North Vancouver brewery wins award at World Beer Cup

Shaketown Brewing Co.’s Pre-Prohibition Pilsner picked up bronze in the American-Style Pilsner category

Shaketown Brewing co-founder Ryan Scholz, brewmaster David Varga, and head of sales Tarun Reddy share their Pre-Prohibition Pilsner that took bronze in the American-Style Pilsner category at the World Beer Cup. | Paul McGrath / North Shore News

Picture if you will: You’ve just clocked off work at the sawmill in pre-prohibition era Shaketown, and are jonesin’ for a pint at the local tavern. What do you order?

Why, the pilsner of course.

The work to capture that forgotten flavour has won North Vancouver’s Shaketown Brewing Co. a bronze medal at the 2024 World Beer Cup.

On April 28 in Las Vegas, Nevada, the brewery’s Pre-Prohibition Pilsner picked up a bronze medal in the American-Style Pilsner category.

With 280 judges choosing from 9,300 beers across 110 categories, it’s the crème de la crème of beer shows, said Shaketown co-founder Ryan Scholz.

“It’s the most coveted awards in the beer industry,” he said. “It’s known as the Olympics of beer.”

Not expecting to win, Scholz had the awards show streaming in the background while working on other things. Then he heard “Shaketown” on the broadcast.

“I was like, wait…. I did a double take and I screamed from the brewery office, and probably scared a bunch of patrons that were inside,” he said.

Niche beers have a better chance of winning at the World Beer Cup, and the American-Style Pilsner is a competitive category, Scholz explained.

“To have the pilsner place in that category is pretty cool,” he said.

Winning pilsner was Shaketown’s first recipe

It’s also a special win because that beer is core to the brewery’s brand.

“It was the first recipe that [brewmaster Dave Varga] conceptualized for Shaketown,” Scholz said. “He wanted this style of beer to be reminiscent of what a beer would potentially have tasted like back in the 1800s.”

To do that, Varga used an older, if not outdated, variety of hops in the recipe (cluster hops).

“The result was pretty spectacular at the end of the day. People have been raving about it for two years so it’s nice to finally get some recognition for it,” Scholz said.

He added that it’s also rare for a young brewery to win two years in a row. In 2023, Shaketown picked up bronze for The Grisette, in the Herb and Spice category.

But industry veteran Varga is no stranger to the World Beer Cup, picking up wins during his time as head brewer at 33 Acres.

For those not familiar with the style, Scholz describes an American-style pilsner as a cleaner, less bitter version of its European cousin.

“It fits in that easy drinking category,” he said. “You know what you’re getting. You’re not going to have one sip and be like, ‘Oh, this tastes like a barn floor. I don’t know if I can drink the whole thing.’”

With buzz from the win making its way through the local beer community, Scholz is putting on more and more hats as his budding brewing grows.

“I just bought a delivery van on Friday…. I’m going to be the delivery driver for the next four-to-six months,” he said.

“It’s gonna be a busy summer, that’s for sure.”

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