The poll is over, the numbers are in and Jacksonville was severely trounced. No, we did not even make a very good showing. We can take solace in the fact that Tampa only performed marginally better than us and that we performed in the same range as cities like San Francisco, Dallas, and Washington, DC. But, it is cold comfort.
The winner was a statistical tie between the ever-present beer behemoth that is known as Asheville, NC and up-and-comer Grand Rapids, MI. This will make the fourth year in a row that Asheville has worn the crown of BeerCity USA, even though they are sharing it again after winning it outright the past two years. Grand Rapids, home of Founders Brewing Company and several other brewers looked to be in the competition to win from the very beginning, giving Asheville a run for the money that produced a statistical tie.
According to Charlie Papazian, founder of the popular Rate Beer website and the National Beer Examiner who started the annual BeerCity USA contest, over 60,000 votes were fielded this year. Each of the two winning cities garnered 17,849 votes. The next closest was St. Louis with 3,451 votes. Surprisingly, Denver, home to the Great American Beer Festival ranked a distant ninth in the overall rankings.
But, it’s the performance of our great city that truly has me hurting. I know you beer lovers out there wanted better for team Jacksonville. We are, after all, a city who loves its beer. We love our local breweries and are eager to see more join the ranks of Intuition, Bold City, Green Room, Pinglehead, and Mile Marker. We are a city that knows what it wants and goes for it. And wew want good beer and recognition. It reminds me of a speech Al Pacino gave in the great football movie, On Any Given Sunday:
“I don’t know what to say really… It all comes down to today. Now either we heal as a team, or we’re gonna crumble… We’re in hell right now, gentlemen (and ladies). Believe me. And we can stay here, get the [stuff] kicked out of us, or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb out of hell. One [beer] at a time.
Now I can’t do it for you. I’m too old. I look around, I see these young faces, and I think… I mean I’ve made every wrong choice a middle-aged man can make… You know when you get old in life, things get taken from you. That’s part of life. But you only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out life’s this game of inches… The inches we need are everywhere around us.
Now I can’t make you do it. You’ve got to look at the guy (or girl) next to you, look into his (or her) eyes. Now I think you’re gonna see a guy (or girl) who will go that inch with you. You’re gonna see a guy (or girl) who will sacrifice himself (or herself) for this team, because he (or she) knows when it comes down to it, you’re gonna do the same for him (or her).
That’s a team, gentlemen (and ladies). And either we heal, now, as a team, or we will die, as individuals. That’s [beer drinking], guys (and girls). That’s all it is. Now, what are you going to do?”
Me? I am going to lick my wounds, plant myself at a bar and order a beer. And as I do, I will be plotting my game plan for next year’s BeerCity USA competition. Oh yes, there will be a plan, and it will be inspired. Oh of this I am sure.