North Texas Breweries Cleaned Up At This Year’s Great American Beer Festival.
For evidence on how far Texas' craft beer scene has come in the past five years, look no further than how the state's fared in the Great American Beer Festival.
This weekend, hundreds of brewers from all over the country gathered in Denver to determine the best beers in 90 different categories. This year, Texas breweries took home 16 medals, six of which were awarded to North Texas breweries. Not only is the largest total medals the State of Texas has ever brought home from GABF, it's a huge improvement from the four medals earned statewide in 2011.
To put it in perspective, that total ranks fourth behind just California, Colorado and Oregon — states with long brewing traditions and the largest concentrations of breweries.
Let's take a look at the local winners and, where applicable, remind you what our own resident beer expert Colin Alsheimer had to say about each.
Brewery: Grapevine Craft Brewery. Brewery: Community Beer Co. Brewery: Peticolas Brewing Co. Brewery: Armadillo Ale Works. Brewery: Community Beer Co. Brewery: Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. All photos by Colin Alsheimer.
Medal earned: Gold in the “English-style Brown Ale” category for its Sir William's English Brown Ale.
What we said: “As far as the style guidelines go, Sir William's is mostly on point. There are no off-flavors, and it's mostly balanced with good, layered flavors to enjoy. Where it loses me, however, is the finish. Sir William's finish is so bad, in my opinion, that it ruins what would otherwise be a quite excellent beer. That said, of Grapevine's other offerings that we have reviewed to date (Lakefire Rye Pale Ale, Monarch American Wheat) this is far and away my favorite. Sir William's English Brown Ale is certainly not the best beer in North Texas, but it's also not the worst. This beer falls somewhere in the middle of those extremes, which, if we're honest, is exactly where a brown ale probably should be.”
Medal earned: Gold in the “Extra Special Bitter” category for its Public Ale.
What we said: “Community's Public Ale definitely deserves all the accolades it has received in the last year. Regardless of your personal preference for the style (if you don't like a bitter beer on some level this isn't for you), it's evident that this is a well-crafted, balanced beer. Plus, it's damn tasty. If I have to ding this beer for anything, I'd have wished for more caramel notes in the aroma and flavor, and more clarity in the appearance. Still, those are minor issues for what is clearly one of the best ales in North Texas.”
Medal earned: Gold in the “Aged Beer” category for its Great Scot!
What we said: n/a.
Medal earned: Gold in the “Imperial Stout” category for its Quakertown Stout.
What we said: “Quakertown Stout isn't a bad beer by any means. Drinking it, you can tell that the brewers very much know how to make quality beer. There are no off-flavors, and there's quite a bit of complexity, too. But if I had to say just one thing about the brew, it's that it's all a tad heavy-handed. It's almost as if the brewers, in deciding to make an Imperial version of an Oatmeal Stout, went all in on an over-the-top aggressive flavor profile. And it's tough to blame them. This kind of approach has been popular among beer nerds for years. But, ultimately, a little more balance would be nice, and it would go a long way in transforming this beer from an occasional sipper to a beverage that can be enjoyed with more regularity. If you enjoy your coffee black, your whiskey neat and your jalapenos raw, then this beer is your jam. If not, well, maybe you should drink a Blood & Honey instead.”
Medal earned: Bronze in the “Coffee Beer” category for its Ascension Coffee Porter.
What we said: “Unlike some coffee beers I've tried in the past, this one makes zero effort to hide that it's a coffee beer. Instead, the brewer has opted to put the wonderful characteristics and flavors of an expertly brewed cup of coffee right at the forefront. As I stated earlier, it's definitely heavy handed — other brewers might be tempted to dial up the sweetness or tone down the hops to compensate — but damn it if it doesn't work. Ascension Coffee Porter has been one of my favorite local brews for the past few months — and, selfishly, I'd love to see it as a year-round offering.”
Medal earned: Bronze in the “German-style Doppelbock or Eisbock” category for its The Regulator.
What we said: n/a.
Brewery: Grapevine Craft Brewery.
Brewery: Community Beer Co.
Brewery: Peticolas Brewing Co.
Brewery: Armadillo Ale Works.
Brewery: Community Beer Co.
Brewery: Rahr & Sons Brewing Co.
All photos by Colin Alsheimer.