Math teacher top beer drinker

Gary Steinel triumphs in Wynkoop's 2002 competition

Feb 4, 2002 - Gary Steinel, a high school math teacher from White Plains, N.Y., Saturday was chosen the 2002 Beerdrinker of the Year.


Steinel, who reached the finals for a second straight year, won free beer for life at Denver's Wynkoop Brewing Co. (which sponsors the competition), $100 worth of beer at his home brewpub (Southampton Publick House), his name on a trophy and plenty of Beerdrinker of the Year wearing apparel.

Tom Ciccateri of Shawnee Mission, Kan., and John Marioni of Bothell, Wash., were the runners up.

Each of the contestants offered strong resumes. Steinel has more than 160 books in his beer library and 300 vintage beers in his beer refrigerator and cellar. Marioni began organizing blind tastings of imported beers when he was 16 years old, and is an avid homebrewer who has been featured on the cover of Brew Your Own magazine.

Ciccateri has consumed beers in 23 of their home countries and reports on scores of breweries and festivals at the New Mexico Virtual Brewpub.

The three dazzled the judges with their knowledge of beer the beverage, the history and lore of beer, and other beer trivia, as well as their love of beer. This year's competition included "beer whispering" and the finalists were asked to conduct a conversation with a beer of their choice.

Ciccateri brought along a bottle of Chimay, and the seductive conversation included some French and was conducted with the appropriate accent. "Maybe you could get out of that bottle and into something more comfortable," he suggested to the beer, "like this nice glass right here."

In submitting his resume to the contest, Steinel included his beer drinking philosophy:

"From what experience does one derive a sense of quality of life? The quaffing of quality crafted beer is one such experience in my book, as is a run across lush grass field or through wooded paths. The balance of malt and hops is essential to fine brews. A similar harmony between enjoying these exquisite brews and running serves to enhance my healthy lifestyle." (He is an avid runner, averaging 50-70 miles per week.)

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