The Answer Wins Best of Show at 2015 Virginia Craft Brewers Cup

Answer head brewer Brandon Tolbert

(Answer Brewpub head brewer Brandon Tolbert hoists the Virginia Beer Cup)

By Jeff Maisey

 

IPA was the answer on August 22 when the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild hosted the 2015 Virginia Craft Brewers Fest and the fourth annual Virginia Craft Brewers Cup competition at Devils Backbone Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows.

With 306 Virginia craft beers entered in the competition, The Answer Brewpub’s Larceny, a single hop Citra IPA at 6.5% ABV, won Best of Show honors, dethroning three-time champion Devils Backbone Brewing Company.

Not bad for a brewery that only recently served its first beer.

“My expectation was to enter my beer and if I got something (an award) then great, but, if not, I’d strive to get better,” said Answer head brewer, Brandon Tolbert, immediately after hoisting the coveted Virginia Beer Cup on the outdoor amphitheater stage. “Doing this is unbelievable. It’s thrilling.”

For Devils Backbone, sweeping last year’s best in show category as well as dominating overall the previous two years was a somewhat embarrassment of riches given they play host to the event. Devils Backbone brewmaster Jason Oliver said he wasn’t shocked to see someone different take home the Cup, though he was surprised it was a brewery that only recently opened.

“We saw a few brand new breweries win medals this year, which is awesome because you know how stoked they are,” said Oliver. “I think it’s great for the festival. This lends credence to the fact that it is impartially judged by professionals. This is great for Virginia beer.”

Brett Vassey, President and CEO, Virginia Craft Brewers Guild, echoed Oliver’s enthusiasm for the high caliber beer being produced across the Commonwealth, ranging from small operations like Blue Lab Brewing to large scale manufacturers such as Starr Hill.

“Uniformly, the judges said the quality overall is even better than last year,” said Vassey. “That’s a great sign.”

Vassey and the Guild keenly observed the number of new, upstart breweries (Seven Arrows, Pleasure House) winning medals compare to awards earned by established operations.

“Having the Cup go to not only a newcomer but a company that’s been in business about a year, that is huge to win Best of show. That is motivation and inspiration to all the startups.”

 

The 2015 Virginia Craft Brewers Cup winners are as follows:

 

Best of Show

Gold – The Answer – Larceny

Silver – O’Connor Brewing Company – Backyard Bonfire Smoked IPA

Bronze – Devils Backbone Brewing Company Outpost – Schwartz Bier

 

(Seven Arrows Brewing was one of several upstarts to garner praise)

(Seven Arrows Brewing was one of several upstarts to garner praise)

Light Lager

Gold – Seven Arrows Brewing Company – Skyline Lager

Silver – Bull and Bones Brewhaus – All Night Light

Bronze – Devils Backbone Brewing Company Outpost – Turbo Cougar

 

Pilsner

Gold – Hardywood Park Craft Brewery – Pils

Silver – Port City Brewing Company – Downright Pilsner

Bronze – Extra Billy’s Smokehouse and Brewery – ForeCzech

 

(Devils Backbone team enjoys another medal)

(Devils Backbone team enjoys another medal)

Amber and Dark Lager

Gold – Devils Backbone Brewing Company Outpost – Schwartz Bier

Silver – Devils Backbone Brewing Company Outpost – Vienna Lager

Bronze – Starr Hill Brewery – Jomo

 

Light American Ale

Gold – Beer Hound Brewery – Olde Yella

Silver – Sunken City Brewing Company – Crooked Road Cream

Bronze – Old 690 Brewing Company – Old 690 Blonde Ale

 

Kolsch and Altbier

Gold – Midnight Brewery – New Beginning

Silver – Wolf Hills Brewing – Altbier

Bronze – Blue Mountain Barrel House – Kolsch 151

 

British Bitter

Gold – Brothers Craft Brewing – Ordinary Bitter

Silver – Capitol City Brewing Company – English Summer Ale

Bronze – Triple Crossing Brewing Co. – Element 79

 

(Midnight Brewery savors the moment)

(Midnight Brewery savors the moment)

Scottish and Irish Amber Ale

Gold – Midnight Brewery – Rockville Red

Silver – Three Notch’d Brewing – Hydraulion Red

Bronze – Capitol City Brewing Company – Canny Lass

 

American Amber and Brown Ale

Gold – Rusty Beaver Brewery – Roy’s Big Bad Brown Ale

Silver – Wolf Hills Brewing – Creeper Trail Amber ale

Bronze – O’Connor Brewing Company – Red Nun Red Ale

 

English Mild and Brown Ale

Gold – Three Notch’d Brewing – No Veto Brown

Silver – Midnight Brewery – Not My Job

Bronze – Garden Grove Brewing Company – Broke Down Soldier

 

American Pale Ale

Gold – Redbeard Brewing Company – Pennyroyal Pale Ale

Silver – Alewerks Brewing Company – Shorty Time

Bronze – Three Notch’d Brewing – Ghost of the 43rd

 

IPA

Gold – The Answer – Larceny

Silver – Extra Billy’s Smokehouse and Brewery – Citra Ass Down

Bronze – Young Veterans Brewing Company – Semper Fi. PA

 

Imperial IPA

Gold – Parkway Brewing Company – 4 Damn Fights to a Pint

Silver – O’Connor Brewing Company – Heavy Footer DIPA

Bronze – The Answer – Hard In The Paint

 

(Keno is happier than he looks after scoring his second award of the day for Parkway Brewing Company)

(Keno is happier than he looks after scoring his second award of the day for Parkway Brewing Company)

Porter

Gold – Devils Backbone Brewing Company Basecamp – Danzig

Silver – Big Ugly Brewing – Ghost Rider Porter

Bronze – Parkway Brewing Company – Raven’s Roost Baltic Porter

 

Stout

Gold – Apocalypse Ale Works – 6th Seal

Silver – O’Connor Brewing Company – ODIS

Bronze – Spencer Devon Brewing – Rocko’s Milk Stout

 

Russian Imperial Stout

Gold – Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery – Virginia Black Bear

Silver – Extra Billy’s Smokehouse and Brewery – Sin Bin

Bronze – St George Brewing Company – Imperial Stout

 

Strong Ale

Gold – Heritage Brewing Company – Kings Mountain

Silver – Mad Fox Brewing Company – Wee Heavy Ale

Bronze – Lickinghole Creek Brewery – Nuclear Nugget

 

German Wheat Beer

Gold – James River Brewery – Fluvanna Fluss

Silver – Sunken City Brewing Company – Nachthexen

Bronze – Lost Rhino Brewing – Final Glide HefeWeizen

 

Belgian Session Ales

Gold – Smartmouth Brewing Company – Alter Ego

Silver – Brothers Craft Brewing – Grisette

Bronze – Strangeways Brewing – Martian Spring

 

Belgian Strong Ales

Gold – Chaos Mountain Brewing – Agents of Chaos

Silver – Pleasure House Brewing – Glo

Bronze – James River Brewery – Green Eyed Lady

 

Sour Ale

Gold – Alewerks Brewing Company – Lover’s Greed

Silver – Reaver Beach Brewing – Jolie Rogue

Bronze – Hardywood Park Craft Brewery – Berliner Weisse

 

O'Connor Brewing Company took home 5 awards, including a Silver for Best of Show

(O’Connor Brewing Company took home 5 awards, including a Silver for Best of Show)

Smoked and Wood Aged Beer

Gold – O’Connor Brewing Company – Backyard Bonfire Smoked IPA

Silver – Adroit Theory Brewing Company – Devil Made Me – Bourbon Aged

Bronze – Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery – Li

 

Herb, Spice, and Vegetable Beer

Gold – St George Brewing Company – Pumpkinfest

Silver – Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery – Heir Apparent

Bronze – Blue Mountain Barrel House – Spooky

 

Fruit Beer

Gold – River Company Brewery – Peachicot Blonde Ale

Silver – Hardywood Park Craft Brewery – Raspberry Stout

Bronze – Alewerks Brewing Company – Pumpkin Ale

 

Specialty

Gold – Port City Brewing Company – Ways & Means IPA

Silver – Parkway Brewing Company – Gose Both Ways

Bronze – Lost Rhino Brewing – Tmavy

(Alexandria's Port City Brewing takes a Gold)

(Alexandria’s Port City Brewing takes a Gold)

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