Count Left Hand Brewing Co. as one of the big winners in the recently concluded Great American Beer Festival, and for good reason.
The annual festival was held Oct. 10 to 12 in Denver, and once again showed the continuing growth and strength of the U.S. craft beer market.
The 4,809 entries from 745 breweries increased 12 percent from the 2012 event and included 230 first-time entrants. There were 49,000 public attendees who had the pleasure of drinking the great beers from around the country.
The list of winners can be found online at www.greatamericanbeerfestival.com/the-competition/winners.
For those disappointed that their favorite brewery or brewpub did not show up on the list, it's important to know that not every brewery or brewpub in the country gets a chance to compete. Online registration is on a first-come, first-served basis and it was filled within an hour, so a good number of worthy breweries were not even able to take part.
Left Hand Brewing Co. of Longmont, Colo., and Firestone Walker Brewing Co. of Paso Robles, Calif., tied for the most gold medals with three each. The top breweries in the country in their size categories were Baker City Brewing Co., Baker City, Ore.; Devil's Backbone Brewing Co., Roseland, Va.; Firestone Walker Brewing Co.; and SandLot, Denver.
Left Hand won a gold medal in the Sweet Stout category for its Milk Stout and was certainly deserving. This year-round beer has a nice oily body and a slight sweet cream flavor that offsets the bitterness from the dark and roasted malts. A touch of oat adds to the creaminess of the 6 percent ABV beer.
The aroma and flavor is of chocolate, cocoa and vanilla, with the coffee aspects more in the background, as it should be for a milk or sweet stout. The carbonation is a bit less than typical for most beers, but appropriate for this style.
Left Hand beers are available in about 27 states; its online Beer Finder link is at www.lefthandbrewing.com/blog/contact/#beer-finder.
A follow-up to last week's column about Samuel Adams' Tetravis: While a couple of retailers in my area said their distributor would not be carrying it, other distributors say their allocations of it are on back order and encourage patience for those looking for the beer.
Michelle Diamandis, public relations supervisor for Boston Beer Co., maker of Samuel Adams beers, had this to say: "Tetravis will in fact be available nationwide and is currently rolling out to different areas of the country. It is definitely a bit scarce right now. We anticipate it will become more readily available in the next month or so."
Many beers are available only regionally. Check the brewer's website, which often contains information on product availability by mail. Contact Todd Haefer at firstname.lastname@example.org.