Depending on who you ask, the beer awards held in the highest regard (at least around these parts) might be those earned at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), the locally launched, internationally renowned beer competition that honors the best brews in dozens of styles. That’s for good reason: GABF brings together some of the best brewers in the country, and pitting so many entries side by side illuminates which beers stand out and are thus worthy of acclaim.
But it’s not the only beer competition, and far from the only one whose awards are considered prestigious across the industry. There’s the World Beer Cup, the U.S. Open Beer Championship (which admirably makes beer-drinking sound like a sport), and the New York International Beer Competition (NYIBC), which recently announced its 2021 winners.
Now in its 10th year, the NYIBC separates itself from other competitions by choosing as its judges people in the beer and beverage industry: retail store buyers, sommeliers, Cicerones (beer sommeliers), restaurant beverage directors, hoteliers, distributors and importers.
This year there were more than 800 entries, from breweries in 14 countries, in the 40 judged categories, which included state-specific awards.
Gunbarrel’s Beyond the Mountain Brewing took home Colorado Brewery of the Year, with plenty of accolades for individual brews: Klaus’s Kölsch (gold, German-style kölsch); Sour Shakedown Party (silver, American-style sour ale); and Prima Mexicana (bronze, Vienna-style lager).
And in its first year entering the competition, Boulder’s Sanitas Brewing Company took home the award for Colorado Ale Brewery of the Year. It also won a silver medal for its Passion Fruit Sour and a bronze for its Black IPA.
“The [NYIBC] is one of the most legitimate competitions in the beer world, so to get two of our best-selling beers to win awards and to be named Colorado Ale Brewery of the Year was awesome,” said Sanitas Brewing Company co-founder Michael Memsic, in a press release. “It’s exciting that our beer is becoming more recognized, because it signifies to us that the changes and improvements we’ve made to our products are paying off.”
Memsic added that he’s “extremely optimistic” about the upcoming spring and summer seasons, as Sanitas, like other breweries, has implemented improvements to its space to meet COVID safety protocols, and estimates all employees will be vaccinated by May. It’s also got that big outdoor patio and drinking area.
For Beyond the Mountain, the NYIBC accolades are a well-earned recognition of the unique craft beer the almost-4-year-old brewery has been cranking out. Owners and brewers Charles Hixon and Morgan Way had been homebrewing together since college before opening the brewery.
And, by the way, Boulder’s American Homebrew Association is hosting the annual Big Brew for National Homebrew Day on May 1. Everything you need to participate (recipes, places to get ingredients, tips and videos) is available at homebrewersassociation.org/aha-events/national-homebrew-day.
And who knows, maybe you’ll end up a few years down the line with international beer awards like Beyond the Mountain and Sanitas.