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A ‘waterless Scotch ale’ from Batavia’s Eli Fish picked as best beer in New York


A ‘waterless Scotch ale’ from Batavia’s Eli Fish picked as best beer in New York

The 2021 winner of the New York State Brewers’ Association Governor’s Cup, an award given to the best beer in New York, is Heavy Maple from Eli Fish Brewing in Batavia, a Scotch Ale brewed with maple sap instead of water.

When Eli Fish opened in 2018, it was the first brewery in Genesee County — it has since become a new centerpiece for the city of Batavia. Under the guidance of brewer Adam Burnett, Eli Fish has grown to offer unquestionably unique, experimental, and seldom seen styles of beer. Bourbon-barrel doppelbocks, champagne-inspired goses, and oak-aged habanero mole stouts abound at the brewspace at 109 Main Street.

For Heavy Maple, Burnett set out to emulate the Maple Tripple from storied Vermont brewery Lawson’s Finest Liquids, which also swapped out water for maple sap in the brewing process.

“This is silly, because this was the hardest beer we’ve ever made,” Burnett said. “This is a waterless wee heavy, we had to drive across county lines to pick up hundreds of gallons of maple sap to use as our brewing water. It was a lot of work, and it sounds like we’ll be doing it every year now.”

Brewer Jon Mager said the idea for Heavy Maple was something he had wanted to try since he started homebrewing.

“When Adam came on board and I ran this idea past him, his eyes lit up, and we were both like, ‘yeah!’” Mager said.

This year’s New York State Craft Beer Competition boasted entries from 167 breweries, totaling 1,154 beers, making it the largest single-state brewing competition in the nation. The Governor’s Cup was awarded to the top brew of the gold-medal winning beers from each category. Heavy Maple took the gold fruit and spice non-sour category.
See related PDF Winner of the 2021 New York State Craft Beer Competition.
Eli Fish also took the gold in the experimental beer category for Tiga Queen, a sour IPA with cherries, jalapenos, hibiscus, and lime, and dry-hopped with Azacca, El Dorado, Idaho Gem, and Loral hops, the silver in the barrel-aged sour category for Gin Barrel Mixed Fermentation Pillow Talk, and the medal for best beer using at least 60 percent New York state ingredients, also for Tiga Queen.

Other local breweries walked away with some heavy honors Thursday evening. War Horse Brewing in Geneva took the gold in the hazy IPA category, the most popular section with 115 entries, for Citra Double Dan. Young Lion Brewing in Canandaigua took the bronze in the American Double IPA category for its double IPA, and the New York Beer Project took the bronze in barrel-aged non-sour for its barleywine Chevy to the Levee.

The award for brewery of the year went to Grimm Artisanal Ales in Brooklyn, which took a total of eight medals in the competition, including the bronze, silver, and gold in the fruited sour category alone.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or [email protected].