Tap It, Firestone Walker win awards at Great American Beer Festival

Tap It Brewing’s tasting room in San Luis Obispo serves up an American Pale Ale and an India Pale Ale.
Tap It Brewing’s tasting room in San Luis Obispo serves up an American Pale Ale and an India Pale Ale. The Tribune

A newcomer and a veteran in San Luis Obispo County’s craft beer industry earned honors at a prominent nationwide competition last weekend.

Tap It Brewing, founded in 2010 by father-son team John and Miles Gordon, won gold at the Great American Beer Festival for its American-style India pale ale in a category that had 203 entries, by far the most of any category.

“This win is not just for us but for the Central Coast,” Miles Gordon said Monday. “We are proud we were able to contribute to turning this region into a microbrew capital.”

It’s the first time the San Luis Obispo brewery has won a medal in a national contest.

Brewmaster Ryan Aikens and Gordon described Tap It’s IPA as having “a malt backbone with hops that fit,” which they said was the key to their brew’s success at the festival. Most breweries emphasize the hops, “but we went the opposite direction,” Gordon said.

Tap It distributes to locations in California and Arizona and makes three styles of pale ale.

Firestone Walker Brewing Co., which has been brewing in Paso Robles since 2001, took several honors, including gold for its flagship Double Barrel Ale. It won in the ordinary or special bitter category for a second year.

“Back-to-back gold medals speak volumes in arguably the most competitive beer judging in the world,” Firestone co-proprietor David Walker said in a news release.

A new brew, Wookey Jack, earned top honors in its category of American-style black ale. Also, Firestone’s Double Jack, an imperial India pale ale, took bronze in its class.

“It was nice to see our newest year-round release and our original flagship ale both named as the top beers in their categories,” co-proprietor Adam Firestone said.

Three times previously at the festival, Firestone had been honored with the Mid-sized Brewery of the Year award.

Neither Tap It nor Firestone would disclose production numbers.

Hosted by the Brewers Association, the annual Great American Beer Festival is the nation’s largest domestic beer festival. This year’s event, held Oct. 11 through 13 in Denver, included 666 breweries from 48 states. More than 4,000 beers were judged, and awards were given in 84 categories.