Dining With Denise Neil

Wichita's brewing scene boasts many impressive beards, but this one earned a ribbon

Hopping Gnome co-owner Stacy Lattin, left, pushed her husband, Torrey, to enter his big beard in a contest. And he won.
Hopping Gnome co-owner Stacy Lattin, left, pushed her husband, Torrey, to enter his big beard in a contest. And he won.

It seems to be part of the uniform of beer brewers across the country: a big, bushy beard.

And thank goodness, because now one local brewer has another trophy to display at his business.

On Sunday, Hopping Gnome owner Torrey Lattin was one of five winners in the Wichita Riverfest's Third Annual Beard & Mustache Contest, a celebration of facial hair.

The event awarded ribbons for the best beards in several different categories, and Ward won for Best Full Beard between 6 and 12 inches.

The ribbon will be displayed in the brewery at 1710 E. Douglas.

Lattin has been growing his beard for eight years, ever since he accepted a college bet. A friend who hated Guinness beer said he'd drink one, but only if Lattin grew a beard. (The friend drank only half the beer.)

But Lattin liked the beard, and he's grown it ever since.

Lattin said he doesn't know exactly how long his beard is — he's never taken a ruler to it — but it's big. He trims it from time to time to make sure it doesn't get too big.

Still, he said, it's his signature, and people all over town know from far away when Lattin has entered a room.

He'd never entered a beard contest in his life, Lattin said. His wife and brewery co-owner, Stacy, said she "made him do the competition."

"Well," he said. "She asked politely."

If you want to see Lattin's big beard or drink his beer, visit Hopping Gnome from 3 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, from 3 to midnight Fridays, from noon to midnight Saturdays and from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

A list of other impressive local beer brewer beards

Ned Vahsholtz, Wichita Brewing Company: WBC's head brewer keeps winning awards for his Shaven Yak beer, but he isn't much of a shaver. His colleagues Greg Gifford and Kyle Banick also are members of the beard brigade.

Nathan Jackel, Central Standard Brewing: Jackel wins the award for best beer brewing beard at the popular Central Standard Brewing. Co-owner Ian Crane is a runner-up.

Ryan Kerner, River City Brewing Co: No beard, but Kerner's sculpted mustache makes him easily recognizable.

Dan Norton, Nortons Brewing: Owner and head brewer Norton has his own brewer look — mustache-free but full-on beard. Abe Lincoln would approve.

And here is a full list of winners from Sunday.

Full Beard 6-12 inches

3rd Place – Tim Aimes

2nd Place – Brandon Moxley·

1st Place – Torrey Lattin

Beard Freestyle

2nd Place – Matthew Barnes

1st Place – Jerrod McNutt

Mustache Freestyle

3rd Place – Chris Baldwin

2nd Place – Keith Lumry

1st Place – Patrick Shields

Partial Beard

3rd Place – Robin Bone

2nd Place – Omar Shifri

1st Place – Colin Eation

Full Beard Under 6 inches

3rd Place – Mike Alexande

2nd Place – Nathan T. Kaiser

1st Place – Johnny Rogers

Kids Fake Beard (All Received 1st Place Ribbon)

Audrey Shifrin

Sam Shifrin

Brooklyn Bobetsky

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