AP NEWS

10 NE Ohio breweries win medals at Great American Beer Festival

September 22, 2018

10 NE Ohio breweries win medals at Great American Beer Festival

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Ten Northeast Ohio breweries have won medals at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

It was a phenomenal showing for the state’s breweries. In all, 13 Ohio breweries earned 14 medals. Brink Brewing in Cincinnati won in two categories. The state’s breweries amassed five golds, four silvers and five bronzes.

Northeast Ohio was very well represented, with established and newer breweries taking hardware on the stage Saturday.

Fat Head’s Brewery brought home honors for a dynastic 10th consecutive year.

Masthead Brewing Co. of Cleveland won its second medal in two years after having opened in early 2017. It took a bronze last year for its Midwest Red, which this year grabbed judges’ attention again, taking gold.

“It was awesome,” Masthead brewer Mike Pelechaty said. “There was quite a bit of tension in the air as bronze and silver were being announced. It was tasting really good this week. I couldn’t have been happier.”

Ignite Brewing Co. won silver for its Cherry Blonde in the American Fruit Beer category.

Ignite’s six owners opened their brewery in downtown Barberton over Labor Day weekend 2017 but soon realized they needed to expand within their storefront location on W. Tuscarawas Avenue. They recently announced a three-day grand opening celebration will be held Friday-Sunday, Sept. 28-30. Now they will have GABF honors to toast as well.

“It’s fantastic,” co-owner Jason Slater said. “The timing couldn’t be better especially for our first visit this year.”

Slater attended with co-owner Michael Chisnell, who said the Cherry Blonde previously had won at the Wizard of Saaz home-brewing competition.

“We had a little bit of confidence,” said Chisnell, who said the category drew a surprising 140 entries.

“It’s an honor,” he said. “There’s a lot of other great names on that list. It’s a very competitive state, and it shows we make great beer.”

Like Ignite, Paradigm Shift also won in its first competition. Michael Malinowski’s brewery opened Dec. 1, 2017, in Massillon.

“I was very fortunate,” he said about his Belgian Tripel bringing home a bronze. “It was a tough category. I was like, ‘Well I have had a lot of compliments on that beer.’ ... As far as what it means for Paradigm Shift, yeah, it was great, we got a bronze, we got to go on stage. But now it’s time to keep our heads to the grindstone and keep plugging away and turning out good beer. It validates what we’ve been doing.”

One brewery that has received repeated validation over the years at the annual fest is Fat Head’s, which won silver in the American-Style Black Ale category for Midnight Moonlight.

It’s been a huge year for Fat Head’s. It opened a massive production brewery-taproom near Interstate 71 in Middleburg Heights, moved into Canton with a brewery, and cleaned up at Cleveland Oktoberfest’s competition this month.

The three-day GABF fest – which brings in 800 breweries and 3,800 different beers – culminated on Saturday, Sept. 22, with the announcement of the winners in the annual brewing competition.

That competition is both strict and extremely competitive: Breweries submit as many as four beers in multiple categories, some of which can draw hundreds of entries vying for one of three medals. Judges are certified, and the competition is blind.

The results have put some breweries on the map while adding to the reputation of others.

“I think it helps definitely,” Masthead’s Pelechaty said about widening recognition for the Cleveland brewery. “For me and everything we do, it’s ‘How can we keep repeating success?’

Malinowski pointed out the showing was great for both the state and his region, that metropolitan areas had done well in the past but this year other places – like the Stark-Tuscarawars region – received recognition.

It’s a brewing region still in its “infancy,” he said, but one that has “stepped up and filled a void.”

“We can compete,” Malinowski said.

“This year we had more medal winners than ever before in history,” he said. “That shows that Ohio is on the right path.”

Several Ohio brewing contingents, on stage to receive their medals, held an Ohio flag with the slogan “Drink beer made here.”

With the recognition brewers earned Saturday, more people might be doing just that.

2018 Ohio winners at GABF

(medal – category, beer name, brewery)

Silver - Aged Beer: Lock, Stock and Brandy Barrel, Maize Valley Craft Brewery, Hartville.

Bronze - American-Style Amber Lager: Oktoberfest, Lager Heads Brewing Co., Medina.

Bronze – American-Style Black Ale: Midnight Moonlight, Fat Head’s Brewery, Middleburg Heights.

Gold - American-Style Cream Ale: Gateway Cream Ale, Lockport, Brewery, Bolivar.

Silver – American-Style Fruit Beer: Cherry Blonde, Ignite Brewing Co., Barberton.

Bronze - Belgian-Style Tripel: Neighbor Girl, Paradigm Shift, Massillon.

Gold - Double Hoppy Red Ale: Midwest Red IPA, Masthead Brewing Co., Cleveland.

Silver - English-Style Mild Ale: Hold the Reins, Brink Brewing Co., Cincinnati.

Gold - Extra Special Bitter: Happy Amber, MadTree Brewing, Cincinnati.

Gold - Herb and Spice Beer: Pendragon, Royal Docks Brewhouse and Cannery, Massillon.

Silver – International Style Pilsner: Nano OG Lager, Market Garden Brewery, Cleveland.

Bronze - Munich-Style Dunkel or European-Style Dark Lager: Babee Bock, The Brew Kettle, Strongsville.

Gold - Sweet Stout or Cream Stout: Moozie, Brink Brewing, Cincinnati.

Bronze - Sweet Stout or Cream Stout: Melk Stout, Columbus Brewing, Cincinnati.

Brink Brewing also won Very Small Brewing Company and Very Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year honors at the festival.

5-year lookback

How Northeast Ohio breweries did in previous years:

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

AP RADIO
Update hourly