It’s like the Academy Award of the craft beer industry, and a Wichita brewery got one.
Earlier this month, Central Standard Brewing earned a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, which sponsors what’s considered the industry’s biggest, most competitive and most respected contest. Winning a medal there is difficult and rare – especially for a new brewery entering for the first time.
Central Standard placed in the “Other Belgian style ale” category for its Standard Issue, a sour ale that’s widely considered the brewery’s flagship beer.
The brewery is the first from Wichita to win a medal at the festival and is the only Kansas brewery to win a medal this year. (This was the first time in years that no Kansas City brewers placed.)
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“It’s a ginormous deal,” said Steven Haines, who is the craft beer manager at local distributor House of Schwan. “We have a lot of breweries in the state of Kansas, and they were the only ones this year to get a medal. And there’s more competition now than ever, because there’s just more breweries out there.”
This year, 7,227 beers were entered in the competition, a 9 percent increase over 2015. The beers were judged by 264 beer experts from 12 countries.
Central Standard opened at 156 S. Greenwood in August 2015 and has quickly become a favorite hangout for local craft beer fans. Owners Ian Crane, Andy Boyd and Nathan Jackel entered their beers in the competition for the first time this year.
They traveled to the event not expecting much more than to have a good time and network at a premier beer convention. The category Standard Issue was competing in had 31 entrants from breweries in states such as Colorado and Oregon.
When Central Standard’s name was called, Crane said, the owners were overwhelmed.
“We know that we’ve got a good product, and we’re always trying for the best quality we can make, so we had high hopes,” he said. “But this is kind of like winning an Oscar in the world of beer. There are incredible breweries that have been going for years and years and have never won a medal.”
The owners got to accept their award on the festival stage from a hero – Charlie Papazian, a world-famous home brewer who also is the founder of the Association of Brewers and the Great American Beer Festival.
Eventually, the Central Standard owners plan to frame the medal and display it in the brewery, Crane said.
The win will likely make the craft beer industry take a closer look at the ever-growing beer scene in Wichita, Haines said.
“I just love it for Wichita,” he said. “Obviously, it’s great for Central Standard. But I think it also kind of helps give some credence for what’s going on in this town.”