Dozens of breweries took home medals at last weekend's Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver, but none was likely as shocked as Eagle Rock Brewery, barely a year out of the hops bin, to win. "We were pretty surprised, but of course also proud and happy," say co-owner and brewer Jeremy Raub said this morning via phone. Ya, Raub and his father, Steven, were looking pretty shocked upon hearing they were awarded the gold medal for their Red Velvet Ale in the Pro-Am (collaborations between professional and amateur brewers) category.
The GABF is essentially the James Beard Awards of beer, which means sure, like the Beard Awards, GABF is a pay-to-play competition, so it's not exactly a nationwide even playing field. But GABF does get a hefty share of breweries to participate, including more than 500 this year for a total of 3,523 beer entries. So we'd say that Eagle Rock gold isn't half bad for the first post-Prohibition brewery in Los Angeles County (The Bruery in Placentia also took home a gold in the sour ale category for its Oude Tart.).
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Jeremy will be the first to tell you that Camarillo homebrewer Donny Hummel is responsible for their win. Hummel was the winner of this year's Maltose Falcons Doug King Competition, the homebrew club's annual competition that the Raubs have judged for several years. That Red Velvet ended up at GABF by way of the Raubs announcing that whatever beer won the homebrew competition this year would be shown commercial fame (it was released on draft a few months ago at select L.A. area bars).
Jeremy describes the Red Velvet as "an Imperial red ale, Imperial here meaning stronger and bigger, with rye." It clocks in at 10.8% ABV and has a hefty hit of hops, but Jeremy says it's the rye that lends its namesake "silky, velvety texture."
Hummel wasn't able to make it to Denver for the GABF, so tonight the Raubs are throwing a buy-your-own beer celebration party in honor of him and the win at Tony's Darts Away in Burbank. Jeremy says you can also find a keg remaining, maybe two, of the Red Velvet at The Surly Goat and 38 Degrees Ale House, as well as in the brewery's tasting room this weekend. But he expects the keg to run dry soon. "I'm sure it will be gone by the end of the weekend."
Eagle Rock Brewery GABF Celebration Party: Thursday, September 23rd, Tony's Darts Away, 1710 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, 8:00 p.m. Contact Eagle Rock Brewery for more information at (323) 257-7866.