Utah brewers are brewing world-class beer. But, as we all learned from watching Reading Rainbow as kids, you don’t have to take my word for it. Winners in this year’s World Beer Cup — sometimes referred to as “The Olympics of Beer Competitions” — were announced on Thursday. A pair of Utah breweries won medals.
Shades Brewing, which continues to make noise with its critically acclaimed and immensely popular kveik beers, nabbed three medals for a trio of American Sour Ale variations. Each beer features the unique kveik yeast strain.
Though Shades is no stranger to winning medals (its trophy case includes hardware from the Great American Beer Festival and the International Beer Awards), last month’s World Beer Cup haul is a first.
“It’s the first time we’ve entered World Beer Cup,” says Shades Head Brewer Marcio Buffolo, noting that the 2018 World Beer Cup took place before the brewery began entering competitions (the biennial competition wasn’t held in 2020 due to COVID-19). “This year, we entered seven beers and got three medals.”
The 2022 World Beer Cup included more than 10,500 beers from nearly 2,500 breweries. Only two breweries won more medals than Shades, Buffolo says.
A Storied Tradition
Several Utah breweries have earned accolades at the World Beer Cup since its inception in 1996. By my count, local brewers have won 45 medals in what’s dubbed “the most prestigious beer competition in the world.” The Utah winners’ list is largely comprised of legacy breweries — Squatters, Red Rock, Utah Brewers Cooperative, Uinta, and Desert Edge.
And this year, Level Crossing Brewing Co., which opened its doors in 2019, added its name to the list. The South Salt Lake brewery’s Cryptoporticus Philly Sour Double IPA, part of Head Brewer Chris Detrick’s Red Feather Series, earned bronze in the American-Style Sour Ale category.
All this winning speaks volumes about the Utah craft beer scene.
“It shows to the world that Utah has something good going on,” Buffolo says. “Utah makes great beer.”
That’s not news to us. But it’s becoming clearer to the world.