Utah’s breweries brought home six medals — one gold, three silvers and two bronze — from the last week’s Great American Beer Festival in Denver.
Five of the state’s award-winning brews contain more than 6% alcohol by volume, defying the state’s “weak beer” stereotypes, especially as Utah moves to higher alcohol beer in grocery and convenience stores come Nov. 1.
Shades Brewing took top honors at the event — considered the country’s premier beer competition — earning gold for its Kveik Thai Tom Kha, in the Herb and Spice Beer category. The sour beer comes in at 6.5% ABV. It’s the second year in a row that Shades has won gold. It took top honors in 2018 for its Kveik 1.
Beers that take the top prize are considered “world class,” according to the festival judging criteria, and “accurately exemplify the specified style, displaying the proper balance of taste, aroma and appearance.”
This year, 2,295 breweries participated in the annual competition and entered 9,497 beers. In all, there were 107 beer categories, and the average number of entries in each category was 88.
Red Rock Brewery earned two medals for its high-alcohol brews: a silver for Marvella, a Belgian-Style tripel that is 11% ABV; and a bronze for White Rainbow, an American-Belgo-Style ale with 6.2% ABV.
Squatters, which just celebrated its 30th anniversary, also earned a silver for Hell’s Keep, in the Belgian-Style Blonde or Pale Ale category. It is 7.75% ABV. Beers that earn silver vary slightly from the style parameters but are still considered excellent, the contest criteria state.
Two of Utah’s newest breweries also came away winners. T.F. Brewing was awarded silver in the smoke beer category for its Beechwood Rauchbier (4% ABV), while Level Crossing Brewing earned bronze for Suss it Out, a rye beer that is 6.9% ABV. Beers that earn bronze have minor deviations but are still “fine examples of the style.”
Clarification: This story was updated on at Oct. 8 at 11 a.m. to include a correct alcohol level for Suss It Out.