WALLACE — Wallace Brewing Company celebrated it’s 10-year anniversary in January and since then, owner Chase Sanborn has had a lot to be happy about.
From carrying the Idaho Brewers Guild banner all the way to our nation’s capital and being reelected as a director for the group, to taking home some hardware at the latest International Beer Awards competition — Sanborn and the WBC could be doing a lot worse.
Sanborn and others with the Idaho brewing scene traveled to Washington, D.C., on May 16 as the Idaho Brewers Guild representatives for the larger Brewers Association’s “Hill Climb.”
The Brewers Association is a national group comprised of thousands of different brewers and distributors that lobby for craft beer.
The hill climb is an annual event where guild representatives from each state make the trip to the nation’s capital and lobby for certain beer related legislation that the national association is in favor of.
This year, guild representatives (including Sanborn) from 49 different states visited their respective congressmen and asked them to take specific action on four separate items. These specific actions include supporting the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2019 (H.R. 1175/S.362), granting additional funding to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, ensuring that steel and aluminum tariffs do not negatively impact independent brewers, and granting funding for hops and barley research in the 2020 appropriations bills.
What made this year’s trip special for Sanborn though was being asked to pour WBC beer at the Legislative Reception after the Hill Climb.
“We set up in the Library of Congress Grand Hall,” he said. “It was absolutely phenomenal. It was the first time I had ever been in there … we poured the Huckleberry Shandy and the 1910 for legislators and staffers from around the country. It was super well received.”
The next day, the WBC got Idaho on the national stage once again when they poured at Savor — one of the biggest food and beer pairing events in the nation.
Held at the National Building Museum, WBC provided their Huckleberry Shandy and 1910 Black Lager for pairing.
“We went through half of our beer in the first hour,” Sanborn said. “We were a hot ticket item.”
While many of the event’s attendees were unfamiliar with the WBC’s beer (let alone knew what a huckleberry was), Sanborn was surprised to meet others who not only knew who they were; but had also been to the tap room in Wallace.
WBC is believed to be the only Idaho-based brewery to ever pour at these events.
A few weeks later, Sanborn was once again on the road, but this time he was in Idaho Falls for the 22nd annual International Beer Awards (formerly called the North American Beer Awards). It was here that he also won reelection as a director for Idaho Brewers United (guild). The directors of the guild are chosen through a vote by its members.
The competition, hosted by the North American Brewers Association, was held over the weekend and involved more than 2,000 different beers being entered into several categories. These beers are then judged over six sessions to determine winners.
WBC entered a myriad of different beers this year into several different categories, but the only one that emerged with any special recognition was the Wallace Strong Ale (ABV: 9 percent, IBU: 50) which took second place in the American Style Strong Ale category.
The Wallace Strong is described as having an “attractive copper and red color that leads into a smooth, caramel malty experience with hints of toasted marshmallows, plum and woody flavors. Despite its high alcohol content, it has a light body.”
Sanborn is proud of the award and attributes his brewing team’s ability to have fun, yet always looking to improve, as a reason for the success.
“It’s always been one of our strong suits,” he said, “Brewmaster Jack Johnson makes the dark, malty beers really well. The guys in the back all work well together and they’re always looking to get it right.”