Local brewers recognized

Published 3:20 pm Tuesday, January 1, 2019

On Saturday, Beer Guys Radio announced the Best of Georgia Beer 2018 winners, and all three major local craft brewers were recognized on the list.

Troup County’s two brewereries — Wild Leap Brew Co. and Chattabrewchee Southern Brewhouse, along with the brewpub Beacon Brewing Co. were all named as finalists in the contest in which more than 2,000 beer fans voted for their favorite beers, breweries, brewpubs, beer bars, bottle shops, beer fests and homebrewer. 

This was the third time that Beer Guys Radio has hosted the contest, and Tim Dennis, co-founder and host of Beer Guys Radio, said that the 2018 awards “generated more buzz than previous years.” Only beers brewed in Georgia were eligible for an award.

Wild Leap Brew Co.’s Alpha Abstraction Vol. 3 won first place for best new double/imperial India Pale Ale. 

“When we found out that we were nominated for that and a handful of categories, we were very excited and thankfully folks voted for us and decided that we won,” Co-owner Rob Goldstein said. “With Alpha Abstraction, each volume has gotten progressively bigger and bigger in terms of sales and visibility. We are just super grateful for the response that we’ve gotten not only in LaGrange and the surrounding area but in Athens and Augusta and Atlanta.”

Wild Leap Brew Co. has grown significantly since it first opened its doors in September 2017, and Dennis congratulated the brewery on its success so far.

“Chris [Elliot] and the team at Wild Leap have offered up several fantastic beers this year,” Dennis said. “Each release of their Alpha Abstraction IPA series is eagerly anticipated by fans, and it’s no surprise to see it win in the Best New IPA category. They also have an amazing and welcoming taproom with a variety of beers on tap. If you’re not an IPA fan, they’re still sure to have something available you’ll enjoy. I look forward to see what they have in store for the new year.”

Chattabrewchee was voted second for the best India Pale Ale in the best overall category for its Crow Hop IPA.

“We are very, very proud,” Chattabrewchee Co-owner Mike Denehy said. “We think it is a testament to how good our product is and how loyal our fans are. We are really looking forward to 2019. 2018 was our first year in distribution, and it is just incredible that in our first year of distribution that we could compete with the other large metropolitan breweries on a state level. I mean, just stop and think about that. A tiny brewery in West Point, Georgia, can come in second place for Georgia’s best IPA. It’s remarkable.”

Denehy credited the brewery’s loyal fan base for the honor.

“Mike [Denehy] takes a lot of pride in the beers he offers at Chattabrewchee,” Dennis said. “He was happy, but not surprised, when Crow Hop IPA won in our awards. Mike is very community-focused, and he brings that to his brewery as well. When people feel connected to a brewery, they take a lot of pride in what they do and share in their accomplishments. Chattabrewchee has done a great job making people feel like they are a part of the brewery and not just customers.”

Beacon Brewing Co. won the best new brewpub category. Beacon opened in the Hillside community in July. 

“We did visit Beacon earlier this year and enjoyed it, the food there is excellent,” Dennis said.

The breweries and brewpub all congratulated each other on the award and noted how one brewer’s success adds to the success of the others. 

“We should be very proud of the fact that all three breweries won the award,” Denehy said. “There is no reason to leave Troup County to find world class beer. It is right here. We are quickly becoming a craft beer destination, and I think the locals should be very, very proud of their hometown — LaGrange, West Point, Valley. The three of us have come together collectively roughly around the same time and overnight we have become a craft beer Mecca within the state of Georgia. Congratulations to the other two breweries.”

The introduction and success of the breweries and brewpub has all come relatively quickly with all three opening in the last two years.

“Two years ago we had no breweries, and now we have three that are getting awards,” Goldstein said. “It is really amazing. The more the merrier in Troup County, and we are excited Beacon and Chattabrewchee have been awarded as well.”