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2020 Great American Beer Festival: Virginia’s Vienna’s Victorious, Silver Branch’s Superlative Saison

The Commonwealth of Virginia nearly completed a sweep of the Vienna-Style Lager category, with Ashburn’s Lost Rhino RhinO’fest taking gold, and Alexandria’s Port City Oktoberfest winning bronze. Both had previously medaled, and indeed, had done so in the same year. Great American Beer Festival (GABF) judges continued to reward NoVa’s consistency, with Sterling’s Rocket Frog Wallops Island Brown Ale again medaling, taking silver in American-Style Brown Ale.

Silver Spring’s Silver Branch, just a few blocks away from the District line, took gold for Beyond the Gnome World in the Classic Saison category, and–day trip alert–Eldersburg’s 1623 Brewing took silver in American-Style Fruit Beer for Everything But the Seeds. They do can, and perhaps Maryland and DC will see more of 1623 around.

Virginia wasn’t done, however, racking up 16 medals. Notable exurban winners include a gold for Centerville’s Sweetwater Tavern in the Rye Beer category with, ahem, Crazy Jackass Ale. Further out in Farquier County, Old Bust Head’s Irish-Style Red Ale, Vixen, won a bronze.

“What about DC,” you say? Well, you have to be in it to win it, and we don’t know how many area breweries sent beer to be judged. No doubt the pandemic has added a bit more complexity to breweries’ plans, and even before COVID-19, many DC breweries declined to participate in the judging. Participating breweries shell out $160 (or $385 if not a member of the Brewers’ Association) to submit a beer.

A complete list of winners can be found at the Great American Beer Festival website, and please join us in congratulating the locals.

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