Inherent Weisse: The Ontario Brewing Awards Strike Again
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Inherent Weisse: The Ontario Brewing Awards Strike Again

Here's what have been deemed the best beers in the province.

Photo by Robin LeBlanc

Photo by Robin LeBlanc

Last night, at the Great Hall on Queen and Ossington, the Ontario Brewing Awards (OBA) was held.

The OBAs, put on by Thirst for Knowledge owner and founder of the Prud’homme Beer Certification Program Roger Mittag, is a celebration of the best beers Ontario has to offer. With breweries entering in accordance to style, the beer is then judged by certified members of the Beer Judge Certification Program, headed by notable Ontario brewer Paul Dickey. To remove bias and encourage objectivity, the judges do not have information on which beer they are trying, so the winners of each style category, in order of gold, silver, and bronze, can often be surprising.

The Ontario Brewing Awards also never seems to shy away from controversy, whether through the objectively judged beer winners or through the selected winners in certain categories. For instance, last year’s winner of the Newcomer of the Year Award, supposedly meant to celebrate new breweries, went to Trafalgar Brewing, which had been in business for over 30 years. Mind-boggling decisions like that, as well as the fact that in order to take part in the awards, a brewery must pay to have its beer included; that judging is a bit too strict to style guidelines, discouraging of brewers making beers that transcend style; and that larger breweries such as Sleeman can enter, have led many to question the awards’ relevance and the accuracy of the representation of the province’s scene.

Criticisms aside, the Ontario Brewing Awards is first and foremost a celebration of Ontario beer, and is as good a chance as any for the many talented brewers of this province to get their much-deserved recognition and praise for brewing to the best of their abilities.

This year, like the many before it, had some expected wins as well as a few shockers. Most notably, Sawdust City’s Little Norway Pale Lager won the gold for Craft Lager, Amsterdam Spring Bock won for the Bock category, and Stone City Uncharted IPA won for American IPA. For me, these beers winning gold were incredibly well deserved. Little Norway is a fantastically crushable beer, Amsterdam Spring Bock has been getting better every year—with this year’s really setting itself apart—and Stone City Uncharted IPA, with its balance of grapefruit, peach, and caramel, make it a fantastic beer and a refreshing shake-up compared to some of the more usual winners of that category.

Then, of course, there were the upsets. Sleeman took home a LOT of awards. Newcomer of the Year was always going to be a hotly debated win, but I was pleased to see that the award went to the folks at Brock Street Brewing (an ACTUAL newcomer) this year. And Best In Show went to Flying Monkeys Brewery Hoptical Illusion, which,I mean…I wouldn’t have called it Best in Show, but alright.

Below is the full list of the winners:

Gold: Sleeman – Sleeman Light
Silver: Barley Days Brewery – County Light
Bronze: Amsterdam Brewery – 3 Speed

Standard Lager
Gold: Thornbury Village Brewery – Blue Mountain Lager
Silver: Great Lakes Brewery – GLB Blonde Lager
Bronze: Laker – Laker Lager

Craft Lager
Gold: Sawdust City Brewing Co. – Little Norway
Silver: Niagara Brewing Company – Niagara Premium Lager
Bronze: Side Launch Brewing Company – Side Launch Mountain Lager

German Pilsner
Gold: StoneHammer Brewing – StoneHammer Pilsner
Silver: Cameron’s Brewing Co.– Captain’s Log Lager
Bronze: Toboggan Brewing Co. – Braukeller Lager

Bohemian Pilsner
Gold: Thornbury Village Brewery – Pick Up Truck Pilsner
Silver: Steam Whistle Brewing – Steam Whistle Pilsner
Bronze: Falcon Brewing Company– Laggar Falcon Craft Lager

Amber Lager
Gold: Hop City Brewing Co. – Barking Squirrel Lager
Silver: Old Flame Brewing Co. – Old Flame Red
Bronze: Woodhouse Brewing Co. – Woodhouse Lager

Oktoberfest / Marzen
Gold: Smithhavens Brewing Company – Smithhavens Festbier
Silver: Sawdust City Brewing Co. – Sagemehl Stadt
Bronze: Not Awarded

Dark Lager
Gold: Hop City Brewing Co. – 8th Sin Black Lager
Silver: Old Flame Brewing Co. – Old Flame Brunette
Bronze: Side Launch Brewing Company – Side Launch Dark Lager

Gold: Amsterdam Brewery – Spring Bock
Silver: Creemore Springs – urBock
Bronze: Big Rig Brewery – Bock Me Gently

Gold: Big Rig Brewery – Kanatdor
Silver: Walkerville Brewery – Dark Winter Lager
Bronze: Kichesippi Beer Co. – Elsbock Vintage 2015

Gold: Not Awarded
Silver: Not Awarded
Bronze: Not Awarded

Honey Beer
Gold: Sleeman – Sleeman Honey Brown
Silver: Collingwood Brewery – 2015 Vintage Ale
Bronze: 5 Paddles Brewing Co. – Home Sweet Home

Gold: Big Rig Brewery – Big Boot Hefe
Silver: Abe Erb Brewing Company – Das Spiritzhaus
Bronze: Niagara College Teaching Brewery – Beer 101 Wheat

Gold: Smithhavens Brewing Company – Smithavens Dunkelweizen
Silver: Frank Brewing Co. – Big Harvest
Bronze: Not Awarded

Gold: Mill Street Brewery – Weizenbock
Silver: Bell City Brewing Co. – Gravitational Wave
Bronze: Not Awarded

Gold: Railway City Brewing Co. – The Witty Traveller
Silver: Stone City Ales – Windward
Bronze: Not Awarded

Herb / Spice Beer
Gold: Bell City Brewing Co. – Hielo de Fuego Lager
Silver: Old Flame Brewing Co. – All ‘Ale’ The Ginger
Bronze: Louis Cifer Brew Works – Thai P.A. Coconut Lemongrass Pale Ale

Farmhouse Blonde
Gold: New Limburg Brewing Company – Belgian Blond
Silver: The Collingwood Brewery – Collingwood Saison
Bronze: The Collingwood Brewery – 1854 Anniversary Ale

Farmhouse Dark
Gold: Stack Brewing – Les Portes de l’Enfer
Silver: Tooth and Nail Brewing Company – Sustenance
Bronze: Redline Brewhouse – Biere de Garde

Lagered Ale
Gold: Mill Street Brewery – Portage Ale
Silver: Sleeman – Sleeman Cream Ale
Bronze: Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. – Lug Tread

British Pale Ale
Gold: Lowertown Brewery – Lowertown Pale Ale
Silver: The Collingwood Brewery – Fireside ESB
Bronze: High Park Brewery – Across The Pond

American Pale Ale
Gold: Sleeping Giant Brewing Co. – Beaver Duck APA
Silver: 5 Paddles Brewing Co. – In Your Face
Bronze: Tooth and Nail Brewing Company – Solo Mission

British India Pale Ale
Gold: Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery – Hoptical Illusion
Silver: Elora Brewing Company – Lady Friend IPA
Bronze: Arch Brewing Co. – Dinner Jacket

American India Pale Ale
Gold: Stone City Ales – Uncharted IPA
Silver: Great Lakes Brewery – ROBOHOP
Bronze: Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery – Juicy Ass

Dark IPA
Gold: Big Rig Brewery – Release The Hounds
Silver: Rainhard Brewing Co. – Nosbeeratu
Bronze: Wellington Brewery – Terrestrial India Brown Ale

Amber Ale
Gold: Clocktower Brewpub – Clocktower Red
Silver: Bell City Brewing Co. – Eureka
Bronze: Henderson Brewing Co. – Henderson’s Best

Dark Ale
Gold: Brock Street Brewing Co. – Brock Street Irish Red
Silver: Boshkung Brewing Co. – Black Rock Dark Ale
Bronze: Outlaw Brew Co. – Bandit Dark Ale

Gold: Collective Arts Brewing – Stranger Than Fiction
Silver: Clifford Brewing Co. – Clifford Porter
Bronze: Bobcaygeon Brewing Company – Porter

Gold: Rainhard Brewing Co. – Sweetback’s Milk Stout
Silver: Woodhouse Brewing Co. – Woodhouse Stout
Bronze: StoneHammer Brewing – StoneHammer Oatmeal Coffee Stout

Imperial Stout
Gold: Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery – Invictus
Silver: 5 Paddles Brewing Co. – Midnight Paddler
Bronze: Sawdust City Brewing Co. – LDV 2015

Flavoured Porter / Stout
Gold: Redline Brewhouse — Leather Interior
Silver: Sawdust City Brewing Co. — Blood of Cthulhu
Bronze: MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Co. — Wild Stout

Fruit Beer
Gold: Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery – 12 Minutes to Destiny
Silver: Amsterdam Brewery – Framboise
Bronze: Wellington Brewery — Against the Currant

Vegetable Beer
Gold: Wellington Brewery — Rhubarb Saison
Silver: Kilannan Brewing Company — Cucumber Kolsh
Bronze: Bayside Brewing Co. — Harvest Pumpkin

Barrel Aged Whisky
Gold: Great Lakes Brewery – Imperial Solstice Stout
Silver: Cameron’s Brewing Co. — Deviator Doppelbock
Bronze: Calabogie Brewing Co. — Down Stream

Barrel Aged Rum
Gold: Cameron’s Brewing Co. – Obsidian Imperial Porter
Silver: Not Awarded
Bronze: Not Awarded

Barrel Aged Red Wine
Gold: Amsterdam Brewery — Vicar’s Vice
Silver: 5 Paddles Brewing Co. — Sunset Paddler
Bronze: Side Launch Brewing Company — Side Launch Dunkelbach

Barrel Aged White Wine
Gold: Amsterdam Brewery — Superstition
Silver: Amsterdam Brewery — Maverick and Gose
Bronze: Junction Craft Brewing — Barrel Aged E S B

Gold: Garden Brewers — Piperales
Silver: Mill Street Brewery — Rauchbier
Bronze: Royal City Brewing Co. — Bamberg Rauchbier

Peat Smoked Scotch Ale
Gold: Big Rig Brewery — Tartan Pants Scotch Ale
Silver: Barnstormer Brewing Co. – Smok’n Skywriter
Bronze: Not Awarded

Belgian Style Quadrupel
Gold: Railway City Brewing Co. — The Strong Man
Silver: Tooth and Nail Brewing Company — Truce
Bronze: Not Awarded

Belgian Style Tripel
Gold: Side Launch Brewing Company — Side Launch Huronic Tripel
Silver: New Limburg Brewing Company — Tripel
Bronze: 5 Paddles Brewing Co. — Kingdom Sweet Kingdom

Scotch Ale
Gold: Niagara College Teaching Brewery — Beer 101 Strong
Silver: MacLean’s Ales Inc. — Armchair Scotch Ale
Bronze: Walkerville Brewery — Walkerville Brewery Scotch Ale

Barley Wine
Gold: Granite Brewery — Gin Lane
Silver: Wellington Brewery — Yuletide Barley Wine
Bronze: Cameron’s Brewing Co. — Cameron’s Barley Wine

Newcomer of the Year
Brock Street Brewing Company

Best of Show
Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery — Hoptical Illusion