The annual U.S. Open Beer Championship returned to its normal schedule at its new event center in Oxford, Ohio following two years of pandemic-related schedule changes. Breweries sent more than 9,000 brews representing more than 150 styles of beer to be judged, along with home brews that have medaled at the American Homebrew Association’s national competition.
U.S. Open Beer Competition president Dow Scoggins announced all medal winners, and Sun King Brewery of Indianapolis took home the top recognition as Grand National Champion, which goes to the brewery earning the most winning entries, earning four gold, one silver, and two bronze medals.
Sun King also earned Grand National Champion status in 2019, “an amazing accomplishment that demonstrates outstanding consistency in the quality of Sun King brews,” Scoggins said, adding that the U.S. Open is a blind competition where the judges only know the categories being judged, not the beers or their breweries. Sun King’s gold medal winners included Sunlight Cream Ale, Cherry Busey Belgian Fruit Beer, Barrel Aged Churrolicious, and Golden Girls Barrel-Aged Sour.
Shoe Tree Brewing in Minden, N.V., placed second overall, winning three gold medals and a silver. Their gold medal winners were Coco Burrito Porter, Taquito Burrito Porter, and Lahontan Brown Ale. Shoe Tree Brewing in Carson City, NV also won two medals.
Third Eye Brewing of Cincinnati took third place overall, earning two gold medals and three silver medals. Their Dark Aura Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout and Double Astra Imperial Chocolate Oatmeal Stout won gold in their respective styles. Third Eye is currently building a new production brewery in Hamilton, Ohio, to help meet the demand for their beers.
The U.S. Open is the only major championship to allow gold-medal-winning beers from the AHA National Homebrew Competition to compete against professional breweries. This year, for only the second time in the history of the U.S. Open, a homebrewer — Caleb Meinke of Cambridge, Wis. — won a gold medal for his American Wheat Beer
The Top Ten Breweries
- Sun King Brewery, Indiana
- Shoe Tree Brewing, Nevada
- Third Eye Brewing, Ohio
- Monday Night Brewing, Georgia
- Pilot Brewing, North Carolina
- Vallensons’ Brewing, Texas
- Moonraker Brewing Company, California
- Bonds Brewing, Wyoming
- DC Brau Brewing, Washington, DC
- Forgotten Star Brewing, Minnesota
- Primeval Brewing, Indiana
What’s in a Name?
U.S. Open beer judges always enjoy the creativity behind the names that breweries choose for their products, and judge winners subjectively (based on laughter volume) at the competition’s conclusion. This year’s Top 10 on the laughs meter included:
Top 10 Beer Names
- Still Not as Bitter as Your Ex – N.E.W. Ales Brewing
- Up Schitt’s Kriek – Lost Province Brewing
- It Gose in Your Moutha – Spider Bite Beer Co.
- Kolsch Me if You Can – Pilot Brewing
- Who’s A Good Beer? – Streetside Brewery
- I Need More Cowbelgian – The Common Beer Company
- It’s Pronounced “Phrankensteen” IPA – Listermann Brewing
- There Gose my Pickle – Cueni Brewing Co.
- Tastes Like Flannel – Red Bear Brewing
- Julius Squeezer IPA – Elmhurst Brewing Company
Too Pure to be Pink is Pure Gold
The U.S. Open Beer Championship partnered with the Pink Boots Society, an organization that assists, inspires and encourages women in the fermented/alcoholic beverage profession through education, to create the Pink Boots Blend Category. The organization has partnered with Yakima Chief Hops for several years to sell a special hops blend to benefit the Pink Boots scholarship fund, and all beers developed using this hop blend were eligible to enter the category.
Too Pure to Be Pink, brewed by Wild Leap Brew Co. in LaGrange, GA, brought home the gold medal. All entry fees for the category – more than $4,000 – will be donated to the scholarship fund.
Jon Downing, who sits on the U.S. Open Beer Competition board of directors, helped establish a brewery in Ukraine in the 1990s; the Competition added two new categories at his suggestion to benefit the Ukraine Red Cross: Resist Ukrainian Anti-Imperial stout and Ukraine Gold Ale. Midwest Coast Brewing won the gold for its Ukrainian Gold and Final Gravity Brewing the gold for its Ukrainian Anti-Imperial Stout. Entry fees or $1700 were donated to the fund.