Judging this year’s Funks competition has me thinking about “traditional” brewing styles and techniques. I think people easily forget or often don’t even know that the so-called weird beers that are considered unconventional styles in modern brewing often have deep roots in traditional (read: old school) brewing. Some of them very much so, like Chris Luderitz’s Best of Show winning Berliner Weisse. It was fantastic. It is true that sour styles like Berliner Weisse and Gose are easily found in brewpubs across Canada and the states at this point, but what about some of the other sour and funky styles? I’m not going to be the style police on what counts as traditional. Do kettle-soured beers count, for example? Don’t know, also don’t care that much - they are a modern take on traditional styles, to be sure, and have people experimenting and trying new things. To me, this is a good thing. In the end, all I really care about is whether or not a beer is GOOD.
Funks may seem like an odd competition to some, and one that focuses on newer and more experimental styles, but in fact there were quite a few traditional brews in the competition. Many in places that you wouldn’t expect them. My first thought was that you couldn’t really count the experimental category on the “traditional” list (it was a wild ride), but using alternate herbs, spices, and fermentables links back to the earliest forms of brewing. REPEAT: the experimental category was a wild ride. A few things were done that were excellent and a few things were done that were weird. Sometimes both.
Judging our competitions always reminds me of how hard it is to make a really good beer, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. There was a LOT of good beer in this competition - a couple of bad beers - but a lot of good ones. Making really good beer on a small scale is not an easy feat and every homebrewer should be proud of every success coming out of their basement/garage/kitchen. I’ve said it before, but the quality of beers entered into our competitions is definitely improving year over year.
This competition is an extension of what I strive to do at Short Finger every day (I mean, it is called Funks): make unique beers using traditional techniques with a new flare. Thank you to everyone who entered beer into the competition. I encourage everyone to keep experimenting, keep drawing on traditional styles and brewing techniques, and finding ways to make them your own. I try to only make beers that I want to drink… well, sometimes if I think it is funny idea I will do it, or if I have a killer name … but you get the point. Experiment, make beer that engages and interests you. What’s the worst that can happen? You pour out some beer? I bet I have poured out more beer than you have.
To Evil, my friends!
Beer Futurist and Blender