Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Going for the Gold

Saturday saw two repeat winners and a local newcomer triumph in the gluten-free beer category at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival in Denver. For Ground Breaker Brewing, Saturday was another "dark" day in its history. That’s when the Portland gluten-free brewery was awarded a gold medal for its Dark Ale for the second year in a row at the Festival, the largest commercial beer competition in the world. While the popular event is now in its 36th year, the Gluten-Free Beer category was added just 10 years ago. Since then, the number of entrants in the sector has grown significantly - this year, 33 beers were submitted for consideration, up from eight in 2007. Here are the three award winners:

Gold: Ground Breaker Brewing’s Dark Ale
For their Dark Ale, Ground Breaker’s brewmasters use espresso-like roasted chestnuts and lentils along with dark Belgian-style candi for a roasty flavor and aroma with notes of chocolate and dark fruits. This is the sixth consecutive year that Ground Breaker has medaled at the Festival, though its first two awards came under a different name. Previously known as Harvester Brewing, the brewery changed its name to avoid a dispute with a California winery several years ago. (Read more about Ground Breaker's offerings in our beer review column.)

Ground Breaker offers its beers at the Portland gastropub next to its brewery on an all-gluten-free menu that features the likes of pizza, Cubano sandwiches and brownie sundaes. Outside of Oregon, Ground Breaker beers are distributed elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest as well as in New England and California. The Dark Ale and other varieties are also sold online through Bring on the Beer to residents of 34 states (including New Jersey and Delaware) and the District of Columbia.

Silver: Ghostfish Brewing Co.'s Meteor Shower Blonde Ale
Seattle's Ghostfish, which took bronze a year ago for its Grapefruit IPA, won for one of its two year-round beers introduced in 2017. The Blonde Ale is brewed with malted millet and California-grown brown rice, with Noble German Perle hops added for a light bitterness and floral aroma. (Read more about Ghostfish's offerings in our beer review column.)

All of Ghostfish’s beers are sold at its gluten-free taproom in Seattle, where the current menu includes mac-and-cheese, fish and chips, and pretzel-crusted strawberry cheesecake. The beers are also available at retailers throughout Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Many of the company’s beers, including Meteor Shower Blonde Ale, can be ordered online from Marina Market and shipped to 28 states, plus the District of Columbia (though not Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Delaware).

Bronze: Revelation Craft Brewing Co.'s Co-Conspirator Apricot Sour
Revelation, from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, collaborated with Ghostfish to produce a sour with a base of quinoa, buckwheat, millet and rice. Co-Conspirator has a smooth, honey-like malt character, a bright sourness, and a hint of fruity hop aroma from Palisade hops. Kettle-soured with cultures from Goodbelly coconut probiotics, apricots were then added at the end of fermentation. Co-Conspirator is available on tap at Revelation's Rehoboth Beach taproom as well as at Ghostfish's Seattle brewpub.

The festival’s Gluten-Free Beer category includes only beers made from fermentable sugars, grains and converted carbohydrates. Gluten-reduced beers are not considered part of this grouping because their gluten levels - derived from malted barley - have been reduced by enzymes or other processes.
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