Dining With Denise Neil

Wichita brewery earns silver medal at ‘Academy Awards’ of craft beer

Another year, another silver medal for a Wichita brewery.

Over the weekend, Wichita Brewing Co. became the second Wichita brewery in two years to win a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. The annual contest is considered the Academy Awards of the craft beer industry, and it’s the industry’s biggest, most competitive and most respected contest.

WBC won with in the English-Style Brown Ale category with its Shaven Yak, a relatively new beer that head brewer Ned Vahsholtz developed with the intent of entering it in the contest.

It was the only brewery in the state of Kansas to take a medal.

“It’s a real big deal,” said WBC’s co-founder, Greg Gifford. “We try to be humble, but it’s a pretty huge thing.”

Last year, Central Standard Brewing became the first Wichita brewery to earn a medal at the event. It won silver for its Standard Issue sour ale in the “Other Belgian style ale” category.

Only one Kansas City beer placed this year. Cinder Block Brewery from North Kansas City, Mo., earned a bronze medal with its Northern Native Oktoberfest-style beer.

Shaven Yak is on tap at both Wichita Brewing Company restaurants – at 8515 W. 13th and 535 N. Woodlawn. Now that it’s a big winner, Gifford said, the brewery is making plans to can it and get it on the shelves of local liquor stores.

This year’s contest drew 7,923 entries from 2,217 breweries in 50 states plus Washington, D.C.

Wichita Brewing Company entered four beers in the contest this year, but the Shaven Yak was one that Vahsholtz worked on all year, hoping to take a medal. Vahsholtz is a fan of brown ales, so he worked on the recipe and tweaked it for months.

The moment their name was called at the medal ceremony was one Gifford and crew won’t soon forget, he said.

“We always hope something’s going to win, but we don’t expect it because we don’t want to let ourselves down,” he said. “We had gotten a lot of compliments, and a lot of local beer people told us how good this beer was. What the judges really look at if you brew things ‘to style,’ and this one was very well to style. It was a super clean beer, and we all liked a lot.”

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