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Boulder, CO — The 2017 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) competition awarded 293 medals to some of the best commercial breweries in the United States, plus three GABF Pro-Am medals to teams of homebrewers paired with professionals. Presented by the Brewers Association (BA), GABF is the largest commercial beer competition in the world and the premier symbol of brewing excellence.

gabf medals

View the 2017 winners

In a ceremony at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, award-winning breweries received prestigious gold, silver and bronze medals in 98 beer categories covering 161 different beer styles (including all subcategories), establishing the best examples of each style in the country.

Winners were chosen out of 7,923 competition entries from 2,217 breweries in 50 states plus Washington, D.C. (a 15 percent and 24 percent increase respectively from the 7,301 entries and 1,783 breweries in 2016).

The competition took place in six sessions over a period of three days and was judged by 276 beer experts from 13 countries, including the U.S. In addition to commercial brewery entries, the judging panel also evaluated 118 Pro-Am entries. The competition was made possible with the help of 365 volunteers.

 

2017 BREWERY AND BREWER OF THE YEAR AWARDS

PACKAGING BREWERIES

Very Small Brewing Company and Brewmaster of the Year | < 1,000 BBLS

Sponsored by Brewers Supply Group

On Tour Brewing Co., Chicago, IL and Mark Poffenberger & Mark Legenza

 

Small Brewing Company and Brewmaster of the Year | 1,000 – 14,999 BBLS

Sponsored by O-I

Sunriver Brewing, Sunriver, OR and Sunriver Brewing Team

 

Mid-Size Brewing Company and Brewmaster of the Year | 15,000 – 6,000,000 BBLS

Sponsored by MicroStar Logistics

Saint Arnold Brewing Co., Houston, TX and Saint Arnold Brew Crew

 

BREWPUBS

Small Brewpub and Brewmaster of the Year | < 750 BBLS

Sponsored by Briess Malt & Ingredients

Rockford Brewing Co., Rockford, MI and Rockford Brewing Company

 

Mid-Size Brewpub and Brewmaster of the Year | 750 – 1,500 BBLS

Sponsored by Brewers Supply Group

Moon River Brewing Co., Savannah, GA and Moon River Brewing Company

 

Large Brewpub and Brewmaster of the Year | 1,500+ BBLS

Sponsored by The Country Malt Group

The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Austin, TX and Amos Swifty Kim

 

LARGE BREWERIES OR MULTIPLE LOCATION BREWERIES

Brewery Group and Brewmaster of the Year

Sponsored by Beer Institute

Melvin Brewing, Alpine, WY and Melvin Brewing

 

gabf medals 

 

OVERALL COMPETITION HIGHLIGHTS

  • Most medals won by a single brewery: Saint Arnold Brewing Co. (3)
  • Top three states by ratio of medals to entries by state:

o   West Virginia – 12 entries, 2 medals

o   Wyoming – 46 entries, 5 medals

o   Connecticut – 39 entries, 4 medals

  • First-time GABF competition entrants (self-identified during the registration process) numbered 584. Of those first-time entering breweries, 36 won medals.

 

STYLE CATEGORIES 

Since 2002, the most-entered category has been American-Style India Pale Ale (IPA), which saw 408 entries in 2017 compared to 312 entries in 2016. The top five entered categories and number of entries per category were:

  • Category 60 American-Style India Pale Ale (408 entries)
  • Category 61 Imperial India Pale Ale (221 entries)
  • Category 58 American-Style Pale Ale (199 entries)
  • Category 59 American-Style Strong Pale Ale (182 entries)
  • Category 29 Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer (175 entries)

 

The winners in the most-entered (that is, the most competitive) categories were:

 Category 60 American-Style India Pale Ale (408 entries)

Gold: Prairie Madness, Hailstorm Brewing Co., Tinley Park, IL

Silver: Gold Digger IPA, Auburn Alehouse, Auburn, CA

Bronze: Breakside IPA, Breakside Brewery & Taproom, Milwaukie, OR

 

Category 61 Imperial India Pale Ale (221 entries)

Gold: Manta Ray, Ballast Point Brewing Co., San Diego, CA

Silver: Lupulin River, Knee Deep Brewing Co., Auburn, CA

Bronze: Chux, Danville Brewing Co., Danville, CA

 

Category 58 American-Style Pale Ale (199 entries)

Gold: Monterey Street, Central Coast Brewing Co., San Luis Obispo, CA

Silver: Mosaic Pale Ale, Lynnwood Brewing Concern – Production Facility; Raleigh, NC

Bronze: Triple Tail, SweetWater Brewing Co., Atlanta, GA

 

Category 59 American-Style Strong Pale Ale (182 entries)

Gold: Hubert MPA, Melvin Brewing, Alpine, WY

Silver: Wolfback Ridge, Headlands Brewing Co., Mill Valley, CA

Bronze: Breakside Stay West, Breakside Brewery + Beer Hall, Portland, OR

 

Category 29 Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer (175 entries)

Gold: Hurly Burly Port Barrel Aged Barleywine, Out of Bounds Brewing Co., Rocklin, CA

Silver: Woods Monk, Odyssey Beerwerks, Arvada, CO

Bronze: Barrel Aged Barleywine, Charleville Vineyard & Microbrewery, Sainte Genevieve, MO

 

2017 GREAT AMERICAN BEER FESTIVAL PRO-AM COMPETITION

Sponsored by Briess Malt & Ingredients Co., The Country Malt Group, Yakima Chief-Hopunion and White Labs

Gold, silver and bronze medals were also awarded in the GABF Pro-Am competition, which pairs homebrewers with professional brewers, who scale up the award-winning homebrew recipes. The medal winners, including the winning professional brewers and American Homebrewers Association (AHA) member homebrewers are:

  • Gold: Just Another Pretty Face, Denver Beer Co., Denver, CO; Brewmaster: Jason Buehler and Denver Beer Company Brewing Team; Homebrewer: Doug Thiel
  • Silver: Lichtenhainer, Black Bottle Brewery, Fort Collins, CO; Brewmaster: Black Bottle Scuba Squad;  Homebrewer: Daniel Tomkins
  • Bronze: Eluxansis, Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO; Brewmaster:  Odell Brew Team; Homebrewer: Mark Boelman

 

2017 GREAT AMERICAN BEER FESTIVAL & COMPETITION STATISTICS

  • 36th anniversary of the festival; 31st edition of the GABF competition
  • Over 800 breweries in the festival hall
  • 3,900+ beers served at the festival
  • 60,000 attendees
  • 4,308 volunteers (festival and competition combined)
  • 2,217 breweries in the competition from 50 states plus Washington, D.C.
  • 266 medal-winning breweries
  • 293 total medals awarded
  • 7,923 beers judged (not including 118 Pro-Am competition entries)
  • 98 beer categories covering 161 different beer styles judged, plus the Pro-Am competition
  • 276 judges from 13 different countries
  • Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 81
  • Category with the highest number of entries: American-Style India Pale Ale
  • A gold medal was not awarded in the Fruited American-Style Sour Ale category

 

american craft beer weekWHAT:  For the 11th year in a row, the Brewers Association has declared American Craft Beer Week (ACBW), the nationwide celebration of U.S. small and independent craft brewers. The week long tribute provides an opportunity for craft brewers to share their diversity, creativity and passion for the beverage they love with the greater craft beer community. From May 16-May 22, all 50 states will be holding events including exclusive brewery tours, special craft beer releases, food and beer pairings, tap takeovers and more to celebrate the ever-advancing beer culture in the United States.

WHEN:  Monday, May 16–Sunday, May 22, 2016

american craft beer weekWHERE:  In all 50 states. Visit the official American Craft Beer Week event calendar on CraftBeer.com for a full – and growing – list of local celebrations.

WHY:  ACBW has been celebrated for the past decade. Since 2006, craft beer fans have had a designated week to support their local brewery, and beer businesses have had the opportunity to connect with their customers and other beer lovers. Tens of thousands of beer beginners, beer enthusiasts and beer geeks toast the week each year.
In 2015, more than 60,000 beer lovers across all 50 states were also part of the ACBW Facebook Community. With over 4,100 craft breweries now open—an all-time high for our country—there’s even more to celebrate.

 

About the Brewers Association

The Brewers Association is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The Brewers Association (BA) represents more than 70 percent of the brewing industry, and its members make more than 99 percent of the beer brewed in the U.S. The BA organizes events including the World Beer CupSMGreat American Beer Festival®Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America®SAVOR℠: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience, AHA National Homebrewers Conference, National Homebrew Competition and American Craft Beer Week®. The BA publishes The New Brewer magazine and its Brewers Publications division is the largest publisher of contemporary and relevant brewing literature for today’s craft brewers and homebrewers.

brewers association

Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at CraftBeer.com and about homebrewing via the BA’s American Homebrewers Association. Follow us on Twitter.

ADA – Veteran homebrewers, novices, and people-who-just-want-to-drink-beer-outside alike are invited to the first Learn To Homebrew Day hosted at Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery and Supply.

The brewery and homebrew supply shop is bringing the American Homebrewer’s Association (AHA) event to Ada Nov. 7.

The free event will last from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and include at least nine industry professionals hosting discussions about their specialties. The topics are as broad as the whole process of homebrewing and as specific as yeast health.

Nine homebrewers have also been invited to bring their equipment on premise to demonstrate their personal processes. Throughout the day, the brewers will make the same recipe on their own systems as attendees look on.

“Some of these guys go far out; it’s pretty cool to see,” said Chrissy Walker, homebrew supply manager at Gravel Bottom. “Then you have other people who are just going to bring their little burner and a little pot.”

In addition to the educational parts of the event, attendees will be able to enter a raffle and the store will be hosting a one-day fall sale on homebrewing equipment.

Walker emphasized that the event isn’t just for veteran and novice homebrewers—it’s for anyone who wants to know more about beer.

“I think the more knowledge we can get out there on how to properly taste beer and what goes into brewing beer, the more you’re going to enjoy it,” said Walker.

Matt Michiels, owner of Gravel Bottom, said he felt the goals of AHA’s Learn to Homebrew event mirror Gravel Bottom’s mission statement.

“That’s really what we’re trying to do. Bring to people the experience of brewing, and a creative environment where you can learn about the sport,” said Michiels.

“That’s how it all started in my backyard—brewing beer with my friends and drinking the beer,” he said. “I’m excited to have that environment here.”

Whether they go to learn about the art (or science, or “sport,” as Michiels would have it) of homebrewing or just to enjoy the camaraderie in the brewing community, Walker has one warning for potential attendees:

“Caution: brewing does cause more friends,” she laughed. “I’m gonna throw that out there.”

Following is the first in a series of pieces spotlighting area home-brew clubs. If you have been seeking a way to engage in the home-brewing community, or would like to see how beer can be made at home without investing in equipment first, joining a club or attending a club meeting is a phenomenal way to fortify your understanding of the many ways people make beer at home.

The tale of Patriots Brew Club is one that coincides with that of the forefathers of this nation. The members of this club pride themselves not only on their ability to make beer for themselves, but also on their ability to help others understand how beer is made. Like the original patriots, these are people capable of making much more than just beer for themselves, and their pride in teaching others extends to their vast wealth of cultivated hobbies as well. This is a group of people who like to hunt, not just in the traditional sense, but for ways to fix things, solve problems, build things, and live a mighty life.

When I asked the club if there were particular styles of beer they liked to focus on making, the answers seemed to encompass all of beer. I took this to mean that they like to make any and all styles of beer as long as the process and product align with the integrity and authenticity the club so thoroughly exudes.

The club does not operate in a rigidly scheduled meeting archetype; instead they favor spontaneous gatherings that center around the making of beer, food, and merriment in kind. If you’re the type who likes to saddle up and ride on short notice, this is the crew for you.

The club gladly accommodates new brewers, experienced brewers, and those who just want to know a little more about beer. More the drinking type than the making type? No problem, just show up with a hand to lend and you’re in. Located in the Grand Haven area, the members of the club would love for you to come to their next gathering. More information can be found on their Facebook page

A showcase of the Patriots Brew Club, as well as many of the other clubs to be featured in the further articles, can be found on the Calder Plaza in Grand Rapids each year on Big Brew Day. The pictures in this article were taken at the event, hosted by Siciliano’s Market, in May 2015. More info about the Big Brew Day can be found here.

Working in the cellar at Founders Brewing Company often finds me shoulder to shoulder with the Yeast Tech department. Their department, as you may have guessed, is entirely responsible for the care, maintenance, and practical application of any and all yeast used in the brewery. For emphasis, a beer is not released for consumption without their labor-intensive checks and balances that ensure the quality of a vitally important ingredient in the beer-making process. To make beer at home like a professional means we should emulate the practices of a professional. How can we do that? Or, how can we do that without the high-tech equipment and completely sterile work environment of a large scale brewery? To form a kind of answer to that question, I spoke with Jim Knight, Lead Yeast Tech at Founders, about his advice for home brewers.

“Clean, Clean, Clean,” were the first words out of his mouth when I broached the subject. In a past article, I talked about the importance of cleanliness and sanitation. Let’s say it’s doubly important when it comes to handling yeast correctly, and I’ll spare you a speech. However, as Knight stressed, clean environments breed happy yeast which make the best possible beer. Knight went on to propose that there are three things home brewers should be sure of before adding yeast to each batch of beer. Below, I list the three factors of focus, as well as helpful tips, tricks, and links to sources that will help you make the most of your yeast in the future.

  1. Freshness Ranking among the easiest of things for a home-brewer to check, the expiration date for any yeast culture is often clearly labeled and should be checked before purchase. Fresh yeast is happy yeast. Say you pick up a culture of two month out-of-date yeast, you might think of it like an exhausted workforce. A tired worker may still get the job done, though likely not in a timely fashion, or well. Exhausted yeast may manifest itself in heavy doses of phenolic flavors tainting the flavor of your beer. An expiration date check should accompany every yeast purchase.
  2. Correct Yeast Dose Now, just because your yeast is fresh, doesn’t mean you have enough in your packet or vial to ferment the beer you’re trying to make. Continuing the work-force metaphor, say you have half the amount of people show up to work as you were expecting, likely you won’t expect them to get a job done very well, in a timely fashion, or with zeal. Having half the yeast you need for a batch of beer can result in a host of negatives that might have easily been avoided by simply making sure you have enough yeast for the job. There are two ways to make sure you have enough yeast: longhand arithmetic, or using Mr. Malty’s free calculator. This calculator allows you to input the simple parameters of your recipe to ensure that each batch of beer you make has been dosed to perfection. There is even a function that allows you to account of the freshness of the yeast purchased! Neat-O!
  3. Vitality This category is a bit tougher to describe, but let’s continue on with the worker analogy to get us there. Let’s now assume all of your workforce showed up, and, better yet, they’re fresh off their weekend. The only thing you might hope from such an ideal circumstance is that your workforce is excited to perform the task at hand. A workforce that is “hyped” is very likely to get their job done and done very well. The easiest way we can “hype” up yeast at home is to make a yeast starter. The primary function of a starter is to ensure that yeast is happy, healthy, and “hyped,” or active, before being added to your beer. Bonus, a starter will actually help to grow more yeast from an original culture so making starters may help alleviate the expense of buying multiple vials of yeast for those high gravity or lager batches. Now, there are many ways to make a starter, but I think the advice from the one of the largest Yeast providers in the nation has quite a bit of merit. I have distilled that advice here.

For those who’d like an even more in-depth look at the technical side of yeast, you can read all the information in addition to preparing yeast starters. For those seeking something more in-depth than that, pick up “Yeast” by Chris White and Jamil Zainasheff. Their book informed much of this article and may well be the definitive written work on the subject. Again, to make beer like a professional, one must emulate the professionals. Happy brewing!

GRAND RAPIDS — While the American Homebrewers Association’s National Homebrewers Conference was certainly a win for West Michigan, it was even more so for a group of local home brewers.

Jeff Carlson (PrimeTime Brewers), Nick Rodammer (Brewsquitos Homebrewing Club) and Kathy Troxell (Rivertown Homebrewers) were three home brewers who took home medals at the event, for three very different brews.

As we sat on a deck in July, enjoying the brewers’ winning drinks, the three medalists began to talk about their approach to home brewing.

For Troxell, she was more than pleased by the results. She won a silver medal in her first-ever competition with her Cherry Tart Kiss Melomel.

“I never expected to place in the finals — this was my first mead and my first competition,” said Troxell. “I was so surprised and overwhelmed. I didn’t believe my name had been announced. The guys at the table had to tell me three times I had won the Silver.”

But for all three home brewers, it’s not just about winning — it’s about what they learn in the process.

“You want some feedback, it’s probably the best advice to get,” said Carlson.

The long-time brewer took home two medals at the conference — a gold in the Specialty Cider and Perry category, and a bronze in the Standard Cider and Perry Category.

All of them agreed that winning solidifies the fact that a home brewer can be capable of creating something on par with some of the area’s best beer, cider and mead.

“My goal every time I make a beer that I’m serious about is, in my mind I want it to come out as good as anything you buy at a pub or in a store,” said Rodammer, who won gold with his Rodtoberfest in the European Amber Lager category. “Oktoberfest is probably my favorite style, which is why I was so happy to win a medal in it.”

aha conference

GRAND RAPIDS — We had a great time throughout the American Homebrewers Association’s National Homebrewers Conference held at DeVos Place last week. Below are links to all of our coverage, as well as some of our favorite photo moments. Photos by Steph Harding.

MittenBrew Coverage

THURSDAY: Expo

FRIDAY: Keynote

FRIDAY: Club Night

GRAND RAPIDS — “1 in every 200 Americans homebrew.”

Charlie Papazian, quietly unassuming, gently humorous, clad in a hawaiian shirt, shares from the stage. This number has implications. “You — homebrewers — have ignited and inspired the world of craft brewing, in America and elsewhere.”

Grand Rapids, especially and Michigan, too. The homebrew culture feeds the craft brew culture in this city and in the state. “There’s a special spirit here,” says Charlie as he introduces the 2014 AHA Conference Keynote Address speakers, Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens, co-owners of Founders Brewing Company.

The pair shares their story, which is not only a story of a Grand Rapids renaissance in the craft beer world, but the story of small brewers all over the country, former homebrewers turned pro, or a story to provide inspiration for those who are looking to do so.

A short video is played, and familiar faces to MittenBrew readers pop up on the big screen. What is a home brewer?

‘Cheap.’

‘Opinionated.’

‘Intense.’

‘Likes to party.’

‘Someone who pushes the boundaries of the craft beer movement.’

Rockford Brewing, New Holland, Brewery Vivant — all these guys — started as homebrewers. And that’s what Mike accentuates and shares with a crowd of 4,000.

“The craft beer industry is built on nothing more than a bunch of homebrewers. We are real, authentic, and you can take that away or fake it.”

Founders beer is poured all around for attendees, as volunteers hold high pitchers of the commemorative AHA beer, a Rye Oak Aged IPA, and walk through the crowd. Mike and Dave talk about their personal journey, and what the homebrewing community means to the craft beer industry, right now and in the future.

Tips for going pro

Engbers sips on his beer. “You must be driven, committed. It will take over your life. You’ll make the leap, you’ll go all in. Be unconventional, a little reckless. You’ll make some beautiful mistakes.”

Feed your passion, make quality products, be unique and find your voice, what works for you, be true to yourself and your product will follow. And be professional, it will allow you to grow. “Understand the business side of this business,” adds Stevens.

Founders almost failed. Engbers and Stevens were college friends, and talked about opening a brewery someday as a dream, not a reality. The ‘what ifs’ were too much to bear, and they decided they had to go for it. Growth was slow, non existent, really. They made beers for the masses — wheats, ambers, simple and not always that good. Bills accumulated and compounded, until they reached a point where they owed half a million dollars in six days or they would have to shut their doors. Long story short — they found the money. And they learned.

They learned that they needed to brew for them, not for everyone else.

“So who are we?” Engbers asks the crowd. “We are passionate, genuine, we don’t compromise. We’re a bit unconventional — but whatever the fuck we’ve got going on, it works. Maybe a little bit badass — quietly badass, it’s very Midwestern. But — we are humble! Don’t tell anyone.” He smiles.

Founders. When they say ‘brewed for us’, they really mean it.

Growth happened. And happened. Moving into a new space in 2007, they started in that location with 14 employees, producing 6,127 barrels. Jump to 2014 and now they employ approximately 240 people and are making 180,000 barrels a year.

Founders wants you, the homebrewer, to continue to brew. Your experience, passion, unconventionality, and reckless experimentation are pushing the craft brew industry forward. “Brew great beer. Have fun.” Says Engbers. And Stevens. And Papazian.

What’s the takeaway after this weekend? Keep doing what you are doing. Or start doing it. Introduce someone to craft beer today. Sit down with them; find a beer they can learn to love. Share your passion. Make it their passion. Brew. Drink. Bond.
Cultivate what we’ve started, and keep it moving in the right direction, Michigan. It’s all up to you.