By JESS MANCINI, The Parkersburg News and Sentinel
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — A Parkersburg brewery won a gold medal in the 2018 World Beer Cup, a prestigious competition dubbed the "Olympics of Beer."
The Parkersburg Brewing Co. won the gold for its Cell Block 304, an American-style brown ale, owner and brew master Dan Curtis said. More than 8,200 entries — 8,234 to be exact, Curtis said — from more than 2,500 breweries from 66 countries were entered into the 2018 contest.
"We knew we had a good beer," Curtis said.
The World Beer Cup is held every two years by the Brewers Association, a non-profit trade group representing more than 4,000 small and independent craft brewers in the United States. The awards were announced May 3 at the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Parkersburg Brewing Co. at 707 Market St. opened in September 2016 in the former downtown campus of West Virginia University at Parkersburg. Parkersburg Brewing has won smaller competitions in the state of West Virginia, but this is the first award in a major competition on an international scale, Curtis said.
It's difficult enough for a small business to stay in business, let alone a craft brewery, Curtis said. The award is an opportunity, he said.
"This is the shot in the arm we really needed to get our name out there," he said.
"We're the first West Virginia brewer to win any national or international competition," Curtis said. "We're proud to put Parkersburg, W.Va., on the map. Not just Parkersburg, but the entire state."
Cell Block 304 won the gold in the American Brown Ale Category. Besides the usual hops, honey is added to the mix, Curtis said.
"It's our original recipe," he said.
The name of the brew builds upon the theme of the Parkersburg Brewing Co., the 1920s era of Prohibition and gangsters, and the area code in West Virginia is 304, Curtis said.
With the win comes the advantage of using the World Beer Cup Gold Medal in the marketing of Cell Block 304, Curtis said. The brewery later this summer plans to begin canning beers and the World Beer Cup logo will be on the can, he said.
A celebration of the gold medal also will be planned, the details of which have yet to be determined, Curtis said.
"I want to plan a good one," he said.
The business is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Thirteen people are employed there, starting with two employees when it opened in 2016.
The Parkersburg Brewing Co. also distributes kegs of beer around the state of West Virginia and is working on distributing in Ohio, Curtis said.
Curtis was watching a live-stream of the awards and was caught by surprise when the Gold Medal was announced for the Parkersburg Brewery Co. He almost turned it off.
"It was a little shocking," he said.
Winning the Silver and Bronze medals in the American-Style Brown Ale category was Mr. Dynamite by Mad Chef Craft Brewing and Restraint by the Institution Ale Co., respectively.
During the competition, a panel of 295 judges tasted beers in six sessions over a three-day period. Most of the judges came from outside the United States.
The judges awarded 302 medals out of a possible 303 awards in 101 categories. A Gold Medal was not awarded in the International-Style Pilsner category.