The annual be-all end-all of stateside beer fests, Denver’s Great American Beer Festival, wrapped its 38th year Oct. 5 after three days of packed public-tasting sessions and an awards ceremony honoring the best of U.S. suds.

More than 300 certified judges from 18 countries sampled a record 9,497 beers entered by 2,295 breweries representing all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands at the world’s largest commercial beer competition, which this year drew an estimated 62,000 festival attendees. Judges ultimately awarded 318 gold, silver and bronze medals — 40 of them to Colorado breweries, including the Springs’ Dueces Wild Brewery and Red Leg Brewing Co.

Dueces won gold in the Scotch Ale category for Knuckle Dragger, a traditional light brown, medium-bodied Scotch ale “dominated by dark caramel flavors and mild roasted hops notes.” The brewery, which launched in early 2018, last month opened a second taproom at Templeton Gap Road and Union Boulevard. Knuckle Dragger is on tap at both locations.

“We appreciate all the love and support from our community and want to thank (head brewer) Jeff Lockhart for his steadfast, unwavering, determination to provide Damn Good Beer to Colorado Springs,” wrote the brewery in a Facebook post celebrating the win.

Another veteran-owned brewery, Red Leg Brewing Co., took silver for its flagship Howitzer Amber, a 5.8% ABV “ruby-copper colored beer,” which medaled in the German-style Altbier category. Brewery reps were on hand at the festival to pour samples and advance their southern Front Range brand and The Veterans Beer Alliance, an organization of beer makers and sellers whose mission is to get more veterans involved in the craft brewing industry. Red Leg’s Todd Baldwin is the group’s founder.

“It’s always great to be recognized for your brewery’s hard work and since day one we have always tried to produce the highest quality beers possible. To be recognized by GABF with a silver medal is a great accomplishment and we are proud to represent Colorado Springs and all those who serve,” Baldwin said.

Greeley’s WeldWerks Brewing Co., which this year announced plans to open a taproom on Colorado Springs’ far west side, medaled twice, earning gold in the Juicy or Hazy Imperial India Pale Ale category for its Extra Extra Juicy Bits, and silver for Itsy Bits in the most competitive category, Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale.

You can still enjoy last year’s local GABF winners, as well. Goat Patch’s It Takes a Tribe Red Ale, which earned bronze in the Red Ale-Irish category, and Chips and Salsa Cream Ale, from Cogstone Brewing Co., which won bronze in the experimental category, are available on tap at the breweries, according to their websites.

Reporter

Stephanie Earls is a news reporter and columnist at The Gazette. Before moving to Colorado Springs in 2012, she worked for newspapers in upstate NY, WA, OR and at her hometown weekly in Berkeley Springs, WV, where she got her start in journalism.

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