One of the biggest events in craft beer, the Great American Craft Beer Festival in Denver, got a taste of South Carolina over the weekend.
And it liked it.
Several Upstate breweries participated in the GABF (as it's called) by pouring, competing and attending, but it was Anderson's own Carolina Bauernhaus Ales that made the biggest splash by winning a coveted gold medal in the competition.
Nearly 100 categories of beer were awarded gold, silver and bronze medals as the best of 2017 including Carolina Bauernhaus Ales' Optunia in the "experimental beer" category.
"It was a huge honor to win a gold," said Keston Helfrich, head brewer and co-owner of Carolina Bauernhaus Ales. "With over 8,000 beer judged in 98 categories and 300 medals handed out, it's great to be among them."
Optunia is part of Carolina Bauernhaus' "Source Series" of beers. Just about everything about the beer is local from the prickly pear used to flavor to the lactobacilus that gave it the distinctive sourness.
In the "experimental beer" category itself, Bauernhaus went up again 93 other entries including bronze winner Four Day Ray Brewing out of Indiana and silver winner and Denver's own Black Project Spontaneous and Wild Ales.
"When I heard second place, I said 'We're done,'" Helfrich said. "It's definitely a rush to hear your brewery called."
Carolina Bauernhaus was represented by the co-owners of the brewery, Helfrich, David Thornton and Brad Thomas. They attended the festival from Thursday through Saturday and returned from Denver with hardware in hand on Sunday.
Carolina Bauernhaus was also the only South Carolina brewery to bring home a medal for 2017.
As for the beer, the 2017 batch of Optunia is barreled now, but a release date won't be known until "the beer tells us its ready," Helfrich said. Until then, it might make a surprise appearance from time to time at the taproom located at 115 W. Federal St. in downtown Anderson.