Beer: It's bling for regional breweries

Several regional breweries won medals at this year's Great American Beer Festival, but none as many as Fat Head's Brewery.

Fat Head's (in Middleburg Heights, Ohio, but connected to the Fat Head's Saloon in Pittsburgh) won a gold medal in Imperial India pale Ale for its Hop JuJu, a silver in fresh hop ale with its Trail Head and silver in German-style schwarzbier for its Black Knight.

Imperial India pale ale was the second-most-entered category with 149 entries (after American-style India pale ale with 252 entries).

Erie's Lavery Brewing Co. won a gold -- also its first medal and its first entry -- in French & Belgian-style saison for Liopard Oir Farmhouse Saison.

Meadville's Voodoo Brewery won a silver -- its first GABF medal, too -- in aged beer for 2009 Big Black Voodoo Daddy.

The North Side's Penn Brewery won a bronze in chocolate beer for its Chocolate Meltdown.

Fat Head's and Penn were two of several regional breweries that attended and poured their brews at the Denver beer blast, that ran Oct. 10 through 12.

There were a record 4,803 beers in the competition, for which 201 judges picked the top three beers in 84 beer categories covering 138 different beer styles.

Twenty-four first-time entrants won awards (of 230 first-timers in the competition).

Other Pennsylvania winners:

• Troeg's Brewing Co. won a gold in bock for its Troegenator Double Bock and a bronze in German-style pilsener for its Sunshine Pils.

• Neshaminy Creek Brewing won a gold in Vienna-style lager with its Churchville Lager.

• McKenzie Brew House won a silver in wood- and barrel-aged sour beer with its Dark and Stormy.

• Sly Fox Brewing Co. won a silver in Belgian- and French-style ale for its Grisette and bronze for Vienna-style lager for its Oktoberfest.

• Yards Brewing Co. won a silver in English-style mild ale with its Brawler and a bronze for indigenous beer with its Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce.

• Marley's Brewery & Grille won a bronze for specialty beer with its Pack Dog Peanut Butter Ale.

Find the full list of winners

You might have to wait a while to get your hands on the winning brews, as some of them are seasonal. Fat Head's needs to brew more Hop JuJu and has little of its other two brews left right now, says Glenn Benigni.

Voodoo head brewer and director of barrel aging Curt Rachocki suggests customers buy 2013 Big Black Voodoo Daddy next month and cellar a few bottles to try in a year, then in two, then in three. "Big Black ages gracefully for years and it'll give you a great perspective as to how the beer matures and develops with age."

Penn will be making its Chocolate Meltdown to release this January, in six- and 12-packs with new labels, says marketing director Linda Nyman, who was in Denver.

She punned that winning with that beer "is a particularly sweet victory for us ... because it's our first non-traditional, more 'contemporary' style to win at GABF. I like to think it demonstrates the breadth of our brewers' skill."

Bob Batz Jr.: and 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr. First Published October 16, 2013 8:00 PM


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