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Upland, Tap win national beer awards



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Pictured are Upland Brewery’s Petal to the Kettle, Two of Tarts and Modern Tart. Upland brewer and innovation lead Matt Wisley said they entered 10 beers, five each from their sour and core breweries. Two of Tarts won in the contemporary gose category.  Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

Two Bloomington-based breweries won gold medals for their beers against 8,946 others at a national festival.

The Great American Beer festival is an annual event that takes place in Denver, Colorado, at the end of September or early October. 

Jarrod May, the director of brewery operations at the Tap, said they entered five beers. One of these, Kill the Lights, won gold in the imperial stout category.

"It's an English-style, so it's a little more malt-driven," he said. 

May said having more malt and less hops makes the beer sweet and full. 

Upland brewer and innovation lead Matt Wisley said they entered 10 beers, five each from their sour and core breweries. Two of Tarts won in the contemporary gose category. 

All the beers at this festival are blindly tasted by judges who have gone through the Beer Judge Certification Program. 

There are more than 100 categories of beer at the festival. 

“Each style category has its own specific guidelines that they want your beer to fit into,” May said.

The winners are the beers that best encapsulate the definition of the given category as determined by the judges. 

With so many categories, some of which overlap, it can be hard to choose what category in which to enter the beer.

“So if you put a beer in one category that maybe should have been in another, you won’t do as well with that beer in competition,” Wisley said.  

Wisley also said timing is a factor. If they have a good beer, but it is out of season, they might not send it. They would rather send freshly made beers than old ones they have.

The Tap’s gold medal-winning beer is called Kill the Lights.

It’s an imperial, English-style stout made with chocolate and almond malts, May said.

“It’s a big beer,” he said. “It’s definitely a long brew day with some added steps in there.” 

Wisley said Upland's Two of Tarts gose is a German-style sour beer and Two of Tarts is a different take on it. What makes it different from a traditional gose is the passion fruit and mango flavors added to the light beer.

Wisley said they chose the passion fruit because of its really intense, distinct flavor.

“The mango is pretty subtle,” he said. “The passion fruit is very distinct. That’s why we chose that fruit. It has such an intense, tropical flavor that you only really need a little of it to get a lot of what comes off as fresh passion fruit flavor.”

The Tap and Upland also entered a collaboration beer called Der Pretz-ale Jawn, which pays homage to Philadelphia pretzels. 

Wisley said the Great American Beer Festival is a huge competition and that winning often has a lot of luck involved.

“On a different day of judging it could have gone totally different,” he said. 

The Tap will have on tap five Indiana-brewed beers that medaled at the festival Oct. 12. 

Wisley said there are many breweries in the country making great beers, and the festival shows this.

“We are in a very good time for craft beer right now,” he said. 

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