Local breweries came home with a clutch of awards from last weekend’s Great American Beer Festival competition in Denver, the country’s largest and most important beer competition. The good news is that you can enjoy many of the winners at happy hour tonight.
Make tracks to Mad Fox Brewing Company in Falls Church to try the gold-medal-winning Kolsch, a crisp, slightly peppery golden lager that’s been winning awards for brewer Bill Madden since his time at Capitol City Brewing Company in the early 2000s. (The version that’s on tap now is a filtered version of the medal-winning batch; an unfiltered version will be available “in a few weeks,” according to Madden.) The year-old brewpub also won a bronze for its English Summer Ale, but that seasonal beer is not currently available. Another batch will be brewed next week in response to the award, and will be on tap as soon as possible.
In Bethesda, Rock Bottom Brewery ’s Geoff Lively celebrates a bronze medal in the Scottish-Style Ale category for his sweet, malty Brown Bear Brown, a frequent find on the brewpub’s taps. Try a pint of it for $1.50 at happy hour on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. (This is the second recent win for Brown Bear, which took gold in the same category in 2007.)
The Dogfish Head Alehouses in Gaithersburg, Seven Corners and Fairfax all currently feature the Delaware brewery’s two medal winners. Chateau Jiahu, a sweet ale modeled after a 9,000-old fermented beverage found in Northern China, won a silver in the generic-sounding Best Specialty Beer category. (Hear an interesting story about the creation of that one on NPR’s All Things Considered.) Dogfish took a bronze in the Specialty Honey Beer category for its Midas Touch, an ale based on moleculal evidence of residues found inside drinking vessels in the tomb of King Midas, and recreated with the help of a molecular archeologist at the University of Pennsylvania.
Congratulations are also in order for Frederick’s Flying Dog Brewery, whose Horn Dog Barleywine captured gold in the Barleywine-Style Ale category. (Tuesday update: Flying Dog’s J.T. Smith tells me Horn Dog can be found on draft at Meridian Pint and in bottles at Granville Moore’s.)
Many bars in the area stock beers from Charlottesville’s Starr Hill Brewery, which has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years. Its Jomo Lager took the gold medal in the Vienna Lager category, but you’ll have to look harder to find the Monticello Reserve Ale or the smoky Smoke Out, which were limited release.
To try some of the other winners, you’ll have to make a little fall road trip — and work it in with a visit to some of our favorite Virginia wineries, breweries and distilleries. Virginia’s Blue Mountain Brewery took gold for its Summer Lovin’ ale -- besting Mad Fox’s English Summer Ale -- and silver in the American Belgo-Style Ale category with Blue Reserve. Its neighbor Devils Backbone captured a silver for its Tommy Two Fists Oktoberfest.