Repeat champions: Goat Island wins March Madness beer championship for 2nd year

Goat Island’s Duck River Dunkel won Birmingham’s “March Madness” craft beer competition.  (Photo courtesy Goat Island Brewing)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Two years, two beers: that’s the story.  Goat Island Brewing (GIB) now has back-to-back wins at the Alabama Craft Beer March Madness competition at Slice Pizza & Brew, a gourmet pizza restaurant and brewhouse in Birmingham.  GIB and 15 other Alabama breweries entered beers in the recent “tournament,” which had brackets like the Sweet 16 basketball championship. As with last year, the purchase of a beer was equal to one vote.  

Last year GIB won with the Blood Orange Berliner Weisse, and this year’s champion was the Duck River Dunkel, described on the brewery’s website as follows:

“This smooth, dark Bavarian style lager is all about the malts. It has a medium body and bready malt backbone but finishes dry. It is also our most prestigious beer. It won a silver medal at the Great American beer Festival in Denver in 2018. So you could say this is the 2nd best Dunkel in the United States. We think it’s Number 1! Delicious malty goodness, highly decorated.”

John Dean, GIB vice president of sales and marketing, said, “As you may know, the Duck River Dunkel is our most highly decorated beer.  It won a silver medal in the Great American Beer Festival last year in Denver.”

The brew, which was also the official beer of Cullman Oktoberfest 2018, did not disappoint this time, either.  It won every bracket and the contest came down to GIB’s Dunkel against Good People’s Hitch Hiker IPA.

Said Dean, “We were a little nervous going up against Good People in their own backyard, but the score was not even close in the end.”

Fun things these days at the brewery

Mike Mullaney, GIB president and CEO, said there is a lot of activity at the brewery right now, telling The Tribune, “We have recently expanded our brew floor and chilling capacity, and purchased three additional 60-barrel vessels.  We are in the process of having these and the glycol system plumbed in. This increases our capacity by two-thirds.”

GIB even has things to offer those who aren’t into beer.  Brewmaster Gary Teichmiller has been branching out into winemaking, and is offering strawberry and muscadine wines, among other flavors.  Unlike the beers, you won’t see GIB wines on store shelves. At least for now, they are served only in the onsite tap room.

That tap room is on the move as well, becoming a community gathering place with charitable fundraisers, crawfish boils, calligraphy classes and dance lessons.  On Friday and Saturday nights, it has become well-known for hosting talented entertainment.

Brad Glenn, GIB vice president and the founder most responsible for the tap room, said there is an intentional hope to bring in more variety with bands like Smooth Fondu, The Wheelers and Lamont Landers, who play pop and funk as well as oldies.

“Blind the Sky is a great rock and roll band that we have from time to time,” said Glenn.  “It is a bit harder rock than some of our bands, but they have a big following. We still have our regulars like Round 2,  Natchez Trace and Avenue G, who are always crowd pleasers.”

Wallace State Singers to visit this Friday

This Friday, April 26, GIB will for the second time host the Wallace State Singers for an evening of “Broadway at the Brewery.”  Lauren Cantrell Salerno, director of the Wallace State Theater department is bringing her talented students to perform Broadway musical pieces.

“It is always great to see these young talented Wallace State students performing at such a high level,” said Mullaney.  “These kids will blow you away with what they can do.”

The show starts at 7 p.m. Friday, and is free of charge.

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W.C. Mann