Mary Jones, one of the owners of Pelican Brewery, paused for a minute during a tour of her company’s new Tillamook brewery to reflect on the Great American
Brewing Festival, which was taking place at that very moment in Colorado. She and co-owner Jeff Schons didn’t go to the festival this year, because, she said, Pelican seems to win more awards if they don’t show up.
Oddly, she was right. Pelican scored four medals at the competition last month, and earned the Large Brewpub of the Year award, and its brewers, Darron Welch and Steve Panos, earned the Large Brewpub Brewers of the Year award. Welch and Panos and their crew were on hand to parade across the stage for each award, Welch said. Apparently, the no-show superstition did not extend to the brew team.
In all, Oregon’s breweries took 25 medals for beer and two business awards, a tenth of the 252 awards handed out Oct. 12 at the Boulder gathering sponsored by the Brewers Association.
But Baker City’s Barley Brown’s was Oregon’s biggest winner, taking home five medals and awards for the best Very Small Brewpub of the Year and Very Small Brewpub Brewers, Marks Lanham and Eli Dickison. Although the rest of the nation was surprised, they shouldn’t have been. The brewery won three silvers and a bronze at GABF last year, some of which were for the same brews that won gold this year.
For his Pallet Jack IPA, Barley Brown’s also took the coveted gold in the most active category of beer, the American-style IPA. Barley Brown’s beat out more than 250 entries in that category, to win the gold.
Your best chance for tasting Pallet Jack is to get yourself over to Baker City, belly up to the bar or take a seat in the restaurant, and order a pint … soon. If it’s gone, try one Barley Brown’s other 2013 golds -- Shredders Wheat, an American-style wheat beer, or Hand Truck, an International-style pale ale. Although Barley Brown’s brews can be found statewide, the brewery has 20 or more of its beers available at the taphouse and restaurant. Get a room and taste them all.
And while we’re considering Oregon’s beer geography, nearly half of Oregon’s medals went to breweries east of the hill, thanks to the 12 total medals earned by Barley Brown, Bend Brewing Company, Deschutes and 10 Barrel.
In fact, rural Oregon breweries were the real winners this year – only six Portland-area breweries won medals at GABF this year, although more than half of Oregon’s breweries are in the metro area.
Think you won’t be able to find any of these beers on tap anywhere? Think again, says Ninkasi brewers. Their Bohemian Pilsner won gold this year, so they began brewing it again in mid-October.
This is the 27th year of the festival – the largest commercial beer competition in the world. Professional judges from 11 countries tasted 4,809 beers in 84 style categories.
For a complete list of winners, visit www.greatamericanbeerfestival.com
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