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Local Beers are World-Class, With the Hardware to Prove it

The World Beer Cup was historically a biennial event, but this year it rebranded itself as an annual competition. For comparative sake the 2021 Great American Beer Festival saw 9,680 entries. The 2022 World Beer Cup had 10,542 entries. There were 57 countries represented in this year’s competition with 2,493 breweries entering. The US entered the most beers by far (pdf), but Ireland was the country with the highest winning rate.

If you believe World Beer Cup judges, Denizens makes the best brett beer in the world (at press we were unable to confirm if Orval had been entered). Category 26, Brett Beer has 43 entries and the gold went to The Glow, from Denizens’ Silver Spring location.

The silver medal went to Saison 625, from Kros Strain Brewing Company in La Vista, NE. Interestingly, one of the founders of the brewery, Scott Strain, used to be local to the DC metro area and had produced very tasty wares (according to this reporter) as a DC Homebrewers club member. Denizens’ win is impressive given the recent bifurcation of their production. Their Riverdale Park facility is for non-Brettanomyces beer. Clean beers like Born Bohemian and Denz Hard Seltzers are completely void of Brett character (as they should be) and the same can be said for current seasonals Creature Hazy DIPA, Critter Juicy Pale Ale, and the Hike the Alps series’ latest, Hefeweizen. Nice to see that this division of labor, with their Silver Spring location bringing the funk, is paying off. Congrats to their Chief Beer Officer, Jeff Ramirez.

According to the judges, only a “Pilsener,” that’s how they spell it, from Iowa was better than Port City Brewing Company’s Downright Pilsner out of 161 pale lagers entered in that category. Port City took silver in Category 40, Bohemian-Style Pilsener. The gold medal winner was for Over the Ivy, from Confluence Brewing Company in Des Moines, IA. Port City’s silver is impressive in that the brewery has been tweaking their recipe. That you’d need to fine tune your recipe, processes, and the ways in which the beer is handled coming out of the cellar and going into bottles and kegs is nothing new to award-winning breweries. Credit where it’s due, and that credit belongs to Adam Reza II, Director of Brewing Operations at Port City. Reza recently celebrated his 9th anniversary at the brewery and as the World Beer Cup has made clear, his “Pilsener” is tasting better than ever. The list of exciting lagers coming out of Port City continues with standbys like Mexican Dark Lager, and look for the release of Pizza Night, an amber-colored Czech style lager, soon. Also, they’ll be pouring this beer at SAVOR next month.

Baltimore’s Union Craft Brewing’s Blackwing bested 113 other Schwarzbiers to receive the silver medal in category 46, German-Style Schwarzbier. The category had 114 entries, with the gold medal going to Surrender Cobra, from Big Beach Brewing Company, of Gulf Shores, AL. Blackwing Lager was famously the favorite beer of Henry “Zadie” Benesch, to whom this reporter is indebted. “The World’s Oldest Brewery Worker” landed me a North American Guild Beer Writers award. In January Union celebrated the life of the late, great, Zadie and offered $1 Blackwing cans. This beer was first released on draft in 2013, with cans debuting in 2014. Blackwing bears similarity to Port City’s Downright Pilsner: as a “Year Round” beer it’s available for any weather, be it a rainy, cold May day, or a bright and sunny September one. While dark beer is often not as popular as its paler cousins, pilsner, helles, and adjunct lager, you can count on Blackwing lager to do as Union says and find “this lager is a true champion of flavor!” Union celebrates its tenth anniversary next month.

Additional Winners include Leesburg, Virginia’s, Black Hoof Brewing Company, which could really use some good news right about now. They won a bronze medal for Dominator Doppelbock. The medal came in category 48, German-Style Doppelbock or Eisbock, which featured 113 entries.

Two hours south in Waynesboro, Virginia, Basic City Beer won a gold medal for their Basic Ought. Basic City’s Basic Ought won category 45: European Dark Lager. The category saw 132 Entries.

Willamsburg Alewerks took home a bronze in category 29: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer. Out of 187 entries the bronze was awarded for Alewerks’ Bourbon Barrel Porter.

COVA Brewing Company, based in Norfolk, won Gold in category 62: Contemporary Gose. Their Aloha State of Mind won the category, which had 67 entries.

Artemis, from Decipher Brewing Company in Charlottesville, took a bronze medal in category 17: Other Strong Beer. The category had 50 entries in total.

Devils Backbone is no stranger to World Beer Cup medals but their Ramsey’s Export Stout won gold in category 87: Export Stout. Devils Backbone Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows in Roseland, VA, brewed Ramsey’s Export Stout bested the category with 53 entries.

Another dark beer winner is Independent Brewing Company of Bel Air, Maryland. Independent’s Wooden Coat, took silver in category 86: Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout. The category had 73 entries.

Congrats to all the winners, and go crack The Glow, a Downright, a Blackwing, or all three!

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