DENVER -- Only one Cincinnati brewery will be taking home hardware from the Great American Beer Festival this year.
However, breweries from Ohio and Indiana made a strong showing at the big event in the Mile High City this year.
Over-the-Rhine-based Rhinegeist Brewing won silver in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout category for its Sherry Ink.
They were the only Cincinnati brewery to win this year out of the 10 that submitted beers.
— Rhinegeist (@rhinegeist) September 26, 2015
“It’s a really tough challenge and you have to really believe that you’re making the great beer every today. Winning a medal like this is validation for all our hard work -- that we’re actually making good beer,” Rhinegeist co-founder Bryant Goulding said.
The experience was overwhelming for the brewers with everyone jumping up and high-fiving them. Goulding said a former coworker at another brewery even came over and gave him a hug.
“I was just trying not to cry the entire time I was up there,” Goulding said.
The brewery just recently bottled Sherry Ink and they are already working on new labels for the beer. The brewery is even testing new paper to use to label the bottles.
“Ink is one of our favorite beers, and this iteration will help bolster our barrel-aged beer series,” Goulding said.
Fans who purchase Sherry Ink as it hits store shelves are encourage to open it immediately, and cellar one bottle if more than one is purchased. The brewers said they believe it will gain complexity of flavor as it ages.
Even though the others didn't win, many of Cincinnati's brewers said the experience is educational and will help them grow.
“We’re having fun; we’re learning a ton. In terms of competition, you always try to figure out what’s the best category to enter your beers into. I can tell you every time we get feedback from GABF or World Beer Cup -- the feedback is increasingly positive. So I feel we’re moving in the right direction,” MadTree co-founder Brady Duncan said.
A wealth of Ohio breweries won medals this year though. One of the biggest wins of the festival was in the American-style India Pale Ale category.
Out of the 336 entries – that’s 5 percent of the overall entries – Strongsville, Ohio’s The Brew Kettle Brewery won bronze.
Another big winner for the Buckeye State was Fat Head’s Brewery of North Olmsted.
Its Cleveland-area based brewery won gold in the Imperial IPA category for Hop Juju and gold in the Double Red Ale category for Bone Head Imperial Red.
It also won gold in the American-style Black Ale category for Midnight Moonlight. Plus it notched a silver medal for its Black Knight German-style Schwarzbier.
The brewers were up accepting their first medal when the Double Red Ale category was announced.
Fat Head’s Oregon-based brewery won gold in the Rye Beer category for its Blitzkrieg Bock.
Rounding out of the rest in Ohio are:
- Elevator Brewing (Columbus): won bronze for American-Style Wheat - Mogabi
- Platform Beers (Cleveland): won gold in the Historical Beer category
- Lager Heads (Medina, Ohio): won bronze in the Smoke Beer category
- JAFB Wooster Brewrey (Wooster, Ohio): silver in the International-Style Pale Ale for its Rain Delay IPA
Moving west to Indiana, Sun King Brewing will be taking home some major honors.
Their fist win came in the Belgian-Style Fruit Beer category. They won bronze for their Cherry Busey.
That was quickly followed by a silver in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer section for Sun King’s Batch 666: Sympathy for the Devil. They picked up a gold medal for their Sunlight Cream Ale in the Golden or Blonde Ale category for their third medal of the day.
Indiana saw six other brewers win medals on Saturday. The list includes:
- Tap Beer Co. (Bloomington, Ind.): won gold in the Honey Beer category
- Thr3e Wise Men Brewing (Indianapolis): won for its Antonius 1742 Oktoberfest in the German-Style Marzen category; it won bronze in the German-Style Doppelbock or Eisbock section for its Hot for Teacher Ms. Doppelbock
- Mad Anthony Brewing (Fort Wayne, Ind.): won gold in the American-Style Amber Lager category
- Flix Brewhouse (Carmel, Ind.): won silver in German-style Altbier for its Generation Alt
- Taxman Brewing (Bargersville, Ind.): won bronze in the Belgian-style Dubbel or Quardruple
- Bier Brewery (Indianapolis): won gold in the Belgian-style Dubbel or Quardruple
This year more 1,500 breweries submitted more than 6,500 beers for judging.