NEW ULM - There's lots of news this week for the August Schell Brewing Company.
Schell's the second oldest family-owned brewery in the country, and the brewer of Schell's and Grain Belt beer in New Ulm, was honored with three medals in the 2013 U.S. Beer Open Championship, for its Firebrick, Schell's Pils and its Deer Brand beers.
The brewery's Grain Belt Premium beer was also recognized with a somewhat more dubious honor, being rated as America's finest "cheap" beer by Will Gordon of the web site Deadspin.
Schell Schocked, a Radler-style beer with a grapefruit twist, is the August Schell Brewery's newest offering.
And the brewery released its latest beer, a grapefruit-flavored Radler called Schell Shocked.
"I don't know if I care for calling it a 'cheap' beer," said Schell's President Ted Marti said of the Deadspin honor, "but if you characterize it as a list of 'value' beers, it's a pretty good honor."
Gordon rated 36 American beers, from "worst to least-worst" with some tongue-in-cheek evaluations. Gordon said of the worst beer on the list, Keystone, that it "is worse than Heineken and murder." Of Rolling Rock, he said, "It smells like three fat guys in a two-man tent."
He had this to say about Grain Belt: "I always think of Minnesota as a secretly sexy place, and not just because of Kent Hrbek and Al Franken. Maybe it's all the trout and music and Lutherans. Toss in a smooth, creamy, and dreamy local budget brew like Grain Belt and it's a wonder Minnesota hasn't seceded to form its own naked blond utopia. Grain Belt Premium is America's finest cheap beer."
In the U.S. Beer Open, Schell's was competing with breweries from around the world that sent in more than 2,500 beers representing 68 different categories. The U.S. Beer Open is the only brewery competition to include professional breweries and award-winning home-brewers. Judges from England, Canada and the United States pick the winners.
"We've been sending in our beers for several years," said Marti. "Every year they get more and more entrants, so I think the fact that we still do very well says something about the beers."
Schell's Firebrick took home a gold medal in the American Amber/California Common category. Schell's Firebrick is a Vienna style lager named after the bricks that line the old Schell's boilers.
Schell's Pils was awarded a bronze medal in the German Lager/Pilsener category. Schell's Pils is a traditional Bavarian Pilsner brewed with 100 percent barley malt, giving it a rich malt body and refreshing hop tang.
Schell's Deer Brand was also awarded a bronze medal in the American Cream Ale category. Schell's Deer Brand was developed prior to prohibition and has been a favorite ever since.
For a complete list of U.S. Open Beer winners, go to www.usopenbeer.com.
Finally, the brewery's newest beer is Schell's Shocked, a clear golden "radler" style beer produced during the summer months. "Radler," in German, means cyclist, the brewery explains. Radlers are light, refreshing beer-based mixed drinks, mixed with a lemon or citrus soda, which makes them a popular in the summer months.
Schell's originally expected to release its version with a grapefruit twist in May, but kept it for two months more of research and development to ensure its quality and flavor.
"After initially serving this sense-shocking brew with a grapefruit twist on tap in 2012, 16oz. cans and bottles are now available," according to a Schell's press release. "It's light, crisp body combines mild malt flavor, hop bitterness and a sensational citrus essence. Ideal for those sun-kissed afternoons, this invigorating blend provides the ultimate in summer refreshment."