SHERIDAN — Black Tooth Brewing Company placed second in the 2017 U.S. Open Beer Championship’s top 10 breweries of the year. The local brewery had three gold medal beers along with a silver and a bronze.
Black Tooth’s Black Eagle Porter, Hot Streak IPA and Caught Looking Ale were awarded gold medals in the categories of Baltic Porter, Out of Bounds Pale Ale and English Summer Ale respectively.
Its Wagon Box Wheat took silver for American Light Wheat beers and the 1314 took bronze for Wood/Barrel Aged Strong Beer.
“It’s a great honor,” Black Tooth brew master Travis Zeilstra said. “The brewery here tries to be very consistent year in and year out, and to be in the top 10, and even top three, really cements the fact that we are really consistent with our beers, above average and award winning.”
U.S. Open Beer Championship director and founder Dow Scoggins said more than 500 breweries competed in this year’s competition. He said while the competition is the youngest out of about 2,000 nationwide competitions, it’s about the third largest, topped only by the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Festival.
Scoggins said the bronze medal was well-deserved.
“(Black Tooth’s) 1314 in (Wood/Barrel Aged) category is one of the most phenomenal beers that is brewed,” Scoggins said. “Not only has it won our competition, it’s won Great American Beer Festival competition.”
The U.S. Open competition, Scoggins said, is different than other beer competitions in two ways.
The first is that it’s the only professional beer judging started by current and former brewers. The second is it’s the only competition that allows home brewers to go up against professionals once they win an American Homebrewers Association National Homebrew Competition. He said during the competition, beers are tasted blindly by nearly 60 judges. He said beers earn points based on appearance, aroma and before, middle and after taste, looking for the overall cleanness in taste. Scoggins has been judging beer internationally since 1989 and has a high opinion of not only the local Sheridan brewery but also its brew master.
“In my true opinion, he’s probably one of the top 10 brew masters in the United States today,” Scoggins said about Zeilstra. “…He sometimes breaks the barriers.”
Like with Zeilstra’s 1314, which Scoggins said was an original creation of the Sheridan brew master that doesn’t necessarily follow a specific style. He said Zeilstra’s Black Eagle Porter is another impressive brew because the Baltic porter hasn’t been around nearly as long as others like ambers or IPAs.
“So it’s a compliment to him that he’s doing such a high quality on a beer style that he has not been consistently brewing over the years,” Scoggins said.
Zeilstra said the 1314 and Baltic porter are always good competitors and he was happy to see Wagon Box Wheat place because it’s a local taproom favorite. As for the Hot Streak IPA and Caught Looking Ale, Zeilstra said these gold medals meant a lot for a different reason.
“For the IPA and the blonde to win, that’s awesome because they’re (some) of our flagship brands,” Zeilstra said.