Summit brewers win big at Great American Beer Festival in Denver |

Summit brewers win big at Great American Beer Festival in Denver

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Pug Ryans brewer Dave Simmons, left, won a silver medal for his Bohemian-style Pilsner, Dillon Dam brewer Matt Luhr, Dillon Dam assistant brewmaster Cory Forster and Dillon Dam sales representative Marc Weinberger are proud of a bronze medal for their Dillon Dam Extra Pale Ale, and Backcountry sales rep Dan Ciaglo and Backcountry brewmaster/managing partner anthony Carestia won a silver medal for the brewery's German-style pilsner at this year's Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

SUMMIT COUNTY – Sit down at a local bar, order the house beer, and you may not know it, but there’s a good chance you’ll be quaffing an award-winning brew.Three local breweries won medals last weekend at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver – a first for the area. All three brewmasters took home medals in previous years, but this year marked the first time three medals were awarded in the same year to Summit County brewers.Breweries across Colorado won 21 medals in the competition.

“Our three represent more than 10 percent of the state tally,” said Backcountry brewmaster Anthony Carestia. “For our small county to pull down that many, it really gives people a reason to seek out quality beers in Summit County.” There were more than 2,000 beers competing in 65 categories with 398 breweries represented at the festival, known as the Super Bowl and the All Star Game of beer, according to Chris Black, a participant who owns a Denver-area tap house. Carestia and head brewer Robert Malone at the Backcountry won a silver medal for their Ptarmigan Pilsner, a straw colored lager beer with a crisp hop bite and a smooth, clean finish.”We use 100 percent premium malt barley, hops from Germany and a special lager yeast strain also from Germany,” Carestia said.

The Dillon Dam Brewery’s Extra Pale Ale won a bronze medal in the American-style pale ale category. The Dam’s brewmaster Matt Luhr described the beer as a classic ale.”The style is very hoppy, very fruity with floral aromas,” Luhr said. “We use a process called dry-hopping, which adds more hops and creates a complex beer.”Dave Simmons, who took over brewing operations at Pug Ryan’s three years ago, won a silver medal in the Bohemian-style pilsner category for his Pallavicini Pilsner.”We’ve modeled our pilsner after the original pilsners from the Czech Republic,” Simmons said. “It takes up to three months to make but the result is a smooth, easy drinking beer. There are quite a bit of hops, but it’s so smooth, you get that taste but not much bitterness.”

The event was held at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver where, according to event organizers, participants imbibed the largest selection of beers ever gathered together in the world. More than 35,000 people attended the event, and 90 professional judges ranked the beers during Saturday’s tasting competition.Kim Marquis can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 249, or at

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