13 Feb “Best of Craft Beer Awards” Is Well Named for Indiana Craft Beer Entrants
Bend, Oregon was the site of the 2019 Best of Craft Beer Awards judging from February 8-10. Winners were posted just 24 hours later, and Indiana again did very well. From over 2000 entries, eight Indiana breweries took a total of 17 medals. And this was in the face of alot of West Coast competition, so it’s a major haul in anyone’s book.
Beer contests are one way for brewers to check themselves on how they are doing with their recipes and processes. Competitions are a way for breweries to get feedback about their products from educated palates, and secondarily to see how they stack up. Finally, medals are good way to get the word out to the public that judges like this brewery’s beer. This beer has been recognized as worthy of a medal, so the public should come try it too. But remember, it doesn’t mean that beers not awarded medals are inferior – after all, the vast majority of beers are never entered into a single competition.
Nevertheless, it is an accomplishment to win a medal at a small or large festival, and it is an outward sign that craft breweries are considering many aspects of recipe development and style guidelines when they make beer – and that translates to good things for their patrons. Therefore, we should celebrate these breweries that have put themselves on the line and have come home with hardware.
Here is the run down for the Indiana breweries who were awarded medals in the 2019 Best of Craft Beer Awards:
Flix Brewhouse in Carmel:
Gold – Garde Your Grill, a French Saison or Biere de Garde, 18 entries.
Gold – Aquabock, a German style dopplebock, 15 entries
Bronze – Strawberry Gose in the Machine, a Contemporary Gose, 15 entries
Bronze – Cuddly as Cactus, a Belgian Style Fruit Beer, 11 entries
Flix-Carmel head brewer Rob Malad told me that 2000 entries is a breakpoint number for a big competition, and that made the medals here a bit more interesting. This is the second competition of 2019 where in Flix has cleaned up. They took four medals in the recent Beer Wars contest, and these four beers are different entries than were made for Beer Wars. Therefore, Flix-Carmel has medaled with eight different beers already in 2019.
Rob brought up another good point about competitions supporting the community of craft brewers when he said, “Probably the coolest part of competitions is celebrating with your friends. Not long after I found out the results, I received text messages from Jarrod May, Nick Betzner, Josh Miller, Andrew Hood, and our Flix Albuquerque brewer Will Moorman. That’s a really fun feeling.”
Taxman Brewing in Bargersville:
Gold – Qualified, a Belgian Dark Strong or Quad, 25 entries
Silver – Frozen Assets, a Chocolate or Cocoa Beer, 17 entries
Bronze – Deduction, Belgian Style Dubbel, 9 entries
Colin McCloy, Chief Production Officer and co-owner of Taxman Brewing said, “We’re always very proud when house beers like Deduction and Qualified get recognition, but we’re particularly excited to see a beer like Frozen Assets, one that isn’t necessarily in our stylistic wheelhouse but is still a unique and fun-to-brew ale, get some love. On top of our own beers, we were thrilled for Indiana to be so heavily represented at the BoCBA, and it re-affirms once again that great beer is made here.” I’d suggest that Taxman didn’t need a competition to tell them Frozen Assets was a solid beer, they could’ve just asked all of us.
Metazoa Brewing in Indianapolis:
Silver – Wee Bit Left, a Scotch Ale, 17 entries
Bronze – Hog Body, an American Barleywine, 24 entries
Bronze – Meadowlark, a French style Saison or Bier de Garde, 18 entries
John J. Hall of Metazoa said, “The feedback is the primary reason, but medals on the wall for people to see are nice, and seeing how we stack up against our peers is worth knowing. In large competitions, like GABF and such, we just want to get past that slash and burn of the first round. If we make it to the finals, we know we’re on the right track…..of course to medal is nice too.” This is the first competition of the year for Metazoa, but it follows up on a very successful 2018 where they garnered more than ten medals….their definitely on the right track.
The Tap Brewing Company in Bloomington:
Silver – Midnight Fuel, a coffee beer, 38 entries
Bronze – Electric Stinger, a specialty honey beer, 13 entries
Like Flix-Carmel, this is the second competition in a row in which The Tap has won multiple awards. Also like Flix-Carmel, the beers that won medals at this event were different than those that won medals at Beer Wars, meaning that these breweries make many beers that have been recognized. I should write more because they deserve it, but let’s all make it easy on ourselves and just go drink some of their beer in Bloomington or Indianapolis. It speaks for itself.
Sun King Brewing in Indianapolis:
Gold – Cherry Busey, a Belgian Style Fruit Beer, 11 entries
Gold – Panchanga, the “Other” Lager category, 16 entries
Cherry Busey has won multiple awards over a number of years, and has always been a judges’ favorite for beer name. It also won the category that Flix took bronze in, Belgian Style Fruit beer, meaning that Indiana took first and third in the same category. This is just like the how Flix took gold in the French Style Saison or Biere de Garde and Metazoa took Bronze in that same category. This might indicate that craft beer in Indiana is good because we learn from each other.
Grand Junction Brewing in Westfield:
Bronze – Imperfect Backside, an oatmeal stout, 12 entries
Jon Knight, owner of Grand Junction, said, “We’re thrilled to receive the recognition. This medal is especially sweet for us as it was awarded to our Imperfect Backside Oatmeal Stout, one of our original beers we opened our doors with back in 2014.” I agree, this is a beer I’ve been drinking since the Shawn Kessel days.
Jon added about style and feedback, as we talked about above, “Our brewery has always been focused on traditional beer styles, with a strong emphasis towards European beers. Feedback is critical in continuing to improve upon the product we ultimately deliver to our customers. Competitions provide us with a great tool to get that feedback.”
Bier Brewery in Indianapolis:
Silver – Barrel Aged Sanitarium, a wood or barrel aged strong beer, 80 entries
Bier Brewery does everything, including to keep adding to their medal total. While the base beer Sanitarium won another Gold medal at Beer Wars (for a Belgian Dark Strong), the current medal is for the bourbon barrel aged version. With 80 entries in this category, it was the most populous of any category that wasn’t an IPA, so a Silver here is a great accomplishment. If we looked at the judges’ scores, I’ll bet it wasn’t far from a Gold; it’s never far from Gold.
Four Day Ray Brewing in Fishers:
Silver – Monk Tears, a Belgian Style Dark Strong or Quad, 25 entries
As above, this is a double bagger for Indiana, with Taxman taking the Gold in this category and Four Day Ray taking a bronze. If you add together Taxman’s three medals, and those from Four Day Ray, Flix, and Sun King, then Indiana took six medals in the Belgian categories (and you could add Bier’s medal for BA Sanitarium which is a Belgian style beer). What is it about Indiana that makes our brewers so good at Belgian styles? Dedication, creativity, and attention to detail, that’s what I say.
My idea was backed up by head brewer Mitch Ackerman, “It’s always nice to be able to help raise the profile of Indiana beer with a win in competition. This one is very nice since Indiana took home both the gold and the silver in the Belgian Dark Strong/Quad Category with Qualified from Taxman and Monk Tears from us. Hopefully this will help solidify that Indiana is the state to get Belgian Style beer in the United States.” He’s right you know, I also heard it from someone else I trust.
Many people in central Indiana think of food and an interesting space when they think of Four Day Ray, but owner Brian Graham and head brewer Mitch Ackerman are very much paying attention to the beer. They are doing a huge number of styles, and they do them well. Last year brought some hardware to Fishers, but look for many more medals in the future.
Congratulations to all the winners and also to the breweries that entered beers and did not garner a medal this time. They too get feedback on their beers, and this will do nothing but make Indiana craft beer stronger next time. And what’s better, we all get to benefit by having these improving and great beers to choose from every day.
banner image credit: Brewpublic