg beer, no fruit modification was allowed. Realistic palate cleansers of sour cream and cheddar or BBQ potato chips were provided. The brackets were single elimination except for one losers slot for the highest ranked loser.

Round 1: Corona vs. Pacifico

Pacifico was light and refreshing. Corona had a little bit more bite, enough so that a lime was suggested to improve the flavor. We had some pretty experienced beer commisioners. Keep in mind these were blind testing. But, beer to beer the Pacifico was smoother than the Corona.

Round 1: Boulevard Pilsner vs. New Belgium Blue Paddle
Both pilsners are summer staples on the circle. Both had high marks, but unanimously Boulevard Pilsner won.

Round 1: Miller High Life vs. Michelob Ultra Lime Cactus
High life is a staple on the circle as well. Since there are a number of flavored summer beers out, Sam picked out her choice for a flavored beer. This was easy to distinguish. The idea of a keg of flavored beer was hard to imagine and the High Life was the easy winner.

Round 1: Modelo vs. Corona (loser)
Since Corona was the top ranked loser, it went head to head with Modelo to fill out the round 1 brackets. Again, Corona lost and Modelo advanced to round 2.

Round 2: Pacifico vs. Modelo
Round 2 got a little tougher and the decisions were slower and more hard fought. Pacifico was smoother than the Modelo and in the end triumped.

Round 2: Boulevard Pilsner vs. Miller High Life
This was the first two glass decision. Both were highly ranked and after two glasses our judges couldn't make a decision. So, unlike normal tournaments both advanced to a three way third round.

Round 3: Boulevard Pilsner vs. Miller High Life vs. Pacifico
The point behind the unexpected round 3 was to narrow the field to two. When these beers were head to head the judges couldn't make a decision. In a three way battle, Pacifico went down easily.

Championship Match

Miller High Life vs. Boulevard Pilsner

The judges had a number of points to describe these two. High Life was crisp and refreshing and "I could drink a lot of these is a short amount of time." But, the depth of flavor of the Boulevard ruled the day. Unexpectedly the local Boulevard Pilsner came out on top.

So if you are trying to find the perfect beer, all you have to do is set up a backyard battle royal. Or take our word for it and pickup some Boulevard Pilsner.

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