August marked the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild’s 10th annual NC Brewers Cup competition, which consisted of 803 entries submitted by 110 independent North Carolina craft breweries.
This year’s event was the guild’s largest to date, as well as the largest single state commercial competition in the Southeast. By comparison, the first NC Brewers Cup competition, held in 2011, judged a total of only 135 entries.
Independent craft breweries of North Carolina were eligible to submit up to 10 entries into the competition. Certified beer judges sanctioned by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) traveled from across the Southeast to select the finest examples of each beer style, per BJCP style guidelines.
Because of COVID-19, the competition logistics were modified to protect the health of organizers and judges and to ensure compliance with state guidelines. The judging portion of the competition was split between two locations: Gizmo Brew Works in Raleigh and White Labs in Asheville.
The split limited the number of judges and organizers at each site and allowed for effective social distancing. Additionally, all participants were required to wear masks and participate in symptom screening.
Medals were awarded in 31 style-based categories, with the 2021 Best of Show trophy awarded to Gypsy Road Brewing for their “Gypsy Juice” New England-style IPA.
Gypsy Juice first won gold in the New England/Hazy IPA style category, the largest style category of the competition with 72 entries. It then faced off against 30 style category gold medal beers to secure the top award. This juicy New England-style IPA is dry-hopped with Sabro, Galaxy and Citra hops, imparting loads of citrus flavors, along with notes of tropical and stone fruits, as well as a touch of coconut and cedar.
Fourth place Best of Show went to Edward Teach Brewing for Insidious Design, which also earned first place in the European Amber Lager category. Edward Teach also took fourth place for its Dead Eyes Saison in the Specialty Fruit and Fruit & Spice category.
Other local breweries to receive accolades included Salty Turtle Beer Company, which took second place in the Kolsch category; Wilmington Brewing Company, which took second place for The Whitlow's in the Belgian & French Ale category as well as fourth place in American IPA category for Tropical Lightning; and Flytrap Brewing took third place in the Belgian & French Ale category for its Saison.
In the Strong Ale category, Waterline Brewing Co. took second place with Wee Heavy, and Front Street Brewery took fourth place in the Scottish & Irish beer category with Tomb Rocker.
All NC Brewers Cup medal winners will be celebrated at the annual NC Industry Awards Banquet, held at the NC Craft Brewers Conference in Winston-Salem on Wednesday, Nov. 3.