Another Brewvitational is in the can.
The Inquirer’s ninth annual Brewvitational competition for local craft beer wrapped Wednesday at Reading Terminal Market, crowning winners that included a tart ale with black lime and salt, a peachy fruit ale and an IPA that extols the drinker to “trust the process.”
This year’s competition was the Brewvi Can-Tacular, focusing on the canned beer revolution taking place in local breweries.
Winners were announced Wednesday night at Reading Terminal at the second annual “Taste of the Brewvitational,” where hundreds of local beer lovers mingled, tasted the entries and voted for their favorite flagship beers.
The Brewvi was one of the largest since the Inquirer began hosting the event. Dozens of breweries from Delaware, New Jersey, and across Pennsylvania entered 43 new beer submissions and 32 canned varieties for a total of 75 brews.
Contestants faced off for the title of best new beer, plus another category focused on cans, and were evaluated by a panel of beer experts.
A crystal beer stein was awarded Wednesday to Berwyn’s La Cabra Brewing for its Peter Flemish red, voted the top new beer for 2018.
Dogfish Head took the top honor for best canned beer with its Seaquench ale, a session sour.
The Brewvi began in 2010 with just 28 beers from 18 breweries. It has grown into the area’s largest such competition showcase, with 79 entries in 2017.
Last year’s competition featured lagers as its special category. It was won by Pilsner Prosim from Kensington’s Saint Benjamin Brewing Company, which also won best new beer with its Franklin’s Abbey Dubbel.
For this year’s contest, 16 judges were broken into four panels to sample and rate every beer in a preliminary round, followed by an eight-beer final round, which every judge tasted and voted for.
Competition was double-blind, with beers identified only by numbered code and basic style points. Beers were grouped by style so that initially, IPAs were not judged against Belgian styles or malty lagers. For the final round, the winners of those groups faced off.
This year’s category allowed brewers to combat long-held misconceptions about canned beer. Throughout the day, the judges sniffed, swirled and sipped from a rainbow of amber, golden, pale yellow, even fluorescent green liquids.
Judge Amy Hartranft, of the Prohibition Taproom, said canned beer offers to drinkers an irresistible combination of sounds along with tastes: the fizzy pop of a top, the crinkle of empty aluminum at the end of the drink.
“Maybe there’s something satisfying about that,” she said. “And for those who started off drinking cheap beer in cans, there’s a lot of sensory experience and nostalgia for us as well.”
The winners of the 2018 Brewvitational were:
Best new beer:
- Peter, 6 percent alcohol, La Cabra Brewing. Judges’ comments: “Well constructed,” “Lots of sherry flavors.”
- Hoppin’ Pils, 4.9 percent alcohol, Sterling Pig Brewery. Judges: “Clean and well balanced,” “Bright.”
- Dear Peter, 6 percent alcohol, Tröegs Independent Brewing. Judges: “Peach,” “Spicy finish with citrus,” “sour punch to the palate.”
Best canned beer:
- SeaQuench Ale, 4.9 percent alcohol, Dogfish Head. Judges’ comments: “Enticing aroma,” “hint of sour — easy drinking.”
- Ultraviolet Grissette, 4.8 percent alcohol, Saint Benjamin Brewing Company. Judges: “Effervescent,” “super balanced.”
- Trust the Process IPA, 6.7 percent alcohol, Evil Genius Brewing Co. Judges: “Very appealing,” “Brisk, lively.”
Proceeds from the public event will benefit the Delaware River Restoration Fund, which supports on-the-ground work to clean the watershed that affects every local brewer and supplies the region’s drinking water. The Brewvi also hosted a canned food drive to benefit Project HOME, which runs several food pantries in North Philadelphia and does other work to fight poverty and homelessness.