New York Can’t Decide on State’s Best Beer in Stiff Competition

by Amy Myers

There’s no better problem to have than tasting too many good beers. That’s exactly what New York found out following its annual Craft Beer Competition.

Last Friday, the New York State Craft Brewers Conference announced the winners of this year’s competition. As it turned out, there were two ties for a couple of the most prestigious prizes. Judges awarded the Governor’s Cup, which honors the top-scoring beer in the contest, and the Brewery of the Year award, which recognizes the brewery with the highest medal count.

Back in 2017, New York held its first annual Craft Beer Competition. Since then it has become the largest state-level brewery competition in the country. New York has a total of 500 breweries, much more than most states.

This year, the Governor’s Cup went to both Lukenheimer Brewery of Weedsport, Cayuga County, for its Woodruff Berliner Weisse and Wood Kettle Brewing of Greece for its Brother Bear Brown Ale. Meanwhile, the Brewery of the Year award went to Grimm Artisan Ales of Brooklyn as well as Strangebird Brewery of Rochester. According to Paul Leone, executive director of the state’s craft brewers association, this is the first year that the competition had ties for both the Governor’s Cup and the Brewery of the Year award.

One New York County Continues to Produce Top-Notch Beer

Of course, having two ties for first place is not a common instance in the New York State Craft Beer Competition. And likely, the judges work hard to ensure that there are distinct winners in each category. However, this just proves that New York’s cup overfloweth with incredible, one-of-a-kind beers.

“This is what we heard from the judges — that this was best year ever in terms of quality,” Leone said. “It was really hard to make the picks because it was so close in so many categories. The beer has gotten so much better.”

In all, this year’s New York Craft Beer Competition gave out a total of 84 medals and awards. The competition has a total of 29 beer categories, and this year’s had 1,200 entries. The panel of judges in Rochester had some tough decisions to make, but ultimately, one county continues to bring home a startling amount of prizes each year.

Despite its relatively small population, Cayuga County continues to perform well in the annual competition. This year, Lukenhemer Brewery and Shepherd’s Brewing helped bring in the county’s awards, accounting for nine altogether. Meanwhile, in comparison, Onondaga County, only took home six medals, despite its larger population.

Even executive director Paul Leone couldn’t seem to believe Cayuga County’s continued winning streak.

“Those breweries (in Cayuga County) are not only strong in their region, they’re strong statewide,” Leone said.