When the term ‘City of Champions’ finds its way to printed ink, it typically refers to a Stanley Cup or Lombardi Trophy on its way to Pittsburgh. But let’s take a moment to remove sports from the equation and apply said terminology to our thriving libations scene. Award-winning adult beverages being created in the confluence of the ‘Burgh is becoming a regular thing and, this past weekend, Pittsburgh once again represented strong in Denver, Colorado.
Roundabout Brewery, Full Pint Brewing, Rivertowne Brewing, Penn Brewery, and Fat Head’s all captured medals in various categories at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival. GABF, hosted annually in Denver by the Brewers Association, has grown to be one of the biggest beer festivals in the United States. The three-day event brings together thousands of independent breweries from across the country and craft beer enthusiasts from one corner of the globe to the other, putting over 2,000 beers center stage and showcasing how much quality liquid we have at our fingertips in this beautiful country. In addition, there is a large panel of product judges that sample beers submitted in an extensive list of style categories, enviably tasked with sampling each beer and determining which beers stand out as the best of the best.
According to Bob Batz, Jr. of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, medals were awarded for the best examples of 161 different beer styles in a range of 98 categories. There were 7,923 beers entered into the competition coming from 2,217 breweries from 50 states from coast to coast, including Washington, D.C.
Here’s an up close look at the winners:
Every August, Full Pint Brewing gets amped up for Fall with its now infamous Night of the Living Stout. Taking a traditional stout and adding an innovative spin, the brew crew at Full Pint singled-hopped Night of the Living Stout with cascade hops to give it a citrus character that balances exquisitely with roasted malts. It earned the bronze medal in the American Style Stout category and was one of 60 entries in the category.
Night of the Living Stout comes in at 7% ABV and 85 IBU. It is made with Pilsner, Crystal 65, Black, and Roasted malts and the aforementioned Cascade hops. You can find Night of the Living Stout available in bottles and on draft from August until November each year.
Rivertowne Brewing Captures First GABF Medal with JFP Robust Porter
A well-done porter is one of my favorite beers to consume. It’s a total tribute to the evolution of a palate considering I couldn’t stand the first porters I tried when I initially dove into craft beer. And now, I’m happy I can find a medal-winning offering born right here in the ‘Burgh!
Have you tried Rivertowne lately? If the answer is no, you need to accept my challenge and check them out immediately. These guys have been cranking out some incredible beer and, as 2017 marks their 10-year brewing anniversary, they’ve brought nearly 100 new beers in this calendar year alone to their taps and canning portfolio. This weekend, they captured their first GABF medal with a bronze for JFP Robust Porter in the Robust Porter category, up against 96 other entries.
JFP is a medium to full-bodied robust porter and is semi-sweet and roasty with subtle hints of chocolate and raisin. It’s 5.9% ABV with an IBU of 45. You can find JFP pouring at the Rivertowne Pourhouse and, most likely with its newest accolades, other Rivertowne locations and destinations throughout the city.
More Accolades For Roundabout’s Heini’s Good Cheer
In May of 2016, The World Beer Cup took place in Philadelphia at the Craft Brewers Conference with nearly 6,600 beer entries from 55 countries. When the dust settled, Heini’s Good Cheer from Roundabout Brewery brought home a silver medal in the Old or Strong Ale category in a category pitting 55 beers against one another.
Fast-forward to October 2017 and Roundabout’s highly sought-after strong ale isn’t done staking its claim. Another competition, another silver medal as Heini’s once again stood strong (see what I did there?) in the Strong or Old Ale category among 43 total entries.
Here’s what you need to know about Heini’s Good Cheer, per Roundabout’s website: A tawny colored bourbon barrel aged old ale with aromas and flavors of vanilla, oak, caramel, citrus, cocoa powder and warming alcohol. Carbonation is low to not take away from the residual sweetness. Enough initial bitterness and proper bottling allows for some cellaring at 55 F or lower. Heini was a dear friend of (Roundabout owner and brewer) Steve’s (Sloan) while Steve was living in Germany many years ago. We raise a glass of good cheer in honor of Heini and his generous hospitality.
Heini’s Good Cheer is available once a year. Stay tuned for when you’ll be able to get your hands on this award winner!
Penn Gold Lives Up To Its Name Once Again
North Side’s Penn Brewery is no stranger to winning. Before this weekend, the brewery has captured 19 medals combined in Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup competitions.
Now, make it 20.
Penn Gold, Penn’s Munich-Style Helles offering, was recognized as the king of the mountain in the Munich-Style Helles category and outshined 104 other entries to capture the gold medal. Saturday’s crowning marks the third time Penn Gold has captured a gold medal in this category (also won in 1998 and 2001), alongside a bronze medal in 1999.
This highly-decorated offering in Penn’s portfolio features malty, bready, and sweet flavors that come together with just the right amount of hops to deliver excellent balance. It’s pale gold in color with a delicate and delicious flavor. It tips the scales at sessionable 4.5% ABV with 20 IBU and is available year-round on draft, six packs, and 12-packs.
Fat Heads Stays Consistent With More Hardware at GABF
Fat Heads may brew their beer in Ohio, but they will always be a major part of the Pittsburgh craft beer landscape. They recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of their South Side pub and the development of their brand has led to some of incredible beers for you and me to consume. They’ll always be seen as trailblazers who helped put good beer in the spotlight in our city and, therefore, will always be held as a local brand.
Through all of this evolution, Fat Head’s has captured a lot of awards. Like, a LOT of awards. Like, I may run out of ink listing them all. Click here to see them all.
At this year’s GABF, Fat Heads added two more shiny objects to the shelf: A gold medal for AlpenGlow Weizenbock in the German-Style Wheat Ale, beating out 40 other entries, and a bronze for Midnight Moonlight in the American-Style Black Ale, a category that saw 54 total entries.
A little about both beers:
AlpenGlow Weizenbock | 8.7% ABV – If you look closely, you can imagine the magic of the dusk light on the mountains reflected in the amazing color of this brew. Spicy aromatics of banana, clove, raisin and bubblegum. Soft toasted caramel malt flavors with some complex dark fruits and a hint of licorice and molasses. Finishes silky smooth. Take a sip and set your mind aglow. AlpenGlow also captured a silver medal in 2012 and a gold in 2014.
Midnight Moonlight Black IPA | 8.6% ABV – Dank, resinous, and citrusy hops flex their muscles while an aggressive, palate-scraping bitterness rips through your mouth. Toasty caramel malt flavors and a dash of chocolate malt round this one out. Keeping the streak alive, Midnight Moonlight also won a gold medal in 2015 and a silver in 2016.
Congratulations to each and every brewer and brewery for producing high-quality beer and earning the recognition you deserve!
Want to hear about all the medal-winning beer? Check out Episode 17 of The Breaking Brews Podcast as I sit down with representatives from ALL the Pittsburgh winning breweries!