Hickory – On Saturday, May 11, more than 2,000 festivarians attended the Hickory Hops beer festival in downtown Hickory, NC to enjoy beer, camaraderie, and beautiful summer-like weather. The 20th annual beer fest, featuring craft brewed beer from 42 breweries, was the reason for the assembly and a good time to recognize over 100 medalists and three Best of Show winners in the 17th Carolinas Championship of Beer.  All breweries hailed from North Carolina, scattered from Atlantic City to Asheville and beyond.  Blakes Cidery was on hand pouring tastes of hard apple ciders.

The CCB started with craft brewed beer. Each Hickory Hops brewery participant is encouraged to send bottled or canned beer in for judging. Four weeks prior to the festival, over 70 volunteers gathered at Olde Hickory Brewery to judge the unmarked beers for adherence to specific category characteristics. The beers, which totaled 181 entries from 32 breweries, were judged in 169 styles and sub-styles. When the first round finished two hours later, 34 beers had been awarded gold medals. 39 silver and 41 bronze winners were also 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, three beers were identified as the best of the best.

Announced during Saturday’s festival, here are the Best of Show winners: Balsam Falls Brewing of Sylva received a shiny First Place plaque for Weiner Party.  Brewer Corey Bryson was on hand to pour samples of his delicious German-style Vienna lager.

Charlotte’s Town Brewing brewer Feddy Delatore won the Second place Best of Show award.  His winning beer, Broken Tarted Session Sour Ale, in the Specialty Berliner Weiss category, was also available for tasting, though the keg didn’t last long.

Dave Byer has brewed at various locations around Asheville for several years. His relatively new Diatribe Brewing, founded with partner Betty, took 3rd place Best of Show with Schwarzbier, a sultry dark German-style lager, which is currently on draft at the taproom.

Proceeds from this year’s CCB will be donated to the North Carolina Brewers Guild for use promoting the State’s 450+ craft breweries.

Photo: 1st Place BOS: Left: Balsam Falls Brewing head brewer Corey Bryson. Right: Bobby Bush, CCB manager. Photo by Tom Henderson.