Last weekend I was pleased to help judge beer for the inaugural Good Food Awards. As I remarked yesterday in a post about Blue Bottle’s Stout Coffee Cake, while the sustainable and local food community has been slow to accept beer, “things are finally changing and a growing number of self-avowed foodies are accepting craft beer as an equal to other artisanal foodstuffs.” You couldn’t ask for a better example of that than the new Good Food Awards. Started by Seedling Projects, their take on the Good Food Awards is to reward producers whose products are “delicious, authentic and responsibly produced.”
The Good Food Awards will present the best of seven different types of food: beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, pickles and preserves. Here’s the overall concept:
The Good Food Awards celebrate the kind of food we all want to eat: tasty, authentic and responsibly produced. We grant awards to outstanding American food producers and the farmers who provide their ingredients. We host an annual Awards Ceremony and Marketplace at the iconic Ferry Building in San Francisco to honor new Good Food Award recipients and also organize a month of events and tastings to support the wider community making good food.
More specifically, they included beer for the following reasons:
Good Beer is crafted by brewers who practice water recycling and resource conservation, support their local communities and seek out ingredients that are free of pesticides, herbicides and genetically modified organisms. The Good Food Awards seal will be given out in the categories of Traditional, Experimental and Collaborative brews – those made by more than one brewer working together — a growing practice that highlights the community spirit flourishing amongst craft brewers.
We judged about fifty beers from around the country, divided into broad categories: experimental and traditional. It was then further divided geographically into five regions, though the majority came from the West. We had six judges, a good mix of experience and backgrounds. Dave McLean, from Magnolia, ran the judging behind the scenes and asked me to act as judge captain, though he did manage to judge one late round, when one of the other judges had to leave early.
The beer judging table at the Good Food Awards.
We tried a lot of great beers, and the winning beers were all very impressive beers. The winners in all the categories will be announced on January 14, 2011. Two days later, beginning January 16, they’ll kick-off Good Food Month, which will last until February 20. “Each week will pair two of the food categories” judged and the final week, February 11-20, will include a partnership with our own SF Beer Week to celebrate beer in the Bay Area and beyond.
Renato Sardo and Dave McLean judging beer at the Good Food Awards.