Here at Mutantis, we generally aren’t interested in beer competitions.
Competing in the gluten-free category means that beers of all different styles are judged against each other, and that’s pretty absurd. Imagine a barley beer competition like that–is the world’s best pilsner better or worse than the world’s best hazy IPA, or the world’s best imperial stout? It’s a silly question, and no beer geek in their right mind would take it seriously. But when you’re a gluten-free brewer, you’re expected to be grateful just to be given the opportunity to compete at all.
We usually aren’t willing to accept that, so we usually ignore those competitions.
However, this year, the Oregon Beer Awards decided to add a gluten-free category for the first time ever. Some of our fellow dedicated gluten-free brewers asked us if we’d be willing to enter to ensure that there were enough entries to make the category viable, and we agreed. We figured even if the judging isn’t meaningful to us, it’s still an opportunity to put the spotlight on our state’s uniquely-vibrant community of dedicated gluten-free breweries. Or so we thought!
Long story short, the OBA chose to merge the gluten-free category with the non-alcoholic category, and allow gluten-free beers from non-dedicated breweries to enter. Uh oh.
Wouldn’t you know it, but the gold and silver in “our” category both went to beers from Deschutes Brewing! Gold for a one-off gluten-free IPA only available in their Bend brewpub, and silver for their Non-Alcoholic Black Butte Porter. Mutantis was the only dedicated gluten-free brewery to take a medal: bronze, for our Extra Terrestrial Pub Ale.
This was disappointing enough, but to make matters worse, that silver medal was swiftly retracted, after we notified the OBA that Non-Alcoholic Black Butte Porter is actually brewed and packaged in Denver, Colorado, and wasn’t eligible to compete! Apparently the folks at the OBA didn’t bother to look at the label for that beer, which clearly states where it’s brewed, and apparently the folks at Deschutes didn’t bother to read the competition rules that state that ONLY beer brewed in Oregon is eligible. Whoops!
So now only two medals are awarded for the category, despite several dozens of entries from dedicated gluten-free brewers. Could they reallocate the medals so that a runner-up would get one? Nope! Their judging format “doesn’t work that way”.
Due to Deschutes muscling in on the ONLY category we dedicated gluten-free brewers can compete in, and the OBA allowing them to, the whole point of having a gluten-free category was lost. Oregon’s community of dedicated gluten-free brewers got snubbed, and collectively wasted hundreds of dollars on entry fees (and a lot of beer).
Because of this fiasco, Mutantis does not feel good about our bronze medal. We have asked the OBA to disqualify us (we did miss the entry deadline, and despite requesting a refund instead of an exception, were told to enter anyway). They have refused our request to disqualify us and rescind our medal. So here we are, having to make a public statement renouncing our medal and expressing our regret for competing at all.
We’ll say it again, louder for the people in the back: WE RENOUNCE OUR BRONZE MEDAL. We stand in solidarity with our dedicated peers. Gluten-free breweries deserve better from competitions, and we deserve to be taken seriously by the craft brewing industry.