Saint Arnold hops away with awards

Beer com­pany named mid­size brew­ery of year

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - CITY | STATE - By Ron­nie Crocker

Saint Arnold Brew­ing Co. was named mid­size brew­ery of the year at the Great Amer­i­can Beer Fes­ti­val, pac­ing a record per­for­mance Satur­day by Texas craft brew­ers in the an­nual com­pe­ti­tion.

The Tex­ans — in­clud­ing Hous­ton brew­ers Eu­reka Heights and Holler as well as Galve­ston Is­land Brew­ing Co. — were awarded 21 medals at the fes­ti­val that ended Satur­day in Den­ver.

“Texas was rak­ing in the medals this year,” Saint Arnold founder Brock Wag­ner said by tele­phone. “It shows just how strong the brew­ing com­mu­nity here is. I think that made it ex­tra spe­cial.”

Charles Vall­hon­rat, di­rec­tor of the Texas Craft Brew­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, called the wins im­por­tant for the in­dus­try and said they marked “a big day for Hous­ton specif­i­cally.”

He said he would work with lo­cal boost­ers to pro­mote beer tourism across the state. He en­cour­aged Visit Hous­ton, in par­tic­u­lar, to her­ald the win­ning craft brew­eries they way it does pop­u­lar restau­rants.

“Let’s show a brew­ery in the next com­mer­cial,” he said.

Vall­hon­rat said he also hopes the medal haul will strengthen the in­dus­try’s po­si­tion when deal­ing with state law­mak­ers he be­lieves have put brew­ers’ in­ter­ests be­hind those of ma­jor

whole­salers who do­nate heav­ily to cam­paigns.

He was dis­ap­pointed with the Texas Leg­is­la­ture this spring, for ex­am­ple, for ap­prov­ing law changes that brew­ers say limit their growth op­por­tu­ni­ties.

But first, Vall­hon­rat said, it was a time for cel­e­brat­ing a lot of hard work across Texas.

Saint Arnold’s Pump­ki­na­tor took a first-place gold medal in the pump­kin/ squash beer or pump­kin spice beer cat­e­gory. Its Am­ber Ale and Weedwacker earned bronze in the or­di­nary or spe­cial bit­ter and Ger­man-style wheat ale cat­e­gories, re­spec­tively.

New GABF rules this year lim­ited brew­eries to four en­tries, mean­ing Saint Arnold medaled in 75 per­cent of the cat­e­gories it en­tered. Rasp­berry AF was the other en­try.

The points gen­er­ated by those wins earned Saint Arnold its first “brew­ery and brew­mas­ter of the year” award for mid­size brew­eries.

“About as ex­cited as you can pos­si­bly imag­ine,” Wag­ner said of the awards.

Nearly 8,000 beers were en­tered na­tion­ally.

The year-old Eu­reka Heights Brew Co. earned gold in its first GABF com­pe­ti­tion. It won for Buckle Bunny in the Amer­i­canstyle cream ale cat­e­gory.

Brewer Casey Motes brewed Buckle Bunny for his brother, a con­firmed light beer drinker, and named it to honor his rodeo ca­reer in team steer rop­ing.

The beer reg­is­ters a rel­a­tively low 4.2 per­cent al­co­hol by vol­ume and is brewed with a Ger­man Kölsch yeast that he came to love dur­ing the 3 1/2 years he brewed at Saint Arnold.

“It’s the beer I want at the end of a long brew day,” Motes said.

Hous­ton-new­comer Holler Brew­ing was awarded bronze for its ESB in the Ex­tra Spe­cial Bit­ter cat­e­gory.

Galve­ston Is­land took bronze for its Blue Bridge Am­ber in the Amer­i­canstyle am­ber/red ale cat­e­gory.

The Austin Beer Gar­den Brew­ing Co. won two gold medals — for Rocket 100 in the Amer­i­can-style Pil­sner or in­ter­na­tional-style Pil­sner and for Vel­vet Rev­o­lu­tion in the Bo­hemian-style Pil­sner cat­e­gories — earn­ing enough points to be named small brew­ery of the year.

Other Texas win­ners in­clude:

Gold medals — Free­tail Brew­ing, San An­to­nio, La Muerta, aged beer; Lazarus Brew­ing, Austin, Aman­dus, Bel­gian-style strong spe­cialty ale; Pint­house Pizza North, Austin, Bearded Seal, clas­sic Ir­ish-style dry stout; Austin Beer­works, Austin, Su­per Awe­some Lager, light lager; and Real Ale Brew­ing, Blanco, Real Heavy, Scotch ale.

Sil­ver medals — Spo­etzl Brew­ery, Shiner, Shiner Bock, Amer­i­can-style am­ber lager; Peti­co­las Brew­ing, Dallas, It’s Al­ways Some­thing, Bel­gian-style strong spe­cialty ale; Rahr & Sons Brew­ing, Fort Worth, Ok­to­ber­fest, Ger­man-style maerzen; Real Ale, Fire­mans 4, golden or blonde ale; Oa­sis Texas Brew­ing, Austin, Luch­esa Lager, Keller­bier or Zwick­el­bier; Save the World Brew­ing, Mar­ble Falls, Lux Mundi, other Bel­gian-style ale

Bronze medals — Ar­madillo Ale Works, Den­ton, Honey Please, honey beer; Big Bend Brew­ing, Alpine, Bar­rel-aged Marfa Light, wood- and bar­rel-aged strong stout.

Miguel Ri­vas

The Saint Arnold Brew­ing Co. crew re­ceives its award Satur­day af­ter be­ing named the mid­size brew­ery of the year at the Great Amer­i­can Beer Fes­ti­val in Den­ver.

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