From Maine, With Love - An Allagash Brewing Podcast

S3 Episode 5: Competitions, Judging, and Award-Winning Beers

May 22, 2024 Season 3 Episode 5
S3 Episode 5: Competitions, Judging, and Award-Winning Beers
From Maine, With Love - An Allagash Brewing Podcast
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From Maine, With Love - An Allagash Brewing Podcast
S3 Episode 5: Competitions, Judging, and Award-Winning Beers
May 22, 2024 Season 3 Episode 5

Allagash White is the most-awarded wheat beer in the world. And as of its silver medal win at the Great American Beer Festival in 2024, Allagash Tripel is also the most-awarded beer of its style.

In this episode, we sit down with Brewmaster Jason Perkins and Sensory Program Manager Karl Arnberg to dig deep on beer awards. What does it take to brew an award-winning beer? How are beers even judged? And what indeed are the top beer-judging competitions in the world?

If you've ever wanted to go behind the scenes in the competition beer world with two experienced beer judges, wait no longer: this episode is for you.

Show Notes Transcript

Allagash White is the most-awarded wheat beer in the world. And as of its silver medal win at the Great American Beer Festival in 2024, Allagash Tripel is also the most-awarded beer of its style.

In this episode, we sit down with Brewmaster Jason Perkins and Sensory Program Manager Karl Arnberg to dig deep on beer awards. What does it take to brew an award-winning beer? How are beers even judged? And what indeed are the top beer-judging competitions in the world?

If you've ever wanted to go behind the scenes in the competition beer world with two experienced beer judges, wait no longer: this episode is for you.

00:00:00.000 --> 00:00:05.560

<Brett Willis>This is From Maine, With Love, an Allagash Brewing Podcast where we talk about beer, our community here in Maine, and things that generally make us happy.


00:00:20.275 --> 00:00:26.195

<Brett Willis>I have Jason Perkins, our brewmaster, Karl Arnberg, our sensory program manager, and I'm Brett Willis.


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<Brett Willis>As we all know, we have to start with secret questions.


00:00:28.735 --> 00:00:30.055

<Brett Willis>Karl, you're going up first.


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<Brett Willis>Yep, and you're gonna like it.


00:00:33.315 --> 00:00:38.075

<Brett Willis>So I rode on the rowing machine, Karl, 1,000 meters in a 323.


00:00:38.535 --> 00:00:39.295

<Brett Willis>Are you proud of me?


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<Karl Arnberg>I'm so proud of you.


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<Karl Arnberg>That's great.


00:00:42.515 --> 00:00:43.495

<Brett Willis>I looked it up, I looked it up.


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<Brett Willis>It's like, this is like average for like a 50 year old man.


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<Brett Willis>I don't know what it is.


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<Brett Willis>I don't know, it's average, it's actually fine.


00:00:50.695 --> 00:00:51.715

<Brett Willis>It's not that good a score.


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<Brett Willis>I'm not good at rowing.


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<Brett Willis>Karl and I just talk rowing because he actually has done it well.


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<Karl Arnberg>Yeah, yeah.


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<Karl Arnberg>No, that's a perfectly fine time, especially alone in a gym with only your own thoughts to push you faster.


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<Karl Arnberg>When you're on the water and you've got somebody next to you trying to catch up or even just ahead of you, and you're trying to pass them, it's so much more invigorating.


00:01:21.195 --> 00:01:21.975

<Karl Arnberg>You get going fast.


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<Brett Willis>My thoughts were mostly just stop.


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<Brett Willis>Why are you doing this?


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<Karl Arnberg>It hurts.


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<Brett Willis>I kept on, yeah, but it's tiring.


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<Brett Willis>Jason, what do you think is the most fun style of beer to brew?


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<Brett Willis>It doesn't have to be the one you like the most, just you enjoy the process of making it.


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<Jason Perkins>Oh man, that's a good question.


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<Jason Perkins>I guess I would say, and this is gonna stretch the definition of brew.


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<Brett Willis>Sure.


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<Jason Perkins>I would say Rist Cool Ship Rist Sergum.


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<Jason Perkins>Ah, yeah, yeah.


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<Jason Perkins>Because you've got the brew, which is interesting, creating spontaneous, creating work that's appropriate for spontaneous fermentation, and then you've got two to three years later, the process of blending those components to create this beer.


00:02:07.835 --> 00:02:11.275

<Jason Perkins>So I would say all in, that's the most fun.


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<Brett Willis>I can see that.


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<Brett Willis>Yeah, it's just, it's got a lot to it.


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<Brett Willis>It's probably like every single aspect of your brewing knowledge goes into that beer.


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<Jason Perkins>Yeah, and you kinda, you have the technical side of things and then you have the kind of sensory art side of things.


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<Jason Perkins>You got it all in there.


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<Brett Willis>That's cool.


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<Brett Willis>I like it.


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<Karl Arnberg>Brett, I have a secret question for you.


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<Brett Willis>Oh, you thought of it, all right.


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<Karl Arnberg>What's your favorite secret punctuation for writers?


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<Brett Willis>Oh man, well, we just talked about this.


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<Brett Willis>It's the M dash.


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<Brett Willis>If anyone is a writer, so an M dash is literally a dash that is as long as the letter M.


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<Brett Willis>There is an N dash that's as long as the letter N, and then M dash, and the M dash is beloved by me because you can use it wherever you want.


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<Brett Willis>And no one knows how to use it, so you can kind of get away with anything.


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<Jason Perkins>I didn't even know what it was.


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<Brett Willis>Yeah.


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<Jason Perkins>That's some serious geeky writing stuff right there.


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<Brett Willis>Yeah, thank you.


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<Brett Willis>Thank you very much, I gotta earn my keep somehow, knowing random punctuation.


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<Brett Willis>Nice, thank you, Karl, that's good.


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<Brett Willis>So all right, here's the groundwork for what we're gonna talk about.


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<Brett Willis>What are the major beer competitions in the world, would we say?


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<Jason Perkins>So there are a lot of beer competitions in the world, and this is just sharing kind of our opinions, but I think the best festivals out there, I'll start with US-based, are the Great American Beer Festival, which is every year, takes place in Denver and is tied to a festival, and then the World Beer Cup.


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<Jason Perkins>Those are the two, I think the two significant competitions in the US.


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<Jason Perkins>And really, that's, you know, they are both put on by the Brewers Association, who both do a great job, but I think really it comes down to the way it's run, the judges that are at those tables are some of the most experienced judges and industry folks out there.


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<Jason Perkins>It's run really well from a, you know, not confidentiality, but the way it's set up is, you know, you don't know what you're tasting, it's very well executed on the steward side.


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<Jason Perkins>Just very well executed competitions all around.


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<Jason Perkins>And so I think medals that come out of those two competitions are always really wonderful beers.


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<Jason Perkins>Cool.


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<Jason Perkins>The only other one I'd reference worldwide is European Beer Star.


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<Jason Perkins>I have never judged a European Beer Star, but I know plenty of people have, and I've heard similar feedback on the way that's run.


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<Jason Perkins>And certainly, because it all comes down to kind of how the level of competition that's going to be there.


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<Jason Perkins>Right.


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<Jason Perkins>So a competition has to be respected to the point where people are willing to spend the money to send their beers to them.


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<Jason Perkins>And then the way that they're judged would be the second most important piece there.


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<Brett Willis>So are there some more niche sort of competitions that maybe are really sort of well-respected for one particular style, but they don't...


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<Brett Willis>Because the feeling I get for all of these competitions is that they are for a wide breadth of styles of beer, like it covers a ton of what is being brewed.


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<Brett Willis>Is that it?


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<Brett Willis>Does that exist, like smaller competitions in that way?


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<Jason Perkins>I mean, yes, there's a lot of competitions out there.


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<Jason Perkins>One other, I guess, honorable mention, I'll say, is the Brussels Beer Challenge, which is based in Belgium, and that's a little bit more specialized.


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<Jason Perkins>They still have a lot of categories, but it's also a competition that's, you know, again, very well-run and, you know, very reputable judges involved.


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<Brett Willis>So you both, you've been a judge, where have you been a judge, at both World Beer Cup and...


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<Jason Perkins>I have judged at both World Beer Cup and GABF for many, many years.


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<Jason Perkins>I've actually taken the last couple years off, not because I don't love it, I absolutely love it, but it's just a big-time commitment to be out there for, you know, let's call it a week, all in with travel and whatnot, you know, taking a break from your other responsibilities, both at work and at home.


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<Jason Perkins>And so I've unfortunately taken the last couple years off, but a bunch of years doing those competitions, and it is really, really interesting and fun to be surrounded by such great folks at the judging tables.


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<Brett Willis>Carl, you've been at GABF.


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<Brett Willis>Have you done World Beer Cup too, or just...?


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<Karl Arnberg>I've been invited to the World Beer Cup, but I haven't gone.


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<Karl Arnberg>Oh, I haven't gone.


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<Brett Willis>Yeah, they weren't good enough.


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<Brett Willis>You couldn't just pencil them in.


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<Brett Willis>No, no, no, I'm sure.


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<Karl Arnberg>Well, one big difference is that the GABF obviously has the festival along with the competition.


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<Karl Arnberg>Yeah, yeah.


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<Karl Arnberg>And it's always been a lot of fun to do both the judging and serve at the competition in the same trip.


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<Karl Arnberg>Yeah, I've done, my first year was 2016, and they took two years off of the pandemic.


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<Karl Arnberg>So and six times now, which is great.


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<Brett Willis>That's awesome.


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<Brett Willis>Have you noticed a change in the like tenor of the judging over the years or has it remained similarly serious or whatever the feel is while the judging is happening?


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<Karl Arnberg>I would say that judges over over that time frame, judges are a little bit more, they work together better now than they used to.


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<Karl Arnberg>It used to have a lot more really firm judges that knew what a beer should be like and stuck to their guns.


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<Karl Arnberg>And now, judges, I feel like are a little bit more collaborative, where they're working together and listening and coming to the right conclusion collectively instead of being bullied into it.


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<Brett Willis>Yeah.


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<Brett Willis>And I imagine that's kind of a necessity, because I wrote these numbers down because there's no way I would have remembered them.


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<Brett Willis>But the number of categories at every one of these competitions is kind of staggering, because I think most people when they think of beer think of certain amounts of styles, like a number of styles.


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<Brett Willis>You can probably name four to ten if you are a general purpose beer fan.


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<Brett Willis>So JABF, 263 different categories of beer.


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<Brett Willis>So 263 different entire styles of beer.


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<Brett Willis>European Beer Star is 74 categories and World Beer Cup is 110 as of this past year as far as my research.


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<Jason Perkins>And I think if you're getting that many categories for JABF, it's those that must include subcategories, because there's actually not that many true categories.


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<Jason Perkins>So there's categories and there's subcategories.


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<Brett Willis>But like, we'll be an example.


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<Brett Willis>I feel like IPA is the perfect, or it's like strong, hazy IPA versus moderate strength easy IPA.


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<Brett Willis>Is that kind of the idea?


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<Jason Perkins>Yeah.


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<Jason Perkins>I have never been involved with actually the creation of categories, but I know that loosely speaking, like if a category continues to grow and grow and grow and there's variability within that particular beer style.


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<Jason Perkins>And IPA is a great example, right?


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<Jason Perkins>Because if you go back 15 years, hazy IPA didn't exist.


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<Jason Perkins>And so to try to jam hazy IPA into West Coast IPA categories, there's such different beers.


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<Jason Perkins>Totally.


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<Jason Perkins>And so the Brews Association who manages those competitions just reacts to what's happening in the marketplace.


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<Jason Perkins>Or something like Pastry Stouts.


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<Jason Perkins>Who would have ever thought there would be a Pastry Stout 15 years ago?


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<Jason Perkins>And now there's enough of them out there that they need to create places for those.


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<Jason Perkins>So it just has expanded over time.


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<Jason Perkins>But there might be a category, say, that there's, you know, might be Belgian Abbey might be a category.


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<Jason Perkins>But within that category would be Tripel and Double Boaf.


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<Jason Perkins>They'd be subcategories of that category, but they still only award three sets of metals for that category.


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<Brett Willis>Nice.


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<Brett Willis>Well, the reason we're here, the secret reason, not really so secret reason.


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<Brett Willis>See, the reason we're here is because Tripel just won a silver medal.


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<Brett Willis>And we have some of that beer right here.


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<Brett Willis>We should, we got to open it.


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<Brett Willis>You want to open it?


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<Brett Willis>You got to do it right in front of the old mic.


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<Jason Perkins>What we've been waiting for.


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<Brett Willis>The secret reveal.


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<Jason Perkins>Are you ready?


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<Brett Willis>Yeah.


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<Jason Perkins>Everybody quiet.


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<Brett Willis>Oh, very nice.


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<Jason Perkins>Good sound.


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<Jason Perkins>Very nice.


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<Brett Willis>It's actually for two different beers, White and Tripel.


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<Brett Willis>Both of these beers, Allagash White, Allagash Tripel, are very awarded beers at these three competitions especially.


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<Brett Willis>So much so that we were able to determine in the past year that White, Allagash White is the most awarded wheat beer in the world across these three competitions.


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<Brett Willis>How we calculated that was basically we looked at gold, silver, and bronze medals, and we assigned a point ratio, like rating to each.


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<Brett Willis>So three points for gold, two points for silver, one point for bronze.


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<Brett Willis>And so White, with its 17 medals, nine golds, three silvers, five bronzes, has 35 total points.


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<Brett Willis>The second place wheat beer has 11 medals, six gold, three silver, two bronze, making it 26 points.


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<Brett Willis>So if you look at number of medals or even number of points, White is pretty comfortably in the lead.


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<Brett Willis>So we're really proud of that.


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<Brett Willis>That's a beer we all love here at the brewery, and it's been awesome to see.


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<Brett Willis>It was really cool to kind of go off of this hunch that someone honestly on our sales team mentioned and was like, hey, is White the most awarded wheat beer?


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<Brett Willis>And we were like, let's look, because we haven't honestly looked into that.


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<Brett Willis>And so that was cool to see.


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<Brett Willis>And then Tripel, which just won a silver medal at the World Beer Cup this past year, pushed it into kind of a tie, but not really, with its closest competitor.


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<Brett Willis>What we found is Tripel has 11 medals, 4 golds, 6 silvers, 1 bronze, and its closest competitor also has 11 medals, but slightly differently distributed in a way that Tripel has more points, if we're going to use our points system.


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<Brett Willis>So we're not here to say Tripel's the best, we're just here to say...


00:12:23.075 --> 00:12:24.035

<Brett Willis>Wait a minute, we're not?


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<Brett Willis>I'm here, well, we're here to...


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<Brett Willis>We want to say it with a little asterisk saying, you know, more points, very good competition, but it's cool.


00:12:33.755 --> 00:12:38.055

<Brett Willis>So potentially two of the most awarded beers of their style in the world.


00:12:38.715 --> 00:12:39.375

<Brett Willis>Sounds very good.


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<Karl Arnberg>Was it gold that it won in the GABF this past fall?


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<Jason Perkins>Yeah.


00:12:43.795 --> 00:12:46.715

<Karl Arnberg>So two awards, 6 months apart.


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<Brett Willis>Editor's note, I actually got it wrong in the original recording.


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<Brett Willis>Tripel has 5 gold medals and 6 silver medals for a total of 11 medals.


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<Jason Perkins>And one thing I didn't mention this earlier, it's probably somewhat obvious by the names of Great American Beer Fest and World Beer Cup.


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<Jason Perkins>The big distinguishing difference is Great American Beer Festival, of course, is only American beers.


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<Jason Perkins>Still very, very large competition.


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<Jason Perkins>There are some brewers who only enter that.


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<Jason Perkins>And then the World Beer Cup is a larger competition because it includes, it's open to anyone around the world.


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<Jason Perkins>And really, if you just pull up the list of awards and look at the breweries, it's pretty awesome to see.


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<Jason Perkins>I mean, you'll see certainly plenty of German breweries, Belgian breweries, English breweries, Czech breweries, et cetera, from like classic brewing regions.


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<Jason Perkins>But especially over the last five plus years, a lot of breweries from places you wouldn't necessarily associate beer culture with, countries like South Korea or Peru.


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<Jason Perkins>I mean, just look down the list, it's pretty interesting to see.


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<Jason Perkins>The Brewers Association also makes a concerted effort to get international judges involved.


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<Jason Perkins>There are international judges at the Great American Beer Fest as well, but a much higher percentage at World Beer Cup.


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<Jason Perkins>And I can say, sitting at both Great American Beer Fest tables and World Beer Cup tables, and I'm sure Karl can agree even at GABF, when you have international judges at your table, it is really, really interesting to see the different perspectives on both classic and non-classic beer styles, where you get people from a different part of the world, surprise to prize, who are going to have a different perspective on that beer style.


00:14:31.875 --> 00:14:33.795

<Jason Perkins>And that's where those conversations get really interesting.


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<Brett Willis>That is interesting, because Karl and I were chatting about it a little bit before, and it's, you know, so much of the judging it sounds like is, you have a definition of what the style is, and then you're judging those beers against that definition.


00:14:46.415 --> 00:14:52.455

<Brett Willis>So are you saying that kind of these folks with different perspectives have a different perspective on what this definition means to them?


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<Karl Arnberg>Certainly, and even what the flavors are.


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<Karl Arnberg>For example, if you leave beer out in sunlight for too long, it gets skunked or develops this sulfurous smell that smells like a skunk.


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<Karl Arnberg>But skunks are not everywhere in the world.


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<Karl Arnberg>Not everybody has smelled that before.


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<Karl Arnberg>So you get judges that can say, oh, that smells like beer that's in a green bottle from the other continent, but the judges at the table can't talk about skunk or skunky quite the same way.


00:15:38.635 --> 00:15:39.455

<Brett Willis>That's interesting.


00:15:39.475 --> 00:15:41.315

<Brett Willis>Yeah, you have to come at it from a different perspective.


00:15:41.935 --> 00:15:43.135

<Brett Willis>Yeah, that makes sense.


00:15:43.815 --> 00:15:55.975

<Brett Willis>So I guess the buildup for both of you of why we are kind of mentioning all this stuff is, what is the significance of these awards for both of you as more on the production end of actually creating these beers?


00:15:55.995 --> 00:15:56.755

<Brett Willis>What is the significance?


00:15:57.675 --> 00:16:07.775

<Jason Perkins>I mean, I can tell you that when we win an award, I just have this sense of pride for the team as a collective kind of Allagash win.


00:16:07.795 --> 00:16:13.015

<Jason Perkins>I mean, it's not the above.


00:16:13.055 --> 00:16:15.575

<Jason Perkins>It doesn't say everything about a beer, right?


00:16:16.095 --> 00:16:24.375

<Jason Perkins>You know, I often say that all the beers that win medals at GABF and World Beer Cup are beautiful beers regardless.


00:16:25.215 --> 00:16:28.455

<Jason Perkins>And there's a whole bunch of amazing beers that don't get medals every year.


00:16:28.475 --> 00:16:31.955

<Jason Perkins>I mean, the competitions are very well run.


00:16:32.435 --> 00:16:34.455

<Jason Perkins>There's a very experienced judge panel.


00:16:34.655 --> 00:16:36.895

<Jason Perkins>They're doing everything right at these competitions.


00:16:36.895 --> 00:16:39.095

<Jason Perkins>But in the end, there's a subjective nature to this.


00:16:40.115 --> 00:16:47.355

<Jason Perkins>And so, I would never say that some of the most beautiful beers in the world don't win medals.


00:16:47.395 --> 00:16:49.455

<Jason Perkins>And there's a lot that goes into winning a medal.


00:16:49.735 --> 00:17:02.535

<Jason Perkins>That said, when you win a medal and when you can win one consistently, it does say a tremendous amount about the overall quality of that beer and the brewer's ability to consistently hit an expectation.


00:17:03.075 --> 00:17:06.315

<Jason Perkins>So, those are things we care deeply about here.


00:17:06.355 --> 00:17:16.855

<Jason Perkins>So, even if no one in the world knew that we won a medal at a given, as long as the team knew and we could bring that medal back, I think that's pretty great.


00:17:17.235 --> 00:17:23.655

<Jason Perkins>And certainly, especially for the folks who are fortunate enough to be in attendance at these festivals, it's pretty cool.


00:17:23.675 --> 00:17:31.075

<Jason Perkins>And just being in that room and hearing the celebrations that happen for anybody is just such a collective feeling of joy in the room.


00:17:31.215 --> 00:17:33.575

<Brett Willis>Yeah, because there's a lot of people in that room, right?


00:17:33.855 --> 00:17:34.275

<Jason Perkins>There is.


00:17:34.375 --> 00:17:35.275

<Brett Willis>You've been there, Karl.


00:17:35.295 --> 00:17:36.415

<Karl Arnberg>Yeah, a couple thousand.


00:17:36.795 --> 00:17:37.135

<Jason Perkins>Yeah.


00:17:37.155 --> 00:17:37.755

<Karl Arnberg>We're close to it.


00:17:38.155 --> 00:17:39.695

<Brett Willis>I feel like you're never in the pictures, Karl.


00:17:40.675 --> 00:17:41.975

<Karl Arnberg>That's because of the festival.


00:17:42.675 --> 00:17:44.315

<Jason Perkins>So, they always go back to the booth.


00:17:44.655 --> 00:17:46.315

<Karl Arnberg>So, I have been in one picture.


00:17:46.395 --> 00:17:46.655

<Brett Willis>Okay.


00:17:47.815 --> 00:17:57.175

<Karl Arnberg>And the award ceremony generally overlaps with the beginning of the first session on that day, on Saturday.


00:17:57.295 --> 00:17:57.595

<Jason Perkins>Yeah.


00:17:58.155 --> 00:18:03.195

<Karl Arnberg>So, somebody has to go set up the booth, start pouring beers, getting them ready.


00:18:03.615 --> 00:18:07.595

<Karl Arnberg>And since I've already been on the stage and received an award...


00:18:07.615 --> 00:18:08.775

<Brett Willis>It's very kind of you.


00:18:08.795 --> 00:18:10.195

<Jason Perkins>I always tell them, Don't worry about it.


00:18:10.215 --> 00:18:11.455

<Jason Perkins>The volunteers will cover it.


00:18:11.475 --> 00:18:12.855

<Jason Perkins>You'll be fine.


00:18:12.895 --> 00:18:13.795

<Jason Perkins>No, I gotta be there.


00:18:14.295 --> 00:18:22.355

<Karl Arnberg>I've gone back and seen volunteers taking samples off the tap box.


00:18:22.375 --> 00:18:23.355

<Brett Willis>Those volunteers.


00:18:24.395 --> 00:18:24.895

<Brett Willis>That's funny.


00:18:25.215 --> 00:18:28.275

<Brett Willis>It's kind of an honor, honestly, to have volunteers taking it off the tap.


00:18:28.295 --> 00:18:30.655

<Brett Willis>They have access to every single beer there.


00:18:30.675 --> 00:18:33.995

<Brett Willis>So, if they're sneaking a little bit of whatever would be Curio or something...


00:18:34.735 --> 00:18:41.295

<Karl Arnberg>So long as they remember to turn on the CO2 beforehand, and not bleed the bad pressures off the kegs.


00:18:42.135 --> 00:18:52.795

<Karl Arnberg>You know, I'd say another facet about the awards is not only amazing beers get awards, but also the adherence to the style guidelines.


00:18:54.315 --> 00:19:13.115

<Karl Arnberg>And while style has a bit of a fluid appreciation, I'd say, in the beer world, where we have certain historical beers that represent a style, and we certainly brew beers to match a style, beers can fall all over the place.


00:19:13.135 --> 00:19:18.475

<Karl Arnberg>So your favorite beer may not adhere to any style and may never see an award.


00:19:18.535 --> 00:19:19.015

<Karl Arnberg>Or vol.


00:19:19.215 --> 00:19:20.035

<Karl Arnberg>But doesn't mean it's...


00:19:20.775 --> 00:19:26.895

<Karl Arnberg>It may not fit a style, but it can still be an amazing beer.


00:19:28.015 --> 00:19:42.535

<Karl Arnberg>And I think it's pretty amazing that for beers like White and Tripel that can nail both being world class beers, but also stay in that style guideline each time they win.


00:19:42.555 --> 00:19:43.475

<Karl Arnberg>It's pretty amazing.


00:19:43.895 --> 00:19:48.715

<Brett Willis>So speaking to Tripel, because we have in front of us, what part of the style guidelines do we...


00:19:48.895 --> 00:19:54.115

<Brett Willis>Obviously, we're hitting all the style guidelines, but what are the points that stand out for this style of beer?


00:19:54.275 --> 00:20:01.475

<Karl Arnberg>It's the malt character and the yeast character before anything else.


00:20:03.275 --> 00:20:04.955

<Karl Arnberg>Carbonation always stands out.


00:20:05.535 --> 00:20:16.355

<Karl Arnberg>And how that's both giving it effervescence, bringing out those aromas and flavors, and the fluffy foam on top, the head on top.


00:20:16.575 --> 00:20:16.875

<Brett Willis>Sure.


00:20:17.395 --> 00:20:21.335

<Karl Arnberg>Those are always noted from judges that they stand out.


00:20:22.775 --> 00:20:23.275

<Brett Willis>That's cool.


00:20:23.455 --> 00:20:26.855

<Jason Perkins>Yeah, I'll say just expanding a little bit on just the beer itself.


00:20:26.875 --> 00:20:32.695

<Jason Perkins>I mean, for me, Tripel is such a beautifully simple beer.


00:20:32.855 --> 00:20:43.135

<Jason Perkins>I mean, this beer is made with one malt, one kippa grain, our malted barley blend, and effectively one hop.


00:20:43.155 --> 00:20:45.515

<Jason Perkins>And we have a bittering hop, but the late hops are Hallertau.


00:20:46.315 --> 00:20:47.815

<Jason Perkins>And then our yeast.


00:20:48.135 --> 00:20:49.215

<Jason Perkins>And that's it.


00:20:50.075 --> 00:20:57.455

<Jason Perkins>There's some sugar in there to help dry out the fermentation, but it's just a very simple ingredient beer that creates this complexity.


00:20:57.475 --> 00:21:13.495

<Jason Perkins>And I think this is, I love the style Tripel in general for that reason, but our beer does a great job of, it's very simple in a lot of ways, and so it's very approachable, but there's so many complex aromas, especially in this beer.


00:21:13.675 --> 00:21:16.935

<Jason Perkins>And a lot of that's from, almost all of that's from fermentation.


00:21:17.375 --> 00:21:20.335

<Jason Perkins>And the high alcohol fermentation with our house yeast strain.


00:21:20.775 --> 00:21:26.015

<Jason Perkins>And so that lends to a beer that's both refreshing, but also really complex in aroma characteristics.


00:21:27.235 --> 00:21:34.495

<Brett Willis>Yeah, I would agree with that complexity for sure, because in trying to describe the aroma in this beer, it's very difficult to describe it concisely.


00:21:35.195 --> 00:21:39.135

<Brett Willis>It's so varied, but we've boiled it down to what?


00:21:39.155 --> 00:21:41.915

<Brett Willis>Passion fruit and honey is kind of the hallmarks that we put on there.


00:21:41.935 --> 00:21:47.535

<Brett Willis>But if you came and put this beer in front of someone and said, hey, taste the passion fruit, they're going to, I think, be like, you're kind of crazy.


00:21:47.555 --> 00:21:48.335

<Brett Willis>What are you talking about?


00:21:49.495 --> 00:21:50.635

<Brett Willis>Yeah, but it gets at it.


00:21:50.735 --> 00:21:51.215

<Jason Perkins>Agreed.


00:21:51.235 --> 00:22:05.335

<Jason Perkins>And I'll say, I think what Tripel has and what we always say White has, is this, and I'll use your point of passion fruit for Tripel, like, yeah, of course it's in there, but no one would probably take this and be like, oh, passion fruit beer.


00:22:05.755 --> 00:22:08.255

<Jason Perkins>It's only when you say, do you smell that?


00:22:08.275 --> 00:22:09.375

<Jason Perkins>And they're like, okay, I get it.


00:22:10.115 --> 00:22:13.775

<Jason Perkins>And those are where flavor components, in my opinion, are at the right spot.


00:22:14.675 --> 00:22:21.255

<Jason Perkins>And White is in the same ballpark where White has coriander, it has citrus, it has yeast character, it has wheat character.


00:22:21.275 --> 00:22:22.695

<Jason Perkins>It's got all these components to it.


00:22:23.095 --> 00:22:27.975

<Jason Perkins>And if any one of those components was just a little higher, the whole beer gets ruined.


00:22:28.635 --> 00:22:40.575

<Jason Perkins>But because they're blended together in such a way that there's complexity without overpowering nature, I think both White and Tripel do that balance really well.


00:22:41.395 --> 00:22:45.255

<Karl Arnberg>And beers like that offer you a couple of different ways of drinking it, too.


00:22:46.555 --> 00:22:52.875

<Karl Arnberg>When they're subtle enough, you can drink it and not be overwhelmed with flavor, right?


00:22:53.435 --> 00:23:00.775

<Karl Arnberg>But if you want to pay attention to it, you can pick it apart and come up with a list of 30 different descriptors for the same thing.


00:23:00.795 --> 00:23:03.175

<Karl Arnberg>There's a lot of complexity if you want it.


00:23:03.815 --> 00:23:07.215

<Karl Arnberg>Or it can be straightforward and simple if you would prefer that.


00:23:08.315 --> 00:23:15.055

<Jason Perkins>You know, Karl kind of alluded to a little bit of the style guidelines to this, and that is a big component.


00:23:15.075 --> 00:23:21.535

<Jason Perkins>And I'll also say, side note to that, there's a bunch of beers we make here that we won't enter in a competition.


00:23:22.555 --> 00:23:30.375

<Jason Perkins>And Karl and myself and Zach and one of our other fellow judges, Rob Heater, get together when it comes to be competition time.


00:23:30.395 --> 00:23:31.275

<Jason Perkins>We have to register beers.


00:23:31.295 --> 00:23:32.135

<Jason Perkins>We look at our list.


00:23:32.395 --> 00:23:38.955

<Jason Perkins>And there are certain beers that we might be like, I love that beer, but that beer doesn't fit any category that's listed on here.


00:23:38.975 --> 00:23:41.015

<Jason Perkins>We're not going to enter it.


00:23:41.315 --> 00:23:50.095

<Jason Perkins>And Tripel and White are certainly beers that fit pretty squarely in the categories that are there, not because we brewed them to fit those categories, but because categories are there.


00:23:51.115 --> 00:23:57.415

<Jason Perkins>So that's a component of it, is matching the right category, but really it comes down to good brewing technique, right?


00:23:57.435 --> 00:24:13.155

<Jason Perkins>Like sourcing the right ingredients, caring deeply about where everything comes from, knowing your sources, knowing your suppliers, knowing your farmers, quality checks when they come into the building, making sure you're making adjustments in the brew house based on the raw materials.


00:24:13.415 --> 00:24:14.555

<Jason Perkins>I mean, I could go on and on.


00:24:14.555 --> 00:24:22.975

<Jason Perkins>It's all of the things that make a brewer a good brewer to make a beer that is free of flaws.


00:24:23.655 --> 00:24:32.155

<Jason Perkins>And that's another thing that is worth noting with judging, is that for better or for worse, one of the judge's responsibilities is to pick out a flaw.


00:24:32.975 --> 00:24:47.375

<Jason Perkins>And there are certain classic flaws, like a diacetyl or DMS or acid aldehyde, any number of these compounds that are known to a brewer, are known to a judge, and if a beer has those, you're gonna get kicked right off the table.


00:24:47.715 --> 00:24:54.575

<Jason Perkins>And rightfully so, because that's considered for the sake of a competition where you're trying to make a very well-built, perfectly-built beer.


00:24:54.815 --> 00:24:59.415

<Jason Perkins>If a beer has a flaw to it, even at a low level, it gets kicked off the table.


00:24:59.555 --> 00:25:05.355

<Jason Perkins>So obviously, you've got to brew a beer that's void of those flaws if you want to have any chance of meddling.


00:25:07.215 --> 00:25:07.415

<Brett Willis>Yeah.


00:25:08.075 --> 00:25:22.495

<Brett Willis>Within all of that, I think there's a running thread of self-control or holding yourself to something, because I think people are getting more and more knowledgeable about what beer is supposed to taste like.


00:25:22.515 --> 00:25:28.935

<Brett Willis>It feels like, at least for the people who really care about it, but at the same time, I feel like there's a lot of beer out there that's just good beer.


00:25:28.955 --> 00:25:29.415

<Brett Willis>It's just good.


00:25:29.675 --> 00:25:30.655

<Brett Willis>That's a good beer.


00:25:30.675 --> 00:25:35.715

<Brett Willis>You don't need to do all these checks you're talking about to make a beer that people consider good.


00:25:36.055 --> 00:25:44.115

<Brett Willis>It's like, you want to be like, I am holding myself to do this in the best possible way that we can and really buckle down, which is...


00:25:44.595 --> 00:25:48.615

<Brett Willis>I mean, I would agree that I see that across the brewery and how we treat all sorts of stuff.


00:25:48.635 --> 00:25:51.155

<Karl Arnberg>It's how we treat everything that we produce.


00:25:51.795 --> 00:25:56.535

<Karl Arnberg>You can see that easily by the way we pick what beers we send to the competition.


00:25:57.195 --> 00:26:09.635

<Karl Arnberg>Some breweries will brew special batches of the beer that they want to send, whether because it's going to be closer to the time that they send that beer or because they want to tweak the recipe.


00:26:10.995 --> 00:26:18.055

<Karl Arnberg>But often, when we're picking out the beer we're about to send, we just say, whatever is freshest in the warehouse, send that.


00:26:19.935 --> 00:26:22.075

<Karl Arnberg>Which is usually the only batch we have in the warehouse.


00:26:22.355 --> 00:26:22.635

<Jason Perkins>Yeah.


00:26:23.555 --> 00:26:25.055

<Jason Perkins>Yeah, I was going to actually note freshness.


00:26:25.075 --> 00:26:26.315

<Jason Perkins>That's one thing I didn't mention earlier.


00:26:26.335 --> 00:26:37.035

<Jason Perkins>And that is, you know, these competitions have gotten really good over the years of shortening the time that the beer has to be sent, held for, et cetera, cold storage and so on.


00:26:37.055 --> 00:26:43.875

<Jason Perkins>But the reality is, a lot of times you have to send beer in a package, and then it sits in a warehouse.


00:26:44.175 --> 00:26:55.415

<Jason Perkins>Cold storage, yes, but in a warehouse for a period of time before they judge it, just by the nature of the logistics you can imagine to get, especially for World Beer Cup, where all the beer is kind of coming from all over the world.


00:26:55.615 --> 00:26:57.735

<Jason Perkins>So there's a period of holding that's there.


00:26:58.615 --> 00:27:02.095

<Jason Perkins>And we do this for a thousand other reasons.


00:27:02.755 --> 00:27:07.455

<Jason Perkins>We have lots of practices in place to make sure our beer is as fresh as possible for consumers on a grocery store shelf.


00:27:08.055 --> 00:27:18.595

<Jason Perkins>But it does help us in these competitions, I think, because low oxygen pickup at packaging, all the freshness techniques that we use here to keep the beer as fresh as possible.


00:27:18.615 --> 00:27:22.195

<Jason Perkins>So when it gets in front of a judge, it's in a perfect state.


00:27:22.215 --> 00:27:23.835

<Jason Perkins>And I mentioned flaws.


00:27:24.135 --> 00:27:25.375

<Jason Perkins>Another flaw is oxidation.


00:27:25.375 --> 00:27:28.875

<Jason Perkins>If the beer has heavy oxidation, it's going to get kicked off a table.


00:27:29.315 --> 00:27:33.675

<Brett Willis>Most of that is packaging and other things in the brewing process, but it's also time.


00:27:33.715 --> 00:27:38.755

<Brett Willis>Just like, you know, the longer a beer is sitting, the more oxidation is going to affect it, affect its flavor.


00:27:39.695 --> 00:27:44.195

<Brett Willis>So judging, what is the...


00:27:44.275 --> 00:27:49.715

<Brett Willis>What are the general qualifications you find among many of these beer judges at these competitions?


00:27:49.735 --> 00:27:50.715

<Brett Willis>Does everyone work at a brewery?


00:27:51.295 --> 00:27:52.055

<Brett Willis>Does everyone...?


00:27:52.155 --> 00:27:54.215

<Karl Arnberg>No, not everyone works at a brewery.


00:27:55.635 --> 00:28:01.635

<Karl Arnberg>The beer judges certification program is One Avenue, training to learn how to judge beer.


00:28:03.855 --> 00:28:11.655

<Karl Arnberg>Cicerone might be another one that, yeah, is another one that leads, trains people to judge beer.


00:28:12.175 --> 00:28:25.615

<Karl Arnberg>I got in through a recommendation from Jason and Zach Boda to go in and taste just the general knowledge in beer and tasting it.


00:28:27.335 --> 00:28:28.295

<Karl Arnberg>I hope it was a good idea.


00:28:28.315 --> 00:28:29.695

<Karl Arnberg>I think it was a good idea.


00:28:30.155 --> 00:28:36.695

<Jason Perkins>Yeah, I mean, I don't know what the waiting list is these days to get in, but I think it was a couple of years for you.


00:28:36.715 --> 00:28:39.695

<Jason Perkins>Same for Rob Heater, who's now judging as well from here.


00:28:40.955 --> 00:28:48.635

<Jason Perkins>And it does require, you know, you basically, it's an application process and you have to, you know, have a couple of recommendations from people in the industry.


00:28:50.175 --> 00:28:52.015

<Jason Perkins>And, you know, pretty easy for Karl.


00:28:52.195 --> 00:28:59.115

<Jason Perkins>He built our sensory program here and is about as good at describing flavors as anyone ever met, so that was an easy recommendation.


00:28:59.135 --> 00:29:02.535

<Jason Perkins>But, you know, it is hard to get into.


00:29:03.215 --> 00:29:14.595

<Jason Perkins>But I actually, I like sitting at these tables and looking around and you're like, man, the collective, like, time and industry at this table, I mean, it's probably an average of 25 years.


00:29:14.755 --> 00:29:15.055

<Brett Willis>Yeah.


00:29:15.075 --> 00:29:21.055

<Jason Perkins>And looking around and sometimes there's brewers from big breweries like an Anheuser-Busch, sometimes there's brewers from small breweries.


00:29:21.495 --> 00:29:27.435

<Jason Perkins>But there's also really nice when you're just talking to someone who's maybe a beer writer and has been a beer writer for 20 years.


00:29:27.675 --> 00:29:34.055

<Jason Perkins>Like, the perspectives of those folks are equally, if not more valuable, than someone who, you know, works on a brewery floor.


00:29:34.355 --> 00:29:34.795

<Brett Willis>Totally.


00:29:35.395 --> 00:29:42.875

<Karl Arnberg>And then also suppliers for, you know, brewing supplies, hops, malts, they're often tasting.


00:29:43.755 --> 00:30:18.815

<Karl Arnberg>And I think the diversity of people from different areas in the brewing world at the table all give the table so much more strength of perspective to be able to taste, where from a brewery, you're going to pick out oxidation, I think, much faster than someone who's maybe coming at it from beer writing, where oxidation is a little bit more standard in the beers that you're getting and may fold in better for them into the beer.


00:30:18.915 --> 00:30:19.915

<Brett Willis>Into what they expect.


00:30:20.735 --> 00:30:28.735

<Karl Arnberg>Exactly, and their expectations of that flavor and how it fits in that beer.


00:30:28.835 --> 00:30:30.755

<Brett Willis>That's really interesting.


00:30:31.255 --> 00:30:37.675

<Brett Willis>So one remarkable thing, I think, for me is that you have White and Tripel, which are year-round beers.


00:30:37.695 --> 00:30:38.615

<Brett Willis>We're brewing them all the time.


00:30:38.635 --> 00:30:41.895

<Brett Willis>As you said, when we send them into competitions, we're just literally sending them from the warehouse.


00:30:41.915 --> 00:30:42.715

<Brett Willis>We're changing nothing.


00:30:43.075 --> 00:30:46.595

<Brett Willis>Does that seem to be an outlier in these competitions?


00:30:47.215 --> 00:30:52.095

<Brett Willis>Are they more small batch beers that are winning awards?


00:30:52.095 --> 00:30:57.075

<Brett Willis>Does there seem to be a common thread among, oh, there are a lot of year-round beers that are winning?


00:30:58.275 --> 00:30:58.875

<Brett Willis>Could you say?


00:31:00.575 --> 00:31:12.735

<Jason Perkins>I guess I would say that it's not common for, this is going to sound a little pompous, I'm sorry, but it's not that common for any beer to win consistently.


00:31:13.115 --> 00:31:13.775

<Jason Perkins>It happens.


00:31:13.795 --> 00:31:14.795

<Jason Perkins>Don't get me wrong.


00:31:15.455 --> 00:31:21.675

<Jason Perkins>There's plenty of other breweries that have it, but it's more common for it to be kind of, oh, I've never heard of that beer.


00:31:21.695 --> 00:31:23.335

<Jason Perkins>And which is amazing.


00:31:23.355 --> 00:31:24.955

<Jason Perkins>It's so cool to see a range of beers.


00:31:25.435 --> 00:31:34.615

<Jason Perkins>There are, I'm always, whether it's our beer or somebody else's, when somebody's winning consistently, it's even more impressive.


00:31:34.615 --> 00:31:34.915

<Jason Perkins>Sure.


00:31:35.255 --> 00:31:40.895

<Jason Perkins>And we've won some awards for other beers, one-off beers before, and that's certainly great.


00:31:41.095 --> 00:31:42.255

<Jason Perkins>And we're psyched about that.


00:31:42.275 --> 00:31:46.535

<Jason Perkins>But White and Tripel are two of our core beers.


00:31:46.615 --> 00:31:49.195

<Jason Perkins>And so when those win, it just feels all that much better.


00:31:50.175 --> 00:31:56.915

<Brett Willis>Karl, correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel like, so we do a sensory program here at Allagash where we describe beers.


00:31:56.935 --> 00:32:12.335

<Brett Willis>So we take all this information that our panelists have put together as far as how a beer tastes, and then we get a smaller panel of people who look at all those tasting notes and then come up with what the kind of final description is for us internally to think about what's the correct way for this beer to taste.


00:32:13.335 --> 00:32:18.475

<Brett Willis>I feel that's one of my favorite things to do here because just geeking out on beer.


00:32:18.695 --> 00:32:20.355

<Brett Willis>You get to talk about the total nuances.


00:32:20.355 --> 00:32:21.115

<Brett Willis>Is it lemon?


00:32:21.295 --> 00:32:22.675

<Brett Willis>Is it lemon plus grass?


00:32:22.675 --> 00:32:24.135

<Brett Willis>Or is it lemongrass?


00:32:25.115 --> 00:32:28.195

<Brett Willis>And those matter because you're like, you want to get this as right as possible.


00:32:28.215 --> 00:32:29.215

<Brett Willis>Is it muscat grape?


00:32:29.255 --> 00:32:30.535

<Brett Willis>Is it white grape?


00:32:30.955 --> 00:32:37.755

<Brett Willis>And that's so fun to really just let yourself go and geek out as hard as possible on the nuances of the beer.


00:32:38.075 --> 00:32:46.715

<Brett Willis>And so I have to imagine there's an aspect of that among brewers because rarely are you sitting in a bar being like, is this carbonation moderate or soft?


00:32:46.935 --> 00:32:48.715

<Brett Willis>You don't have those conversations.


00:32:49.695 --> 00:32:56.435

<Brett Willis>So it's really fun when you work in that industry to really indulge in your love of the thing.


00:32:56.435 --> 00:32:59.595

<Karl Arnberg>Yeah, the conversations are certainly that in depth.


00:32:59.735 --> 00:33:00.915

<Karl Arnberg>Yeah.


00:33:01.455 --> 00:33:06.175

<Karl Arnberg>There is a different goal in those conversations though.


00:33:06.735 --> 00:33:32.595

<Karl Arnberg>And I think it's even more fascinating than what you described, where instead of just trying to come up with the descriptors for the means of coming up with the descriptors, you need to come up, in the case of judging, you need to come up with those descriptors to try and persuade other judges that this beer is correct or this beer is not.


00:33:34.175 --> 00:33:38.595

<Karl Arnberg>And persuasion at a judging table is a huge part of that kind of tasting.


00:33:38.615 --> 00:34:11.875

<Karl Arnberg>It's very different than what we do here, where you're all tasting the same thing and you all have the style list in front of you of what it should meet, what expectations it should meet, and then you have to try and persuade each other or agree or disagree and do it, hopefully civilly, in a way that will lead to having beers that you want to move on to the next round or give gold, silver and bronze to at the end.


00:34:12.895 --> 00:34:13.415

<Karl Arnberg>That's good.


00:34:13.575 --> 00:34:15.455

<Brett Willis>It's given me like 12 angry men vibes.


00:34:17.835 --> 00:34:20.255

<Jason Perkins>Oh yeah, I've definitely thought about that at the judge table.


00:34:20.275 --> 00:34:24.695

<Jason Perkins>But I will say I have not ever experienced that exact thing before.


00:34:25.135 --> 00:34:28.755

<Jason Perkins>But there are bigger personalities usually at these tables.


00:34:28.775 --> 00:34:29.695

<Jason Perkins>Sure.


00:34:30.535 --> 00:34:46.435

<Jason Perkins>But I will agree with Karl that it's a very collaborative, communal, open, and there's a judge captain at the table who's usually the most experienced person at the table who's responsible for helping to facilitate the conversations, which is really important.


00:34:46.835 --> 00:34:58.895

<Jason Perkins>But I've never been at a table where there's one person who's just like, you're all wrong, I'm right, and I've been doing this forever, and I'm going to talk you into it.


00:34:58.915 --> 00:35:00.695

<Jason Perkins>It doesn't really work exactly like that.


00:35:00.735 --> 00:35:01.095

<Brett Willis>Okay.


00:35:01.995 --> 00:35:08.255

<Brett Willis>I was going to wonder if tenure would be hand in hand with the biggest voice at the table sort of a thing.


00:35:08.275 --> 00:35:15.395

<Brett Willis>I'm sure it has a hand in it of deferring to someone who's been around for 40 years versus 10 or 5.


00:35:16.555 --> 00:35:17.235

<Brett Willis>That's interesting.


00:35:17.715 --> 00:35:29.575

<Karl Arnberg>It may be important to put it at the beginning of the podcast, but I think we should add that Jason and I and the other judges from Allagash are never judging the categories that we enter.


00:35:30.295 --> 00:35:38.135

<Karl Arnberg>And in fact, no judge is judging a category if their brewery has submitted beers in that category.


00:35:39.075 --> 00:35:42.595

<Karl Arnberg>These are other judges awarding awards for White and Tripel.


00:35:42.615 --> 00:35:43.955

<Jason Perkins>Yeah, they go even further than that.


00:35:43.975 --> 00:35:52.555

<Jason Perkins>If you've collaborated with a brewery, if you have associations with a brewery, because there might be maybe a brewery is a partnership with another brewery.


00:35:52.575 --> 00:35:53.575

<Brett Willis>Oh, yeah, that's so interesting.


00:35:53.675 --> 00:35:56.455

<Jason Perkins>Alternating proprietorship or whatever, they do it.


00:35:56.475 --> 00:36:03.235

<Jason Perkins>And you're told to disclose that at the beginning, but I know that they also, in the background, make sure that that's the case.


00:36:03.855 --> 00:36:05.915

<Jason Perkins>And it's super important to preserve that.


00:36:06.175 --> 00:36:21.995

<Jason Perkins>I will also say that we've shared some details here of judging, because it's really interesting stuff, but judges in general are, not in general, are always very explicitly told you don't share what happens at a table.


00:36:22.015 --> 00:36:22.295

<Jason Perkins>Totally.


00:36:22.315 --> 00:36:25.155

<Jason Perkins>Yeah, because they're trying to protect what happens there.


00:36:26.615 --> 00:36:32.995

<Jason Perkins>And I always like, Chris Swersey used to run, ran the competition for the VA for many, many, many years.


00:36:33.015 --> 00:36:34.795

<Jason Perkins>He moved to Australia a couple years ago.


00:36:36.175 --> 00:36:44.275

<Jason Perkins>But his comment was always like, don't pretend you know what beer you're drinking, because you're wrong.


00:36:44.775 --> 00:36:47.455

<Jason Perkins>Like, because you might come to the table and be like, oh, I know what this is.


00:36:47.915 --> 00:36:48.795

<Jason Perkins>I've had this beer.


00:36:49.295 --> 00:36:52.495

<Jason Perkins>And his take out of all these years was, you're always wrong.


00:36:52.755 --> 00:36:54.575

<Jason Perkins>And all it does is kind of spoil the table.


00:36:55.055 --> 00:37:02.575

<Jason Perkins>Anyway, so I've always heard him say that, but I've never actually heard someone at the table be like, oh, yeah, I know this is whatever beer.


00:37:02.695 --> 00:37:03.215

<Brett Willis>That's good.


00:37:03.255 --> 00:37:06.695

<Brett Willis>Well, you probably just dissuaded them from doing that.


00:37:06.975 --> 00:37:10.575

<Brett Willis>Because, I mean, we do that in that same panel that I was talking about.


00:37:10.895 --> 00:37:13.695

<Brett Willis>There are some times where I think I know what the thing is, and I am often wrong.


00:37:13.975 --> 00:37:15.255

<Brett Willis>Yeah, no clue.


00:37:15.935 --> 00:37:32.395

<Karl Arnberg>You can easily walk yourself down a road of, if you think you know what it is, trying to come up with the descriptors that you would expect to find in that beer, which at the end of the day are incorrect, or aren't there at all.


00:37:32.915 --> 00:37:35.315

<Karl Arnberg>You've just kind of put them there in your head.


00:37:35.855 --> 00:37:36.335

<Brett Willis>That's good.


00:37:36.995 --> 00:37:38.235

<Brett Willis>So yeah, I think that's kind of...


00:37:39.195 --> 00:37:39.995

<Brett Willis>Oh, you know what?


00:37:40.695 --> 00:37:41.715

<Brett Willis>No, we already talked about that.


00:37:41.735 --> 00:37:43.775

<Brett Willis>Just how does one judge a beer was kind of the thing.


00:37:43.795 --> 00:37:47.775

<Brett Willis>But we talked about just you're looking at the different aspects of the beer and how well it fits the style.


00:37:48.975 --> 00:37:54.475

<Karl Arnberg>We can probably talk about how a beer moves through judges.


00:37:56.495 --> 00:38:12.775

<Karl Arnberg>Depending how many beers are entered into a category, you'll start with a table of judges, usually three to four, who write out a judging slip.


00:38:13.815 --> 00:38:24.015

<Karl Arnberg>As they taste it, they'll remark on the appearance, the aroma, the flavor, the mouthfeel, correctness to style, technical abilities or...


00:38:24.735 --> 00:38:25.315

<Brett Willis>Amplitude.


00:38:25.615 --> 00:38:27.975

<Karl Arnberg>Amplitude, thank you.


00:38:28.035 --> 00:38:31.615

<Karl Arnberg>And then kind of give it a rating for the table.


00:38:32.235 --> 00:38:40.995

<Karl Arnberg>So with your three or four other judges, you'll have maybe ten samples out of the total of that category.


00:38:42.155 --> 00:38:45.935

<Karl Arnberg>And you whittle that down to about three that go on to the next round.


00:38:46.595 --> 00:38:51.255

<Karl Arnberg>So the next table gets all three, usually different judges.


00:38:51.255 --> 00:38:57.035

<Karl Arnberg>They taste all nine or twelve of the beers that were passed on from the first round.


00:38:57.535 --> 00:39:08.455

<Karl Arnberg>They pick their favorite three, go on generally to the next round, where the top three are then ranked for gold, silver and bronze.


00:39:08.875 --> 00:39:13.295

<Brett Willis>So these are being vetted by a lot of different people and a lot of different scenarios as well.


00:39:13.355 --> 00:39:16.395

<Brett Willis>It's not like you're all sitting around a table drinking 250 beers.


00:39:17.295 --> 00:39:18.615

<Jason Perkins>No, that's a really good point.


00:39:18.635 --> 00:39:22.575

<Jason Perkins>I mean, if you get to the medal round, you've gone through at least two previous rounds.


00:39:23.455 --> 00:39:26.175

<Jason Perkins>And then depending on how big the category is, it might be even more than that.


00:39:26.195 --> 00:39:32.275

<Jason Perkins>But yeah, you've had to pass through multiple judging scenarios.


00:39:33.355 --> 00:39:36.335

<Karl Arnberg>And different people, different persuasions and conversations.


00:39:36.415 --> 00:39:45.555

<Brett Willis>Yeah, I think that's the most, that's actually the most impressive part to me, is like passing through one table of 10 people is like really impressive.


00:39:45.575 --> 00:39:55.255

<Brett Willis>But then passing through a second table of 10 other people with a totally different perspective on it is like, dang, you're hitting the mark, no matter who's tasting it.


00:39:55.255 --> 00:40:01.455

<Jason Perkins>Yeah, and when you get your judging schedule, so you don't know until you get there, you get to the judging orientation and they give you your schedule.


00:40:01.795 --> 00:40:07.115

<Jason Perkins>And I know I always pull it open and the thing I look for most is, am I in a metal round?


00:40:07.875 --> 00:40:09.875

<Jason Perkins>Like, because you'll get assigned to different rounds.


00:40:10.055 --> 00:40:12.395

<Jason Perkins>There's some randomness to it and not randomness to it.


00:40:12.415 --> 00:40:17.015

<Jason Perkins>But because the metal rounds are that, you know, they've gone through two or three rounds at that point.


00:40:17.035 --> 00:40:19.595

<Jason Perkins>And every beer in front of you is a beautiful beer.


00:40:20.375 --> 00:40:26.515

<Jason Perkins>It's harder to pick the metals at that point, but you also have absolutely great beers in front of you.


00:40:26.535 --> 00:40:32.575

<Jason Perkins>And so being at a metal round table, which every judge hopefully gets at least one each year and sometimes multiple.


00:40:32.595 --> 00:40:34.855

<Jason Perkins>But that's where you really get to.


00:40:35.395 --> 00:40:36.675

<Jason Perkins>It's really fun at that point.


00:40:36.695 --> 00:40:39.795

<Jason Perkins>Fun and challenging to pick which ones are going to get the metals.


00:40:39.955 --> 00:40:49.095

<Brett Willis>Yeah, it's more fun to watch people succeed than it is to like kick people off who aren't doing well, you know, to go among excellence versus just whittle down.


00:40:49.115 --> 00:40:50.275

<Brett Willis>Yeah, that's cool.


00:40:50.435 --> 00:40:58.095

<Karl Arnberg>There are also a couple of categories that are open styles where the style guidelines aren't very rigid.


00:40:59.015 --> 00:41:01.195

<Karl Arnberg>In fact, they're purposefully open.


00:41:01.395 --> 00:41:06.575

<Karl Arnberg>So say for honey beer, it can be any style so long as it has honey.


00:41:06.935 --> 00:41:11.335

<Karl Arnberg>And it's up to the judges to determine, does this have enough honey?


00:41:11.375 --> 00:41:12.695

<Karl Arnberg>Is it perceivable?


00:41:12.815 --> 00:41:14.835

<Karl Arnberg>Is it balanced?


00:41:14.955 --> 00:41:18.735

<Karl Arnberg>And generally make the beer a good honey beer.


00:41:19.795 --> 00:41:23.195

<Karl Arnberg>Some of the best category is the experimental.


00:41:23.475 --> 00:41:24.575

<Karl Arnberg>I love the experimental.


00:41:24.595 --> 00:41:24.875

<Karl Arnberg>Agreed.


00:41:25.595 --> 00:41:32.695

<Karl Arnberg>Or the spice, urban spice beers where it's any style and it's just whatever you want to put into it.


00:41:33.195 --> 00:41:34.075

<Karl Arnberg>But make a good beer.


00:41:34.715 --> 00:41:44.995

<Brett Willis>Have any stuck out to you as like, you obviously wouldn't know what beer it was, but like any stuck out that were like, that is the craziest use of this particular ingredient I've ever seen and it totally works?


00:41:45.135 --> 00:41:48.855

<Brett Willis>Or can you even say?


00:41:48.875 --> 00:41:50.355

<Brett Willis>Are you allowed to use sworn to secrecy?


00:41:51.775 --> 00:41:52.935

<Karl Arnberg>I've seen some weird stuff.


00:41:53.715 --> 00:41:54.915

<Jason Perkins>Let's just leave it at that.


00:41:57.795 --> 00:41:58.375

<Karl Arnberg>That's good.


00:42:00.235 --> 00:42:01.055

<Karl Arnberg>Just don't clip that.


00:42:05.475 --> 00:42:07.195

<Brett Willis>That's how we're going to open this podcast episode.


00:42:07.215 --> 00:42:08.575

<Karl Arnberg>I've seen some weird stuff.


00:42:10.115 --> 00:42:11.815

<Karl Arnberg>Old grizzled beer judge.


00:42:14.815 --> 00:42:15.075

<Brett Willis>Yeah.


00:42:15.095 --> 00:42:20.675

<Brett Willis>I mean, honestly, I guess I kind of know the advice you give to other brewers who aspire to win awards.


00:42:20.695 --> 00:42:21.515

<Brett Willis>That was where I wanted to end.


00:42:21.535 --> 00:42:23.275

<Brett Willis>And it is this attention to detail.


00:42:23.295 --> 00:42:25.955

<Brett Willis>It's this passion for just really paying attention to what's happening there.


00:42:25.975 --> 00:42:31.695

<Brett Willis>But I guess, are there any other parting thoughts you have around either judging or awards or anything else?


00:42:33.015 --> 00:42:39.335

<Jason Perkins>In addition to what you just said, I would say, read the guidelines really closely.


00:42:39.475 --> 00:42:39.815

<Brett Willis>Nice.


00:42:40.395 --> 00:42:43.575

<Jason Perkins>Because in the end, that's what the judge is supposed to be doing.


00:42:43.595 --> 00:42:44.675

<Jason Perkins>They're not being jerks.


00:42:44.695 --> 00:42:45.875

<Jason Perkins>That's what they're supposed to do.


00:42:46.615 --> 00:42:51.415

<Jason Perkins>The beer in front of them, they have the category guidelines in front of them.


00:42:51.695 --> 00:42:53.475

<Jason Perkins>They're looking for those characteristics.


00:42:53.495 --> 00:43:00.475

<Jason Perkins>So I think that is a mistake some people make is they just pick a category based on name and not by description.


00:43:00.495 --> 00:43:07.195

<Jason Perkins>So spend some time looking at those category guidelines and make sure the beer is submitting fits.


00:43:09.775 --> 00:43:19.435

<Karl Arnberg>Yeah, I might just say that, or re-emphasize what Jason said, is that there are a lot of good beers that get medals, but a lot of good ones that don't.


00:43:20.335 --> 00:43:24.155

<Karl Arnberg>And just because you don't get a medal doesn't mean you haven't made a really good beer.


00:43:26.575 --> 00:43:28.355

<Karl Arnberg>It's great when you do, for sure.


00:43:28.715 --> 00:43:34.295

<Karl Arnberg>But you can still make a really great beer without needing a medal to show it for it.


00:43:35.675 --> 00:43:45.055

<Jason Perkins>Yeah, some of my personal favorite beers in the world, and I won't name names, have not ever won a medal at these competitions.


00:43:45.075 --> 00:43:47.255

<Jason Perkins>Whether or not they've submitted, I don't really know.


00:43:47.275 --> 00:43:48.775

<Jason Perkins>Okay, that was what I was going to ask.


00:43:48.795 --> 00:43:49.555

<Jason Perkins>You never really know.


00:43:49.575 --> 00:43:50.935

<Brett Willis>They've submitted every year, they never win.


00:43:50.955 --> 00:43:58.315

<Jason Perkins>But there are plenty of beers that either don't have it won regularly or haven't won at all that I think are some of the best beers in the world.


00:43:58.575 --> 00:43:59.115

<Brett Willis>That's good.


00:43:59.175 --> 00:43:59.695

<Jason Perkins>Worth saying.


00:43:59.835 --> 00:44:00.395

<Brett Willis>I like that.


00:44:00.835 --> 00:44:02.755

<Brett Willis>That's a nice place to finish up.


00:44:02.775 --> 00:44:03.355

<Brett Willis>Beer is good.


00:44:03.675 --> 00:44:04.635

<Brett Willis>You make a good beer.


00:44:04.995 --> 00:44:05.835

<Brett Willis>Who cares about medals?


00:44:05.855 --> 00:44:06.915

<Brett Willis>We care a little bit about medals.


00:44:06.935 --> 00:44:09.895

<Brett Willis>It's great to have them, but you know, you don't have to have them.


00:44:09.915 --> 00:44:10.435

<Brett Willis>It's all right.


00:44:11.715 --> 00:44:12.135

<Brett Willis>Oh, man.


00:44:12.155 --> 00:44:14.895

<Brett Willis>Well, Jason, Karl, thank you for stopping by.


00:44:14.995 --> 00:44:15.635

<Brett Willis>This is awesome.


00:44:15.855 --> 00:44:18.035

<Brett Willis>Got to enjoy a little Tripel as we chatted about it.


00:44:18.695 --> 00:44:19.435

<Karl Arnberg>Thanks for having us.