It’s been said that Texas is still playing catchup in the national brewing game, and that’s true. However, if the results of last weekend’s Great American Beer Festival are any indication, we’re catching up very quickly. Texas breweries won a respectable 10 medals last year, but this year took home a best-ever 16 at the country’s preeminent beer-judging competition.
That still pales in comparison to the United States’ top brewing states, like California (46 medals) and Colorado (39 medals), but puts us close to Oregon (22 medals).
Of course, it’s not all about numbers, but with the quality of beer being produced here to go along with the ever-increasing number of craft breweries, it’s becoming clear that Texas belongs in the conversation among top brewing states.
In a competition like GABF, simply making good beer doesn’t necessarily qualify you to win anything. Brewing beers that fit into one of the many, very specifically defined style categories is what earns the medals. That takes skill, focus and an eye for detail.
Despite Texas’ German and Czech brewing roots, it seems English-style ales might be our strongest suit. Community Public Ale won gold for the second year in a row in the extra special bitter category, Oasis Texas London Homesick won gold for ordinary or special bitter, and Grapevine Sir William’s won gold for English-style brown ale. It seems beers of subtlety that require an eye for detail are right in our wheelhouse.
Possibly the most impressive win was Denton’s Armadillo Ale Works’ gold medal for Quakertown Stout. In the highly contended imperial stout category, winning gold is quite the honor and head brewer Bobby Mullins should be very proud. Even before Armadillo has its own brewery finished it’ll have some hardware to decorate with.
Overall, North Texas breweries claimed six medals, with Peticolas winning gold for its 2-year-old version of Great Scot !, which won in the aged beer category. Rahr & Sons won bronze in the doppelbock category with Regulator, and Community won again for Ascension Coffee Porter. Even within our own state, Austin has the reputation for being the brewing mecca, but won fewer medals than DFW this year.
Just as with Texas as a whole, North Texas is growing on the national radar, and should only continue to grow as a destination for beer. For a full list of winners, visit greatamericanbeerfestival.com.
BeerFeast returns: Flying Saucer Fort Worth in Sundance Square will host its 9th annual BeerFeast, 1-7 p.m. Saturday. It will feature 60 beers from more than 40 breweries, with several that are often hard to come by. Tickets are $35, $45 at the door and $65 for VIP. beerfeast2014.com.
More Saucer goodness: The night before Beerfeast, Flying Saucer Fort Worth is hosting five of North Texas’ biggest names in brewing for a Local Brewers Summit with renowned beer writer Stephen Beaumont. Tickets are $45 and will feature special beer selections and small-plate pairings. 7 p.m. Friday.
Bearded Eel opens: Fort Worth’s newest brewery, Bearded Eel, will hold a grand opening this weekend: 6-9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2-5 p.m. Saturday. Entry is $15 and includes a brewery glass and three beers.
2014 GABF TEXAS WINNERS
• 2012 Great Scot!, Peticolas Brewing Co., aged beer
• Benedictum, Real Ale Brewing Co., Belgian-style lambic or sour ale
• Sir William’s English Brown Ale, Grapevine Craft Brewery, English-style brown ale
• Public Ale, Community Beer Co., extra special bitter
• Quakertown, Armadillo Ale Works, imperial stout
• London Homesick Ale, Oasis Texas Brewing Co., ordinary or special bitter
• Fire Eagle, Austin Beerworks, American-style strong pale ale
• Yellow Armadillo, Thirsty Planet Brewing, American-style wheat beer
• Aloha Piña, 5 Stones Artisan Brewery, herb and spice beer
• Saint Arnold Summer Pils, Saint Arnold Brewing Co., Munich-style helles
• Lobo Negro, Pedernales Brewing Co., German-style schwarzbier
• Shiner Bock, Spoetzl Brewery, American-style dark lager
• Ascension, Community Beer Co., coffee beer
• The Regulator, Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., German-style doppelbock or eisbock
• Weedwacker, Saint Arnold Brewing Co., German-style wheat ale
• Jaguar Shark, Pinthouse Pizza Craft Brewpub, wood- and barrel-aged strong stout