July 05, 2007

An Army of Davids: Homebrew Division

Perhaps this is the Navy of Davids?

Six months after opening a tiny brewery in the rear of an unremarkable strip mall here, Kevin DeLange pulled off a stunning upset in the beer world. DeLange, who honed his skills as a home brewer, scored a gold medal at one of the brewing industry's most prestigious competitions: the 2006 World Beer Cup. He was honored for his extra special bitter, or ESB.

The World Beer Cup is held every two years. It attracts more than 500 brewers from 50-plus nations. Breweries range from upstart Dry Dock and other craft beer makers to global giants such as Anheuser-Busch Inc.

DeLange's Dry Dock Brewing Co. won top honors in the "special bitter or best bitter" category at the 2006 World Beer Cup, held in Seattle in April. The brewery, which is now mapping out expansion plans, beat 22 competitors.

"For a brewer that's been open six months to win a gold medal in the 'best bitter' category, that's pretty impressive," said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, the competition's sponsor.

Chris Black, whose Falling Rock Tap House in Denver serves Dry Dock's HMS Bounty Old Ale on tap, said the World Beer Cup "is really becoming the biggest award in the whole world of brewing."

The news stunned DeLange, now 33.

At the awards banquet in Seattle, he left before the ceremony ended because he had to catch a 5 a.m. plane to Denver the next day. The bronze and silver medal awards had been announced. DeLange figured a gold medal was out of the question.

He and a friend were just outside the main hotel banquet room when he heard the announcer break the news that his HMS Victory ESB had won the gold.

"My first reaction was: "Who stole our name!" DeLange recalled. "It was a huge shock."

Needless to say, the award shined a spotlight on little known Dry Dock Brewing, among Colorado's 90 craft beer makers and Aurora's only brewery.

DeLange sounds like he would get along with Robbo, as they both share a penchant for old school Royal Navy geekery.


Posted by Steve-O at July 5, 2007 07:35 PM | TrackBack

As Ben Franklin Kenobe said, "Beer is proof that The Force loves us and wants us to be happy."

Posted by: Hucbald at July 6, 2007 09:37 AM

Well done, good and faithful home-brew master!

Posted by: Jamfish at July 8, 2007 06:02 PM