Steamworks Brewing Co. made a strong showing at last weekend's Great American Beer Festival in Denver, taking home three medals, including two golds, to lead Durango's breweries.
Steamworks' Backside Stout won gold in the Oatmeal Stout category (39 entries). What in the Helles? won gold in the Munich-style Helles category (42 entries). And the brewery's Colorado Kolsch, which is now being released in cans, took the silver medal in the German-style Kolsch category (46 entries).
For Steamworks, this represents an impressive comeback after getting skunked at the festival last year. The GABF is widely regarded as the most prestigious beer festival in the U.S., and brewers take a great deal of pride in winning medals in the blind tasting competitions.
For Southwest Colorado's other breweries, Ska Brewing Co. won the bronze medal for its Extra-Special ESB (you may recognize the red can) in the Classic English-style Pale Ale category (29 entries).
In nearby Pagosa Springs, the plucky little Pagosa Brewing Co. won silver in the specialty beer category (23 entries) with its Coconut Porter.
Durango Brewing Co. came home empty, ending its two-year streak of winning gold.
Medals vary a great deal from year to year. One year, a beer won't even place and the next year it will win gold. Still, you can't avoid being impressed by Steamworks' performance. Two golds and a silver is nothing to scoff at.
Colorado Kolsch (4.9 percent ABV, 17 IBUs) is a great summer beer, light but still flavorful. Backside Stout (6.2 percent ABV, 28 IBUs) makes for wonderful quaffing between runs when poured at Dante's or the base lodge at Purgatory.
"This is the first time the Backside Stout has been recognized at the GABF,” said Kris Oyler, Steamworks co-founder, in a news release. “It is one of our original brews, on tap since we opened in 1996. This recognition is long overdue.”
Oyler credited Steamworks brewers Ken Martin and Spencer Roper with the victories.
Congratulations to all the winners. Now start thinking up some recipes for 2011.