For the second time in three years, Charlotte’s Olde Mecklenburg Brewery entered their German-style beers into a German competition, the European Beer Star, and took home validation in the form of a gold medal.
Not content with resting on their laurels for their 2015 Mecktoberfest win, OMB bested all comers in the Baltic Porter category for their Fat Boy Baltic Porter. Since becoming a year-round offering in late 2014, this higher-gravity offering brings a smooth richness of dark fruit and warming alcohol backed by gentle hints of caramel and roastiness.
Don’t just take my word on it; to celebrate the win, OMB will be handing out half-pint-sized samples of the winning libation to of-age taproom visitors on Friday, Sept. 15. To-go six-packs are also available at the taproom, and around Charlotte.
In total, 2,151 beers from 46 countries were entered into this year’s European Beer Star, a new high-water mark for the competition’s 14th running. A team of 133 judges, hailing from 26 countries, handled the field over a two-day period. Entries are limited to European-originating beer styles. In 2016, the gold medal went to Ballast Point’s Barometer Drop.
Historically, Baltic Porter is a continental adaptation of the traditional British style of Porter. As some European styles go, it’s comparatively new; a Finnish brewery is credited with pioneering this modified style in 1819. While the malt bill of Baltic Porter shares much with its British brethren, it’s fermented with lager yeast at cooler temperatures versus the warmer-fermented ale yeast used in porters.
As in 2015, OMB owner John Marrino is coincidentally and fortuitously in Germany for a trade show, and will be accepting the medal in person. Per a press release, Marrino sees the medal as “validation that our beers are world class, true-to-style and pure.”
For its 8.3-percent ABV heft, Fat Boy is a surprisingly smooth sipper that stands well on its own, but also pairs well with aged cheese or red meat.
“We wanted a beer as big, bad and bold as my Fat Boy motorcycle,” quips brewer Carey Savoy on the beer’s namesake.
As in past years, expect a barrel-aged version of Fat Boy come February. Stints in barrels from Woodford Reserve and Charlotte’s own Great Wagon Road Distillery add much to a superb base beer.
“When you pride yourself on German-style beers, this is your Super Bowl,” says Ryan Self, OMB’s director of sales, concerning their gold-medal win. “To be judged as best in the world in a country where those beer styles were born and perfected is the highest honor for our brewers. It’s a tribute to their dedication to quality.”
Considering the brewery will soon be debuting a brand-new tasting room behind its existing bar area, there’s even more reason to rejoice. Taproom visitors can see the new space for themselves just in time for Mecktoberfest celebrations, beginning on Sept. 22.
Photos: Jonathan Wells