Independent Breweries & Brewery Leaders Named 2018 James Beard Award Semifinalists

Independent Breweries & Brewery Leaders Named 2018 James Beard Award Semifinalists

The prestigious James Beard Foundation announced its 2018 award semifinalists Thursday, Feb. 18, and independent breweries and brewery leaders are on the list.

The annual James Beard Awards seek to recognize leaders in America’s food culture, and being named a semifinalist is a huge honor. Competition is stiff. The foundation says it received more than 20,000 entries for the 2018 awards.

james beard 2018 awards
Fullsteam’s Sean Lilly Wilson at an NC Brewers Guild event; Highland’s Leah Wong Ashburn; Jester King’s Jeff Stuffings

(READ: 7 Offbeat Places for People Who Like Craft Beer)

Awards are broken down into 21 categories across the world of food, including chefs, restaurants and service.

Under Best New Restaurant, the foundation named Brewery Bhavana in Raleigh, North Carolina, as a semifinalist.

Five brewery leaders are semifinalists in the Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional category — the same category that Dogfish Head CEO Sam Calagione and brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, Garrett Oliver, won in 2017 and 2014, respectively.

The 2018 semifinalists for Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional include:

Chef Cassidee Dabney from The Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee — the sister restaurant to Blackberry Farm Brewery — is also among the nominees in the Best Chef: Southeast category.

(READ: Small Brewers Recreate Beer Recipes Lost to Time)

Beyond the awards, the James Beard Foundation embraces independent craft breweries as a force in American culture with events like its annual National Beer Day dinner in April, featuring Chef Adam Dulye, contributor and executive chef at the Brewers Association — publishers of

On Wednesday, March 14, 2018, the foundation will announce the final nominees in each category. Winners will then be recognized at the 2018 James Beard Awards Gala on Monday, May 7, 2018, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Dogfish Head has announced it’s a sponsor of this year’s awards, which are dubbed the “Oscars of the food world.” is fully dedicated to small and independent U.S. breweries. We are published by the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers. Stories and opinions shared on do not imply endorsement by or positions taken by the Brewers Association or its members.