Two Bend breweries won medals at the European Beer Star competition in October, a field that included a 2,103 beers from around the world.
Deschutes Brewery claimed a gold medal in the dry stout category for its Obsidian Stout, according to results announced Friday. The judges also awarded Deschutes a bronze medal in the traditional style pale ale category for Mirror Pond Pale Ale.
“This is an important competition for us and one that we track as part of our Damn Tasty Index,” the brewery’s digital marketing manager, Jason Randles, wrote in an email Tuesday. “Winning on the international stage is a big deal, especially for two long-standing favorites like Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Obsidian Stout.”
Deschutes Brewery has a history at the competition: 23 medals since 2005 — 14 gold, seven silver and two bronze, he wrote.
Worthy Brewing Co. won a bronze medal in the sweet stout category for its Lights Out Stout. It was Worthy’s first entry in the competition, said Lindsay Allen, Worthy communications manager. The tasting competition took place in early October near Munich, Germany. The winners were announced at the BrauBeviale trade fair in Nuremberg, although the brewers were notified weeks ago.
“We are so excited,” Allen said Tuesday. “Lights Out Stout continues to be our dark horse, no pun intended. It’s our most awarded beer. It’s a great honor.”
U.S. brewers prevailed like U.S. Olympians: They took home the most gold from the competition, according to a news release from Private Brauereien, a trade group that represents midsized German breweries. U.S. brewers won 17 gold medals, 10 silver and 12 bronze. German brewers took 16 gold, 26 silver and 27 bronze.
Oregon brewers overall claimed two gold and five bronze medals, including the three won by Central Oregon brewers. Pelican Brewing Co., of Pacific City, earned a gold and two bronze; and pFriem Family Brewers, of Hood River, earned a bronze. California breweries took 14 medals in all, including seven gold.
“I would say the (European Beer Star) is definitely up there with the World Beer Cup,” said Dan Engler, co-owner of Occidental Brewing Co. and president of the Oregon Brewers Guild.
“The Europeans might argue it’s a more rigorous competition. I think for a U.S. brewer to take home a medal from there is significant.”
The World Beer Cup, sponsored by the Brewers Association, a Boulder, Colorado-based craft beer trade group, bills itself as “the most prestigious beer competition in the world.” This year, it attracted more than 6,000 entries from 1,907 breweries. The European Beer Star reported 2,103 entries, although the number of breweries taking part was not immediately available.
Taking part in a beer competition is partly a budgetary exercise, Allen and Engler said. Each competition has a fee per entry, which can range from a few dollars to a couple hundred, Engler said. Breweries must add to that the cost to ship and properly store the entered beer to ensure it tastes its best the day it’s judged.
“What they say is you have to budget what you’re willing to potentially lose for a very small possibility that you might win an award,” he said.
Engler knows what winning feels like. Occidental’s Lucubrator, a double bock, won a gold medal in its category at the World Beer Cup this year in Philadelphia. Winning aside, Engler said he’s a “little down” on competitions.
“I don’t think bad beers win,” he said Tuesday. “I definitely think that if you take home an award from the European Beer Star or the World Beer Cup or the Great American Beer Festival, it’s definitely something to be proud of.”
But, he added, “a lot of good beers don’t necessarily advance.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7815, firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected. In the original version, a brewery from Maine was incorrectly included in the medal totals for Oregon breweries.
The Bulletin regrets the error.