The restaurant took away two silver medals at the festival over the weekend for its American Hefeweizen and Oil Change brews. Flat Branch entered six of its beers in the competition.
Larry Goodwin, the restaurant’s brewer, was at the festival to accept the awards. General Manager Lance Wood said the awards validated Flat Branch and the work of its employees.
“We really like our beer, and we have a lot of regulars who like it,” Wood said. “It’s just nice getting some recognition.”
The Oil Change brew is the restaurant’s flagship stout and is named after the restaurant’s building, which at one time was a car dealership. The beer’s name also shows in its hearty, black color.
The Oil Change has a roasted, chocolate flavor. Fans say its velvety smooth taste makes it dangerously easy to drink. Flat Branch has the beer on tap year-round.
The American Hefeweizen, however, is more popular during the spring and summer and isn’t always on tap, Wood said.
The wheat beer is much sweeter than the Oil Change. Low in bitterness, it is light both in taste and color.
Wood said he prefers the beer’s style to its German counterpart because it doesn’t use yeast that produces esters typical of German hefeweizens, and thus has a cleaner flavor.
The Great American Beer Festival awards add to honors Flat Branch received from Inside Columbia Magazine’s “Best of Columbia 2010” reader poll, in which the restaurant placed first in the categories of Restaurant General Excellence, Best Beer Menu and Best Al Fresco Dining.
“It’s good to know we do a good job,” Wood said. “It feels better just making guests happy every day — but it’s also nice getting awards."