Congratulations to Black Raven Brewing for bringing home another impressive award from the Great Alaska Beer and Barleywine Festival, which took place last weekend in Anchorage. For the fourth time in six years, Black Raven brought home a coveted award for its Old Birdbrain Barleywine.
It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. It is perhaps the most elusive beer festival in North America. It is the Bigfoot of beer events. It is a prestigious and well-attended event, especially considering it is held in Anchorage in the dead of winter, but uncovering information about the Great Alaska Beer and Barleywine Festival is no easy task. We know this much…
Instead of Olympic-style medals, this competition awards gold pans. As in, mining pans. Something like 75 breweries participate in the festival, mostly from the western United States. In all, about 400 different beers are poured at the festival.
That’s all good, but the most important thing to know about the Great Alaska is that it is a “Sanctioned Best Barley Wine Competition,” featuring some of the best Barleywines from all the land. The competition is fierce.
Old Birdbrain has an impressive record at this competition:
In 2011, First Place.
In 2012, First Place.
In 2013, Third Place.
In 2016, Second Place. (Tied for second with Lagunitas. No third place awarded.)