At last week’s Great American Beer Festival, the beer world’s equivalent to the Oscars, several Washington-area breweries brought back bling. The brightest win belonged to Alexandria’s Port City Brewing Company, which was named Small Brewing Company of the Year.
Competition was steep. Out of 1,552 participating breweries from 50 states and D.C., about one-third were in the small brewing company category (defined as breweries which produce between 1,000 and 15,000 barrels of beer per year). Only 86 of those won medals for one or more of their beers.
If that’s not impressive enough, Port City was one of only four breweries of any size to win three medals, the most granted to any single brewery this year. A total of 6,647 beers were entered across 92 style categories, representing a 20-percent increase from 2014. The rapid growth of U.S. breweries, opening at a rate of two per day with over 4,000 currently active, has made it was more difficult than ever to place.
Nonetheless, seven Virginia breweries and one from Maryland beat the odds. While DC Brau won a silver medal in 2012 and another in 2014, none of D.C.’s ten craft breweries placed this year.
Port City founder Bill Butcher, head brewer Jonathan Reeves, and their team’s accolades include a silver for Monumental IPA out of 42 entries in the English-style IPA category, a silver for Porter out of 102 entires in the robust porter category, and a bronze for Optimal Wit out of 82 entries in the Belgian-style witbier category.
Lorton’s Fair Winds Brewing Company, which opened in March and launched in D.C. last week, won a gold medal for Siren’s Lure in the French- and Belgian-style saison category, which had a whopping 132 entries. Devils Backbone Brewing Company in Lexington* received a gold for Vienna Lager.
Two Harrisonburg breweries also won awards. Brothers Craft Brewing Company (formerly Three Brothers Brewing Company) took a gold for Mild, their English-style mild ale, and Pale Fire Brewing Company won a bronze for Salad Days in the American-Belgo-style ale category.
Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery, a farm brewery in Goochland celebrating its second anniversary this week, snagged a silver for Heir Apparent in the Chili Beer category, which was newly added this year and had 79 entries.
Finally, Charlottesville’s Champion Brewing Company received a gold for Shower Beer in the Bohemian-style Pilsener category.
Maryland’s single victory this year was a gold to Laurel’s Jailbreak Brewing Company for Van Dammit in the Belgian-style strong specialty ale category.
Check out the full winners list and more details about the competition here on the Brewers Association website.
*This sentence has been corrected.
Image courtesy of Port City Brewing Company