6 local craft brewers toasted at fest

BOULDER — Bob Baile and Twisted Pine Brewing Co. live by the motto that “It’s not the size of the brewery, it’s how you use it.”

If Twisted Pine’s achievements in 2012 are any indication, the Boulder craft brewery has been using its brewery very well.

Twisted Pine was one of the big winners this month at the Great American Beer Festival. The brewery took home a gold and bronze medal at the 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.

Twisted Pine was one of six craft breweries in Boulder and Longmont to win a medal at this year’s festival, and it was the only multiple medalist. The breweries shared seven medals between them.

“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,” said Baile, Twisted Pine’s co-owner and managing partner.

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. It remains on tap at Twisted Pine’s ale house.

Braggot is a variety of mead, an alcohol made with honey that has a history that goes back thousands of years. Modern meads such as West Bound Braggot are a combination of honey, malt and hops that try to recreate the drink that was a favorite in the Middle Ages.

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.

The medals already are on display above Twisted Pine’s taps, and Baile thinks they will boost sales as well as pride.

The awards cap a big year for Twisted Pine. The brewery has doubled the size of its ale house at 3201 Walnut St. to 1,200 square feet, and its brewery has nearly doubled in size with the addition of a new canning facility. Twisted Pine produces about 5,000 barrels a year, distributes to eight states and employs 22 people, Baile said.

Despite the growth, 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.

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 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 might boost production to the 20,000- to 25,000-barrel range in the future, but will never build new breweries and restaurants or distribute from coast to coast.

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

Twisted Pine was not alone in receiving honors from the Great American Beer Festival’s judges.

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 category, 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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