Saint Arnold hops away with awards
Beer company named midsize brewery of year
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.
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.