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Drowning In A World Of Award Winning Beers

They all seem to have an award, but are the beers any good?

They all seem to have an award, but are the beers any good?

Thailand is known for a lot of things, but award-winning beer isn’t one of them. And yet, glance over the bottles of any one picked at random, and you’ll notice that every single one is award winning!

Once Thailand’s bestselling beer and still its most famous, Singha managed to snag a Medal Of Quality Award from Belgium in 1971. Thirty years later, it earned another gold medal at the Australian International Beer Awards. In 2002, a bronze in the European low alcohol lager/German light beer category at the International Beer Summit in Osaka, Japan, and a gold in this same category the following year. And finally, in 2004, a silver medal at the Australian International Beer Awards.

Singha’s manufacturer, Boon Rawd, also manufactures a lower end beer called Leo. Just like its bigger and more famous brother, Leo’s swimming in the beer awards. In 2001, it won both a gold medal and a World Brew Association Beer Quality Award in Doemens, Germany. In 2002,  another gold medal and the American Tasting Award of Excellence at the National Board of the American Tasting Institute in the U.S. In 2003, an international trophy for quality in Spain. And in 2004, a bronze medal at the Australian International Beer Awards.

That means in 2004, Boon Rawd took both the silver and the bronze at the Australian International Beer Awards.

Another big player in the Thai beer market is Thai Asia Pacific Breweries (TAPB). Their biggest slugger in Thailand is Tiger Beer, a Singaporean concoction by birth, but brewed to perfection in Thailand since 2004. According to TAPB, Tiger is Asia’s most award-winning beer with over 30 international awards. And why shouldn’t it be? Only the finest ingredients go into Tiger we are informed: German hops, Dutch cultured yeasts, Australian barley. In 1998, this beer for “people who aren’t interested in showing off” was voted the world’s best lager at the Brewing Industry International Awards in the UK. TAPB tells us that these awards are like the Oscars for the beer industry. In 2004, Tiger won a gold medal in the European Style Pilsner category of the World Beer Cup, the Olympics of the beer industry. This beer knows no boundaries. It’s been recognized as both a magnetic performer of the screen and a star athlete!

Like Boon Rawd, TAPB hawks a lower market segment brand, Cheers. Cheaper than Tiger it may be, but there’s no sacrifice in quality. In 2009 in Brussels, Cheers was given a Gold Quality Award at the Monde Selection.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention ThaiBev, Thailand’s largest beverage company. Its flagship brand, Chang, has won a Gold Quality Award three times at the Monde Selection. It must not have been competing in 2009. How could it have dared to topple award-winning Cheers? ThaiBev’s slumming-it brand, Archa, won a gold medal at the Australian International Beer Awards in 2007.

I could go on and on.  Every Thai beer in existence has won some kind of award. 

Is Thai beer really that phenomenal?

Or is it possible that every beer on the planet has won one award or another?

It is clearly impossible (and definitely not worthwhile) for someone to research whether every beer currently on the manufacturing lines has won an award. Fortunately, there is an easier way. Just do randomized testing by entering name_of_beer awards into a search engine, choosing both mass produced macrobrews as well as esoteric microbrews. 

Michelob Light?  Check.   It won a gold medal at the North American Beer Awards in 2011.  Miller Lite?  Check. It won the World Beer Cup’s gold medal for American-Style Light Lager in 1996, 1998, 2012, and 2013 plus the Great American Beer Festival’s silver medal in 2003.  In 2010 and 2014 at the same festival, it won the gold medal for Best American Style Lager. Coors Light? Check.  In 2005, it took home a silver medal in the Great American Beer Festival in the American-Style Light Lager category. 

Now on to some micros.  Hitachino Nest from Japan? Check. Its White Ale won the World’s Best Spiced Wheat Beer in 2010. Kagua Blanc? Check: Winner of the Belgian Style Strong Beer Award at the Hong Kong International Beer Awards in 2013. Budvar Czech Dark Lager? Check. It won the World’s Best Lager Award in 2007. 

When a beer didn’t win any notable awards, as in the case of Bud Light and Budweiser, the manufacturer hyped how the advertising behind the brand was award-winning. Or the label. Or the song in one of its commercials. You only need to find one thing about the beer that’s attached to an award in order to throw the word around.

Evidently, beer competitions aren’t the Olympic Games. For that quadrennial competition, only one competitor/team wins the gold, the silver, and the bronze. In the 2012 London Olympics, 961 total medals were divvied up among the 10,700 competitors. Less than 9% of the participants got a medal. Of the 1,480 beers entered into the Australian International Beer Awards in 2013, 658 took home medals – 57 of those were gold, 190 silver, and 411 bronze. 44% of all beers competing won.” 

For the Monde Selection Awards, once you pay your €1,150 entry fee, your beer need only score a 60% rating to earn a bronze and a minimum of 80% to get a gold. There are no limits as to how many medals are given out.

And there are more beer festivals dishing out awards than ever. If your beer loses out in one category at the New York International Beer Competition, you can enter it another category at the SIBA National Beer Competition. Or the Sydney Royal Beer and Cider Show. The Muslim region of Xinjiang in China has even held a beer festival. Surely, your beer, even if it’s undrinkable, could win an award there.

Award-winning has evolved into a marketing ploy over any designation of quality.  Few consumers know what any of these beer awards mean anyway, probably because barely any of them really mean anything.  Until brewers have figured out a way to savor the taste of an award out of a beer bottle, consumers should go on remaining oblivious.

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