Noble Creature Wins Silver Medal at National Beer Competition

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The brewers at Noble Creature Wild Ales & Lagers had a feeling they had made a special beer, and they were right.

The craft brewery won a silver medal in the Belgian-style Sour Ale category at the Great American Beer Festival in September for its Earth & Aether.

The Great American Beer Festival takes place every year in Denver. This year’s event was Sept. 21-23.

More than 50 entries were accepted in the category from brewers nationwide. Autumn Arch Beer Project of Newark, Delaware, finished first; Angel City Brewery of Los Angeles finished third.

Noble Creature has won several statewide competitions before, but this was its first national award.

The brewery and pub at 126 E. Rayen Ave. entered the Great American festival in the past, but it’s not something it does every year. The competition is fierce, and the entry fee is high.

“Every now and then we like to test our mettle,” said Ira Gerhart, owner and chief brewer of Noble Creature. “Even if you don’t win, you get a lot of good feedback from the judges.”

He and his staff are understandably pumped up about the prize-winning beer – which is an unusual one.

Earth & Aether is “a pretty crazy beer that is based on a Belgian lambic,” Gerhart said. “We only brew it in the winter.”

The brew uses spontaneous fermentation, a process that harks back to the earliest days of brewing.

Gerhart used locally produced malt from Yerian Quality Malts of New Waterford and hops that were grown on Noble Creature’s orchard on Youngstown’s North Side.

“We aged the hops,” he explained. “It’s a Belgian thing. Then we boiled it for three hours and put the wort [as the product is known at this stage] into an open vat and piped in outside air to cool it and inoculate it with the microbes that are in the air so that it spontaneously ferments.”

The beer that was submitted to the contest was actually a blend of three batches made over three consecutive years.

Beer lovers, unfortunately, won’t be able to drink it at Noble Creature because it’s all gone.

However, Gerhart just finished up a new batch that is also a blend of previous efforts and this year’s output. It will be available by the end of December, in time for Noble Creature’s sixth anniversary celebration.

Making a Belgian-style spontaneous ale is something Gerhart has always wanted to do. “But it’s a big risk,” he said, explaining that using microbes from “whatever is in the air” outside his brewery makes that aspect hard to control.

“It’s one of the last romantic aspects of brewing,” he said. “And it’s a blend of three different years. We approached it like a winemaker.”

The Great American Beer Festival has 101 categories.

Ten other Ohio breweries won awards this year: Third Eye Brewing, Sharonville; Brink Brewing, Cincinnati; Hoppin’ Frog Brewing, Akron; MadTree Brewing, Cincinnati; Eudora Brewing, Dayton; Rhinegeist Innovation Brewery, Cincinnati; Fat Head’s Brewery, North Olmsted and Middleburg Heights; The Brew Brothers at Scioto Downs Racino, Columbus; Seventh Son Brewing, Columbus; and Narrow Path Brewing, Loveland.

There are more than 400 breweries in Ohio, and close to 10,000 nationwide.

Pictured at top: Ira Gerhart, right, shows off the medal Noble Creature won at the Great American Beer Festival. At left is Ryan Adams, a brewer at Noble Creature.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.