Lorton, VA’s Fair Winds Brewing took home silver in the Bohemian-Style Pilsner category for Pohlick Bay Pilsner, besting 185 other breweries. It’s Fair Winds third medal at the annual Great American Beer Festival; the others were for their saison, Siren’s Lure. “Although clear IPA is what we are traditionally known for, we really have leaned into our lagering program down here in Lorton,” says Chris Banich, Fair Winds Sales and Operations Manager. “To win a silver for our phenomenal Pilsner shows that the hard work at making traditional lager styles is paying off. We can’t wait to hang our medal on the wall to display that we make a top 3 lager in the entire country!”

For the first time in five years, a DC brewery has earned a medal, as Atlas Brew Works won bronze in the American Pilsener category, and yes, note the spelling difference. There were 148 entries from breweries in that category. A DC brewery last medaled in 2017, when the late Gordon Biersh – Navy Yard won gold in for its Hefeweizen.

Meth from Atlas, Elliot from Soul Mega, Favio from Dynasty. Source.

“The Atlas brewing team is truly stellar and I’m proud to see our diligence pay off,” says Daniel Vilarrubi, Atlas Brew Works Director of Brewing Operations. “We work hard on all of our beers but we’ve given Bullpen a lot of attention lately and we couldn’t be happier to get the recognition.”

Two other area breweries–brewpubs, really–in the northern Virginia suburbs earned hardware. Sweetwater Tavern – Centreville won silver in the Belgian-Style Witbier category for Wit’s End Ale, besting 89 other entries. Yes, Allagash White did win gold. Port City did not take bronze, but it could have, and maybe should have. Wit’s End also won silver in 2016, and this medal marks six out of the last seven years that a Sweetwater Tavern has won an award, which is pretty cool. If you’re looking for clean beer that’s to style, consider a visit.


Another Sweetwater Tavern, in Sterling, medaled in another Belgian-Style category, for their Bishop’s Pass Ale, again taking silver, in Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale category, where there were 76 entries. Both are owned by the Great American Restaurants group. Sweetwater Tavern – Merrifield did not win and I suppose will now be mocked by the two winning brewpubs. Interestingly, another Great American Restaurants spot, Big Buns, collaborated with Atlas on Damn Good IPA earlier in the year.

What about Maryland? 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 continues to add a bit more complexity to breweries’ plans, and even before COVID-19, many DC-area 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.

The GABF website lists the winners, and we extend a hearty congrats to all of them.