Patrons of Charlotte-area breweries are familiar with the strength of our local brewing scene, but word is spreading nationwide thanks to a Charlotte-area haul of five medals at last weekend’s Great American Beer Festival in Denver.
Two golds were awarded: NoDa Brewing Company’s “Gordgeous” topped the Pumpkin/Squash Beer or Pumpkin Spice Beer competition with its annual autumnal offering, and Wooden Robot Brewery’s “Réserve Dorée de Pêche” conquered the Fruited Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer category with its most recently-released bottled offering.
NoDa’s head brewer Chad Henderson is pretty pumped. “This one is special just for the fact that it’s such a hard beer for us to brew and nail consistently,” he said. “It’s our most popular seasonal and to have it bring home a gold in such a prestigious competition just makes all the hard work even more worth it.”
“It’s a huge honor to win a medal at GABF,” says Wooden Robot head brewer Dan Wade, “and I am particularly excited to receive recognition for this beer, which has been aging almost the entire time we have been brewing beer.” Wrap your head around this: their eleventh batch of beer spent three years aging in Chardonnay barrels.
This is the first GABF medal for Wooden Robot; NoDa has previously received gold for “NoDaJito” in 2016, and silver for “Coco Loco” in 2012.
One silver was awarded: Divine Barrel Brewing, after being open for just over six months, snagged their first silver in Historical Beer with “The BIG Lubelski,” their pleasantly-smoked take on the traditional Polish Grätzer style.
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“It’s still mind blowing,” says Ben Dolphens, Divine Barrel’s head brewer. “To go from brewing my first homebrew on my college apartment stove in 1999 and wondering if what I was doing would even work, to winning a medal at GABF as a professional brewer almost 20 years later at a brewery we started seven months ago… it’s nuts to me.
“Hearing our name called at the awards ceremony will be a moment that I never forget, regardless of what comes next for the brewery.”
Finally, a pair of bronze medals: D9 Brewing Co. placed in the Gose category with their cucumber-and-melon-infused “Brewer’s Day Off,” and Triple C Brewing’s “Zest-A-Peel” rounded out the English-Style Summer Ale category for their orange peel-infused pale ale.
D9 owner Andrew Durstewitz is pumped about their second medal in three years. “The honor of medaling in such prestigious categories is an inspiration to our team,” he says. “We are proud of all the breweries that make the Charlotte area one of the finest in the Southeast.”
Triple C owner Chris Harker had a big weekend: enjoying a concert at Red Rocks, turning forty, and accepting their bronze. “We are over the moon about winning our second GABF medal,” he says, “and it was a huge honor for me to go out there and get up on stage with my wife to represent all the hard work our team puts in.”
D9 took a 2016 gold for the scuppernong-and-lily installment in their Systema Naturae series, and Triple C won bronze in 2015 for year-round “3C IPA.”
Overall, this was a solid year for North Carolina breweries, with 13 medals awarded statewide (6 gold, 4 silver, 3 bronze). North Carolina’s total was the 7th most medals of any state, trailing only California, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Ohio.
Looking to try this year’s winners? Triple C’s “Zest A Peel” can be found on draft year-round in their taproom & at VBGB, and cans & draft of NoDa’s “Gordgeous” should last through later this autumn. Divine Barrel has “Lubelski” pouring in their taproom, and D9’s Durstewitz informs me there’s “lots in stock and we’re making plenty more” of their “Brewer’s Day Off” gose in cans and draft. Lastly, Wooden Robot will be popping corks on their “Réserve” bottles this week in their taproom, so don’t dawdle.
Triple C’s Harker sums it up well. “It was so much fun to hear all the announcements about NC and especially Charlotte beer and seeing our friends and peers take the stage.
“What a special time for our scene.”