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Digging for brewer’s gold

The first Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards are coming to town.



Brewers are enjoying the fermented fruits of their labour as Atlantic Canadian beer elbows out the competition at liquor commissions and overwhelms private stores, and the "drink local" movement explodes like an over-carbonated lager. Punctuating both the region's success and unparalleled support of local beer is next week's inaugural Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards.

Funded by the Atlantic chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers—the organization behind the Atlantic Canadian Wine Awards—the ACBAs are open to all beer produced in Atlantic Canada. This provision, explains Tracy Phillippi, a certified beer judge who organized the 2014 Canadian Brewing Awards, creates competition between beers, not necessarily breweries.

"It's more about how the individual beers stack up against the style," she explains. Furthermore, the ACBAs puts nano-, micro-, craft and major breweries on the same playing field. "It's not about size," Phillippi says of the competition, "it's about quality."

It may seem curious that a group of sommeliers is behind these awards, but as Atlantic chapter president Mark DeWolf explains, CAPS sees that craft beer is "becoming increasingly relevant" and wants to incorporate it into its educational repertoire. (Keep an eye out for future cicerone programming.)

Phillippi, who was approached by CAPS to get the ACBAs off the ground, curated 15 style guidelines (from the standard 38) representative of the region's offerings, with categories ranging from Belgian-, UK- and North American-style specialty ales, to wood- and barrel-aged, to experimental beer. Additionally, sponsors have made possible awards for Peoples' Choice, Beer of the Year, Brewery of the Year and Brewpub of the Year.

Judging will be blind, in keeping with industry standards, and will take place Saturday, October 4, when Beer Judge Certification Program-approved judges and industry professionals will buckle down and rate how well each contending beer represents its style.

The awards ceremony will be held at 7pm on Sunday, October 5 during the Nova Scotia Beer Dinner at Stubborn Goat Gastropub. Awards will be presented by Canada's only master cicerone, Mirella Amato. And with tasty treats like Bad Apple Seasonal Cucumber Mint and Garrison Double Jack Imperial Pumpkin Ale on hand, everyone wins.

Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards
Sunday, October 5, 7pm for reservations


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