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Industry News (Issue 21)

Industry News (Issue 21)

GABF 2015 (Photo Credit: Brewers Association)

Big News from the 2015 GABF

Plenty of big news from this year’s Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Firestone Walker Brewing Co. once again nabbed Mid-Size Brewery of the Year honors, the fourth time in the past 10 years this storied California brewery has taken top honors. Virginia’s Port City Brewing Co. took home Small Brewery of the Year.

Once again, the American IPA category was the most highly populated category for judging with a staggering total of 336 entries (the most entries of any category in GABF history). In what was certainly a shocking upset for many of the BA’s top 50, little-known brewery BNS Brewing & Distilling Co. took top honors in the category with its Revolver IPA. Asheville’s Wicked Weed Brewing took home the silver medal for its recently released Pernicious IPA, the first beer from the Southeast to place at the GABF in the IPA category. The bronze medal belonged to The Brew Kettle’s White Rajah.

California took home the most medals with 67, and it also had the highest number of entries at 1,197. Colorado was second with 38, Oregon had 19, Texas had 15 including 9 golds (second only to California), and Washington rounded out the top 5 with 13 medals.

Maine had the highest success rate, with three medals coming from only 14 entries, including two medals for Allagash Brewing Co. (a gold for White and a silver for Tripel).

The newly minted Session IPA category experienced the biggest growth, featuring 161 entries in its inaugural event. California breweries Societe Brewing Co. and Noble Ale Works took home the gold and bronze, respectively, and Minnesota’s Steel Toe Brewing took home the silver.

Omission Accomplished

Brewing icon Kurt Widmer, who co-founded Widmer Bros. 31 years ago with brother Rob, has announced he will leave the company at the end of this year. Widmer, 61, is also stepping down as Chairman of the Board of the Craft Brew Alliance, which owns Widmer Bros., Kona Brewing, Redhook and Omission Beer.

In a nutshell, he’s ready to spend more time with his family.

“Many of us who set the foundation for today’s booming craft beer market are thinking about the next chapter in our lives, and my wife Ann and I have been discussing the fact that there’s still a lot we want to do,” Widmer said in a statement. “So while I’ll miss walking into my office at the brewery every day, I’m admittedly looking forward to more time with my family and doing more of what I love to do – whether it’s traveling around the world or home brewing in the basement.”


Widmer Bros. is credited with helping pave the way for the craft beer revolution with beers like its signature Widmer Hefe, one of the first popular hefeweizens brewed in America. To date, it remains one of the top selling beers in Oregon. 

“Alp” a Brother Out

Beginning November, Alpine Beer Company’s Pure Hoppiness double IPA will be distributed nationwide, thanks to its partnership with Green Flash Brewing.

This is the first significant move for the two companies, which came to a formal agreement last November. Green Flash has been contract brewing for Alpine since 2013.

“Pure Hoppiness IPA defines and distinguishes the Alpine brand,” Green Flash co-founder Mike Hinkley said in a press statement. “For years, folks from around the country have been trading their own local craft favorites for this exceptional Alpine beer. We are celebrating a full year of a successful partnership and two years of brewing together.”

Next up for the pair? A collaboration beer titled Handshake IPA. Release dates have yet to be announced, but rest assured, hoppiness is guaranteed.

Dogfish Head: Palatable & Pallet-able

Delaware’s Dogfish Head, the nation’s 13th-largest craft brewery, announced that it is has sold a 15 percent stake of its business to the private equity firm LNK Partners. According to a release from Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione, the plan is that the growth created by the sale will allow the company to buy out LNK when the investment period ends, returning Dogfish Head to a fully family-owned and operated business.

Calagione also announced two new multimedia projects of his, both tied to craft beer.

“That’s Odd… Let’s Drink It!” is a video series featuring various famous personalities, such as chef Mario Batali, NBA center Chris Bosh, and rapper Mac Miller, getting together with Calagione and brewing odd beers based on strange and unusual ingredients. The series is created in collaboration with website First We Feast and the first two episodes (featuring Batali and Bosh) are available now.

Calagione also launched Pallet Magazine, which will release its first issue on November 16. Its main focus is people who share “one beer, one story” with the publication. Craft beer enthusiasts from all over the world share stories and musings about beer with the magazine, which features high-quality paper and a dust jacket – uncommon features for a magazine. 

Pallet will be available at Barnes & Noble, Whole Foods and fine local bookstores, boutiques, bottle shops and brewpubs.

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