Ohio has a new king of beers.
Fat Head's Strange Magic IPA took home the "best of show" honors at the annual King of Ohio beer competition, which this year focused on Ohio-made IPAs. The beer, a 6.5% West Coast-style IPA, bested more than 90 other IPAs at the event, held last weekend at MadTree Brewing Co. in Cincinnati.
Fat Head's, which operates brewpubs in Canton and North Olmsted and a production brewery in Middleburg Heights, debuted Strange Magic earlier this year.
"The goal was to have a bright tropical hop characteristic without excessive bitterness," Fat Head's co-owner and award-winning brewmaster Matt Cole said.
"From the first time we made it, we were all elated with the results," he added. "It's been a go-to beer for a lot of our brewers."
That's saying a lot. The brewery is known for its award-winning IPAs, with Hop JuJu, Head Hunter and IBUsive among the many Fat Head's beers taking home awards at national and worldwide beer competitions.
It was a close call at the end of the King of Ohio competition.
The final table — made up of nationally ranked Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) judges Phil Meyer, Thomas Morgan and Roxanne Westendorf — debated giving the crown to either Strange Magic or Seventh Son Miracle, a light, hazy beer. Seventh Son Brewing is located in Columbus.
"These are definitely the cream of the crop," Westendorf said as the judges went back and forth discussing the two beers.
The final vote was 2-1 for Strange Magic. The judges opted to name Miracle as the best of show runner-up.
Upon learning that Strange Magic bested a hazy, Cole, who's not a hazy fan, quipped: "I'm glad that a West Coast IPA trumped a hazy IPA."
The King of Ohio is an annual competition organized by myself; Pat Woodward, the author of the beer blog Pat's Pints in Columbus; Joe Easton, who runs the blog Craft Beer Joe in Cincinnati; and Morgan, an associate professor of American and African American literature at the University of Dayton.
The competition is unusual because it focuses only on Ohio-made beer and only on a specific style, which changes each year. It allows each Ohio brewery to enter just one beer. And unlike other judged events, it's free to enter.
The judging includes beer writers from around Ohio, professional brewers and certified beer judges.(Special thanks to MadTree, Nine Giant and Sonder brewers with helping with the judging.)
While Fat Head's took home the best of show honor, there were many other winners. The beers were separated into five categories, with the winners in each category advancing to the final best of show table.
Here's a look at the category winners:
Gold: Fat Head's Strange Magic
Silver: Noble Beast Evil Motives
Bronze: Platform Speed Merchant
Imperial hazy IPA
Gold: Masthead Extra Extra
Silver: Sixth Sense Disco Hops
Bronze: Saucy Love You, Bye
Honorable mention: R. Shea Double NEO
Gold: Combustion Now We're Talkin'
Silver: Wadsworth River Styx
Bronze: Rhinegeist Knowledge
Gold: Streetside #Blessed
Silver: 16 Lots Soak City
Bronze: Magic City Florida Stanley
Gold:Seventh Son Miracle
Silver: Urban Artifact Phrenology
Bronze: Nocterra Bus Eater
Honorable mention: DogBerry On the Black
As for where the competition will be held next year and what style we will focus on? That's still up for debate.