Firestone Walker claims third World Beer Cup title


(Chicago, IL) – On a night full of records, Firestone Walker took home its third World Beer Cup championship as a mid-size brewery, continuing its dominance in the competition.

The largest beer competition ever. The largest beer dinner ever. The most-entered beer style category ever. The most victories by a single state ever . . . you get the point. Let’s start breaking this down.

Firestone Walker continued its competition success, recording its own personal WBC record with six medals: two golds, two silvers and two bronze medals. That gives the brewery 20 medals across the last four WBC competitions, enough to extend its all-time WBC medal count lead over Alaskan Brewing. It was also Matt Brynildson’s sixth championship as a brewer in all-time WBC and Great American Beer Festival competition which is another record.

A group of brewpubs under the Iron Hill Brewery name had their biggest showing since the 2008 GABF, winning five medals. Jack Curtin generally digs up some pretty good details on these guys’ awards so I’ll leave the gushing to him. [4/12 Update on who brewed what.]

Though with 12 medals, I am baffled as to how the Rock Bottom Brewpub group didn’t win the award. They won a Large Brewpub award as recently as the 2008 GABF. What changed between then and now that would disqualify them?

[4/12 Update: Thanks to Stan Hieronymus for educating us (or me) once again. This is pulled from the World Beer Cup website and probably explains the Rock Bottom-Iron Hill issue:

* Only the first eight entries on the registration application for a brewing company will be eligible for points going toward the Champion Brewery awards.
* For the purpose of any award or other honors, including the Champion Brewery awards, the brewing company identified on the registration application determines what company points are awarded to and what company receives the award. Points and awards are not transferable.]

Devils Backbone Brewing had its second consecutive strong showing in competition. After earning four medals at last year’s GABF, the brewery matched that total on its way to a Small Brewpub title. The Virginia brewpub opened at the end of 2008 so they have wasted no time in strutting their stuff.

Ballast Point logoBallast Point Brewing was one of two breweries winning three gold medals. Baird Brewing out of Japan was the other. Ballast Point won the Small Brewing Company of the Year award with its Sculpin IPA winning hardware for the second straight competition. The beer placed 2nd in last year’s hotly-contested American IPA category at GABF. Ballast Point submitted it to the International Pale Ale competition this year, however. International Pale Ale??

Asia Pacific Breweries won Large Brewing Co. honors though Pabst Brewing deserves an honorable mention with five medals.

The surprise of the competition? That goes to Black Raven Brewing, a small Washington-based brewery that will celebrate its first anniversary in three weeks. They have extra cause to celebrate after winning three medals, two golds and a silver. Coco Jones Porter was a gold medalist in the “Herb and Spice Beer or Chocolate Beer” category beating 108 other entries. Barrel Aged La Petite Mort won silver, topping 111 “Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer” entries in the most-entered category in WBC history (and 2nd all-time in U.S. competition history).

Remember how Goose Island Nut Brown Ale bottles were just discontinued? The beer won its second WBC gold medal on Saturday.

Comeback kids of the year? The Bruery and Alaskan Brewing. After the 2009 GABF, I singled out both these talented breweries for going home empty-handed but wrote that I expected them to bounce back this year. And bounce back they did. The Bruery won its first-ever two medals, and golds to boot, in WBC/GABF competition. Hey, they are still young considering they are on the verge of celebrating their 2nd anniversary. Alaskan Brewing is an industry veteran and the most decorated all-time in terms of WBC/GABF individual beer awards. Like The Bruery, Alaskan grabbed two medals this year, including a gold for Alaskan Smoked Porter. There are never many entries in the “Smoke-flavored beer” or “Aged beer categories” but the fact that this beer has won a medal at every WBC except 2006 is impressive. Its next victory at the GABF or WBC will be its 25th as an individual beer which puts it on the top of the pedestal.

Looking for a comeback candidate for the 2010 GABF? Try Left Hand Brewing. They medaled in the last three GABF/WBC competitions before going 0 for 6 here. Located just a few miles from 2010 GABF competition HQ, I wouldn’t be surprised if they send more beers in for this next go-round. Look for a medal this September.

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