It’s no secret that Denver likes beer. We brew more per capita than any other city in the nation and we’re driving the ever-expanding craft brewing revolution. It’s not surprising, then, that our own Wynkoop Brewery is behind the coveted title of Beerdrinker of the Year. We learned about judging the matchup last year, and the contenders’ dedication to brewing can put our city’s drinking legends to shame. Since the prize is a lifetime supply of beer from Wynkoop, out-of-town winners are just wasting the chance for free beer. So what does it take to be beer’s top authority? Follow these cues from this year’s finalists for your shot at the crown next February.
1. Put beer above all else: This year’s champion, J. Wilson (pictured), fasted on nothing but water and dopplebock for 46 days. That’s especially impressive coming from someone who has to drive 90 minutes just to get to the nearest bar.
2. Be detail oriented: One of this year’s finalists kept a detailed journal of the 13,000 beers he’s sampled.
3. Study up: “This is not a contest for dilettantes,” says Marty Jones, the Wynkoop front man who has been running the competition for seven years. “This is the upper crust of beer geekdom.” Jones says that while challengers don’t necessarily need to be able to pinpoint the exact location where the hops originated, they better be walking encyclopedias about the techniques and ingredients used in any given brew.
4. Preach on: All three of this year’s finalists have judged competitions and organized festivals to encourage widespread appreciation for brewing. Wilson writes a blog about his beer-centric experiences and has a book deal in the works.
5. Build your resume: That’s right, you need to send in a formal summary of your suds-related merits. Be prepared to define how beer has changed your life and how you are using beer to change the world. Wilson’s resume totaled three pages.
6. Loosen up: The questions asked can be tricky, but they come from a panel donned in black robes and white curly wigs, afterall. Between sophisticated taste identifications, expect to determine which type of beer Mitt Romney would be, or recommend a beer to Tim Tebow should he start boozing.
7. Live here: There couldn’t be a better place to garner beer wisdom than Colorado. “Many people call this the Napa Valley of Beer, but I prefer Garden of Eden,” Jones says. “This is where that first apple fell from the tree in many ways.” Still, only one Denverite has ever won the competition in its 16-year history. Denver, take that as a challenge.