While The Commonwealth did not set any personal records this year, the 2015 performance by Virginia’s breweries was stronger that last year and showed how Virginia is now poised to become THE East Coast destination for award winning beer.
Seven Virginia breweries won a total of 9 medals, the 3rd highest count for the Commonwealth at the GABF. The day was highlighted by Port City Brewing Company (Alexandria, VA) 3 medals (2 silver and a bronze) and the award for Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year, marking the 5th time in 6 years a brewery in Virginia has won a BOTY award (Devil’s Backbone holds the other 4). It also was a day for the Virginia new bloods. Four of the seven breweries who won on Saturday captured their first ever medals, a great sign for future years.
The overall medal count was the 7th most by state, behind mainstays California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Texas, and Indiana. Virginia did best Pennsylvania and North Carolina by 1 medal to regain the most on the East Coast and 2nd most East of the Mississippi (Indiana).
Here is a breakdown of the winners from this weekend:
Port City Brewing Company (Alexandria, VA)
Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
SILVER- English-Style India Pale Ale Monumental IPA
SILVER- Robust Porter Porter
BRONZE- Belgian-Style Witbier Optimal Wit
This one you kinda saw coming down the line as the winners were being announced. With 3 of their 5 entries winning a medal, including Optimal Wit, which solidified itself next to Allagash White and Avery White Rascal as one of the best Wits produced in the county, it was a matter of time before the big hardware got announced. Superb achievement for them.
Devils Backbone Brewing Company – Outpost (Lexington, VA)
GOLD- Vienna-Style Lager Vienna Lager
Devil’s Backbone squashed it again with Vienna winning another gold. It’s this beer’s 2nd gold and 3rd medal overall (Gold 2012, Silver 2009) and is rightfully in our Hops of Fame.
Champion Brewing Company (Charlottesville, VA)
GOLD- Bohemian-Style Pilsener Shower Beer
Rubber Ducky, You’re Number 1. In talking so several people Saturday, the overwhelming consensus was that Champion did everything right with Shower Beer, from first boil to last can off the shelf. They were rewarded with their first ever medal at GABF.
Brothers Craft Brewing (Harrisonburg, VA)
GOLD- English-Style Mild Ale Mild
Taking their 2 medal in 3 years, Brothers struck gold with one of their taproom favorites. Perfect example of the finds you can make when you visit local breweries.
Fair Winds Brewing Co. (Lorton, VA)
GOLD- French and Belgian-Style Saison Siren’s Lure
In a category with 132 entrants, Fair Winds made a huge splash with their Saison by grabbing gold for their first medal ever at the GABF.
Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery (Goochland, VA)
SILVER- Chili Beer Heir Apparent
I’ve had the big brother to Heir Apparent (Supreme Leader) and it was a huge hit when I went down to the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference. It was only fitting that this beer nabbed a medal at the GABF, which surprisingly, was their first medal ever.
Pale Fire Brewing Co. (Harrisonburg VA)
BRONZE- American-Belgo-Style Ale Salad Days American Saison
“It was a complete surprise. You never think you would even win something. I bet those guys are partying out there.” A great quote from my conversation with the Pale Fire rep at the Top of the Hops Saturday after they took Bronze.