2011 Beerdrinker of the Year: Phil Farrell

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The Wynkoop Brewing Company's annual Beer Drinker of the Year competition -- in which contestants must prove their knowledge of the brew, not how much they can drink -- found its 2011 winner over the weekend: Phil Farrell, a Georgia-based commercial pilot. Naturally, Farrell is also a homebrewer who boasts that he's tasted beer in every country in Europe.

Farrell was a four-time BDOTY finalist before winning the competition on Saturday, after a grueling two-hour contest at the Wynkoop Brewing Co.

So what does Farrell win? Free beer for life at the Wynkoop, $250 in free beer at his hometown bar -- Five Seasons North in Alpharetta, Georgia -- and, like winners of the Stanley Cup, his name engraved on the trophy. Below is the full press release from the Wynkoop:

Phil Farrell Wins Wynkoop's 2011 Beerdrinker of the Year Title

(Denver, Colorado) - Phil Farrell, a Cumming, Georgia commercial pilot, homebrewer, beer judge and four-time Beerdrinker of the Year finalist, won Wynkoop Brewing Company's 2011 Beerdrinker of the Year title yesterday.

Farrell finally won the title in a 2-hour finals event held before a raucous, standing-room-only crowd at Denver, Colorado's Wynkoop Brewing Company.

A popular attendee at numerous US beer events and a well-traveled beer lover (he has tasted beer in every country in Europe, all 50 states and every US territory), Farrell ended a run of three finals appearances that left him short of the crown.

"This is great!" exclaimed Farrell on the announcement of his win, which triggered a roar of approval from the audience. "If anybody wakes me up I'll kick their butt. This is a dream come true."

Farrell thanked his tough 2011 challengers (James Clark of Springfield, Virginia and Mike Dixon of Wake Forrest, North Carolina) and his beer-supportive wife, Suzie Farrell.

He also thanked the nation's beer community for welcoming him and indulging his love of beer and its culture. "I'm so glad to be in this family of beer, everyone has so much passion," Farrell said. "Beer is great, but beer people are greater."

Farrell's home beer bar is Five Seasons North in Alpharetta, GA.

In addition to unmatched beer lover glory, Farrell wins free beer for life at the Wynkoop Brewing Company, $250 worth of beer at Five Seasons North and clothing proclaiming him the 2011 Beerdrinker of the Year. His name will be engraved on Wynkoop's Beerdrinker of the Year trophy.

This year Farrell won over the contest's wigged & robed judges with a mix of correct answers to questions, impressive blind judging of beers, an opening statement highlighting his efforts on behalf of beer, and a good dose of humor.

His closing statement was a parody of Bill Joel's "Piano Man" renamed "Chicken Man." The lyrics were sung from the perspective of Farrell's constant companion at beer events, a rubber chicken, bemoaning Farrell's string of previous finals losses. (Joel's line "When I wore a younger man's clothes" became "Back when I had feathers for clothes.")

"This is a very tough title to win," says Wynkoop's Marty Jones, organizer of the search and the emcee of the finals event. "It takes a ton of beer knowledge and beer-tasting experience just to get here. But to win the crown you've got to strike the perfect blend of beer knowledge, passion, ambassadorship and humor. This year Phil hit that chord perfectly."

After the contest Farrell offered words of encouragement to his fellow finalists. "You are now in a very elite club," he told them. After missing the title his first time, he noted, "there was no shortage of encouragement from industry folks, beer drinkers and all the former winners I ever ran into, all wishing me luck next time."

He offered to give Clark and Dixon advice for next year's contest, but with a disclaimer. "View any advice from me," Farrell said, "in light of the fact that I'm retiring from Beerdrinker competition with a .250 lifetime batting average!"

In his Beerdrinker of the Year resume, Farrell detailed how his basement beer pub features six taps, three refrigerators and a 15-gallon brewing system. He also noted that in 2010 he visited 32 states and 18 countries in search of beer, and logged 11,000 miles on his family's RV.

His philosophy about beer includes these thoughts: "Fear no beer. All of my "beeroes" (beer heroes) were fearless. In my short beer lifetime, a wasteland has been turned into a paradise...and I live in the best beer country in the history of the planet. Beer helps connect people. Beer is the greatest gift ever given to the human race and is meant to be shared with others."

For more details on the Beerdrinker of the Year search and Wynkoop Brewing Company, visit http://www.wynkoop.com.

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