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Diane Catanzaro Named Beer Drinker of the Year

On Saturday, Diane Catanzaro became the 11th recipient of the coveted title “Beer Drinker of the Year,” and only the second woman to win the award. Catanzaro is a college professor in Norfolk, Virginia, a homebrewer and a BJCP-certified beer judge.

Diane Catanzaro moments after winning. Behind her are judges Tom Ciccateri (2005 winner), Tom Dalldorf (Celebrator Beer News), Gary Steinel (2003 winner) and Carolyn Smagalski (aka The Beer Fox, (Photo by Duane Howell)

From the Press Release:

A professor of industrial/organizational psychology at Christopher Newport University (in Newport News, VA), Catanzaro is the second woman to win the competition. (Cornelia Corey of Clemmons, NC won the title in 2001.) Her home beer bar is The Biergarden in Portsmouth, Virginia.

“This is a dream come true for me,” Catanzaro said after winning the title. “I can use the title to carry the flag for Beer Nation and spread the news about craft beer. And it gives me an opportunity to promote a better understanding of beer to women in America.”

“Beer is not just some fizzy yellow drink,” she said. “It has a rich history, an incredible array of styles and flavors, and it’s part of a healthy life style. And it’s not just for the boys.”

Catanzaro, a finalist in last year’s Beerdrinker contest, beat out finalists Logan Perkins (of Denver, Colorado) and Phil Farrell (Cumming, GA). Her impressive beer drinking experiences, humor and beer ambassadorship helped her land the crown.

“I’ve never seen three more deserving finalists,” said Tom Dalldorf, editor and publisher of Celebrator Beer News and one of the seven judges for the finals. ”But Diane was very engaging, and her personality and very beery background helped her win the title. She speaks well for the beer community.”

The finalists weathered two hours of difficult questions from the judges. The queries stretched from questions about beer chemistry, styles and history, to the finalists’ abilities to sing old beer-advertising jingles and recall esoteric beer trivia.

During the competition’s Beer Whispering segment, Catanzaro impressed judges with a cross-continental conversation with a blend of the Duchess de Bourgogne and Oskar Blues Brewery’s Old Chub Scottish-Style Ale.

For her closing statement, she sang a reworked version of the bygone blues song “Beer Drinking Woman” that referenced Tommee Arthur, Flying Dog Brewery’s Horn Dog barley wine, and female craft brewing legend Carol Stoudt.

Catanzaro’s 2006 beer experiences included tasting beer at numerous breweries, bars and festivals in the US and Belgium, and leading 16 college students on a tour of Belgian breweries and bars.

On the heels of her Beerdrinker victory, she leaves this week for Belgium with another group of students. The group will explore the art and history of Belgium, and its beer culture. While in Belgium, Catanzaro will attend the Zythos Beer Festival and the famed “open brew day” at Cantillon Brewery in Brussels.

On her beer resume, she outlined her philosophy about beer drinking: “People who say they don’t like beer just haven’t met the right beer! I’ll be happy to arrange an introduction… I can be a positive role model for more women to discover the joy of beer and break stereotypes.”

Beer Drinker of the Year Diane Catanzaro with her beer-drinking Barbie, a model Mattel will probably not be offering for sale anytime soon. Pity, really.. (Photo by Tom Dalldorf)

Diane Catanzaro’s Barbie posing fellow finalist Phil Farrell’s infamous rubber chicken. (Photo by Tom Dalldorf)

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