WATERTOWN — War of 1812 Amber Ale produced by 1812 Brewing Company and beloved by its imbibers, can now add a touch of gold to its character after a panel of world judges awarded it top honor for the U.S.
The award is especially gratifying for 1812 Brewing Company chairman and CEO Thomas W. Scozzafava because the beer entered in the contest was produced and bottled in Watertown. It also involves the first round of a busy bottling operation eyed for the brewer’s new site in the City Center Industrial Park, 981 Waterman Drive.
In the spring of 2021, Mr. Scozzafava moved the beer production equipment at his restaurant in the Sackets Harbor to the building, the old Alteri’s Bakery site, which he also owned. He then purchased the bottling and label/filler equipment out of the now-defunct Empire Farm Brewery Co. site in Cazenovia and moved the gear to the Watertown site. (Mr. Scozzafava noted that one of Empire’s lenders in the bankruptcy, Feldmeier Equipment, purchased 100% of the Cazenovia plant and assets and now operates under the name Meier’s Creek Brewing in Cazenovia).
Now, nearly 20 brews are produced in Watertown for 1812 Brewing’s Sackets Harbor restaurant, but all, except, War of 1812 Amber Ale, are produced for kegs. The amber ale, also available as keg form/draft, is the company’s “bedrock brew,” Mr. Scozzafava said.
War of 1812 Amber Ale has won previous awards, but that bottled beer was outsourced to other breweries. The gold medal in the 2022 World Beer Awards is extra special, Mr. Scozzafava said, because of where it was bottled.
“It’s validation that when we control the process, cradle to grave, it’s better,” Mr. Scozzafava said. “We’ve always had to partner with other breweries to bottle our beer. That’s one of the conditions of most contests out there. You have to present the beer in the bottle it’s served in.”
The annual awards the beer won gold for are sponsored by The Drinks Report, an online magazine for the wine, beer and spirits trade. It’s designed to promote the world’s best beers and other drinks to consumers and trade partners across the globe. Mr. Scozzafava sent a case of War of 1812 Amber Ale to sponsors in New Jersey. It won the gold medal in the amber category for the U.S. The brew will now represent the U.S. in the world round of the competition. Results are expected by the end of summer.
Judges in the World Beer contest are from across the globe — most from Germany. Beers could not simply be entered. They first had to meet certain quality standards.
“If 50 contestants enter a beer and none of them met the standards, then the judges aren’t going to award any medals,” Mr. Scozzafava said. “I’m not disparaging anyone or anyone else’s product, but we were the only medal winner in our country. If we didn’t have a gold medal standard, they wouldn’t have awarded us the gold.”
About a decade ago, War of 1812 Amber Ale was entered into the Los Angeles International Beer Competition.
“We got the silver medal, and we were the only medal winner,” Mr. Scozzafava said. “Just because we were the best doesn’t mean we got gold. That’s what makes this award extra special.”
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