Leesburg’s Black Hoof Takes Bronze at World Beer Cup

A Loudoun brewery came home with a medal from the World Beer Cup, one of the largest and most prestigious beer competitions in the world.

Leesburg’s Black Hoof Brewing took home a bronze medal in the German-Style Doppelbock or Eisbock category for its Dominator Dopplebock—a bittersweet victory for the brewery and community that had just lost one of its longtime brewers, Dean Lake.

This year, almost 2,500 breweries from 57 countries around the world submitted 10,542 beers to be judged in 103 styles. There were an average of 102 beers competing in each style. The wait time to even join the cup’s panel of more than 200 judges is 3 to 4 years.

In that crowded field, only one Loudoun brewery came home with a medal. Black Hoof Brewing Company co-founder and brewer Bill Haase said the convention in Minneapolis in early May was a chance to meet colleagues from around the country and world, learn about outfitting breweries and different styles of beer, and share knowledge at a series of seminars.

German brewers, he recalled, were hesitant to admit how good his German-style beer is, brewed in accordance with the centuries-old Reinheitsgebot Bavarian beer purity rules.

“Germans are just—what they say is, ‘yeah, it’s very good, but it’s not like what is Germany,’ because nothing’s better than German beer,” he said with a laugh.

“Your average German that comes in here, they’re really impressed with our beers,” he said.

But it was also a particularly meaningful win for Black Hoof and for Loudoun brewing generally—Haase attended the convention without Dean Lake, Black Hoof’s director of operations and one of Loudoun’s longest-tenured brewers. Lake was found dead at his home only days before the convention.

Haase did not go on stage to accept the award.

“I was there, but you know—I just couldn’t go up there without Dean. It would have just been too emotional for me to do that,” Haase said.

And there couldn’t have been a more appropriate winner.

“That was his favorite beer. He loved the doppelbock,” Haase said. “Before I left, my wife told me, she said, ‘win this one for Dean,’ and maybe it was just karma, you know. But it was pretty amazing that we took a medal with one of Dean’s favorite beers.”

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