It's a story of bock and gold.
A record 377 breweries competed in 69 categories at the recent Great American Beer Festival in Denver. One local one came home with a medal:
Lawrenceville's Church Brew Works entered the bock category with its Mad Brewer Maibock and won the gold.
"Feels fantastic," says head brewer Bryan Pearson, who won his first GABF medal in 1998. He's since collected a total of seven, four of them for the maibock, which earned silvers in 1999 and 2000 and a bronze in 2001.
"It had been a little bit of a dry spell," says Mr. Pearson, who didn't go to the festival for the first time in a decade. When the medal arrives here, he'll put it in the last empty spot in a display case at the brew pub.
This year, 30,000 beer fans attended the three-day Denver event, during which 109 judges sipped through 2,335 different brews to award 206 medals.
Twenty Pennsylvania breweries, including four from the Pittsburgh area, participated. The top five medal-winning states were California (38), Colorado (29), Texas (13), Wisconsin (11) and New York (10).
Pennsylvania brewers won seven. In addition to the Church:
Triumph Brewing Company of New Hope won gold for its Honey Wheat (Gold American-Style Wheat Beer), silver for its Dunkel (European-Style Dark / M?nchner Dunkel) and bronze for its German Pilsener (German-Style Pilsener).
Nodding Head Brewing Co. of Philadelphia won gold for its George's Fault (Gold Specialty Honey Lager or Ale) and bronze for its Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse (German-Style Wheat Ale).
John Harvard`s Brew House No. 2 in Springfield won gold for its Devon Altbier (German-Style Brown Ale/D?sseldorf-Style Altbier).
For more winners, visit the Web site, www.gabf.org.
The North Side's Pennsylvania Brewing Co. won an unprecedented fourth straight time in the U.S. Beer Tasting Championship with its wheat beer, Penn Weizen.
The 10th competition judged 362 beers from 142 breweries across 11 categories. Penn Weizen, which was named both a regional and national grand champion, holds numerous other past awards.
East End Brewing Co.'s Scott Smith has cooked up a new brew that debuts tonight. It's Big Hop Harvest Ale, and you can be among the first to taste it from 8 to 10 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Deli Co., 728 Copeland St., Shadyside (412-682-3354). What's special is that, unlike most brews, which are made with dried hops or hop pellets, this one he made with fresh hops. He promises hop taste like you've never had -- "a bit green and leafy, like fresh grass clippings."
Bob Batz Jr. can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1930.