2021 NC Brewers Cup Competition Identifies the Finest Examples of North Carolina Craft Beer

Raleigh, NC --  2021 marked the 10th anniversary of the NC Brewers Cup competition, administered by the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild and sponsored by Pro Refrigeration, Inc. 803 entries were submitted by 110 independent North Carolina craft breweries, making this year’s competition the largest to date, and  the largest single state commercial competition in the Southeast. By comparison, the first NC Brewers Cup competition, held in 2011, judged 135 entries.


The 2021 NC Brewers Cup featured some of the stiffest competition to date. Independent craft breweries of North Carolina are eligible to submit up to 10 entries into the competition. As a strict style competition, sanctioned by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), certified beer judges from across the Southeast traveled to the competition to select the finest examples of each beer style, per BJCP style guidelines. Many of this year’s judging rounds came down to some hard decisions for the judges, including this year’s especially tight Best of Show round, which was judged by 5 experienced BJCP judges, two of whom are certified “National” BJCP judges. 

Due to COVID-19, the competition logistics were modified to protect the health of all involved, and ensure compliance with state guidelines.  The judging portion of the competition was split between two judging locations: Gizmo Brew Works in Raleigh, NC and White Labs in Asheville, NC. This split limited the number of judges and volunteers at any single site, enabling effective social distancing in order to reduce the risk of exposure. Additionally, all participants were required to wear masks and participate in symptom screening.

Medals were awarded in 31 style-based beer categories, including the "NC Homegrown" category. Unique to North Carolina, qualifying entries in this category were required to have at least 55% of the beer's dry-weight ingredients sourced from North Carolina agricultural products

And now for the winners…

The 2021 Best of Show trophy has been awarded to Gypsy Road Brewing for their “Gypsy Juice” New England-style IPA.  Gypsy Juice first won gold in the New England / Hazy IPA style category, an especially significant accomplishment itself, as this was the largest style category of the competition with 72 entries.  It then proceeded to compete against the other 30 style category gold medal beers to secure the top award. This juicy New England-style IPA is dry-hopped with Sabro, Galaxy and Citra hops, providing loads of citrus flavors, along with notes of tropical & stone fruits, and a touch of coconut and cedar.

The NC Brewers Cup competition created two new awards this year, based on total points awarded for each medal won:  

  • NC Brewery of the Year is awarded to the one brewery in the competition who secured the most points overall, based on the medals won.

  • NC New Brewery of the Year is an award especially designated for breweries who have opened over the past two years. As with the NC Brewery of the Year, this special group of entrants will be awarded points based on overall medals won.


In 2021, NC Brewery of the Year and NC New Brewery of the Year both were awarded to Lower Left Brewing Company.  This Charlotte brewery, who is currently making plans for their two-year anniversary celebration, swept the competition winning 3 first place gold medals and 1 second place silver medals in the style categories.

Click here to view all of this year’s NC Brewers Cup medal winning beers!


All NC Brewers Cup medal winners will be celebrated at the annual NC Industry Awards Banquet, held at the NC Craft Brewers Conference in Winston-Salem on Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021.  

Interested in sampling some medal-winning #NCBeer?  Plan a trip to one of the many craft brewery taprooms across our state during NC Beer Month!  NC Beer Month will be held this October, and is a month-long celebration of North Carolina’s beer craftsmanship and those destinations where it thrives?.  As part of NC Beer Month, the NC Craft Brewers Guild will be featuring a wide-array of NC craft beer at the annual NC Public House at the NC State Fair in Raleigh, taking place October 14th through the 21st. If you will be visiting the State Fair this year, make sure your plans include taking a break to enjoy a cold North Carolina craft beer.




For additional information contact: 
Rich Greene, Executive Director
NC Craft Brewers Guild
c. 314.406.0898

The North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild (NCCBG) is a 501c6 not-for-profit advocacy group supporting the independent craft brewers of our state through advocacy and education. North Carolina has over 360 independent craft breweries and brewpubs, each one serving as a local gathering spot for their communities. Our breweries have become part of the fabric of your towns and cities. North Carolina is truly the State of Southern Beer™.