Salt Lake City's Redrock Brewing Co., and head brewer Kevin Templin received top honors last weekend at the Great American Beer Festival - the country's premier beer competition.
Redrock Brewing was named the "Large Brewpub of the Year" during the three-day festival, staged at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.
Templin was named "Brewer of the Year" in the large brewpub category.
Redrock captured the prize after earning medals in five separate beer-making categories, including a gold - for its organic Zwickelbier - three silvers and a bronze.
The Zwickelbier is popular not only with Redrock customers, but also a personal favorite of Templin and his assistant brewer, Matt Davis.
"I did some schooling in Bavaria and I have a real sweet spot for those beers," Templin said. "It's one of the few drinking beers that is not filling and goes with a lot of different foods."
Templin believes the awards will silence critics - inside and outside Utah - who think there is no good beer in the Beehive State.
"It puts us on the the map," Templin said. "Instead of getting laughed at, maybe now people will take us seriously."
Templin said working under Utah's alcohol limitations has forced him, and his counterparts at other Utah breweries, to work smarter than brewmasters in states where alcohol laws are more lenient.
With higher-alcohol beers, it is the easier to hide any imperfections, said Templin. "You can't do that with a lighter beer."
The Brewers Association, which sponsors the annual festival in Denver, gives five top awards each year recognizing a small, medium and large brewery, as well as a small and large brewpub. These top breweries and brewers are selected based on the total number of medals won at the competition. The award brings medals and bragging rights.
The "Large Brewpub" prize was a surprise for Redrock, which in the previous 13 years had come home with only seven medals.
"Winning that many medals put us ahead," explained marketing director Kristin Ecker, who described the Great American Beer Festival as the "Olympics" for brewers. This year there were 2,793 beers entered in 75 beer-style categories.
The Utah Brewers Cooperative, the Salt Lake City production facility for Squatters Brewpub and Wasatch Brewery, received two medals during the 2007 competition - gold for Squatters IPA, an English-style India Pale Ale, and a silver for Squatters Organic Amber Ale.
Hoppers Grill and Brewing Co. in Midvale earned a gold medal for its Lil' Pip's Mild Ale.
A total of 222 medals were awarded at the festival. For a complete list go to www.beertown.org.
Here are the Utah brewers that won awards during the Great American Beer Festival last weekend in Denver. The beer category in which the award was given is in parenthesis.
* Large Brewpub of the Year: Redrock Brewing Co., 254 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City.
* Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year: Kevin Templin, head brewer, Redrock Brewing Co.
* Gold medal beers:
Organic Zwickelbier, Redrock Brewing Co. (cellar or unfiltered beer)
Lil' Pip's Mild Ale, Hoppers Grill & Brewing Co. (English Style Dark Mild Ale or English-Style Brown Ale)
Squatters IPA, Utah Brewers Cooperative. (English-style India Pale Ale)
* Silver medal beers:
Redrock Reve, Redrock Brewing Co. (Belgian Style Strong Specialty Ale)
Nut Brown Ale, Redrock Brewing Co. (American Style Brown Ale)
Redrock Black Bier, Redrock Brewing Co. (German Style Schwarzbier)
Squatters Organic Amber Ale, Utah Brewers Cooperative (Bitter or Pale Mild Ale)
* Bronze medal beer:
Munich Dunkel, Redrock Brewing Co. (European Style Dark/Münchner Dunkel)