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Have liver, will travel

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Alcotourism Awards—TAP NY Edition

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The 2003 Best Supporting Actress Oscar® shall always be a monument to the meaninglessness of awards. Awards are the amalgamation of the ephemeral inclinations, pertaining to whatever objects they have taxonomically curated, by a group that deems itself an authority. Some award-making authorities may fadge with your own inclinations, while others may not, which is the only inherent value of awards in a consumer sense. For example, you may be inclined to agree more with Film Independent or the Screen Actors' Guild's assessment of a performance than, say, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences's.

Marketing and politics (the very vampire parents of every award ever bestowed) usually serve to confuse our picture of reality. The 2003 Best Supporting Actress Oscar®, awarded to the balefully inept Renée Zellweger, is just such an example. The golden statue on Ms. Zellweger's mantle is actually an affront—a desecration if you will—to the very craft that the Academy was attempting to honor.

So why do we like awards so much? Awards ceremonies are uniformly boring and insipid. The awards themselves mean little, except to the gaping, reptilian life forms known as publicists and marketers. The act of ordering a group of objects from worst to best is a wholly unproductive exercise. And yet, we long to see the things we like recognized—especially if that comes at a cost to the things we don't like.

Aha, you may be thinking that this is a rant against the awards given at TAP New York at Hunter Mountain a couple of weekends ago. Well, sort of.

First of all, they have two awards, or "cups." According to TAP,
The F.X. Matt Memorial Cup will recognize the Best Craft Beer Brewery in New York State and The Matthew Vassar Cup will recognize the Best Craft Beer Brewery in the Hudson Valley.
Huh? Isn't the Hudson Valley entirely within the state of New York, except the little stretch at the end that tepidly touches New Jersey? This geographic nit really didn't open the field up that much—only one brewery from Jersey, High Point Wheat Beer Co, attended. In fact, they awarded both Gold Medals (for best individual beer in New York and Hudson Valley) to the same beer. The TAP organizers further added to the geographical confusion by inviting Legacy Brewing, from Reading PA (fortunately, this was a happy geographical aberration—see below) and Unibroue, from Chambly, Quebec.

The F.X. Matt Cup (best brewery in New York State) went to Black Forest Brew Haus & Restaurant. The Matthew Vassar Cup (best brewery in the Hudson Valley) went to Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. Black Forest brews a nonplussing list of Teutonic beers. I deigned to taste their Black Forest Amber, which I would use to slake a house fire, but not my thirst. The Captain Lawrence was better—they had a Reserve Imperial India Pale Ale that was good, but it didn't attain the soaring achievements of some of my favorites at the Festival. The other individual medalists were good, particularly Lake Placid's Frost Bite Pale and Blue Point Brewing's Hoptical Illusion IPA, but how did the judges single out those particular beers as medal-worthy when there were, in-my-not-so-humble-opinion, way better contenders?

Once again, awards are meaningless...

...Unless given by me.

I am an authority after all—I write this blog. Furthermore, I'm very diligent. In fact, I made a point of tasting brews from every contestant. My taste is, as you dear readers know, impeccable. Additionally, I have no interest in selling tickets or appeasing my invited brewers (as a beer festival would be), nor am I constrained by time, season, or an events calendar. And since the topic is alcotourism, I am also not constrained by location, or space. In effect, the laws of relativity do not apply to me, and I am free to bestow meaningless awards on whomever I want, whenever I want, and for no particular reason other than my appreciation of the imbibe in front of me. It will be everything we love about awards, without the anxiety and obnoxious red carpet couture.

Therefore, to christen the Alcotourism awards, I shall bestow these four laurels to breweries at TAP NY that were passed over this year by the official judges:

Best Beer at the Festival: Hop Angel IPA, Chelsea Brewing Company, Manhattan. Perfect hop balance with a floral, esterous nose, and a satisfying body. One of the best IPAs I've ever tasted, it belongs in the IPA Valhalla with Bear Republic's Racer 5.

Best Brewery at the Festival: Sixpoint Craft Ales, Brooklyn. I tasted every one of the beers from this brewery and all were excellent. Furthermore, I think the Sixpoint crew could take the Black Forest crew in any dark alley up and down the Hudson. When the official cups were awarded, everyone lined up to taste Black Forest again, and there was plenty left in the kegs. Sixpoint was dry as a bone. I briefly considered wringing their bar rag into my glass for one last sip. Of particular merit was their Brownstone (Brown Ale), SMP (Smoked Porter), Encore (Belgian Dubbel), and Righteous Rye, a beer that doesn't appear on their regular list. I still dream of that Brownstone, though. It is the perfect brown ale, unlike the lackluster and syrupy Wickeds of the world. The Alcotouristess may object that Lost Coast's Downtown Brown is the best brown ever, but I disagree, and therefore crown Brownstone the new champ.

Conversion Award for Changing My Mind About A Style I Usually Don't Prefer: Legacy Brewing, for their Hedonism Red Ale. This is the second red ale/IPA hybrid I've tasted, the first being Red Rocket from Bear Republic. I'd like to taste them both together, because I actually think that Hedonism may exceed Red Rocket. The sweetness and texture of this red are perfectly balanced by the unapologetic dry-hopping.

Honorable Mention for a Big Brewery That's Still Not Afraid to Make a Kick-Ass Smoked Porter: Brooklyn Brewery. Almost as good as Stone Smoked Porter, this one was a surprise from Garrett Oliver's crew only inasmuch as it proves that success doesn't have to make you boring.

We were very happy that our favorites were all very close to our new digs. In fact, Brooklyn Brewing's tasting room is just across the street from where we board our dog. We can't wait to visit all the award winners and enjoy these beers again.


Blogger Frederick said...

Shohreh Aghdashloo should have had that one all the way...(o3 bsa oscar)

6:12 PM  

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