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Cedar Rapids breweries win big at Great American Beer Festival

Lion Bridge, Iowa Brewing Company take home medals

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Two Cedar Rapids breweries took top honors at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado, this month.

Judges awarded medals to Lion Bridge Brewing Company and Iowa Brewing Company at the competition, which included 7,227 competition entries from 1,752 breweries.

Iowa Brewing Company received a silver medal in the American-Style Amber Lager or Dark Lager category for its “Tragedy of the Commons” beer. Lion Bridge took a gold medal for “Workmen’s Compensation” in the English-Style Mile Ale category and a silver medal for “GAZPROM!” in the Specialty Beer competition.

Clive-based brewery 515 Brewing Company also won a gold medal for “Mexican Spring” in the Fruit Wheat Beer category.

This is the third gold medal in a row for Lion Bridge, which won in 2015 for “Disaster at Meux” porter and in 2014 for “Workmen’s Compensation.”

Presented by the Brewers Association since 1982, the Great American Beer Festival is one of the world’s largest and most renowned beer competitions.

Lion Bridge head brewer and co-owner Quinton McClain said he was honored to receive the award for a third time.

“The Great American Beer Festival is kind of like the Academy Awards of beers,” he said. “It’s a reaffirmation that the beer we make is solid.”

The beer itself had been sent to Colorado before the flood that shuttered Lion Bridge’s Czech Village tap room for more than a week, but after that lost time McClain said he almost didn’t attend the competition. He’s glad he did.

“It was a pretty huge turn around from almost losing weeks, if not months trying to recover to trying to reopen to going to Denver to win this award,” he said. “It all kind of came up smelling like roses at the end of the day. We’re definitely humbled by the last few weeks and are not taking anything for granted.”

He said he’s glad brewer Alec Travis was able to attend with him.

“He helped with the brewing and making sure the quality stayed high. There’s a lot of credit due there,” he said.

Iowa Brewing Company head brewer Mike Wing said the award is a great honor so soon after the downtown tap room opened in May.

“It’s kind of hard to describe. It feels amazing to be able to have such a prestigious award in such a short time frame. It’s something that everybody in the brewing industry kind of strives to achieve,” he said.

He said having two medal-winning breweries within a few blocks of each other is a positive thing for Cedar Rapids.

“Anytime a brewery brings home an award like this, it always brings a bump for tourism and sales. It’s kind of great for the city, especially with the flood we just went through,” he said.

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