Cheers Check-in: New breweries rake in the medals

Posted on September 2, 2014 by

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Champion Brewing Co. and Three Notch’d Brewing Co. have been pouring beer in Charlottesville for less than two years, but continuously rack up praise from craft beer lovers and industry peers.

While word of mouth, unique collaborations, and well, the beer itself, have all been good for business, now the breweries have some hardware to back them up.

Both Champion and Three Notch’d brought home medals from the third annual Virginia Craft Brewers Cup competition Aug. 23 at Devil’s Backbone Basecamp in Nelson County.

Three Notch’d, which opened its doors last September, won its first medal, a Bronze for the “Oats McGoats” Oatmeal Stout.

Along with Oats McGoats, the brewery entered its “Gray Ghost” American Pale Ale, “Marble Man” Mosaic IRA, “No Veto” Brown Ale and “Session 42” Best Bitter, an English style pale ale.

Scott Roth, president of Three Notch’d, said the Gray Ghost and Marble Man Mosaic IRA were both “extremely well received” by those attending the Virginia Craft Brewers Festival.

Champion entered five beers – Missile IPA, Killer Kolsch, Black Me Stout, Tart Berliner Weisse and the Stickin’ in my Rye IPA – in the competition.

The brewery, which has been open since December 2012, won Gold for Killer Kolsch, Silver for the Tart Berliner Weisse and Bronze for the Stickin’ in my Rye IPA.

Champion poured its Missile IPA and Positive Jam – a collaboration with The Hold Steady – at the festival.

Both Roth and Hunter Smith, president and head brewer at Champion, said they enjoyed this year’s festival, which featured breweries from all over the state and attracted more than 2,500 people.

“I think the festival and competition is fantastic for Virginia, and we obviously enjoyed this one,” Smith said, adding this is Champion’s second year participating in the event. “We had pretty across-the-board great feedback, and have gotten some attention … after the medals.”

“We will certainly be back next year,” Smith added.

Photo courtesy of Hunter Smith

The crew from Champion Brewing Co. pose after winning their medals at the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup. | Photo courtesy of Hunter Smith

Roth echoed Smith’s feelings about the festival.

“This is an awesome event,” Roth said. “The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild has created the only state-run competition of its kind and their support of the craft beer movement in Virginia could not be more evident. They started just three years ago with a little over 20 breweries and this year the festival featured over 50. That’s incredible.”

Roth noted that the beers at the festival were also incredible.

“There was something for everyone out there and the public really seemed to have a great time enjoying everything from American Pales to Black IPAs aged in Brandy barrels,” he said, adding the Black IPA aged in Brandy barrels was brewed by Adroit Theory Brewing Co., a relatively new nano brewery in northern Virginia.

The festival also gave Three Notch’d good exposure to those new to its craft.

“Going to 2-ounce pours and not limiting the consumer with tickets made people feel less concerned about trying something new,” he said. “Everything was very well done by the Devil’s Backbone crew.”

Roth said Three Notch’d will “absolutely” return for the 2015 event.

Host Devil’s Backbone took home seven medals at the event, including four gold medals, with its Turbo Cougar blond block winning the overall prize for best of show. The brewery’s flagship Vienna Lager won a gold medal.

Blue Mountain Brewery won a silver medal for Living Helles and a bronze medal for Marsedon. Blue Mountain Barrel House won Gold for Spooky and Bronze for Dark Hollow.

South Street Brewery won Bronze for its Browntown brew.

Devil’s Backbone said on its website that the number of beers entered this year – 221 across 23 categories – was nearly double the amount entered in 2013 with judging taking place in advance by more than 20 certified judges at Mad Fox Brewing Co. in Falls Church.

For those who missed it

For those who missed the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest, Champion, Blue Mountain, Devil’s Backbone, South Street, and Three Notch’d will be among several local and national breweries participating in the Top of the Hops festival on Sept. 20 in Charlottesville.

Blue Mountain and South Street will have some familiar favorites, with each brewery also featuring a wet-hopped harvest IPA.

Champion will be pouring its Killer Kolsch and Missile IPA, along with a specialty beer or two, Smith said.

Roth said Three Notch’d has a new Double Black Rye IPA that it will pour at the festival.

“For the rest, you’ll just have to wait and see,” he said.

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