Malt: These beers derive their sweet, bready, biscuity, toasty and caramel flavors from the specialty grains.That's a unique way of grouping for judging, but one that I think mimics how many folks do categorize beers. It's also a design that will eventually pit hop-heavy beers against malt-rich flavors. Or session beers against high alcohol selections.
Fruit and spice: Special yeasts are largely responsible for the fruity, peppery and spicy flavors found in these freewheeling Belgian-inspired brews and German-style wheat beers.
Roast: Highly kilned grains give these mahogany-to-ebony-colored brews nuances of coffee, chocolate, licorice and roast.
Hops: The bitter brewing herb dominates these beers, yielding flavors described as citrusy, piny, resiny, herbal and floral.
Who won? They're not saying. Unlike the Brewing News National IPA Championship, where you make your predictions prior to the judging, in this event, readers make their predictions after the judging is complete. The Washington Post will dole out the results of the bracket eliminations over the next few weeks.
By the way, there where three Virginia beers entered in the competition; Starr Hill Amber Ale, Williamsburg Alewerks Tavern Ale and Port City Brewing Porter.