CALMAR — A Northeast Iowa brewery has brought home some hardware from the Great American Beer Festival.
PIVO Brewery of Calmar won gold and bronze medals during what is billed as the world’s largest commercial beer competition, held Oct. 5 in Denver, Colo.
Owner Craig Neuzil said the awards help put the 2-year-old brewery “on the map.”
“Since we opened, we’ve been operating in the shadows of two great breweries, Toppling Goliath and Pulpit Rock,” Neuzil said. “They’ve established beer tourism in Winneshiek County, which has helped people discover PIVO beers.
“Now we will add to that local attraction with our award-winning beers,” he added.
PIVO was awarded a gold medal in the chocolate beer category for its Old Balltown Dark Chocolate Milk Stout.
The brew was inspired by the success of PIVO’s experimental chocolate raspberry stout and hazelnut latte porter, which were taproom favorites.
“I challenged my head brewer, Richard Mar, to write a chocolate milk stout recipe based on our Calmar Milk Stout,” Neuzil said. “He pushed this beer to its flavor limit by adding salted caramel and lots of dark chocolate. We then finished it by aging in fresh-dumped Bulleit bourbon barrels for several months.”
The brewery also received a bronze medal in the historic beer category for its Decorah Nordic Gruit, a traditional Scandinavian style of beer brewed without hops. Juniper berries, rosemary, bay leaf, black walnuts and toasted caraway seed flavor the unique beer.
PIVO is a 15-barrel microbrewery opened in November 2017 by Neuzil and his wife, Sara. It shares its brewery and taproom space with Blepta Studios.
The Brewers Association awarded 318 medals to 283 breweries across the U.S. during the 2019 competition. The awards recognize brewing excellence in 107 beer-style categories.
Two other Iowa breweries took home medals this year.
Gezellig Brewing Co. of Newton won silvers for Belgian-style fruit beer and south German-style hefeweizen. Mistress Brewing Co. of Ankeny won silver for pumpkin beer.
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