Virginia professor is the 2007 Beerdrinker of the Year
Contributed by: Marty Jones
Diane Catanzaro, a Norfolk, Va., homebrewer, beer judge and college professor, has been crowned the 2007 Beerdrinker of the Year.
Catanzaro, 48, won the title in the hotly contested Beerdrinker of the Year National Finals on Feb. 24 at Wynkoop Brewing Company. A professor of industrial/organizational psychology at Christopher Newport University (in Newport News, Va.), Catanzaro is the second woman to win the competition. ( Cornelia Corey of Clemmons, N.C. won the title in 2001.) Her home beer bar is The Biergarden in Portsmouth, Va.
"This is a dream come true for me," Catanzaro said after winning the title. "I can use the title to carry the flag for Beer Nation and spread the news about craft beer. And it gives me an opportunity to promote a better understanding of beer to women in America."
"Beer is not just some fizzy yellow drink," she said. "It has a rich history, an incredible array of styles and flavors, and it's part of a healthy life style. And it's not just for the boys."
Catanzaro, a finalist in last year's Beerdrinker contest, beat out finalists Logan Perkins, of Denver, and Phil Farrell, of Cumming, Ga. Her impressive beer drinking experiences, humor and beer ambassadorship helped her land the crown.
"I've never seen three more deserving finalists," said Tom Dalldorf, editor and publisher of Celebrator Beer News and one of the seven judges for the finals. "But Diane was very engaging, and her personality and very beery background helped her win the title. She speaks well for the beer community."
The finalists weathered two hours of difficult questions from the judges. The queries stretched from questions about beer chemistry, styles and history, to the finalists' abilities to sing old beer-advertising jingles and recall esoteric beer trivia. During the competition's Beer Whispering segment, Catanzaro impressed judges with a cross-continental conversation with a blend of the Duchess de Bourgogne and Oskar Blues Brewery's Old Chub Scottish-Style Ale.
For her closing statement, she sang a reworked version of the vintage blues song "Beer Drinking Woman" that referenced Southern California beer legend Tommee Arthur, Flying Dog Brewery's Horn Dog barley wine and female craft brewing legend Carol Stoudt.
Catanzaro's 2006 beer experiences included tasting beer at numerous breweries, bars and festivals in the U.S. and Belgium. She also led liberal arts students on a tour of Belgium that included education on the country's beer culture, and the differences between artisan-made beers and those mass produced by global conglomerates.
Later this week Catanzaro heads to Belgium again. She'll guide another group of students there (the trip includes a visit to Open Brew Day at the famed Cantillon gueuze brewery), and she'll visit other breweries in her free time.
On her beer resume, she outlined her philosophy about beer drinking: "People who say they don't like beer just haven't met the right beer! I'll be happy to arrange an introduction... I can be a positive role model for more women to discover the joy of beer and break stereotypes."
As the 2007 Beerdrinker of the Year, Catanzaro wins free beer for life at Wynkoop Brewing Company and a $250 beer tab at the Biergarden. She also wins clothing proclaiming her the 2007 Beerdrinker of the Year, a place on Wynkoop's Beerdrinker of the Year trophy, and the heady fame and glory that comes with the lofty title of Beerdrinker of the Year.
The resume review panel for the 2007 Beerdrinker of the Year search was comprised of the nation's top beer writers and beer experts, and previous Beerdrinker of the Year winners. Catanzaro is the 11th person to win Wynkoop's Beerdrinker of the Year crown.
"The Beerdrinker contest," Catanzaro says, "focuses on the finalists' knowledge about beer, and how much they know about its sociology, psychology and culture. So I'm especially proud to win the title."
Marty Jones is the organizer and self-proclaimed head cheerleader of the Beerdrinker of the year competition.