When I first learned that Peticolas won gold at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) for Royal Scandal, I was certain it represented a milestone. I kept telling myself “That’s the first!” The only problem was I couldn’t prove it right away. I travel light, and when going to an event like the GABF I figure all I need is clothing, cab money and a way to phone home. So, I didn’t have a laptop or any of my research notes on the history of Dallas brewing. If I had, it would have been quick work to confirm that, before Saturday, no production brewery incorporated in the city of Dallas had ever won a medal at the GABF.
Peticolas and Deep Ellum, both of whom entered the competition for the first time this year, are two of just six brewing-only operations to have existed in Dallas during the GABF era (1982 and beyond). The others include Dallas Brewing (a.k.a. West End Brewing and later Texas Brewing), Saint Andrews, Main Street and Great Grains. Yet, not one of these past entities ever took home a single medal from the GABF (gold, silver or otherwise). It’s not clear if they ever tried, but in my mind that doesn’t matter. A first is a first, no matter what the circumstances.
For brewpubs, the story is different. Beginning with Yegua Creek and Hubcap in 1994, and continuing with Hofbrau, Copper Tank, Two Rows and Humperdink’s, brewpubs operating in the city have claimed well over a dozen GABF medals. Despite that, only Humperdink’s survived beyond 2003, and they are still winning medals to this day.
So, what does it all mean? Critics of the competition correctly point out that GABF entrants regularly win in categories seemingly unrelated to a beer’s true style. That’s not the case here, as Peticolas entered and earned gold in the appropriate category (English-style pale ale). Couple this result with an Honorable Mention for Bitter/ESB in the United States Beer Tasting Championship’s Summer Event, and it only serves to validate Royal Scandal’s pedigree. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d call that a feather in the cap for this first-year Dallas brewery.
Looking at the big picture, a medal (of any kind) for a Dallas-area brewery is the latest in what we hope are a string of occurrences that will help put the local beer scene on the national map. We have high hopes for the future, with expectations sure to be heightened by the pending openings of Four Corners and Community, both of which boast GABF award-winning brewers from the past (by way of Copper Tank and The Covey in Fort Worth).
As for how to judge the significance of Peticolas’ victory and his gold medal-winning Royal Scandal, decide for yourself. Is it one small step, or one giant leap for Dallas as a craft beer city?
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