Virginia matches high mark for medals at Denver festival

Virginia won 14 medals in competition at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver this year, and that put the state in some interesting company.

Ryan Aldridge, vice president of sales for Blue Mountain Brewery, sports the three medals won by the brewery's group. Photo by Lee Graves

Ryan Aldridge, vice president of sales for Blue Mountain Brewery, sports the three medals won by the brewery’s group. Photo by Lee Graves

The Brewers Association, the non-for profit trade group that organizes the festival and represents small and independent brewers, keeps track of statistics such as how

many medals a state won compared with the number of entries by breweries in that state. Yes, it’s higher math, admittedly, but the ratio landed Virginia in third place among all states, behind Wyoming (45 entries and five medals) and Hawaii (28 entries and three medals). Virginia had 200 entries from its 150-plus breweries.

Fourteen medals is the most for Virginia since 2013, when it also won 14, but times have changed. This year’s competition was the stiffest yet, with 7,227 entries from 1,752 breweries, large and small. Judging required the talents of 264 beer experts from a dozen countries and spanned three rounds over four days.

One of the big winners nationally was Uberbrew of Billings, Montana, which carried home two golds, a silver and a bronze—plus it was named Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year.

In Virginia, three areas of the state had multiple winners, and a standout was the Brew Ridge Trail in the Charlottesville area. Starr Hill took the stage first to claim a silver medal in the Pro-Am competition. The Crozet brewery partnered with home-brewer Gary Layton to produce Vernal Equinox, an English-style IPA. It was the first of six medals for breweries in the greater Charlottesville region.

The Devils Backbone crew at the Great American Beer Festival includes Dizzle Clark (from left), taproom manager; Wade Hughes, pathfinder; Matt Castoro, senior brewer; and Heidi Crandall, co-founder. Photo  by Lee Graves

The Devils Backbone crew at the Great American Beer Festival includes Dizzle Clark (from left), taproom manager; Wade Hughes, pathfinder; Matt Castro, senior brewer; and Heidi Crandall, co-founder. Photo by Lee Graves

“The Brew Ridge Trail kicked butt,” said Heidi Crandall, co-founder of Devils Backbone Brewing Company. Its Vienna Lager, produced at the brewery’s Outpost facility outside Lexington, won gold in that category; Danzig, from the Basecamp brewpub in Roseland, also won gold in the Baltic-style porter category.

Three medals went to the group of breweries owned by Taylor and Mandi Smack. Blue Mountain Barrel House and Organic Brewery in Arrington took home silver in the Vienna-style lager category with FIVE Ofest. South Street Brewery in Charlottesville took a silver for Twisted Gourd (in the pumpkin spice beer category) and bronze for Slippery When Wit (in the session beer group).

“This is the most medals we’ve ever won,” said Ryan Aldridge, vice president of sales for Blue Mountain Brewery, the group’s mother ship in Afton.

Lincoln Smith (left) and Dominic Finney (center) of Ardent Craft Ales join Charlie Papazian onstage. Photo by Lee Graves

Lincoln Smith (left) and Dominic Finney (center) of Ardent Craft Ales join Charlie Papazian onstage. Photo by Lee Graves

The Richmond area was led by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, which won silver among historical beers for Grosse Teufel. “Grosse Teufel is [a] take on the once nearly extinct Lichtenhainer—an Eastern German ale that strikes an exceptional balance between its smoked barley base and lactic acid tartness,” the brewery’s website says.

Ardent Craft Ales in Scott’s Addition of Richmond won bronze for its Brett Saison—brett refers to brettanomyces, traditionally a wild yeast that gives beer a funky, earthy characteristic.

Winners among Northern Virginia breweries were Ocelot of Sterling, gold for Sunnyside Dweller (in the Kellerbier or Zwickelbier

Patrick Murtaugh (left) and Eric McKay (right) with Charlie Papazian. Photo by Lee Graves

Patrick Murtaugh (left) and Eric McKay (right) with Charlie Papazian. Photo by Lee Graves

category); Ornery of Woodbridge, gold for Light of Cologne (in the German-style kolsch category); Lost Rhino of Ashburn, silver for Face Plant (in the English-style IPA group); Port City of Alexandria, silver for Colossal Five (in the old ale or strong ale category); and Great American Restaurants/Sweetwater Tavern in Centreville, silver for Wit’s End Ale (in the Belgian-style witbier category).

Spencer Devon of Fredericksburg took home a bronze for Sunken Road, a Belgian-style blonde ale in that category.

About admin

I am a writer. And a musician/songwriter. And a husband/father. I love good beer, the outdoors, the embrace of family, the company of true friends, the telling of a good story and the inner peace derived from quiet reflection in solitude.

Recently I have specialized in beer writing. In October 2014, “Richmond Beer: A History of Brewing in the River City” was published by History Press. “Charlottesville Beer: Brewing in Jefferson’s Shadow,” followed in January 2017. A third book, this one a statewide Virginia beer book combining history and profiles of current craft breweries, is with University of Virginia Press and slated for publication in 2018. Send me an email at rvabeerguy@gmail.com.

As you can see from this site, however, my interests are broader than beer. Spend time, leave a comment or just enjoy.
Lee

This entry was posted in Beer adventures. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *