Words & Deeds

This Boise brewery won again at Great American Beer Festival, ‘raising the bar’ for Idaho

A whopping 2,404 breweries competed at this year’s Great American Beer Festival at the Colorado Convention Center.
A whopping 2,404 breweries competed at this year’s Great American Beer Festival at the Colorado Convention Center. © Brewers Association

Lance Chavez should be getting used to picking up medals at the Great American Beer Festival.

Um, he’s not.

“I’m pretty stoked, dude,” Chavez admitted Monday with a laugh. “I’m not gonna lie.”

For the fourth straight year, Boise Brewing, 521 W. Broad St., won an award at the three-day festival, which ended Saturday in Denver. Black Cliffs American Stout picked up bronze in the American-Style Stout category.

There were 8,495 beers in the 32nd GABF competition. The Brewers Association awarded 306 medals to 280 American breweries in 102 beer categories covering 167 different beer styles (including subcategories).

Although Boise Brewing is the only Idaho representative in this year’s official list of winners, two other Boise-brewed beers won medals. Power to the People (P2P) from 10 Barrel Brewing Co., 826 W. Bannock St., took silver in the American-Style Stout category — topping Black Cliffs — and Oktoberfest from the Ram Restaurant and Brewery, 709 E. Park Blvd., won silver in the German-Style Maerzen division.

“There’s no givens in this game,” Chavez said. “... You gotta hit on all your points and get lucky. Get the judges to recognize all your stuff. It’s not easy to do it once. To be able to repeat four times, I’m totally over the moon about it.”

Shortly after Boise Brewing opened in 2014, Chavez began his GABF rampage. A run of four consecutive years with a win is unprecedented for a Boise brewery, although Shawn Kelso, brewmaster at 10 Barrel in Boise, went on a three-year run from 2014 to 2016 with P2P. Kelso has earned 14 GABF medals over the last 12 years of entering — six while brewing at 10 Barrel and eight at his former employer, Barley Brown’s of Baker City, Oregon.

“Four in a row — I don’t think it’s happened in Idaho,” Chavez said. “Definitely, like, blazing a new path. Raising the bar for everybody.”

That’s not bragging. That’s just great beer.

Black Cliffs already picked up gold at this year’s World Beer Cup, which bills itself “the most prestigious beer competition in the world.” Black Cliffs also won two previous silver medals at the GABF, plus bronze and gold at the North American Beer Awards. Last year, Black Cliffs got shut out at the GABF, but Boise Brewing picked up a bronze for Jagged Shard in the Imperial Red Ale category.

Because of entry rules, P2P’s honors this year wound up being awarded to 10 Barrel in Bend, Oregon, even though the beer was brewed in Boise. P2P also won gold at the GABF in 2016, and bronze in 2015 and 2014. It won silver in 2012, too, but was brewed by Kelso in Oregon. Kelso estimates that he has won 50 medals during his brewing career between the GABF, World Beer Cup and North American Beer Awards.

This year’s Oktoberfest win for the Ram was credited to the brewery in Lakewood, Washington, but it was made by Jake Talbot, head brewer in Boise.

Right before Chavez did this phone interview, he handed Talbot that medal.

“I brought it back from the GABF for him,” Chavez explained.

Boise Brewing manned a booth at the festival, which was attended by about 62,000 people. Other Idaho breweries pouring beer included Payette and Sockeye from Boise, Mother Earth Brew Co. from Nampa, and Grand Teton and Wildlife breweries from Victor.

Black Cliffs is sold on draft and in 22-ounce bottles. Boise Brewing describes it as “a roasty, hoppy treat ... well balanced with rich chocolate and coffee tones and plentiful Northwest hop character. Pine and citrus aromas play well with the dark malt aromas and the body and mouth feel are all a stout should be.”

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