Brewers Association / brightroom
Pete McCabe (left), brewer for the Great Dane in Wausau accepts the award for Brewpub Group of the Year from Charlie Papazian of the Brewers Association.
The Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company was recognized as the top brewpub group in the U.S. at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival this past weekend in Denver, Colorado. The annual beer festival draws over 49,000 beer enthusiasts over its three days. Attendees can sample more than 2,700 beers in its public sessions, while some 4,338 beers from more than 650 different breweries are competitively judged across 84 different styles of beer. Brewers vie for gold, silver and bronze medals.
The national recognition for the Great Dane is no surprise to Wisconsin fans of the brewpub, which has become the state's largest by amount of beer produced in a year. It even falls among the top ten in the annual Brewers Association rankings, after reaching as high as number three a few years ago. The Great Dane has five locations in Wisconsin, with four in the Madison area and a fifth in Wausau. The company also lends its name to a pub in the Dane County Regional Airport where its beers are served. If it were not for a state law that limits brewpub ownership to six locations, it might be even larger.
"So much attention seems to go to brewpubs in really big cities, so I'm just happy about bringing something home to Wisconsin," says Great Dane co-owner and brewmaster Rob LoBreglio, who found out he'd won the award while celebrating his son Lucas's 12th birthday over the weekend.
"I actually got a text from Tom Porter [owner and brewmaster of Lake Louie Brewing] letting me know we'd won, so it seems I'm always the last to know these things," he laughs. Great Dane brewers from Fitchburg and Wausau were on hand in Denver to receive the award in a special session at the festival.
"This is nice to have but I'm not sure what it will mean for business," adds LoBreglio. "We just want to educate people about our beer and about beer in general so this is another opportunity for us to keep doing that."
The Great Dane also captured a gold medal for its winter seasonal ber Bock, in the German-Style Dopplebock or Eisbock category. The brewpub makes this beer over the winter months and releases it in February. LoBregelio also has plans for ber Bock to be released as part of the brewpub's Unleashed limited release series of 22-ounce bottles.
Altogether Wisconsin brewers brought home ten medals for their beers at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival.
These winners are:
- Central Waters Brewing Company
Gold, Wood- and Barrel-aged Strong Stout: Fourteen Fourteen
- Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company
Gold, German-Style Dopplebock and Eisbock: ber Bock
- Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company
Silver, Fruit Wheat Beer: Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy
- Lakefront Brewery
Silver, American-Style Amber/Red Ale: Fixed Gear American Red Ale
- MillerCoors Brewing Company
Silver, American-Style Lager, Light Lager or Premium Lager: Miller Lite
Bronze, American-Style Specialty Lager or Cream Ale or Lager: Mickey's Malt Liquor
- New Glarus Brewing Company
Gold, Bohemian-Style Pilsner: Hometown Blonde
- Stevens Point Brewery
Gold, American Style Amber Lager: Point Oktoberfest
Gold, Field Beer or Pumpkin Beer: Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale
The Great American Beer Festival provides a complete list of winners (PDF).