As it pertains to beer news, it doesn’t get any better than when a new brewery opens, and TEN20 Craft Brewery (1020 East Washington Street) launched last week in Butchertown.
TEN20 Craft Brewery originally was known as the Do/Live/Love brewery before rebranding earlier this year. See also F&D’s previous coverage. TEN20 arrives on the heels of Atrium Brewing’s late September advent, prompting a question for which I have no answer: When was the last time that two Louisville breweries opened in a month?
The Great American Beer Festival was to have taken place the past weekend in Denver, but like almost everything else in 2020, the people-packed portion of the event was canceled owing to the lingering presence of COVID-19.
The annual GABF Beer Competition still took place, and the judges awarded gold, silver and bronze medals (where appropriate according to the scoring system) to winners in so very many style categories that no one can keep track any longer.
Consequently what matters the most is when your favorite brewery wins a medal, and so a round of applause is due for Louisville’s Gravely Brewing Company, which received a gold medal for Sprockets (“German Style Pilsener” with 200 entries) and also a bronze for Doc’s Dunkel, a dark “German Style Wheat Ale.”
My use of quotation marks for these GABF style categories is intended to remind you, the reader, that even today, 50 years after the beer writer Michael Jackson first began popularizing the basic idea of beer styles, there isn’t universal daily agreement on The Elements of Style (with apologies to Strunk and White).
Today’s global craft brewer is prolific when it comes to stepping outside of boxes, and each year the GABF warns competition entrants to reread the guidelines and take note of changes. The two primary style guidelines for Americans probably are these:
Europe has its own gig, and for a broad listing of styles the continental way, peruse here: The beer styles of Europe and beyond. The author and curator is veteran beer writer Tim Webb, and the sponsoring organization is the European Beer Consumers Union (EBCU), which describes beer styles in terms of “origins, differences and how to spot the best.”
As a final nudge this week, I highly recommend an essay at the Belgian Smaak website: Colouring in the Black and White at Seizoensbrouwerij Vandewalle, by Breandán Kearney. It’s a deft, atmospheric and informative profile of Belgian archivist and brewer Chris Vandewalle and his tiny brewery in the hamlet of Lo-Reninge, an easy bicycle ride from my haunts in Poperinge and Ieper, in the heart of the Westhoek region of West Flanders.
Before Chris Vandewalle started his own brewery in Lo-Reninge, he learned about beer’s cultural power from historical brewery records. Through his house brewery—Seizoensbrouwerij Vandewalle—he set out to renew the region’s traditions.
Whether it’s Gravely or Vandewalle, the common threads of beer, brewing, art, science, history, culture and geography combine to make the whole obsession worthwhile.
Of course, I’m just the beer guy.