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New Oberpfalz wins national brewing award

New Oberpfalz Brewing owner Dan "Gus" Lehnerer. The brewery won a national award at the 2017 US Open Beer Championship.

New Oberpfalz can raise a glass and toast "prost" to a big national award, a Gold Medal in the 2017 U.S. Open Beer Championship.

The craft brewery at 121 E Main St. in Griffith received top honors for its flagship Helles Lager beer in the Munchner Helles, Light category of the national competition, which evaluated more than 6,000 entries "from Vermont to Vietnam."

“We are honored to win this prestigious national award," said Dan Lehnerer, New Oberpfalz founder and brewer. "Helles Lager is the beer that helped formulate the idea from which New Oberpfalz Brewing was born, and we sell more of it than any other brand of beer we make for reasons that are now obvious to everyone."

Helles is a traditional full-bodied pale lager with roots in Germany, which inspires many of the beers at New Oberpfalz, which is named after the Oberpfalz region of Germany. 

“Helles is ubiquitous in Bavaria. Nearly every brewery makes a Helles, and from brewery to brewery, each one is unique and helps a beer drinker understand the character of the local water source, the practices of the brewer and the source of the malt used to make the beer," Lehnerer said. "It is a such a light beer, there is nowhere to hide imperfections in the brewer’s materials or actions, which makes winning a Gold Medal in this category even more rewarding for us."

New Oberpfalz sells its Helles Lager — which bested finalists from Sam Adams, Red River Brewing Co. and Black Cloister Brewing — at its 60-seat tap room and in six-packs at independent liquor stores. It's not as hoppy as many craft beers.

“Whenever we get people in the Tap Room who are novice craft beer drinkers, we offer them Helles Lager and they are pleasantly surprised with its drinkability and enjoy its soft flavor profile," Lehnerer said. "It is a challenging beer to brew, but not a challenging beer to drink."

New Oberpfalz, one of three craft breweries in Griffith along with Pokro Brewing and Wildrose Brewing Co., opened in 2015. The Gold Medal at the U.S. Open Beer Championship was its first national award.

“We are occupied with brewing great beer, making great food and creating an environment for people to enjoy what we have to offer," Lehnerer said. "But we also see the value in earning recognition for our work. We are humbled by this Gold Medal, and we will continue to work on our mission, which has always been, and will always be, to brew the best beer in the world.”

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Business reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.