LauderAle Brewery opted not to pour beers at this year's Great American Beer Festival (GABF), but that didn't prevent judges from awarding a gold medal for the brewery's C Porter last Saturday in Denver. Mike White, LauderAle's head brewer, caught a last-minute flight to the Mile High City to accept the accolade.
The C Porter is a coconut porter, and it won gold in the Field Beer category, which had 87 entries. According to GABF category descriptions, a field beer incorporates "vegetables as flavor or carbohydrate adjuncts in either the mash, kettle, primary, or secondary fermentation." The style also includes beers made with nuts.
LauderAle is the second South Florida brewery to win a gold medal from the nation's largest beer festival since Wynwood Brewing Company scored one for its Pop's Porter in 2014.
White tells New Times his brewery entered five beers, including one in the fest's Pro-Am competition, in which homebrewers team up with commercial breweries. White says he believed the brewery had a good chance to win in the Field Beer category.
Born in Hollywood, Florida, and raised in Georgia, White has experience as a brewer that traces back to Texas, where he started in the business working at Jester King Brewery in Austin. Eventually, he made his way back to South Florida, where landed a job as a brewer at Funky Buddha before signing on with LauderAle in December 2016.
C Porter was already a top seller before White joined LauderAle; however, he "attenuated the recipe a little more" to balance the flavors of coconut and chocolate. "I made the recipe drier," he says. "I dialed down the coconut so it's not overly coconutty."
LauderAle wasn't the only South Florida brewery to win at GABF. Oakland Park's Funky Buddha snagged a silver medal for No Crusts, a brown ale that tastes like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which was also entered in the Field Beer category.
As a whole, Florida took home three other gold medals, including two from Lakeland's Brew Hub for its Rome City IPA in the Session India Pale Ale division (out of 130 entries) and for its Three Tun English bitter in the Ordinary or Special Bitter category (34 entries).
Tampa's Six Ten Brewing earned gold for Mischievous Black in the Dark Lager category (out of 74 entries).
The gold medal is a step up for LauderAle. Tucked away in an industrial area near Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, the brewery opened in 2014 with only a one-barrel system. Brewing capacity has since been expanded to three barrels.
The win might persuade owners Kyle Jones and Joey Farrell to pour at next year's GABF, White says. "We'll probably get a booth next year."