On Saturday, April 22, nearly 2000 festivarians attended the Hickory Hops beer festival in downtown Hickory, NC to enjoy beer, camaraderie and breezy spring weather. The 15th annual beer fest, featuring craft brewed beer from over 50 breweries, was the reason for the assembly and to recognize the 252 medalists and Best of Show winners in the 12th Carolinas Championship of Beer.
The CCB starts with craft brewed beer. Each Hickory Hops brewery participants are encouraged to send bottled beer in for judging. On April 1, over 100 volunteers gathered at Olde Hickory Brewery to judge the unmarked beers for adherence to specific category characteristics. The beers, which totaled 401 entries from 33 breweries, were judged in 159 styles and sub-styles. When the first round finished three hours later, 51 beers had been awarded gold medals. 112 received silver and 89 bronze winners were identified.
For CCB round two, a smaller group of certified judges convened to determine the best of the gold medal beers. Called the Best of Show round, four beers - first, second, and third places and honorable mention - were proclaimed the best of the best.
Greenville, South Carolina's Thomas Creek Brewing claimed First Place - Best of Show for head brewer Tom Davis' Up The Creek in the American Barley Wine beer category. Founded in 1998, Thomas Creek is one of the oldest operating breweries in the Palmetto State. Representatives from the brewery were on hand to accept the engraved plaque.
Second Place - Best of Show went to Deep River Brewing for Cottontown Lager in the American Lager style. The four-year-old Clayton, NC company claims to be the first legal brewery in Johnson County.
Nantahala Brewing of Bryson City collected the Third Place - Best of Show award for their American Cream Ale called Dirty Girl Blonde.
An Honorable Mention plaque was presented to Greensboro's Natty Greene's Brewing for American Sour in the Belgian-style Flanders Oud Bruin category.
Proceeds from this year's CCB will be donated to the North Carolina Brewers Guild for use promoting the State's 200+ craft breweries.