No, I wasn’t there, but I did enjoy watching the awards stream, and it was quite pleasing to see some favorite breweries and beers (both local and those from further afield) hailed. Stoudt’s has been turning out incredibly well-crafted German-style beers since long before it was trendy to do so (and I would argue that high-quality German-style beers still suffer by association with their watery macro cousins – it’s hard for some to believe that a great lager exists, while it’s easy to accept an amazing Russian Imperial Stout, simply because there hasn’t been a craptacular macro version – yet). Their Heifer-in-Wheat took home a gold, while I celebrated their victory with their excellent Oktoberfest. Troegs Flying Mouflan (an aptly-named beer of supreme woolliness) also took a top prize in the Barleywine category, and it was another well-deserved one.
But some locals were left out of the medals, though it’s hard to find a better bitter than Victory’s Uncle Teddy’s, or a better mild than Yards Brawler – it makes me even more curious to try the winners in those categories. On the whole, the left coast had quite an impressive showing – Port Brewing and Firestone Walker (fine breweries, both) seemed to be collecting every other award. It was quite interesting to see an ‘American-Style India Black Ale’ category (though I have yet to hear anyone refer to one as such), and once again, I’m now intensely curious about the Gold and Silver medal winners – there’s something better than Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale? A quick glance at the map, however, suggested that Turmoil from Barley Brown’s Brew Pub will be unlikely to make its way out of the mountains, much less to Philadelphia – though one may hope it magically appears somewhere.
There are, of course, many fabulous beers that would be quite deserving of a medal if only they were entered (and given the economy, it’s easy to understand why smaller breweries aren’t flying their beer and staff halfway across the country for some hardware) – just about everything Earth Bread & Brewery makes would merit a mention, and Nodding Head’s Philly Beer Week one-off Agave Berliner Weisse could easily fit in a few categories. So, it’s an (almost) open thread – what local (wherever local is to you) brewery or beer do you find worthy of a medal, despite either not entering or being overlooked?