'Yeast dork' triumphs

Washington man 2006 Beerdrinker of the Year

Feb 28, 2006 - Tom Schmidlin, 36 and a University of Washington graduate student, won the 2006 Beerdrinker of the Year title in the finals held at Denver's Wynkoop Brewing Co.


In a two-hour session packed with difficult beer questions from a panel of seven judges, Schmidlin used an intense knowledge of beer, a quick wit, and some impressive bribes to land the 2006 crown.

Tom SchmidlinIn addition capturing the title, Schmidlin won $250 worth of beer at his local brewpub (Big Time Brewery & Alehouse, in Seattle, Washington) and free beer for life at the Wynkoop.

Schmidlin held off serious challenges from the other 2006 finalists, Diane Catanzaro, (a Norfolk, Virginia homebrewer, beer judge and professor of industrial/organizational psychology at Christopher Newport University) and Warren Monteiro (a New York City playwright, script writer and devout beer hunter/educator).

Schmidlin gained points in the "bribing of the judges" segment of the finals. A self-proclaimed "yeast dork," he provided the judges with samples of a yeast strain he isolated and cultivated from a bottle of Rogue Chocolate Stout. A former mechanical engineer and computer programmer, Schmidlin has returned to college to study yeast and pursue a doctorate degree in biochemistry.

He also wooed the judges with a vertical tasting of three vintages of Dogfish Head Brewing's Worldwide Stout.His closing statement included a spoof of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

"This is a tough competition and it's intimidating," Schmidlin said after winning the title. "But it's also a lot of fun and a big honor for me to win it."

Among the best questions from the judges were:

"If you were going hunting with Dick Cheney, what beer would you bring?"

"If terrorists threatened to wipe out the world's hop crop, would you negotiate with them, and what one hop variety would you save?"

"How many dimples are in a bottlecap?"

The 2007 Beerdrinker of the Year search is now underway, entrants can send their beer resumes to Resumes must not exceed three pages and must be printed in 12-point text. The 2007 Beerdrinker of the Year finals are tentatively set for Feb. 24, 2007, at Wynkoop.

Published : Feb 28, 2006