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Cherry Street in west Forsyth named best brewery in nation
Won U.S. Open Beer Championship; six of the company’s beers medaled
Cherry Street

Beer enthusiasts across the nation are finding out what many in Forsyth County have known for years.

On Monday, Cherry Street Brewing Co-op, brewed and served in west Forsyth’s Vickery Village, was named Grand National Champion of the 2017 U.S. Open Beer Championship. Six of the brewery’s beers came away with medals, including three golds.

Cherry Street
- photo by Micah Green
“This win is just a huge honor for us. We’re really just proud of what we do: my team, the brewers, they work really, really hard, and it’s one of those pats on back that was unexpected,” said owner Nick Tanner. “Brewing is a very labor-intensive, very physical job, and it’s not the prettiest job sometimes.

“At the end of the day, when you’re able to produce something and be so proud of it and people be so satisfied and happy and excited about a product that you made, it’s satisfying and rewarding.”

The Ohio-based competition is in its ninth year and accepted more than 6,000 beers “from Vermont to Vietnam” representing more than 100 different beer styles. Brewers mailed in samples to judges who then determined the rankings.

Last year, Cherry Street won four medals and fifth place overall.

Big-name breweries like Ballast Point Brewing Co. and SweetWater Brewing Company have won in the past.

U.S. Open Beer Championship’s Top 10 Breweries for 2017

  1. Cherry Street Brewing Cooperative – Cumming, Georgia
  2. Black Tooth Brewing – Sheridan, Wyoming
  3. Lynnwood Brewing Concern – Raleigh, North Carolina
  4. Cigar City Brewing – Tampa Bay, Florida
  5. Ecliptic Brewing – Portland, Oregon
  6. La Quinta Brewing – La Quinta, California
  7. Appalachian Mountain Brewery – Boone, North Carolina
  8. Guadalupe Brewing – New Braunfels, Texas
  9. Revelry Brewing – Charleston, South Carolina
  10. Cameron’s Brewing – Oakville, Ontario AND Straub Brewing – St Marys, Pennsylvania

Cherry Street has a lot of beers to choose from. Here are some favorites from the folks who make them.

  • Alisa Tanner, General Manager/Director of Hospitality – O.A.S.I.S
  • Samantha Prince, Taproom Manager – Juicy Suzy DDH IPA
  • Jonny Bradley, Brewery Operations Director – Col. Juice DDH IPA
  • Kirstie Allen, Assistant Brewpub Manager – Coconut Porter
  • Chris Williams, Head Brewer – Ninja Kick DDH IPA
  • Nick Tanner, Brewmaster/Co-Owner – All IPAs and seasonal brews

Forsyth County’s only brewery, Cherry Street originally produced beer for Rick Tanner’s Grille and Bar, which was opened by Tanner’s father and the restaurant’s namesake, before producing enough to sell elsewhere. The Cherry Street Taproom opened next door in 2014 and offers several of the brewery’s beers.

Cherry Street originated as a homebrew club when Tanner was attending Colorado State University before he returned to Georgia and is named for a road in Fort Collins. Tanner credits his home brewing background for the brewery’s mission to have numerous styles of beer.

“That’s one thing we pride ourselves in is the diversity in our ability to be able to brew multiple styles of beer,” he said. “Homebrewers are very eclectic. They like to brew anything and everything and try all sorts of different things.”

Cherry Street’s three gold medal-winning beers were: O.A.S.I.S, an American imperial stout; Ta Ta, a German lager/pilsner; and Damebier Maple, a wood-barrel-aged strong beer, which shared the gold with Samuel Adams Utopias. 

Here’s what Tanner had to say about the winners.

  • O.A.S.I.S: “It’s our imperial stout that we first brewed for [Head Brewer] Chris [Williams’] 40th birthday a couple of years ago and was so good it stuck in our lineup.”
  • Ta-Ta: “Ta Ta is our light beer offering. It is also our breast cancer awareness beer. Ta Ta is a beer that I actually first brewed in my garage 12 years ago. It’s a beer that has evolved, but it’s a beer that has always been in my lineup.”
  • Damebier Maple: “Damebier Maple is an imperial strong Scotch ale that was aged for 14 months in bourbon barrels that also aged in maple syrup, so it’s really a rich and decadent, big and boozy Scotch ale that is also our highest-rated beer on the Untapped rating program.

The brewery also earned a silver medal for its Dirty Frenchman in the French/Belgian saison category and bronzes for its Wonderwall, a wood-barrel-aged strong stout, and its Dambier, a wood-barrel-aged Scotch ale.

Tanner said when he began home brewing he never saw the business reaching these heights but that it was something he and others always enjoyed.

“It’s a matter of being persistent and staying true to your goals and true to your morals,” Tanner said. “The first thing that we focus on in the brewery is safety … but the second thing we focus on and the thing we talk about pretty much every day is quality – we don’t do anything ever to sacrifice our quality.”

Cherry Street
An employee scoops out a handful of shaved coconut that is used in a recipe during the brewing process. - photo by Micah Green