October 13, 2013

Wicked Weed Brings Asheville a Gold Medal

Enjoying the Gold Medal at the GABF
award ceremony (via Twitter)
Wicked Weed Brewing has made history by being the first ever Asheville brewery to bring home a gold medal from the Great American Beer Festival, the top brewing industry event in the country and the largest commercial beer competition in the world.

Despite the fact that they just opened this past December, Wicked Weed has proven that they've raised the bar on the quality of beer coming out of this city. Their gold medal was in the American-Style Brett Beer category for Serenity, a beer formerly known as Transcendence. "Brett" is short for Brettanomyces, a historically wild yeast that today's most adventurous brewers have harnessed to create beers with complex, funky characteristics. In the style category, Wicked Weed's Serenity surpassed 37 other entries, including those of California's Russian River (maker of what is arguably America's favorite craft beer) and Colorado's Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project (whose brewer literally wrote the entry on Brettanomyces in the Oxford Companion to Beer). This all bodes well for the New Belgium/Wicked Weed/Riverbend Malt House collaboration beer mentioned in my previous post.

This is only the third ever GABF medal for Asheville breweries. In 2011, Lexington Avenue Brewery won a bronze medal in the Brown Porter category. Prior to that, Highland Brewing Company earned a silver for Black Mocha Stout (2008, American-Style Stout category). Wicked Weed's is the first GABF gold medal for a North Carolina brewery since 2010.

Other 2013 winners from North Carolina include:
  • Silver - Old Ale / Strong Ale category, Irish Walker Barley Wine, Olde Hickory Brewery, Hickory, NC
  • Bronze - Bohemian-Style Pilsener category, Bohemian Pilsner, Mother Earth Brewing, Kinston, NC
  • Bronze - Robust Porter category, Genuine Oatmeal Porter, Carolina Brewery, Chapel Hill, NC
Congratulations to all the winners from GABF!

More results and stats from the Great American Beer Festival can be found in the press release from the Brewers Association.

October 11, 2013

Riverbend Malt House Announces Expansion, GABF Collaboration Beer

Asheville's Riverbend Malt House is in the middle of several exciting projects, including a major expansion and R&D with the North Carolina agricultural extension office. Plus, tonight in Denver, New Belgium and Wicked Weed will unveil a small batch collaboration beer made with Riverbend malt -- a Brett IPA brewed with experimental hops, German spelt, and Riverbend's Appalachian wheat.

Here's some more information about the collaboration and the release event:

October 9, 2013

Beer Mail: Goose Island, Magic Hat, Kona Brewing Company

I've been remiss in sharing some of the brews that have arrived on my doorstep over the past couple months. Things have been pretty busy around here. For one, I've been writing quite a bit of content for the E. C. Kraus homebrewing blog. I've also started with an exciting new project, which I'll share very soon. For now, some beer reviews from Goose Island, Magic Hat, and Kona Brewing Co.:

Goose Island Brewing Co., Chicago, IL

I was genuinely pleased with Goose Island's beers, a few were pretty impressive. Some people give Goose Island a hard time for "selling out" to AB-Inbev, but based on the quality of the beer itself, I can't fault them...

  • Honker's Ale - An easy drinking English style bitter. Burnt orange in color with an off white rocky head. Pale malt and some ale yeast esters in the aroma, with low hop aroma. Crisp grain flavor with mild hop bitterness. Some wheat gives it a medium-light body and good head retention. Finished somewhat dry. (4.2% ABV)
  • IPA - Similar to the Honkers in that wheat is used for head retention and body -- it's there in the aroma, along with sweet caramel malts and moderate spicy hop aroma. Not especially bitter in the flavor, pretty well balanced. Medium bodied. (5.9% ABV)
  • Urban Wheat - Light yellow in color with a big rocky white head. Faint aroma of lemons in the aroma, but nothing like the banana/clove of a hefeweizen. An easy drinking wheat ale perfect for a hot day. (4.2% ABV)
  • Matilda - This is where Goose Island's portfolio really begins to impress. Matilda is a Belgian style pale ale featuring complex aromas of orange, spice, phenols, and some dark fruit. Medium and frothy body with a moderately sweet finish. Excellent. (7% ABV)


    Goose Island Matilda - there's a winner.
  • Sofie - Sofie is a farmhouse ale, pale yellow in color with a white head. Somewhat tart with a prominent lemon character, plus some mild farmhouse funk. Light, yet chewy mouthfeel. (6.5% ABV)
  • Bourbon County Stout - This highly coveted imperial stout pours black/brown and viscous with a big brown head on top. Sweet chocolate is balanced by bourbon spice. This one's definitely a sipper! (15% ABV)

A pretty impressive lineup from Goose Island.