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gabf

Back in 1982, the craft beer revolution was becoming something exciting, marked by something new—a premier, national festival and competition. 24 breweries, 50 beers, and 800 attendees seemed like small potatoes, but it was grand on a different type of scale. It was the first Great American Beer Festival, after all.

Now it’s 2018. Over 800 breweries, 4,000 beers, and 60,000 attendees over three days of craft madness reflects a different kind of picture, if not the same revolution. If you’ve been drinking craft beer these past few years, you know what the market looks like—unlimited options of craft from all over America. Craft beer is a good thing, so there can’t be too much, right? Right.

GABF, annually organized and put on by the Brewers Association, marks the still-growing and ever-changing craft industry across the world. The all-encompassing nature of the experience is overwhelming (in a positive way), but here’s what we took away as enthusiastic representatives of Michigan and our own craft mitten lifestyle.

Navigating the Colorado Convention Center is like navigating a small city. Countless rows of breweries from A-Z are stacked end to end with large endcap booths marking the beginning and end of another section. In the heart of it all is a meet-the-brewer neighborhood with extra industry folk, extra beer, and hey, it’s extra crowded. Outlying spaces are filled by seminar space, local food trucks, stages for music, walls of merchandise, and casual seating.

Every step and every direction there is something to catch the eye, the interest, and the taste buds. One brewery brought its own break-dancers. One seminar highlighted a bug and beer pairing featuring traditional bug dishes from Mexico. Jameson, as in the whiskey distillers from Ireland, had the biggest festival setup—at a beer festival!

Michigan represented well. We saw pioneers like Bell’s Brewery, New Holland Brewing Co., and Short’s Brewing Co. boldly stake their claim on the floor with eye-catching endcap booths and, as always, delicious beer. Short’s setup screamed northern Michigan, with a booth decorated in waterskis and bright colors. New Holland brought aspects of their original Holland location with them and created a mini, brick-layed pub that created just the right ambiance to highlight their most popular brew, Dragon’s Milk.

Michigan also had some great newbies there, like Eastern Market Brewing Co. and Grand Armory Brewing Co. representing from Detroit and Grand Haven respectively. As first-timers, these breweries were excited to get fresh feedback on their beers and brands from national consumers.

How does all of this come together? How does it connect? Craft beer has always been about fun, but beneath that are attributes that have defined the industry since the beginning—aspects like quality, independence, local, community, collaboration, creativity, hard work, and innovation. This universal language of craft strives to bridge gaps everywhere. Local to global. Professional to amateur. Community to community. Brewer to retailer. Brewery to consumer. Craft to other craft.

Some new offerings at GABF this year definitely fell under the above characteristics and practices. New this year was both a Pro-Am Brewer Competition as well as a Collaboration Competition.

The Pro-Am united professional breweries with homebrewers to collaborate on recipes to compete for top, national honors. This exchange of skill sets, opinions, and experimentation reflects the creativity and transparency of the craft industry. Craft workers always strive for better quality, new ideas, and further education. Most professionals and commercial breweries now are marked by homebrewing pasts. It’s a cycle that keeps craft as dynamic as ever and challenges the industry to go down new pathways.

Also new this year was the Collaboration Competition, which connected multiple breweries in the creation of one great recipe to win national honors. In the spirit of community, this brings two brands, two missions, and two businesses into a new practice with each other. Open communication has always marked workers in craft beer—there is no information hoarding here. This competition just ups the ante on the creativity and collaboration that already defines the craft beer community.

GABF’s evolution reflects craft communities across the nation—how they grow, adapt, and change. What stays the same is the enthusiasm. Brewers create because they love the craft of beer. Consumers drink because they love the liquid and the experience. It all begins and ends with actual beer. Everything in between can change and evolve at anytime. This mystery and guessing and experimentation are how we all get our next steps.

This is how the craft industry boomed with New England IPAs this past year. The demand and craze was so big nationally that GABF added it as a beer style category for the first time ever; and as it turns out, it broke the record for the most submissions in a category. The style that originated on the east coast picked up traction nationally—uniting brewery communities, cultures, and practices. New things created from old. New spins on traditional styles. This was just this year’s example.

What comes next? Breweries always have their ears to their consumers and to fellow brewers elsewhere for inspiration. Whatever it is, it will surely taste great and will represent something bigger than just beer in a glass.

 

Photography © Brewers Association

great american beer festival

LANSING, Mich.—Seven Michigan Brewers Guild member breweries were awarded a collective nine medals this past weekend at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) Competition, in Denver, Colorado—the largest commercial beer competition in the world and a symbol of brewing excellence, presented by the Brewers Association.

The Brewers Association (BA) awarded 306 medals to 280 breweries across the United States with award-winning breweries receiving prestigious gold, silver and bronze medals in 102 beer categories covering 167 different beer styles (including all subcategories), establishing the best examples of each style in the country and earning a symbol of brewing excellence. Read more about the competition below.

Michigan Brewers Guild member received the following awards:

GOLD

  • West Coast Swing Amber – American Style Amber/Red Ale: The Mitten Brewing Co., Grand Rapids

SILVER

  • NZ Pilz (American Style Pilsener): Wolverine State Brewing Company, Ann Arbor
  • Kung Fu Smurf (Belgian Style Dubbel or Quadruple): Bastone Brewery, Royal Oak
  • Breakfast Stout (Coffee Stout or Porter): Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids
  • Roundhouse (Double Hoppy Red Ale): Bell’s Eccentric Café, Kalamazoo
  • My Brown Eyed Girl (English Style Brown Ale): Thornapple Brewing Co., Grand Rapids
  • Porter (Robust Porter): Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids

BRONZE

  • Cerveza Delray (International Style Pilsener): Brew Detroit, Detroit
  • Raucher (Smoke Beer): Wolverine State Brewing Company, Ann Arbor

The Great American Beer Festival is the granddaddy of all U.S. beer festivals, offering the largest collection of U.S. beer ever assembled. The judging panel awards gold, silver or bronze medals that are recognized around the world as symbols of brewing excellence. These awards are among the most coveted in the industry and heralded by the winning brewers in their national advertising. Medal distinctions are as follows:

  • GOLD: A world-class beer that accurately exemplifies the specified style, displaying the proper balance of taste, aroma and appearance.
  • SILVER: An excellent beer that may vary slightly from style parameters while maintaining close adherence to the style and displaying excellent taste, aroma and appearance.
  • BRONZE: A fine example of the style that may vary slightly from style parameters and/or have minor deviations in taste, aroma or appearance.

GABF Competition Statistics:

  • 32nd edition of the GABF competition
  • 8,496 entries plus 101 Pro-Am and 49 Collaboration entries
  • 2,404 breweries in the competition from 49 states plus Washington, D.C. (no Mississippi)
  • 293 judges from 13 countries
  • Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 83
  • Category with the highest number of entries: Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale (391 entries)
  • 280 medal-winning breweries (including Pro-Am and Collaboration)
  • 306 total medals awarded plus three (3) each for Pro-Am and Collaboration
  • 537 first-time GABF entrants
  • 31 first-time GABF winners

The Michigan Brewers Guild is the network of innovative and passionate brewers that serves as the recognized advocate for the Michigan craft beer industry. The mission of the Michigan Brewers Guild is to promote and protect the Michigan craft beer industry with an overarching goal to help craft beer acquire 20% of the market by 2025.

Michigan’s thriving brewing industry conservatively contributes more than $144 million in wages with a total economic contribution of more than $600 million. In terms of overall number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #6 in the nation – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.”

 

Photo © Brewers Association

great american beer festival

 DENVER, CO — The Brewers Association (BA) awarded 306 medals to 280 breweries across the United States at the 2018 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) competition. In a ceremony at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, award-winning breweries received prestigious gold, silver and bronze medals in 102 beer categories covering 167 different beer styles (including all subcategories), establishing the best examples of each style in the country and earning a symbol of brewing excellence.

 

View the 2018 winners or download a PDF list of the winners.

 

GABF COMPETITION STATISTICS

  • 32nd edition of the GABF competition
  • 8,496 entries plus 101 Pro-Am and 49 Collaboration entries
  • 2,404 breweries in the competition from 49 states plus Washington, D.C. (no Mississippi)
  • 293 judges from 13 countries
  • Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 83
  • Category with the highest number of entries: Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale (391 entries)
  • 280 medal-winning breweries (including Pro-Am and Collaboration)
  • 306 total medals awarded plus three (3) each for Pro-Am and Collaboration
  • 537 first-time GABF entrants
  • 31 first-time GABF winners

 

MOST-ENTERED STYLE CATEGORIES

In its GABF competition debut, the Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale style category was the most-entered with 391 entries. Since 2002, the most-entered category was American-Style India Pale Ale (IPA), which saw 311 entries in 2018.

The winners of the top five most-entered categories were:

 

Category 63: Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale (391 entries)

GOLD: Alarmist Brewing – Le Jus, Chicago, IL

SILVER: Kros Strain Brewing Co., Fairy Nectar London Double Dry Hopped – La Vista, NE

BRONZE: Eris Brewery and Cider House, Foiken Haze – Chicago, IL

 

Category 62: American-Style India Pale Ale (311 entries)

GOLD: Root Down Brewing Co. – Bine, Phoenixville, PA

SILVER: Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Portsmouth, Not an IPA (P.S. it’s an IPA) – Portsmouth, NH

BRONZE: Green Cheek Beer Co. – West Coast IPA is Dead! – Orange, CA

 

Category 29: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout (177 entries)

GOLD: Against the Grain Brewery, 70K Amburana – Louisville, KY

SILVER: Kane Brewing, A Night to End All Dawns – Ocean, NJ

BRONZE: FiftyFifty Brewing Co., Eclipse – Truckee, CA

 

Category 59: American-Style Pale Ale (170 entries)

GOLD: Ocean Beach Brewery – B.Right On Pale Ale – San Diego, CA

SILVER: Ventura Coast Brewing Co. – Neighborhood – Ventura, CA

BRONZE: Maplewood Brewing Co. – Charlatan – Chicago, IL

 

Category: 28 Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer (162 entries)

GOLD: Drake’s Brewing Co. – Santa’s Brass – San Leandro, CA

SILVER: The Wrecking Bar Brewpub, Willett Barrel-Aged Ye Old Sprinklerhead Barleywine – Atlanta, GA

BRONZE: Revolution Brewing, Straight Jacket – Chicago, IL

 

NEW COMPETITION CATEGORIES

 

In addition to Juicy or Hazy IPA, the following categories were also new to the competition this year:

Category 60: Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale (132 entries)

GOLD: Tin Roof Brewing Co., Voodoo – Baton Rouge, LA

SILVER: Kings Brewing Co., Sippin on Dank – Rancho Cucamonga, CA

BRONZE: Fiction Beer Co., Madame Psychosis – Denver, CO

 

Category 65: Juicy or Hazy Imperial or Double India Pale Ale (150 entries)

GOLD: Black Market Brewing Co., New England Style Double IPA – Temecula, CA

SILVER: Corridor Brewery & Provisions, DDH Double IPA – Chicago, IL

BRONZE: Alvarado Street Brewery, Contains No Juice – Salinas, CA

 

Category 35: American-Style Pilsener: (91 entries)

GOLD: The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Rocket 100 – Austin, TX

SILVER: Wolverine State Brewing Co., NZ Pils – Ann Arbor, MI

BRONZE: The Post Brewing Co., Howdy Beer – Lafayette, CO

 

Category 57: Australian-Style Pale Ale (46 entries)

GOLD: Butcherknife Brewing Co., Sunshine Express – Steamboat Springs, CO

SILVER: Worthy Brewing Co., Strata IPA – Bend, OR

BRONZE: Austin Beerworks, Flavor Country – Austin, TX

 

MOST MEDALED BREWERIES

  • Most medals won by a single brewery: 3

10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend, OR – 3 medals

  • GOLD – Baywindow, category 77: Berliner-Style Weisse
  • GOLD – Passionate Envy, category 4: Fruit Wheat Beer
  • SILVER – P2P, category 96: American-Style Stout

 

Alesong Brewing and Blending, Eugene, OR – 3 medals

  • SILVER – Terroir Pinot Noir, category 19: Experimental Beer
  • SILVER – Terroir Pinot Gris, category 25: Brett Beer
  • BRONZE – Touch of Brett Mandarina, category 25: Brett Beer

 

Lewis & Clark Brewing Co., Helena, MT – 3 medals

  • GOLD – Miner’s Gold, category 2 American-Style Wheat Beer with Yeast
  • SILVER – Pompey’s Pilsner, category 42 Bohemian-Style Pilsener
  • BRONZE – Prickly Pear, category 55 Classic English-Style Pale Ale

 

BREWERY AND BREWER OF THE YEAR AWARDS

(See criteria here)

 

PACKAGING BREWERIES

Very Small Brewing Company of the Year – Sponsored by Brewers Supply Group

<1,000 barrels produced in 2017

Brink Brewing Co. – Cincinnati, OH; Brewmaster: Kelly Montgomery

 

Small Brewing Company of the Year – Sponsored by ABS Commercial

1,000 – 14,999 barrels produced in 2017

Lewis & Clark Brewing Co. – Helena, MT; Brewmaster: Lewis & Clark Brewing and Packaging Crew

 

Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year – Sponsored by MicroStar Logistics

15,000 – 6,000,000 barrels produced in 2017

pFriem Family Brewers – Hood River, OR; Brewmaster: pFriem Family Brewers

 

BREWPUBS

Small Brewpub of the Year – Sponsored by Briess Malt & Ingredients

<750 barrels produced in 2017

Ocean Beach Brewery – San Diego, CA; Brewmaster: Jim Millea & Scott Watkins

 

Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year – Sponsored by Brewers Supply Group

750 – 1,500 barrels produced in 2017

Root Down Brewing Co. – Phoenixville, PA; Brewmaster: Root Down Brew Team

 

Large Brewpub of the Year – Sponsored by The Country Malt Group

Over 1,500 barrels produced in 2017

The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. – Austin, TX; Brewmaster: Amos Swifty Kim

 

LARGE BREWERIES OR MULTIPLE LOCATION BREWERIES

Brewery Group of the Year – Sponsored by Live Oak Bank

Over 6,000,000 barrels produced in 2017 or multi-location breweries wishing to compete as a group

FiftyFifty Brewing Co. – Truckee, CA; Brewmaster: FiftyFifty BrewCrew

 

PRO-AM COMPETITION

Sponsored by Briess Malt & Ingredients Co., The Country Malt Group 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 their award-winning homebrew recipes. The medal winners, including the winning professional brewers and American Homebrewers Association (AHA) member homebrewers are:

 

GOLD:             Little Harpeth Brewing Co. – Nashville, TN

Deer Crossing, Munich-Style Helles Lager

Brewmaster: Jesse Brown and Mike Onofray

Homebrewer: Chris Allen

 

SILVER:            Rock Bottom Brewery – Warrenville, IL

Gone for a Burton, English-Style Brown Ale

Brewmaster: Erik Pizer

Homebrewer: Jim Todd

 

BRONZE:         Cheluna Brewing Co. – Aurora, CO

La Bomba; Belgian-Style Pale Strong Ale

Brewmaster: Jennifer Perez

Homebrewer: Chris Cardillo

 

COLLABORATION COMPETITION

Medals were also awarded in the first-ever GABF Collaboration Competition, which recognizes the collaborative spirit of the professional craft brewing community.

 

GOLD:             New Belgium Brewing Co. – Ft. Collins, CO

TransAtlantique Kriek

Collaboration Brewery: Oud Beersel – Beersel, Belgium

 

SILVER:            Firestone Walker Barrelworks – Buellton, CA

Pixie Dusted

Collaboration Brewery: Firestone Walker Brewing Co. – Paso Robles, CA

 

BRONZE:         Quarter Celtic Brewpub – Albuquerque, NM

Mocha Hipster Bomb

Collaboration Brewery: Palmer Brewery and Cider House – Albuquerque, NM

 

GABF STATISTICS

  • 37th anniversary of the festival
  • Over 800 breweries in expanded festival hall
  • 4,000+ beers served at the festival
  • 62,000 attendees
  • 4,086 volunteers (festival and competition combined)
  • 584,000 square feet of festival hall

 

Photo © Brewers Association

rogue river brown

Six packs of the brew will be available for purchase as early as September 10

Rockford, Mich. – Rockford Brewing Company (RBC) will be releasing and distributing its award-winning English-style Brown Ale, Rogue River Brown, in 12-ounce six-pack cans this month. Rogue River Brown can be found on shelves as early as Monday, September 10 and will be distributed statewide.

“We chose to can and distribute this beer because it’s been a customer and staff favorite for a long time,” said Seth Rivard, co-owner of RBC. “We want to be able to show craft beer enthusiasts across the state why this beer was has won multiple awards.”

rogue river brown

Rogue River Brown has won two bronze awards from the Great American Beer Festival in Denver in 2015 and 2017. These awards are significant because the judges at the Great American Beer Festival include beer experts from all around the world who blind taste more than 8,000 entries.

Rogue River Brown is described as having caramel, dark chocolate and roasted malt flavors.

“It’s the perfect everyday companion,” said Aaron Trapp, sales manager at RBC. “It’s complex yet smooth—perfect for both new and seasoned craft beer drinkers.”

The 12-ounce can design was inspired by RBC’s passion for nature and outdoor activities. The can sports the pattern of a brown trout and the RBC logo, which is a fly popular among fly fishermen. Located on the White Pine Trail, Rockford Brewing Company incorporates elements of nature into the business from its brewpub design to the popular community events it hosts, including bicycle group rides down the White Pine Trail and tube/kayak events on the Rogue River.

Along with RBC’s award for Rogue River Brown, the brewery also won Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year and a silver medal for Sheehan’s Stout in the Classic Irish-style Dry Stout category in 2017.

great american beer fest

The popular refrain from the 1971 Gene Wilder classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory seemed the most appropriate way to describe my excitement when I found out I would be attending the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. As a lover of craft beer I was vaguely aware of the festival but never thought I would have the opportunity to attend. I’ve been to several West Michigan beer festivals but I was not prepared for the wonders that awaited me in scenic golden Colorado. Oh, and Golden, Colorado is the home of Coors… right? Get it? Golden ticket? Never mind…

The Great American Beer Festival was started in 1982 and had 24 breweries, 47 beers, and roughly 800 attendees in the Harvest House Hotel in Boulder, Colorado. Fast forward to 2017 where some 60,000 attendees, 3,900 beers, and 800 breweries were crammed into the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. Tickets sold out in just over four hours.

In an attempt to the make the trip as affordable as possible we packed up the MittenBrew-Subaru and made our way from the Midwest to the Rockies. We agreed to make the drive casual and did so by stopping at some cool places like 3 Floyds, The World’s Largest Truck Stop, several Kum & Go gas stations as well as a Pump and Pantry (no, I am not making those last two up). Once in western Illinois, the long straight highways were lovingly hugged on both sides by vast expanses of corn, grassland, and not much else.

We intentionally arrived two days early to hit some of the amazing breweries that call Colorado home. In no particular order we hit Avery, Oskar Blues, Crooked Stave, Bull and Bush, Left Hand, Wynkoop, Great Divide, Bootstrap, Mockery, Black Shirt, and Colorado’s own—Coors. At each location we were greeted warmly, treated well, and welcomed back. It’s a town very much in love with its beer, both macro and craft.

Returning to luxurious hotel accommodations after each day of exploring might have been nice, but we chose to camp with some great friends from Railtown Brewing and City Built Brewing. Warm, clear sunny days gave way to frosty cold nights (we’re talking 3 layers to sleep cold). I dreamt of having all 4 of Charlie Bucket’s grandparents on my air mattress to keep me warm. Ok, that may have been an overshare.

Thursday, the opening day of the festival, arrived and it was lovely outside—warm, sunny and just really pleasant. We attended the Michigan Brewer’s Guild gathering at 1-UP-LODO which was a lot of fun to watch. Brewers talking beer, the local sites, and playing vintage arcade games. I used to be a decent Galaga player, I am sad to report I am not any more. I was much better at KISS pinball. After some great laughs and beers we headed to the festival.

great american beer fest

The Colorado Convention center is monstrous and appears to be guarded by a frozen two-story tall blue bear. The general admission line was wrapped around the building and I never actually saw the end of the line, and this was almost 45 minutes before the gates opened. People were enjoying the sunny weather and the glorious anticipation of tasting some of the best beers in the world. It was very much like the 5 golden ticket holders meeting Willy Wonka at the gate when we arrived at the event door to get our media credentials—except that there were 2 of us.

I have attended large techie conventions before, but to see that many brewery booths was really overwhelming. Media attendees were granted early entry so I got to walk in and see the place before the onslaught. I casually strolled in trying to maintain my composure while planning my dark beer “must haves.” While perusing the giant map and list we began to hear bagpipes which meant the festival was about to open to the attendees. Reading that 60,000 people attend over the 3 days was a neat fact but it didn’t occur to me what that would look like. There must have been 2,000 people just standing inside the main door waiting to go through the gates. It was literally a river of beer shirts, beards, cargo shorts, weird hats, costumes, and smiles. The vibe was really positive. It was also clear that many people knew exactly where they were going right away, some even running to get that first pour of their favorite libation.

From that moment on it was elbow to elbow with people laughing, smiling, and celebrating the wonderful gift of beer. I was ecstatic to get some fantastic beers that I hadn’t tried before like Double Barrel Baptist from Epic, Barrel Aged Ten FIDY from Oskar Blues, Tweak from Avery, and to close out the festival I had a pour of Utopias from Samuel Adams. What an amazing journey of beer and community.

great american beer fest

These are my tips for first time attendees:

  • Cell phones are only good for taking pictures of your drunk buddies or co-workers. Don’t plan on making calls or getting texts in the convention center during the festival.
  • Know where the bathrooms are. It’s a long walk to anywhere on the convention floor and it takes 10 times longer trying to move through the crowds.
  • Pace yourself and stay hydrated #betterdrinkingculture
  • Smile and take it all in. The sooner you settle into the scene, the sooner you’ll realize you’re with friends.
  • Try something new. I am a dark beer lover and I had a sour or two—I let my hair down.
  • If you find yourself on a brewery tour and are invited to hold a hop pellet, might I recommend that you don’t eat said hop pellet. Trust me.

 

It was an amazing adventure and while I didn’t win control of the chocolate factory I did get to meet some great people. Dates for the 2018 Great American Beer Festival are September 20th – 22nd in 2018. I’ll be seeing you then Denver, and not as a green newbie this time!

Cheerz!

 

Photography: Steph Harding & Ray Ashley

Comstock Park, MI – Speciation Artisan Ales is a small production-only brewery focused on mixed cultured sour and wild ales. They aim to highlight the yeast and bacteria in their beer, noting how it can change from batch to batch, develop over time, or represent a unique place in time through its specific “terroir.” This plays into the evolution theme of the brewery, as they celebrate each beer that is created as unique and cannot be duplicated. Speciation’s two main brands Genetic Drift, a farmhouse saison, and Incipient, a sour golden ale, provide the base of these experiments in which consumers can compare how each batch provides a new experience.

Currently, Speciation is open once per month for direct bottle sales to their customers. Bottles can be reserved online the week before the release, but frequently sell out within a matter of minutes. However, there is hope for those who want to give them as try, as Speciation has announced plans to expand into a tasting room in the coming months. They have acquired additional space next to their current production facility which will serve as both barrel storage and a tasting room.  Speciation plans to be open weekly for limited hours out of their tasting room for both draught pours and bottle sales to go.

speciation

Great American Beer Festival

Most recently they made a big impression at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival. Speciation donned long lines and quickly ran out of beer at each session. They were also cited in several publications as a “must try brewery” and critics raved over their Tequila barrel aged Incipient with Agave, Blood Oranges, Limes, and Salt as well as their Rhubarb Vanilla Incipient.

 

great american beer festival

LANSING, Mich.—Seven members of the Michigan Brewers Guild brought home a total of nine medals at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) Competition, in Denver, Colorado—the largest commercial beer competition in the world, presented by the Brewers Association.  Michigan-based Rockford Brewing Company was recognized as the “Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year”

In all, 293 medals were presented in 98 unique beer categories covering 161 different beer styles (including all subcategories). 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.

great american beer festival

 

Michigan Brewers Guild members received the following awards:

GOLD

  • Barrel Aged Sweet Potato SouthNorte Rye, Odd Side Ales, Grand Haven
  • Shipfaced, Silver Harbor Brewing Co., Saint Joseph

SILVER

  • Aphrodisiac Chocolate Pomegranate Imperial Stout, Cranker’s Brewery, Big Rapids
  • Rye Hipster Brunch Stout, Odd Side Ales, Grand Haven
  • Sheehan’s Stout, Rockford Brewing Co., Rockford

BRONZE

  • Antwerp’s Placebo, Batch Brewing Co., Detroit
  • Rogue River Brown, Rockford Brewing Co., Rockford
  • Passionfruit Gose, Perrin Brewing Co., Comstock Park
  • Pilgrim’s Dole, New Holland Brewing Co., Holland

 

 

The Great American Beer Festival is the granddaddy of all U.S. beer festivals, offering the largest collection of U.S. beer ever assembled. The judging panel awards gold, silver or bronze medals that are recognized around the world as symbols of brewing excellence. These awards are among the most coveted in the industry and heralded by the winning brewers in their national advertising.

The Michigan Brewers Guild is the network of innovative and passionate brewers that serves as the recognized advocate for the Michigan craft beer industry. The mission of the Michigan Brewers Guild is to promote and protect the Michigan craft beer industry with an overarching goal to help craft beer acquire 20% of the market by 2025.

great american beer festival

Michigan’s thriving brewing industry conservatively contributes more than $144 million in wages with a total economic contribution of more than $600 million. In terms of overall number breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #6 in the nation – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.”

 

Rockford, Mich.—Rockford Brewing Company returns to Michigan from this year’s Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado, with national recognition.

The brewery won multiple awards including Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year, a silver medal in the Irish-Style Dry Stout category for their Sheehan’s Stout and a bronze medal in the English-Style Brown category for Rogue River Brown.

“My head is still spinning. I’m very proud of the talent that we have at Rockford Brewing Company,” said Seth Rivard, co-owner of Rockford Brewing Company. “We have a passionate staff who never cease to amaze me.”

GABF Rockford Brewing

Seth Rivard & Jeff Sheehan

Rockford Brewing Company competed at the festival with 2,217 United States breweries. Their winning brews were selected by an international panel of 276 judges who blind tasted 7,923 entries.

“Each year the Great American Beer Festival showcases the best that American brewers have to offer,” said Chris Swersey, competition manager, Great American Beer Festival. “With a record 8,000+ entries, this year’s competition was the most competitive to date. Congratulations to all the winners who truly demonstrated why the U.S. is the world’s best and most diverse brewing nation.”

This year’s wins have energized Rivard and Rockford Brewing Company co-owner Jeff Sheehan to continue striving for excellence.

“I am extremely motivated for us to step up our game,” Sheehan said. “We want to stick to our values but continuously improve. We owe this success to everyone who has supported us—the West Michigan community and beyond.”

The brewery has been acknowledged by the Great American Beer Festival once before in 2015, when Rogue River Brown won its first bronze in the English-Style Brown category.

The owners hope the national recognition will encourage beer tourists inclined to visit West Michigan’s larger breweries to check out the greatness in the smaller ones, too.

“Grand Rapids is a country-wide destination for craft beer,” Sheehan said. “People come to the city and want to stop at the bigger breweries but these awards will hopefully prove that though we are a small brewery, we belong on that ‘must visit’ list.”

Rockford Brewing Company plans to celebrate their achievements with an event celebrating the fans and staff of Rockford. More information is to come.