A cider wins State Fair Pro-Am, beer drinkers weep

Despite the title above, I don’t mind a good cider every now and again. But, seriously, a cider won a beer competition?

That was the case with this year’s State Fair Pro-Am competition for professional brewers. Santa Sidra’s A Tad Sweet was named Best of Show. Congrats to the folks at Santa Sidra, we’re sure they’re making good stuff, but come on, Pro-Am judges. SERIOUSLY?!

This year's State Fair Pro-Am results are finally posted.
This year’s State Fair Pro-Am results are finally posted.

All right, moving on from all that, here are the results boiled down into some nice stats. Hey, I cover a lot of baseball, numbers are a part of the game. Categories (typically) had a gold, silver, and bronze. No brewery won more than three golds, achieved by Blue Corn, Cazuela’s, Santa Fe, and Sierra Blanca/Rio Grande. Three Rivers won the most overall medals with seven (four silver, three bronze).

A breakdown, of sorts.

Abbey Brewing: 1 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze

B2B Bistronomy: 1 goal, 1 bronze

Back Alley: 2 gold, 2 bronze

Blue Corn: 3 gold, 2 bronze

Bosque: 1 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze (plus Best Ale for Scotia Scotch Ale)

Boxing Bear: 1 silver, 2 bronze

Cazuela’s: 3 gold, 1 silver

Duel: 1 silver

High Desert: 3 bronze

Kaktus: 2 gold, 2 silver

Pi: 1 gold

Sandia Chile Grill: 1 silver (plus 2 golds, 1 silver, and 2 bronzes for mead, a category brewer Clinton Coker has been dominating for some time)

Santa Fe: 3 gold, 2 silver

Sierra Blanca/Rio Grande: 3 gold, 2 bronze

Three Rivers: 4 silver, 3 bronze

Tractor: 3 silver, 3 bronze

Take note that several major breweries (Chama River, Il Vicino, La Cumbre, Marble, Nexus, Second Street, Turtle Mountain) did not participate, so take these medals as you wish to interpret them.

The big awards, in addition to Santa Sidra’s A Tad Sweet, went to Bosque’s Scotia Scotch Ale for Best Ale, Cazuela’s Inebriator doppelbock for Best Lager, and B2B Bistronomy’s Coconut Porter for Best Specialty.

Abbey Brewing captured gold for its delicious Monks’ Dubbel Reserve in the Belgian and French Ale category. B2B’s Coconut Porter also took the Specialty Beer category. Back Alley doubled up on gold in Sour Ale (Berliner Weisse) and Belgian and French Ale (Belgian White). Blue Corn snagged golds in Light Lager (Training Wheels), American Hybrid Beer (HALT!-bier), and American Ale (End of the Trail Brown Ale). Bosque’s Scotia naturally took the Scottish and Irish Ale category. Cazuela’s earned a trio of golds in Pilsner (Acapulco Gold), Bock (Inebriator), and Stout (Beer for my Horses). Kaktus picked up a gold with Banaweizen in the German Wheat and Rye Beer category. Pi Brewing, in its first year competing, snagged a gold in IPA for Unchallenged. Santa Fe claimed gold in European Amber Lager (Oktoberfest), English Pale Ale (Pale Ale), and Strong Ale (Chicken Killer Barley Wine).

UPDATED >>> Sierra Blanca/Rio Grande snatched gold in three categories (Light Hybrid Beer, English Brown Ale, Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer) for what was listed as Ben Couger. It seemed weird that one beer could win these categories, and today the SB/RG Facebook page explained that Ben Couger is a person. It’s the brewer who made these beers. The winning beers were Pancho Verde Chile Cerveza, Alien Wheat, and Bone Chiller Brown. That makes a lot more sense.

There was no gold handed out in the Fruit Beer category (why, we have no idea). There were also two categories (Porter, Smoke-Flavored/Wood-Aged Beer) where gold was awarded to the CBA. We assume that’s Craft Brewers Alliance, because no brewery in New Mexico has those initials, but honestly we have no idea. Anyway, congrats to the CBA.

Click on the link above for a full list of winners. See what you agree with and you disagree with.

Congrats to all the winners. We’ll be by to drink those beers when we can.


— Stoutmeister

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Your Mama says:

    The Pro-Am is judged according to the 2008 BJCP Guidelines. There are 28 Categories which include Mead and Cider. Hence it is not a “beer competition” as you suggest. Beers are (supposed) to be judged based on how well thet fit the bjcp guidelines, not just what tasted good. No gold medal awarded means a beer did not score high enough (35 out of 50) to warrant a gold medal. If you pay attention you’ll see this happen at GABF as well. Interesting to see that one beer (from B2B) scored a “goal” in your listing. Cheers

  2. John Rowley says:

    I was on the judging table for the professional BOS and literally that cider was the cleanest entry of the best lager. best ale, best speciality and best cider entries left on the table. There was no best mead this year. It was an easy and unanimous decision. Since cider and meads are a part of the BJCP landscape, they get judged equally to lagers, ales and speciality beers in the format the Dukes use to judge their competitions.
    That cider had absolutely no fermentation flaws and had the least specialty malts to hide fermentation flaws. It was a deserving winner. Ciders and meads do win from time to time. The scotch ale was great, as was the coconut porter. The doppelbock was solid, but the other two beers would have easily beaten it. The cider just happened to shine the most this year. If you guys get involved with judging, you will see that the cleanest example of a given style is almost always the winner. Not all brewers know how to perform clean fermentations, and not all beers need a clean fermentation, but the ones that throw off the least unwanted chemical species are almost always the best. I challenge you to develop your palates, but you’ll be upset when you do as beers you used to love will then seem a lot dirtier than you recall they once were. It’s a challenge to find well fermented beers at times, but they are out there.

    1. cjax33 says:

      OK, so we get the whole scoring system and all, John, but man, all of us in the Crew were a little thrown by your comment. You’ve basically gone and thrown every brewery that participated in your Pro-Am under the bus. You’re saying they all submitted unclean and substandard beer? Wow. Folks were asking us why the bigs (Marble, La Cumbre, Il Vicino) didn’t even participate this year. Perhaps this is why.
      If your judging standards are like this, then you’re just sucking all the fun out of drinking beer. If that’s the way you folks want to go, OK, but we’ll stick to being who we are and drinking what we like.

  3. John Rowley says:

    You’re misinterpreting the intention of my original post. Of all the 4 final entries on the BOS table at the end of the judging (the best lager, the best ale, the best specialty and the best cider), the cider was the cleanest hands down. I did not say the other ones were problematic or dirty, but the cider was the clear standout winner in this situation. This will change every time at the BOS table as the beers that make it to the table are different every single time. When you get to the BOS table, the beers are generally mostly clean, but sometimes there are some that even though they were gold medal beers, aren’t nearly as clean as others that are also on the table. Luckily, this was not one of those times, but the cider was the standout of the group and therefore deserved the win in this case. You may not agree that a cider should have won, but that’s just how it was this time.

    I invite all of you to participate in these events. You’ll learn a lot and have a great time doing it. Judging is hard work, but it is rewarding as you get to help people improve their beer, which is really a win win for everyone. If everyone is making great beer, then everyone wins.

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