The best craft brews in Pennsylvania will be announced at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in January, the first time beer has been judged at the annual event.
On Friday, a panel of judges from craft breweries in Central Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia area gathered at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center to evaluate 152 beer entries submitted by 28 state breweries in 14 beer categories.
Winners will be announced Jan. 5 at the farm show.
“We were happily surprised with the turnout,” said Ashlee Dugan, beer competition co-chair, who manages the state’s PA Preferred program. “It’s neat to see how trends in the market are showing up at the farm show.”
Indeed, the craft-beer industry continues to expand across the country, with Pennsylvania being no exception. Pennsylvania — the home of Yuengling and Boston Beer Co.’s largest brewery — produces more craft beer than any other state.
Dugan said the state competition is another way to highlight the industry’s growth and the strong connections between agricultural products and beer. Of course, it’s also about bragging rights for the breweries.
She said she is hoping the first-year competition, with awards on display during the farm show, will spark more entries next year. As the competition grows, organizers also are hoping to add cash prizes to bolster the number of entries.
Last year, hard cider made its farm show debut. That competition will be back again this year.
The Pennsylvania Farm Show runs from Jan. 5 to Jan. 12.
Central Pennsylvania breweries account for nearly half of the craft-beer entries this year, though beers were submitted from all across the commonwealth.
Entries range from light pilsners to dark lagers, hefeweizens, pale ales and India pale ales to porters, saisons, stouts and sour beers. Rules for the contest can be found here.
IPAs represent more than 40 entries across three different categories.