6 local craft brewers toasted at beer fest

BOULDER – Twisted Pine Brewing Co., a Boulder craft brewery, was among the big winners last weekend at the Great American Beer Festival.

Twisted Pine was one of six craft breweries in Boulder and Longmont to win a medal at this year’s festival, which is the largest commercial beer competition in the world and is hosted annually in Denver. The Great American Beer Festival is run by the Boulder-based Brewers Association.

The breweries took home seven medals between them, with Twisted Pine the only brewery to receive two.

“It’s quite an achievement, and we’re always very, very proud whenever we win. The Great American Beer Festival is our Pulitzer Prize. It really makes the staff feel really, really good to see their work recognized,” Twisted Pine co-owner and managing partner Bob Baile said.

Twisted Pine won gold in the Specialty Honey Beer category for its West Bound Braggot, beating out 32 other entries. West Bound Braggot was produced in limited quantities earlier this year and has pretty much sold out outside of Twisted Pine’s tap room, Baile said.

Twisted Pine’s Big Shot Espresso Stout took bronze in the Coffee Beer category, which had 62 other entries. The medal is the third the beer has won, with another bronze in 2010 and a silver in 2008.

Baile expects the medals will give sales a boost, but the 17-year-old craft brewery will retain a lower profile than some of Boulder County’s other craft brewers, such as Oskar Blues, Left Hand Brewing and Avery.

That’s just the way Baile and Twisted Pine like it.

“We really like the ’boutiqueness.’ We can come up with some really wild beers. It gives us more freedom,” Baile said.

Twisted Pine produces about 5,000 barrels a year and distributes to eight states. With six prior Great American Beer Festival medals and two from the World Beer Cup, the brewery is on the radar of beer lovers, and it has a prestigious pedigree. Twisted Pine was founded in 1995 by renowned craft brewer Gordon Knight before it was purchased by Baile in 1997.

Twisted Pine has recently doubled the size of its tap room at 3201 Walnut St. to about 1,500 square feet, and it employs 22 people, Baile said. He might increase production to the 20,000 to 25,000 barrel range in the future, but Twisted Pine will never start building new breweries and restaurants and distributing from coast to coast.

“It just becomes this monster you have to feed,” Baile said.

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery in Boulder took home a gold in the Indigenous Beer category, beating 26 other entries.

Boulder-based Avery Brewing Co.’s White Rascal earned a silver medal in the Belgian-Style Witbier, which had 49 other entries.

Upslope Brewing Co. in Boulder won silver for its Upslope Brown Ale, which competed against 60 other beers in the American-Style Brown Ale category.

Boulder-based New Planet Beer Co.’s Brown won silver in the Gluten-Free Beer category, which had 19 other entries.

Sawtooth Ale, which is made by Left Hand Brewing Co., took bronze in the Ordinary or Special Bitter category. The Longmont-based company faced 36 other entries.

According to the association, 666 breweries from 48 states, the District of Columbia and Guam submitted 4,338 entries for the 84 categories in this year’s competition.


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