The Satori Award 2010 (Beervana)

The other day Jeff (of Beervana) selected the pick for his annual Satori Award, his own annual personal pick for Oregon beer of the year:

In Zen Buddhism, satori is the moment of sudden enlightenment when the mind realizes its own true nature. The Satori Award, now in its fifith year, honors the beer that in a single instant allows the drinker to realize brewing magnificence. It is that moment when the sheer force of tastiness produces a flash of insight into the nature of beer. I award it for the beer released in the previous year (roughly) by an Oregon brewery (roughly) for a regular or seasonal beer.

The Satori Award is one of my favorite awards to read about being, er, awarded a beer. Sure, getting the reveals from the likes of the Great American Beer Festival is always a big moment (though perhaps somewhat predictable) but when Jeff announces the Satori, that’s the one I really want to read about—and lend perhaps consider the most authoritative. Why?

  • It honors Oregon beers, which anyone reading my blog for any length of time shouldn’t be surprised that I would favor;
  • It’s an award given by a blogger—which means little in the sense of bringing home gold medals or plaques you can hang on the wall, and that’s exactly the point;
  • Jeff has been drinking and writing about beer for a long time and knows what’s talking about; if I trust anyone to pick an authoritative beer of the year, I trust Jeff.

This year’s Satori winner was a bit of a surprise to me (but a pleasant one): Bruce/Lee Porter from Prodigal Sun Brewing over in Pendleton, Oregon, a 7.5% Robust Porter.  What’s especially cool about this is that Prodigal Son has only been open since about March.

When I visited the brewery, all the beers were well-made, and with the exception of the hefeweizen—an offering to lite drinkers—each was well-executed, distinctive, and tasty. Among these was a porter that I didn’t realize until later was 7.5% because it was so balanced and approachable.

Sometimes I know the second I drink a beer that it’s special, and sometimes I know it because I keep wanting another one days after I tried it. I thought Bruce/Lee was special the first time I had it, but over time, as I pined for it, I knew how special it was. It’s a bit big to call a simple porter, but that’s how it tasted: nothing gaudy or ornamental about it, just pure pleasure. I expect to see good things from Prodigal Son over the years, and I’ll try to make it out there from time to time.

A new beer to try, and a new brewpub to visit, though I have no idea when I might find myself over near Pendleton. (Ironically enough, we passed through Pendleton just this summer on the way back from Walla Walla; it was straight through and we didn’t have time for stops.)