Many wonder why IHB doesn’t enter beer in competitions, here’s why:
It probably started with BeerAdvocate. I appreciate that their motto is respect beer. Which makes sense. Kind of like when I want to respect women, I gather a bunch of them up and have them stand there while me and a bunch of my creepy online friends stare at them, categorize them, assign them numbers based on what I like or dislike about them, and make a bunch of comments based on what my friends said. Respect.
As you can probably guess, we have taken some beatings on BeerAdvocate, which isn’t entirely unrelated to the fact that Irish Death was first placed in the Irish Stout category. Judge a book by its cover much? As you can probably guess, Irish Death is about as close to an Irish stout as a coconut.
This instigated my disinterest in attempting to win awards. “How is it all our customers love Irish Death, yet every troll on BeerAdvocate thinks it is a piece of shit, unfit to clean a toilet with?” Something was amiss here. Who are these ‘Judges’ and what do they know?’
So, I thought about it. Here is what I came up with.
To win an award you have to do two things:
1) Make good beer
2) Be the best at copying an existing style. Wow, that’s inspiring.
What happens when you win an award?
1) You get a medal or something
2) You are confirmed to be an excellent brewer by a panel of your peers.
I can’t decide which of those two things I would most want you to kill me for valuing. Um, last I checked, my peers make their own beer and [insert cliche about all the medals being doled out in American society right here]. People’s Choice awards being the exception.
Do I care that you like our beer? Yes. Do I care that the beer industry insiders like our beer? Who were we talking about again? Not to diminish all the hard work of all the brewers out there honing their craft and their recipes. It just isn’t Iron Horse Brewery’s priority. Could we win a medal? I have no doubt in my mind. Do we want to set out to make a textbook perfect amber ale? I don’t even have a soul and I feel a little part of it sneaking out to haunt children, undermine their dreams and scare them into a mediocre existence just thinking about it.
You know why else I don’t care about awards? It focuses Iron Horse on our competition. How do we make it better than a, b, or c brewery? What a destructive thing to focus your energy on; comparison. We do everything we do with the intent of providing a quality, obnoxious, and differentiated experience to our customers, that is our obsession. You provide us the only award we want when you pick up a bottle or glass of our beer, confirmation that you like what we do and support us in doing it. Thanks, that little piece of my soul just came back. And it was like ‘wtf, there is nothing here to come back to.’
Hugs and Kisses
Screw the magazines… I go into a store to buy beer, I buy Iron Horse if it is there, Because I like it PERIOD. If I want something different I will try to brew my own batch to suit my tastes. I dont use recipes or really care if anyone but me enjoys it. I like to say: (In my best most interesting man voice) I dont usually by store bought beer, But when I brew at home, I prefer no guidlines! Thanks for all your help and support, you guys are great.
Let me preface my comments with …I grew up Mormon. I didn’t drink beer or any other type of alcohol until I was 27. Without making this comment about my life choices I will just say my whole life changed at that that point. I was a 27 year old teenager trying things for the first time. Beer being one of them. My friend gave me a stout (not going to mention names) and I thought it was the worst thing I ever had. It was a year before one of my room mates came back from the old Iron Horse brewery with a growler of Irish Death so I decided to try a stout again. I loved it. We had growler nights every Thursday (because it was cheaper on Thursday) with Irish Death. Then I had Mocha Death. Now I look forward to it coming out every year.
Thanks for making a great beer! You don’t need the medal.