Nineteen teams competed for the “Bottomless Cup” at the Great Ontario-Hopped Craft Beer Competition held February 20 at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls, Ontario. This year’s featured style of beer was New England IPA. Judging criteria include: aroma, appearance, flavour, mouthfeel and overall impressions.
First place went to Muddy York Brewing Co. and VQH Farms. Second place winners were Great Lakes Brewery and VQH Farms, and in third place was Upper Thames Brewery and the Tavistock Hop Company.
The competition brings together Ontario hop producers and the most significant end user of the crop, the brewing industry. The aim is to encourage commercial relationships between the two, introduce the next generation of Ontario brewers to the hop growing community, and of course, to promote the use of Ontario-grown hops.
In 2012, the Ontario Hop Growers’ Association was launched to serve as a non-profit association of organic and conventional growers in Ontario. Hops are re-emerging as a notable specialty crop in Ontario with a significant increase in growers and acreage occurring across the province during the last five years.
Driving the demand is Ontario’s many microbreweries which are interested in using local hops to create unique brews, such as harvest ales. In addition, Niagara College's brewmaster program is supplying Ontario with a new generation of brewers who are discovering that Ontario hops are a viable and desirable option.
Look for the 2020 Great Ontario-Hopped Craft Beer Competition again early next year, and note one important change being made to the entry requirements, in response to market and consumer preferences.
Organizers Dr. Jason Deveau, David Lauzon and Evan Elford say that the craft beer industry has moved to cans for a number of reasons: cost, recyclability, ease of packaging and transportation. With that in mind, competition rules will be changed for 2020 to reflect those industry trends. Competitors will no longer be required to present their beer in bottles. That said, every beer connoisseur knows that the taste profile depends on the “pour.” Stewards will pour in a double blind format from bottle or can to keep everything consistent for the judges.
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs web page, https://bit.ly/2GFuLbu
Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention 2019 web page, ofvc.ca/craftbeer.html
Great Ontario HoppedCraft Beer Competition web page, onhops.ca/