To be crowned Beer Drinker of the Year, it takes knowledge and showmanship

The annual Wynkoop Brewing Co. competition tests your passion and your brewing know-how.

Shawna Cormier, 2016 Beer Drinker of the Year. (Photo: Stephanie Grado)
Shawna Cormier, 2016 Beer Drinker of the Year. (Photo: Stephanie Grado)
Shawna Cormier, 2016 Beer Drinker of the Year. (Photo: Stephanie Grado)

Every year, Wynkoop Brewing Co. names a Beer Drinker of the Year.

It has almost definitely never been your uncle Mark, though I’m sure he’s the Beer Drinker of the Year in the hearts and minds of your family.

No, this title goes to someone who not only loves beer, but knows the hell out of it. It goes to someone who passes a written test with flying colors and then competes in a multi-round challenge between three finalists, answering more questions, demonstrating a talent and waxing poetic about beer.

In 2016, that someone was Shawna Cormier.

Cormier was living in Denver and working at Black Shirt Brewing Co. when she was hop-crowned 2016 Beer Drinker of the Year. She came to Denver by way of Arizona and then New York City, where she says her obsession with beer began. When she came to Denver, it only grew. Cormier now lives in Seattle, but like the champions before her, she won herself free beer for life at Wynkoop.

Her journey to beer glory began innocently enough — casually scrolling around the internet.

“I didn’t know if it was real or not. Beer Drinker of the Year? That’s a mighty big award,” she said. “I told my husband about it and he was like, ‘Dude, you should totally submit for that.'”

Next came what she describes as a homework sheet and just a little bit of preparation leading up to the main event, which went something like this:

  • Answer questions about fermentation temperatures, the first-ever tax on beer and whether she thought the beer bubble would burst.
  • Take a blind taste test.
  • Talk about (and drink) a beer she brought from home.
  • Play air timpani to “Also Sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30” — better known as “the song from 2001 Space Odyssey” — with a comic bit wherein an air-mallet is dropped.

“I had to do a little bit of prep, but I honestly kind of winged it a little bit,” she said.

So, yes, personality — and being comfortable with putting that personality on display — is a big piece of this.

“It taught me that you can kind of lose touch with why you fell in love with beer and beer culture and beer people, and this was a reminder. These people are hilarious,” Cormier said. “It just makes it such a fun celebration of beer and beer people.”

If you think you could be the 2017 Beer Drinker of the Year, you’ve still got time to apply by taking this entry quiz. The deadline is Sunday, Sept. 10.

This year’s competition will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3 — the day before Great American Beer Festival begins — at Wynkoop Brewing Co., 1634 18th St. It’s free to attend, but you need to register. That won’t guarantee you admission and space is limited, so get there early. There will be pre-competition beer and cocktails starting at 4:30 p.m.

Ashley Dean

Author: Ashley Dean

Ashley Dean covers culture and other odds and ends. She previously covered music and did some copy editing for the Denver Post, the Colorado Daily and the Daily Camera. She's from New York, likes her bourbon straight and has strong opinions about Kanye West. She can be reached at adean@denverite.com, 303-502-2804 or @AshleyDean.