Wilson, a Prescott, Iowa writer, homebrewer, beer judge and beer
blogger, is Wynkoop Brewing Company’s 2012 Beerdrinker of the Year.
Wilson won the title at the Beerdrinker of the Year National Finals,
held Saturday, February 25 at Wynkoop Brewing Company, Colorado’s
first brewpub. Wilson’s astute beer knowledge, beer
ambassadorship (from a town of just 283 people) and a 2011 beer &
water fast helped him win the contest.
“He’s a person who really understands and promotes beer,” said Andy
Brown, Wynkoop’s head brewer and one of five judges for the finals.
“He also had a near-religious experience revolving around beer this
“All three of the finalists were worthy of the 2012 title,” said
Jack McDougall, Wynkoop’s first Beerdrinker of the Year and another
finals judge. “But in the past year J. showed a total dedication to
beer that won us over.”
Wilson outlasted Warren Monteiro (a New York City freelance writer,
beer traveler, homebrewer and beer journalist) and Greg Nowatzki, (a
Las Vegas, Nevada accountant, home brewer and beer judge) to win the
In 2011 Wilson fasted for 46 days on just water and a dopplebock he
brewed with a Rock Bottom Brewery & Restaurant in West Des Moines.
His experience became a book, Diary of a Part-Time Monk, and landed
him national attention. (Just hours after Wilson was picked as the
2012 winner, an opinion piece Wilson penned about his unique fast
ran on CNN.com.)
“With the fast and the book and my other efforts it’s been a very
big beer year,” Wilson said after being crowned. “To have it all
lead to my winning the Beerdrinker of the Year title, it’s very
satisfying. It’s a validation of everything that has happened this
Wilson is the first Beerdrinker winner to hail from the nation’s
heartland, and he lives in a rural area far removed from a rich beer
culture. “I don’t live near any beer mecca and I’m a 90-minute drive
from a city with a brewery,” he says. “But you can win this contest
by doing things in your own community.”
At the finals, Wilson discussed his philosophy for a life rich with
beer. ”Having a balance is all important,” he said. “I love beer.
But I also truly love my family, and in the grand scheme of things
that’s far more important.”
Wilson has a 3-tap, 8-foot home bar supplied by a 10-gallon brewing
system in his basement. An advocate for beer for 15 years, he
organized numerous beer events in his home state in 2011. (Read his
beer blog at www.brewvana.net .)
Winning the title will help him further those efforts. “This will
certainly help me with my writings and my beer blog Wilson says. “I
want to continue spreading the gospel of great beer to those who’ve
not been converted.”
Wilson wins free beer for life at the Wynkoop Brewing Company, $250
worth of beer at his local beer bar (El Bait Shop in Des Moines,
Iowa) and clothing proclaiming him the 2012 Beerdrinker of the Year.
He’ll have his name engraved on Wynkoop’s Beerdrinker of the Year
trophy, and will brew a special batch of beer with Andy Brown that
will be served at next year’s Beerdrinker of the Year event.
Wynkoop’s annual contest seeks out and celebrates America’s most
passionate beer lovers. Entrants must have a deep understanding of
how beer is made, its many styles and its importance in advancing
civilization. They must have a vast array of beer-tasting
experiences and be ambassadors for the culture of fine beer.