With the same haste as the craft beer enthusiasts that flocked to Denver for three days of unlimited beer tastings at the Great American Beer Festival, the team was booking it to the festival’s culmination: the awards ceremony. Gretchen Greggs, Starr Hill’s Marketing and Sales Coordinator, was neck-and-neck with Marketing Analyst and Tap Room Manager, Allie Hochman.
The gang had come from their fourth consecutive brunch at Snooze: an AM Eatery, which had been cut short by the realization: “Oh shit, we’re late!” The bill was paid, Brewer Timmy Green dialed up an Uber, and they were off.
As Gretchen’s hand touched the door to the Bellco Theater auditorium, they heard a muffled announcement: “For silver, STARR HILL BREWERY with VERNAL EQUINOX.”
While the Starr Hill crew was nearly late for their moment of recognition, the story behind this award-winning brew started much earlier with the IPA JamBEERee. The brewery’s first festival in honor of the incredible variety of India Pale Ales also featured a Homebrew JamBEERee Competition where homebrewers from across Virginia put their best IPAs to the test of the Starr Hill brewing team.
His bottled submission arrived on the first of June, a recipe featuring Maris Otter malt base with various crystal malts, a traditional British Ale yeast strain, and flavoring hops Equinox and Galaxy. The Starr Hill Brewery judges deemed it a quintessential British IPA, which stood out among over 50 competitive entries, including many decent recipes in the American style. Layton’s prize: a chance to produce a batch of his IPA recipe at Starr Hill Brewery’s facility in Crozet and submit it to the Great American Beer Festival’s Pro-Am Competition.
Brendan Romero-Salyer, Starr Hill’s Northern VA sales rep, had been brewing up his own anticipation for his first time attending the massive beer festival. With 3,800 beers to sample from 800 breweries, who wouldn’t be psyched? Representing Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region, Starr Hill sampled an epic lineup of Reviver Red IPA, Whiter Shade White IPA, Basketcase American Helles, Jomo Vienna-Style Lager and Little Red RooStarr Coffee Cream Stout. Great times were had hanging with neighbors from Three Notch’d Brewery, Blue Mountain, South Street, as well as new friends from around the industry. With 10,000 beer lovers per day brimming the airplane hangar-sized Convention Center, the team’s excitement and Starr Hill pride was on display all weekend.
Saturday morning Gretchen pried open the door to the theater and scampered down the aisle with Allie to accept the silver medal with Brewmaster Robbie O’Cain. This first award of the day was one of 14 medals earned by Virginia breweries at GABF in 2016, the most this region has taken home since 2013. The Starr Hill team gathered onstage and accepted the medal they’d bring with them back to the Commonwealth – where it had all began.
Vernal Equinox British IPA is now available on tap in the Starr Hill Brewery Tap Room in Crozet, VA! Come by and enjoy a pint of this and many other award-winning brews!