Ol Republic’s delicate light lager, Dead Canary, won Best of Show at the 2016 California State Fair Commercial Beer Competition in what owners Jim Harte and Simon Olney note “is the example of what you should and should not do.”
For starters, what you should do is employ patience and experience in brewing a lager worthy of the Best of Show award – a very big deal since this year the largest number of entries was submitted for judging.
Out of 1,266 beers from over 300 breweries in California, Dead Canary won out against all categories of beer in one of the largest domestic beer competitions in the country. Dead Canary is an export lager with roots in the Dortmund region of Germany, an area that shares an uncanny resemblance to the Nevada City area because of a history rooted in mining.
The win at the California State Fair ranks Ol’ Republic as one of the top breweries in California, according to Harte.
“Not many breweries take on brewing lagers because of the time commitment involved,” Harte said. “An ale or an IPA can be ready to serve in as little as three weeks, a lager commands at least seven to eight weeks. To serve a lager before that time would be like pouring a glass of wine straight from the vat, bypassing the crucial aging process.”
Now, on what not to do and how it inspired the lager’s catchy name.
“When we were working on the tap house in the beginning before we opened, we ran into problems below the concrete floor and had to use heavy cutting equipment and we used them to the max,” Olney said. “In doing so, we gave ourselves carbon monoxide poisoning. While we were recuperating we laughed that we should have had a canary in the building and then agreed to someday produce a beautiful yellow beer and call it Dead Canary.”
Lead State Fair Judge Mike Moore sums up the achievements of the Nevada City brewery.
“Ol’ Republic really is a gold nugget in the Northern California area and Nevada City,” he said. “They are literally brewing a lager using the same methods and achieving the high quality of the pre-prohibition era. Back ten years ago, there were only four breweries in California making lagers. There are now 65 breweries just in the greater Sacramento area. Ol’ Republic is winning these awards because of their commitment to not take any shortcuts – and that results in great beer. You won’t find a nicer, more passionate group of people anywhere.”
For more information, pull up a chair at Ol’ Republic Brewery at 124 Argall Way or call 530-264-7263.