Ear to the ground

“Does it include someone to hold your hair?”

– A local reveler inquiring about the after-effects of the 1-liter beer boots available at this year’s Oktoberfest

Heavy beers

Durango’s suds went to the big show last weekend and returned home with big honors. Two local breweries earned medals at the Olympics of beer – the Great American Beer Festival.

The GABF – considered the most prestigious competition in the nation – was held at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver on Sept. 16-18. In this the festival’s 29th year, 516 breweries from throughout the nation entered 3,523 beers in 79 categories for a shot at gold, silver and bronze medals.

Durango’s Steamworks Brewing Co. celebrated one of its most successful showings to date with the brewery’s Backside Stout and What in the Helles? taking gold and the Colorado Kölsch earning silver.

Steamworks’ Backside Stout competed among 39 entries to take top honors in the Oatmeal Stout category. “This is the first time the Backside Stout has been recognized at the GABF,” said Kris Oyler, Steamworks co-founder. “It is one of our original brews, on tap since we opened in 1996. This recognition is long overdue.”

What in the Helles? took gold in the Munich Style Helles category, and Steamworks’ Colorado Kölsch rose to the top of 46 entrants in the German Style Kölsch category to earn the silver.

“For those of you who haven’t studied your beer history, Kölsch means it’s a light, crisp ale with a hint of sweetness,” said Brian McEachron, Steamworks co-founder. “And it’s very refreshing. The credit for the Kölsch and all our award-winning beers definitely goes to our brew dogs, Ken Martin and Spencer Roper.”

Ska Brewing also took home precious medal at the GABF, claiming bronze for its ESB Special Ale. The win is a GABF first for the ESB, which is one of three Ska beers available in cans year round. Ska has a rich history of wins at the venerable GABF going back to 2003, including two bronze medals and a silver medal last year. “I spoke with a number of judges that said their categories were the best and most difficult to judge of any year they’ve been involved,” said Thomas Larsen, head brewer at Ska. “It’s the premier craft beer competition in the world, and it grows larger and more competitive every year. Winning a medal is a good sign that we must be doing something right.”

The 2010 Great American Beer Festival Competition winners were selected by an international panel of 151 experts from 10 countries.




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