Local Brewers Bring Home Gold (and Plenty of Silver & Bronze)
Now that the long process of making beer, shipping it, having it tasted and voted on is over and the votes are tallied, the Philadelphia area has plenty to be proud of this year. Of the entrants that could be considered local to Philly, 12 different breweries were awarded 16 medals at this year’s Great American Beer Festival. None, though, were better represented than Troegs Brewing Co., who brought home not only three gold medals but also won Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewer of the Year.
In addition to that lofty designation, Troegs won gold for their Sunshine Pils (German-Style Pilsner), DreamWeaver Wheat (South German-Style Hefeweizen), and Hopback Amber Ale (American-Style Amber/Red Ale). This bring’s the brewery’s medal count to 14 since 2007, including an impressive seven gold medals—no wonder they had to recently move up to a larger brewing space. The only other gold from the area came by way of the oft-overlooked Rock Bottom Brewery in King of Prussia, who won for The Hammer in the Baltic-Style Porter category.
The only breweries to come close to Troegs’ local domination were Dock Street and Nodding Head Brewery, two of the city’s favorite brewpubs, who each took home a silver and a bronze. The silvers went to Dock Street’s collaboration with French brewery Thiriez, the Table Saison (Session Beer) and Nodding Head’s George’s Fault (Specialty Honey Beer)—the third medal for Nodding Head’s collaboration with Home Sweet Homebrew’s George Hummel. The bronzes came on the strength of Dock Street’s ABT 12 (Belgian-Style Abbey Ale) and Nodding Head’s George’s Phunk (Wood and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer), the barrel-aged version of George’s Fault.
Though no individual location won more than one medal, the Iron Hill group made its owners proud with three bronzes and a silver. The bronze medals each went to the Wilmington location’s Black IPA (American-Style Black Ale), Media’s Russian Imperial Stout (Imperial Stout), and Phoenixville’s Roggenbier (Rye Beer). The silver, much to my personal delight, went to Iron Hill Lancaster for their Rauchtoberfest, from my favorite category: Smoke Beer.
The area took one other silver, this one going to the underrated Stewart’s Brewing Company in Bear, DE for their Oyster Stout in the Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout category. Philadelphia-area breweries also rounded out the competition with three additional bronze medals: Yards’ ESA (Extra Special Bitter), Full Pint’s White Lightning (Belgian-Style Witbier), and Flying Fish’s Exit 8 (Specialty Beer).
This year was the area’s best representation at the GABF awards ceremony since 2009, when eight local breweries won 15 medals, and almost eclipsed the total medal take-home of 2010 and 2011 combined. The area, it seems, is back on top, and it’s no wonder. Not only did Philadelphia have a great run at the medals this year, we also have a host of great breweries who didn’t—the likes of Victory, Weyerbacher, Stoudt’s; the list goes on. To have that kind of quality to “fall back on” is something all Philadelphians—not just the beer drinkers—should be proud of. And this is why, despite the mind-boggling amount of imports and the special beers we get that no one else does, we are still more than happy to support our breweries and drink locally. We’d be silly not to.