Idaho Brewers Win Big at North American Brewers Association Awards 

click to enlarge - Idaho breweries took home honors at this year's NABA competition at Sandy Downs in Idaho Falls. -  - NORTHAMERICANBREWERS.ORG
  • Idaho breweries took home honors at this year's NABA competition at Sandy Downs in Idaho Falls.

Idaho breweries took home big honors at the 2016 North American Brewers Association North American Beer Awards.

The 2016 competition drew more than 1,500 beers, ciders and hard sodas, vying for first place in their categories.

Among Gem State breweries, Boise's Sockeye Brewing took home the most awards, including two golds for its Sockeye Maibock and Power House Porter, winning in the Traditional Bock and Brown Porter categories, respectively.

For several years, Sockeye has been the winningest Idaho brewery at NABA, but its marketing and media manager, Mark Breske, said it's all in a day's work for one of Boise's oldest brewhouses.

"They celebrate there [in Idaho Falls], they put the medals in a drawer and get back to work," Breske said.

The North American Beer Awards pit beers from across the country in competition during Idaho Beer Week at Sandy Downs in Idaho Falls. Other events include tap takeovers, hand-painted growler art events and more.

Other big winners from Idaho include 10 Barrel Brewing Co.'s Boise brewhouse, Edge Brewing Co. and Ram Restaurant & Brewing in Boise, Grand Teton Brewing in Victor and Idaho Brewing Company in Idaho Falls.

Taking home at least one medal were Boise Brewing and Woodland Empire Ale Craft in Boise, McCall Brewing Company and MickDuff's Brewing Co. in Sandpoint. For a complete list check here

The NABA awards have been controversial in recent years, however, highlighting tensions between craft breweries and big-brand beers. In 2014, Boise Weekly invited six Idaho craft brewers to conduct a lighthearted blind tasting of mass market beers Budweiser, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Coors Light, Miller High Life, Keystone Light and Rainier (the latter which took gold at this year's NABA awards in the American-Style Standard or Premium Lager category). The results were less than complimentary, which apparently ruffled some feathers. The next year, some of those Boise brewers were not invited to judge at the 2015 NABA awards, receiving instead this letter from NABA Judge Coordinator Bob Beckwith:

"I am unable to invite you this year. We received a number of complaints about your comments published in the Boise Weekly. We will re-evaluate your status next year."

That status seems to have been improved, as Idaho once again proved that it can hold its own as a beer state.
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