World Beer Awards: serving up the usual?

Micro-breweries dominated the top winners of the World Beer Awards, though there were enough mundane choices in the sub-categories to make beer lovers despair. And it is difficult to tell sometimes, without deeper research, whether some of those microbreweries are in fact owned by the big players in disguise. Missing are many, if not most, of the great craft brewers, small and large, that did not bother to pony up the fee to enter their beers for a chance at an award. We should also mention that some of the greatest lambic brewers in Belgium are not even featured.

The 98 judges are all independent and experienced in the business so their ability is not being questioned. Certainly, Atrium, a craft brewer that started up last year, scooped up a slew of awards, an example of David winning over Goliath, as did The Flying Dutchman (who also goes by the Smiling Dutchman in the awards – but the beers are labelled as ‘The Flying Dutchman’).

The Flying Dutchman is Ronald de Waal, a Dutchman who seems to live in Sweden and claims to have no home, but gypsy brews everywhere as a ‘Nomad Brewer’. Are his brews Belgian or Finnish and is he using the name ‘Belgium’ to sell his beer’. We will investigate.

The stats

Over 3,500 beers from more than 50 countries entered into this year’s awards and judges blind tasted and scored the entries across three rounds of judging, according to TheDrinksReport.com, a trade publication owned by UK-based Paragraph Publishing, a publishing and events company. A final round was held in London, where over 200 international brewers, industry experts and journalists tasted and voted for the winners of the World’s Best Beers 2019. A second category judged design excellence, with the results so ordinary, one wonders what the winner was stacked up against.

While no Belgian brewery won any of the top overall awards, as can be seen below in the “World’s Best”,  a good number won “World’s Best” within the sub-categories, though not often in “Belgian-style” ones. Again, this is where Atrium, The Flying Dutchman, Lindemans and St. Bernardus appear often. Then there is Slutte, which lists on its label that it is “A Belgian Beer With Body”, which beer writer extraordinaire Eoghan Walsh pointed out was misogynistic, even by rude, crude beer standards.

The brewer has claimed that it is named after Germaine Slutte,  and that historians Marcel Verdoeft et André Gebeurtenis have researched her life, which they have put on their site. Walsh, on Twitter, discounts this history put out by Slutte’s maker Brasserie Grain d’Orge: “They (the bunch of old white guys) that brewed this claim its named after a former Brussels resident. But they’ve just invented this ‘person’ and her ‘back story’.”

What is also interesting are the Belgian winners in the country categories as listed below. The Beer Idiots has corrected the names of the beers, and put them in a convenient list below for you to comment on, complain and sometime wonder at: it seems there are a lot of gypsy brewers out there that we don’t see often! It all depends on who pays to play in the end – no more so apparent than the design award.

Our next article on awards will be on the winners of the Brussels Beer Challenge, with this year’s edition kicking off on 1 November. Entries for that award closed on 4 October, with the cost of an entry set at €165-175 per beer depending on when a brewer entered.

Top taste winners, no Belgians

  • World’s Best Dark Beer: Mira Brune N°6 by La Curieuse Brasserie, a French micro-brewery
  • World’s Best Flavoured Beer: Maple Vanilla Evasion 2019 by Taxman Brewing Company a US micro-brewery
  • World’s Best IPA: Votus 001 by Cervejaria Votus, a micro-brewery from Brazil
  • World’s Best Lager: Zubr Gold by Pivovar Zubr a regional brewery from the Czech Republic
  • World’s Best Pale Beer: Camba Pale Ale by Camba Bavaria a micro-brewery from Germany.
  • World’s Best Sour Beer: La Franc Bois D’hiver by La Souche Brasserie Artisanale a micro-brewery from Canada
  • World’s Best Speciality Beer: Camel Valley Pilsner by Sharp’s Brewery a micro-brewery from the UK
  • World’s Best Stout & Porter: Milk Stout by Cassels Brewing Co. a micro-brewery from New Zealand.
  • World’s Best Wheat Beer: Lindongjiangzhi Weizenbock by Nbeer, a brew pub in China.

Design

  • World’s Best Beer Design Karhu Can Range by Sinebrychoff, a subsidiary of the Carlsberg Group in Finland.

Belgian winners

These fall under sub-categories of the main classification (for example ‘Dark Beer’) and the country winners for that sub-category, where Belgium is listed.

Dark Beer

World’s Best Dark Belgian Style Dubbel

  • Prior 8, St. Bernardus – “Subtle tasted caramel on the nose. Nice caramel and toffee on the palate. Medium long aftertaste. Dried red fruits. Very well balanced.”

Country Winners Belgium

GOLD WINNERS

  • Kompel Ondergronds, Brouwerij Kompel

SILVER WINNERS

  • We Want Juste Fair Brown, Oxfam
  • Herkenrode Noctis, Brouwerij Cornelissen

BRONZE WINNERS

  • Belgica Beer, Hoppa Belgium
  • Leffe Brown, Abbaye de Leffe
  • Dok’s Bruin, Brouwerij Dok’s

World’s Best Dark Strong

Country Winner Belgium

  • Karma Noir by The Brew Society

Flavoured Beer

Flavoured Honey & Maple

Country Winner Belgium

  • Kompel Prion des fleurs, Brouwerij Kompel

Flavoured Stout/Porter

Country Winner Belgium

  • The Gothic Prince Of Darkness Black Current Porter, The Flying Dutchman Nomad Brewing Company

Flavoured Wild/Sour

Country Winners Belgium

  • Rose Hipped Hibiscus Dipped Flower Power Funky Sour, The Flying Dutchman Nomad Brewing Company

GOLD WINNERS

  • Ginger Gueuze, Brouwerij Lindemans

World’s Best Flavoured Fruit & Vegetable

  • Delirium Red, Huyghe Brewery – “Hazy reddish brown in colour with a lovely head. Raspberry on the nose with a good amount of boozyness. Complex palate with spice and dark red fruit. Very effervescent. Hot and fruity finish. Complex and very nice.”

Country Winners Belgium

GOLD WINNERS

  • Love Sipping Compassion Dipping Hibiscus Dripping Passion IPA, The Flying Dutchman Nomad Brewing Company

SILVER WINNERS

  • Silver Petrus, Brouwerij De Brabandere

BRONZE WINNERS

  • Cherry Chouffe, Brasserie d’Achouffe
  • Kriekenbier Lager, Brouwerij Cornelissen
  • Leffe Ruby, Abbaye de Leffe

Herb & Spice

Country Winners Belgium

  • Knots (Schelde Special 4), Scheldebrouwerij

SILVER WINNERS

  • Tripel K Bio, Brouwerij Het Nest

BRONZE WINNERS

  • La Spirine, L’Herbieriste Brewed by Brasserie Du Renard
  • Curcu Max, Brasserie La Binchoise

Flavoured Low Alcohol

Country Winners Belgium

  • Freak Kriek Zero Point Three Feel Free Merry Cherry Beer, The Smiling Dutchman

World’s Best Flavoured Spirit

  • Cubanisto, listed as brewed by ABInBev Leuven, Belgium and on tapped by US-based Broken Barrel Brewing Co., an ABInBev subsidiary. “Clear and golden in colour with a small head, nice carbonation. On the nose, hints of lime and citrus fruit, touch of mint. Very light in body with flavours matching the aroma. Sweetness coming through towards the end.”

Country Winners Belgium

GOLD WINNER

  • Gouden Carolus Whisky Infused, Brouwerij Het Anker

Flavoured Wood Aged

Country Winners Belgium

  • Onyx Amburana, Atrium “Black in colour with a low foam. Great wood aroma with coconut and vanilla. Coffee, toffee and a slight burn in taste with some sulphur.”

SILVER WINNER

  • Ginette Armagnac Barrel Aged, Brasserie La Binchoise

BRONZE WINNERS

  • Gulden Draak Limited Edition 2019, Brouwerij Van Steenberge
  • Adriaen Brouwer Oaked, Brouwerij Roman
  • IPA category

IPA

IPA American Style

Country Winners Belgium

  • Bossuwé Brewing Co. The I-Pits-A

GOLD WINNERS

  • Avalanche, Atrium 

BRONZE WINNERS

  • Old Man Grumpy, Goose Island

IPA Black

Country Winner Belgium

  • Black Is Black And I Want My Baby Back Black IPA, The Flying Dutchman

IPA English Style

Country Winner Belgium

  • King Mule IPA

SILVER WINNERS

  • Super 8 IPA

IPA Imperial/Double

Country Winner Belgium

  • Sloeber IPA

IPA Session

Country Winners Belgium

  • Session IPA, Palm

GOLD WINNERS

  • Jah Jah Rub A Dub Mango IPA, The Flying Dutchman

World’s Best IPA Specialty

  • Slutte “Clear orange golden in colour. Rye and red ipa style nose. Hints of sour in flavour, well conditioned and balanced. Medium finish with peppery spice. Interesting and well made beer. “

Country Winners Belgium

GOLD WINNERS

  • The Yeast End Boys & West End Girls Brett IPA, The Flying Dutchman

SILVER WINNERS

  • Leffe Royale Blonde

BRONZE WINNERS

  • La Guillotine, IPA

Lager

Czech-style Pale

Country Winner Belgium

  • Cristal

Classic Pilsener

Country Winners Belgium

  • Maes Pils “Golden colour, clear and very attractive. Excellent nose with noble hops. Nice palate, good amount of sweetness. Nice graininess and lingering bitterness. Well structured and floral notes. Excellent beer.”

GOLD WINNERS

  • Cornelissen Luxury Lager

SILVER WINNERS

  • Pax Pils

BRONZE WINNERS

  • Bavik Super Pils

Helles/Münchner

Country Winner

  • Concordia Hell’s Pils, Belgian Brew Factory

Hoppy Pilsener

Country Winner

  • Super Cadix, Antwerpse Brouw Compagnie – “Golden in colour. Grapefruit and citrus with hops on the aroma. Reminiscent of sauvignon blanc. Citrus and hops in flavour, well balanced body. Bitterness on the finish. To style and well balanced.”

World’s Best International Lager

  • Stella Artois – “Light golden in colour, clear with a low white head. Fresh hops on the aroma. Pleasant bitterness. Balanced body with grainy notes. Subtle finish with a little sweetness towards the end. Nice, refreshing and easy drinking. “

Lager Light

Country Winner

  • Maes 0.0%
  • Lager Strong

Country Winner

  • Gordon Finest Red

Pale Beer

American-style Pale Ale

Country Winner

  • Krab, Scheldebrouwerij

Pale Amber

Country Winners

  • Tempelier, Corsendonk

SILVER WINNERS

  • Ambrée, Queue de Charrue

Pale Belgian Style Ale

Country Winners

  • D’été, Leffe

GOLD WINNERS

  • PAM!, Atrium

SILVER WINNERS

  • Ambrée, Leffe

BRONZE WINNERS

  • 6 Defeat the Bear, Drink the Beer, Brugse Beer
  • Maple Sports Ale, Maple’s Beer Company Inc.

Pale Belgian Style Blonde

Country Winners

  • Blond, St. Idesbald – “Great looking beer. Light spice on the nose with orange and hops. Good dry body with orange flavours. Morish finish. Very well made beer.”

GOLD WINNERS

  • Blonde, Affligem 
  • Cister, Herkenrode

SILVER WINNERS

  • Lalaing, Max Craft Beer
  • Blond, Leffe
  • Ename Pater
  • Blond, Brugse Zot

Pale Belgian Style Strong

Country Winners

  • Golden Ale, Bière du Boucanier

GOLD WINNERS

  • Traditional Blond, Omer

SILVER WINNERS

  • Fourchett, Brouwerij Van Steenberge
  • Belgian Style Strong Ale, Duvel
  • Malheur 10
  • Imperial Blond, Gouden Carolus

BRONZE WINNERS

  • Blond, De Poes
  • Hapkin, Alken-Maes
  • Rituel 9°, Leffe

Pale Belgian Style Tripel

  • Tripel, St. Bernardus

GOLD WINNERS

  • 1902, Siphon Brewing
  • Tripel Kanunnik, Brewery Wilderen
  • Tripel, Vliet
  • Tripel D’anvers

SILVER WINNERS

  • Tripel Karmeliet, Brouwerij Bosteels
  • Tripel, Affligem
  • Tripel, Gouden Carolus

BRONZE WINNERS

  • Zeezuiper, Scheldebrouwerij
  • Tripel K Beer
  • JUSTE Fair Tripel, Oxfam Fair Trade
  • Triple Rost, Brouwerij Buvens

World’s Best Pale Biére De Garde / Saison

  • The One, Atrium – “Golden and clear with a great head. Bubblegum on the nose with esters and a hint of spice. Creamy and lovely mouthfeel. Spice towards the back of the palate. Nice banana flavours. Spritzy. Very dry finish with a modest bitterness. Classic executed saison in the Dupont style. “

Country Winners

SILVER WINNERS

  • Urthel Saisonnière

English-style Pale Ale

Country Winner

Martin’s Pale Ale

Pale Golden Ale

Country Winner

  • Fris Blond, Strandgaper 

GOLD WINNERS

  • Ommegang

Pale Kölsch

Country winner

  • Lieve, Siphon Brewing – “Pale golden with a slight haze and a small white head. Grainy aromas on the nose with dominant hops. Bitterness nicely balanced in the flavour with hops and hints of citrus. Dry, medium finish.”

Best Pale Low Alcohol

Country Winners

  • Leffe 0.0% – “Deep golden and crystal clear.Honey and burnt caramel on the nose. Smoky aromas, banana and lots of sweet notes on the palate. Cloying finish, almost sherbert like. Easy drinking, though could use a little more bitterness.”

GOLD WINNERS

  • Palm 0.0

SILVER WINNERS

  • Oscar BOB, Brouwerij Eutropius

Pale Seasonal

Country Winner

  • Blonde of Saint-Tropez

Sour category

Framboise

Country Winner

  • Lindemans Framboise

Flanders Red Ale

Country Winner

  • Rodenbach Vintage 2015

GOLD WINNERS

  • Rodenbach Grand Cru

World’s Best Fruit Lambic

  • Rodenbach Caractère Rouge – “Nice clear colour with a low head. Strawberry and woody aromas on the nose. Nice fruity sweetness balanced out with a good tart finish. Lingers nicely. Well made beer. “

GOLD WINNERS

  • Rodenbach Fruitage

SILVER WINNERS

  • Mort Subite Witte Lambic

BRONZE WINNERS

  • Mort Subite Botanic Lambic

World’s Best Gueuze

  • Oude Geuze Boon – “Hazy in colour with an off white head. On the nose funky aromas with fruit. Tart in taste with flavours of pear and fruit and a good acidity. Medium finish.”

GOLD WINNERS

  • Mort Subite Oude Gueuze Lambic

SILVER WINNERS

  • Geuze Mariage Parfait

BRONZE WINNERS

  • Oude Geuze Boon Black Label

World’s Best Kriek

  • Lindemans Oude Kriek Cuvée René – “Super red colour with a nice head. Mandarin, almond and cherry on the nose. Sweet mid palate with a nice cherry body and good amount of tartness. Good lingering finish. “

Country Winners

GOLD WINNERS

  • Kompel Kriek

SILVER WINNERS

  • Mort Subite Schaarbeekse Oude Kriek Lambic

BRONZE WINNERS

  • Oude Kriek Boon
  • Timmermans Kriek Lambicus

World’s Best Lambic

Country Winner

  • Brewery Belle-Vue Selection Lambic 2018 – “Light golden in colour wit a nice haze. All the right aromas, barnyard, brett.. Light malt body, a nice tartness to it as well. Lingers long in the fnish. Great beer. “

World’s Best Oud Bruin

  • Monks Grand Cru –  “Nice amber coloured with a good head. Wooden notes on the nose with red fruit and brett. Toffee, caramel and red fruits in flavour balanced well with a good amount of tartness. Lingers lovely. A well balanced and well executed beer. “

GOLD WINNERS

  • Liefmans Goudenband

SILVER WINNERS

  • Queue de Charrue Vieille Brune

BRONZE WINNERS

  • Petre Devos Réserve

Sour/Wild Ale

Country Winners

  • Heer van Biesen Hoogstam – “Light straw coloured. Sherbert on the nose, light citrus and delicate florals in the aromas. Pleasingly tart on the palate, citrussy and light. Easy drinking. Very sublte, but nice finish. Enjoyable, pleasing all rounder”

GOLD WINNERS

  • The Flying Dutchman Little Red Corvette Riding Hood Red Wine Sour

SILVER WINNERS

  • Petre Devos Auguste

BRONZE WINNERS

  • Timmermans Lambicus Blanche

Specialty Beer

Brut Beer

Country Winners

  • Brouwerij Bosteels Deus Brut des Flandres

Experimental

Country Winners

  • Atrium Carya – “Cloudy with some head retention. Chocolate on the nose. Light body with a thin mouthfeel. Pleasant and lingering aftertaste. Very drinkable.”

GOLD WINNERS

  • Knuppel Schwarzbier Black Pepper Special
  • SILVER WINNERS
  • Petrus Nitro Cherry & Chocolate

BRONZE WINNERS

Guinness & Timmermans Lambic & Stout

Brugse Beer 8.9 Bottle Aged 18 Months, Defeat the Bear, Drink the Beer

Gluten-free

Country Winners

  • Brunehaut Bio Blonde Gluten Free – “Pale golden in colour with a soft sparling foam. Clove on the nose with a hint of acidity. Clove remains in flarour with bready notes and spice. Dry mouthfeel. Very dry finish. Lovely beer and easy to drink. “

Stout & Porter

Imperial Stout

Country Winners

  • Siphon Brewing Cassandra

GOLD WINNERS

  • Scheldebrouwerij Oesterstout

SILVER WINNERS

  • The Flying Dutchman Beast From The East The Bear Is There Russian Imperial Stout

BRONZE WINNERS

  • Gulden Draak Imperial Stout

Oatmeal Stout

Country Winner

  • Brouwerij Angerik Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Best Stout

Country Winner

  • The Flying Dutchman More Complicated Than Your Girlfriend Stout

Wheat Beer

Bavarian Style Hefeweiss

Country Winner

  • Grailee’s Relax, it’s Belgian

Belgian Style Witbier

Country Winner

  • Brugs Tarwebier Blanche de Bruges – “Traditional nose with light spice and orange peel. Nice body, nice witbeer flavours. Short in the finish. “

GOLD WINNERS

  • Belgian Brew Factory Boho Wheat
  • Limburgse Witte
  • Hoegaarden White

Hoppy Wheat Beer

Country Winner

  • The Flying Dutchman Flip Flopped White Socked Strong Hopped White IPA – “Nice looking with a beautiful haze. Clean hop nose with good wheat aromas. Lots of hops but very balanced with a good amount of bitterness. Flavourful finish with fruit.”

 

Some of the winners’ labels

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Bob the bitter

World’s Best Speciality Beer: Camel Valley Pilsner by Sharp’s Brewery a micro-brewery from the UK

Aren’t Sharps owned by Molson Coors?