ECRM Grand Tasting Award Winners

By Joseph Tarnowski, VP of Content & Global Media, ECRM

ECRM’s On & Off Premise Adult Beverage Session wraps up each year with its Grand Tasting Event, during which participating adult beverage brands showcase their latest products on high-tops as buyers sample them while enjoying the live entertainment. By this time, the session’s participants have had dozens of private face-to-face meetings, and this is a great opportunity to relax, refresh and reconnect in a casual and fun setting.

This year we were thrilled to have Food & Beverage Magazine as our media partner for the Grand Tasting, and I had a blast announcing the winners with Founder Michael Politz (which was very entertaining for the audience, to say the least!). There were four categories of awards: Best Beer, Best Wine, Best Spirits and Most Innovative, and following are each of the winners:

BEST BEER: Sloop Brewing Co.

Sloop Brewing Co. formed in 2011 when two friends began brewing beer in an Upstate N.Y, garage and decided togarage start selling the product at local farmers markets throughout the Hudson Valley Region.  

In 2019 Sloop Brewing was recognized by the Brewers Association as the Fastest Growing Regional Brewery in the nation, with 250% year-over-year growth. The brand – named after the Dutch ships that sailed the Hudson River in the 18th and 19th centuries – prides itself on incorporating only the finest quality ingredients available, utilizing centrifuge technology and a full time laboratory staff who conduct regular quality standard tests to ensure consistency throughout the life of the product. The Sloop Brewery is currently the 70th largest craft brewery in the US, is located in East Fishkill, N.Y. and offers a full service restaurant, bar, large private event space and an outdoor patio area.

Its Juice Bomb IPA is a 6.5% easy drinking and well-balanced hazy style IPA bursting with tropical aromas and citrus flavor. It’s one of the most widely recognized hazy IPAs on the East Coast and is currently available in 15 states throughout the Eastern U.S. and DC.

BEST WINE: Sur Valles Wine Group

Started in 1961 by the Achurra Family, Vina Requingua – part of the Sur Valles Wine Group – has gone through tremendous changes during its existence. Originally focused on the bulk market, the winery did not start in the bottle business until 1999. Since that time, it has become one of the top wineries in Chile. 

Vina Requingua owns 3,000 acres of land throughout the central valley in Chile, and its wines are estate grown, sustainably farmed and vegan certified. Known for the company flagship, Toro de Piedra, the winery is one of Chile’s most prominent premium producers. Toro de Piedra is the most popular Gran Reserva in Chile and head winemaker Benoit Fitte has been with the company since 2001. Originally from Armagnac in France, Benoit has consistently produced award winning wines.   

Toro de Piedra Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from clay loam soil vineyards in Tapihue in Casablanca. It has a refreshing acidity in the mouth, with an aroma of passion fruit, grapefruit, lime and fresh herbs that is absolutely delightful to drink on its own or matched with ceviche or other seafood.  

BEST SPIRIT: 44° North Vodka

44º North seeks to create exceptional craft spirits using the finest local ingredients that proudly embrace Idaho’s rich agricultural tradition. The brand embodies both rugged authenticity and refined quality while expressing a state of mind that’s defiantly optimistic and mirrors the remarkable spirit of Idaho’s people. 

Its flagship 44º North RTD, The Original Huckleberry Lemonade, combines the brand’s Mountain Huckleberry vodka with its most complimentary partner, lemonade. This %12 ABV 1.75L cocktail is super fun and easy to enjoy, but a ton of hard work and passion goes into each bottle from the team at Idaho Mercantile Distillers.


AF Drinks was founded to inspire a better relationship with alcohol and make not-drinking cool and sexy AF. It’s a market leader in its home country of New Zealand, and is now available in the U.S.

Free AF is a range of premium, ready-to-drink, non-alcoholic cocktails that give people a sophisticated, adult option when they’re not drinking alcohol. Its award winning cocktails have all the complexity, taste and sensation of classic alcoholic drinks thanks to Afterglow, a natural botanical heat extract which mimics the pleasant warmth of drinking. 

Free AF Cucumber G&T is one of the brand’s most popular drinks in New Zealand. It’s an alcohol-free expression of the perfectly mixed Gin and Tonic, garnished with a slice of English garden-fresh cucumber. Clean, mildly sweet, beautifully refreshing, and enhanced with Afterglow. Great served on ice, with a ribbon of cucumber, and a sprig of rosemary.We look forward to once again working with Food & Beverage Magazine on next year’s On & Off Premise Adult Beverage Session, which will be held September 15 to 17 in Henderson, Nev.! Buyers and brands interested in connecting in private, prescheduled face-to-face meetings can learn more at or contact Amanda Tomsik at