TOLEDO (WTOL) - As the Ohio State and Michigan State football game played in the background, Nick Scott, the owner of Wild Side Brewing in Grand Rapids, Ohio, celebrated winning the inaugural Ohio vs. Michigan craft beer competition at Toledo’s Casual Pint on Saturday afternoon.
"It's always good to beat anyone from Michigan," Scott said, chuckling.
A combined 21 breweries from Ohio and Michigan competed in the contest, which was timed to coincide with the Ohio State and Michigan game but also as a warmup for the Ohio State and University of Michigan showdown on Nov. 24. Breweries were asked to enter either a porter, stout, or brown beer.
Scott’s Tenebrae, a rum and bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout, prevailed. Another Ohio brewery, Bowling Green Beer Works, finished second with its Teleporter porter, followed by Adrian, Michigan’s Cotton Brewing, which entered its Putin on a Pony, a Russian imperial stout. Ann Arbor’s Wolverine State took home fourth place with its Massacre, an imperial dark lager.
Ohio's craft beer industry has experienced rapid growth in recent years, growing to nearly 300 craft breweries currently in the state. For Jon Sicotte, the president of Toledo's Glass City Mashers homebrewing club, the top two finish for local brewers was a positive sign for the state's brewers.
"It says that the industry is finally maturing. We're getting guys who have some experience, and they are turning out some great beer," Sicotte said.
The contest was broken into an Ohio and Michigan division. Then the top two from those divisions competed in the final round, judged by Sicotte, local beer columnist Brian Dugger, and Akron Beacon Journal beer writer Rick Armon.
Ohio's craft beer industry, particularly in northwest Ohio, has operated to some degree in the shadow of Michigan's national giants Founders Brewing Company, Bell's Brewery, and New Holland. But Kristi Smith, a sales rep for Dark Horse Brewing Company in Marshall, Michigan, was a judge of the Ohio beers, and she said Ohio should be proud of its progress.
"It's been six years since I have done judging, and the beer was just fantastic," she said. "Being at the Ohio table, I was so impressed by the quality."
And after a little more than two hours, Wild Side’s Tenebrae, Latin for “darkness,” was judged to be the best. Scott brewed the beer in 2017 and let it sit for nearly a year to allow the booziness to fade. It was released in May and will be available again in March. Wild Side has built a reputation for its unique fruit ales and sours, but Scott was excited to show the depth and variety of his beer lineup.
“About 70 percent of our beer is our sours and most people think of us as a sour brewery, but that’s not true,” Scott said.
- Upside Brewing, Sylvania: Night Owl stout
- Black Frog Brewery, Holland: Granny’s Sweet Potato porter
- Twin Oast Brewing: Catawba Island: Ship Burner porter
- Earnest Brew Works, Toledo: Big Oatis double oatmeal stout
- Findlay Brewing, Findlay: LaMarr’s molasses porter
- Bowling Green Beer Works, Bowling Green: Teleporter porter
- Inside the Five, Sylvania: Student Body Right stout
- Black Cloister Brewing, Toledo: Finn McCool with toasted coconut and vanilla Irish dry stout
- Two Bandits Brewing, Hicksville: Black Shadow nitro stout
- Maumee Bay Brewing, Toledo: Total Eclipse nitro stout
- Father John’s Brewery, Bryan: Dark Night of the Soul stout
- Patron Saints Brewery, Toledo: Saint James brown ale
- Flatrock Brewing Company, Napoleon: Gingerbread stout
- 4KD Crick Brewing, Defiance: Ole Ransom Russian imperial stout
- Great Black Swamp Brewing, Perrysburg: Bullfrog stout
- Wild Side Brewing, Grand Rapids: Tenebrae imperial stout