SIERRA VISTA — Beer drinkers gathered at the first-ever Roadrunner Brew Fest on Saturday, a Herald/Review event designed to recognize craft breweries from across the state.

Ten breweries participated in the event, with each submitting several samplings to be judged and enjoyed by discerning beer enthusiasts.

After a challenging selection process, Sentinel Peak Brewing Company out of Tucson won Brewery of the Year and the People’s Choice award.

“The beers are judged against a standard, not against each other,” said Bill Tucker, one of six co-owners of Tombstone Brewery and the competition coordinator. “The breweries submitted three or four beers and the top three scores from each brewery are used to determine the total points. In cases where there they submitted four beers, we drop the lowest scoring beer and use the top three to determine the winner.”

Sentinel received a combined score of 130 out of a possible 150, squeaking past second-place winner — Williams-based Grand Canyon Brewing Company — by half a point, Tucker said.

“The 12 judges really enjoyed the quality of the beer. That’s the nice thing about judging commercial breweries. They have quality equipment and expertise behind their product, and it shows.”

Judges used “Beer Judge Certification Program” score sheets to determine the winner, with each brew’s aroma, appearance, flavor and mouthfeel evaluated and scored.

“These are blind tastings,” said Cal Downey, one of the judges and owner of Diamond Oak Brewing Cooperative, a home-based brewery in Sierra Vista.

“As a judge, you don’t know what’s coming at you. We look at where the beer stands in relation to the guidelines. We each had between six and seven beers to taste, all were very good to excellent.”

Tucker, who coordinated the judges, said all were extremely qualified and well educated in determining what goes into quality brews.

“Several of the samples were in the top tier of beers, or scored gold medals,” he said.

Held on the old Horizon Moving Systems property, 440 Whitton St., participants received 15 tastings and access to live entertainment and vendors.

A percentage of the sales benefitted the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association Chapter 32-4.

Along with a lineup of four bands, food vendors and great beer, the event featured activities throughout the afternoon, a VIP tent

Herald/Review Publisher and a Brew Fest organizer Jennifer Sorenson said, “We’re really excited about helping out the CVMA as the nonprofit for our inaugural year of the Brew Fest and we’re thrilled we were able to hold it on the West End. We hope to continue the event and grow it every year. We’ve had good participation from the community, and really appreciate the support.”

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