Posts

gabf20

272 medals awarded to 240 breweries in prestigious professional beer competition

Boulder, Colo. • October 16, 2020 — The Brewers Association (BA) awarded 272 medals* to 240 breweries across the country during the 2020 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) competition awards ceremony. The best beers in 91 beer categories covering 170 different beer styles (including all subcategories) were awarded gold, silver, and bronze medals during a virtual ceremony hosted on The Brewing Network.

Judges for the 34th edition of the celebrated competition evaluated 8,806 entries from 1,720 breweries from all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. Socially distanced judging took place in 35 sessions over 18 days with strict safety measures in place. The awards ceremony was held virtually on Friday evening, kicking off the two-day online programming portion of the Great American Beer Festival.

“This year’s GABF competition may have looked a little different, but the beers entered into the competition were as impressive and innovative as ever,” said Chris Swersey, competition manager, Great American Beer Festival. “This has arguably been one of the most challenging years breweries have ever faced, so we hope these awards serve as a symbol not only of brewing excellence but also the resiliency of the craft brewing community as a whole.”

View the 2020 winners or download a PDF list of the winners.

GABF COMPETITION STATISTICS

  • 34th edition of the GABF competition
  • 8,806 beers judged
  • 1,720 breweries in the competition from all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.
  • 115 judges from 21 states
  • Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 97
  • Category with the highest number of entries: Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale (377)
  • 272 total medals awarded
  • 240 medal-winning breweries
  • 337 first-time GABF entrants
  • 19 first-time GABF winners

 

MOST-ENTERED STYLE CATEGORIES

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

Category 58: Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale (377 entries) – Sponsored by The Cincinnati Insurance Companies 

GOLD: Spellbinder, Wren House Brewing Co., Phoenix, AZ

SILVER: Yojo, Moonraker Brewing Co., Auburn, CA

BRONZE: Wicked Pawesome, Metazoa Brewing Co. – Stringtown Production Facility, Indianapolis, IN

 

Category 57: American Style India Pale Ale (355 entries) – Sponsored by The Ardagh Group 

GOLD: IPA, Perry Street Brewing, Spokane, WA

SILVER: Updrift India Pale Ale, Pelican Brewing Co. – Tillamook, Tillamook, OR

BRONZE: Nothing Noble, Von Ebert Brewing – Pearl, Portland, OR

 

Category 39: German Style Pilsener (200 entries) – Sponsored by Micro Matic 

GOLD: Sprockets, Gravely Brewing Co., Louisville, KY

SILVER: Prost Pils, Prost Brewing Co., Denver, CO

BRONZE: Pils, Kansas City Bier Co., Kansas City, MO

 

Category 28: Wood & Barrel-Aged Strong Stout (199 entries) – Sponsored by BeerHole 

GOLD: A Night to End All Dawns, Kane Brewing Co., Ocean, NJ

SILVER: Ruckus, Melvin Brewing – Thai Me Up, Jackson, WY

BRONZE: Grasp of Oak, Moksa Brewing Co., Rocklin, CA

 

Category 60: Juicy or Hazy Imperial India Pale Ale (192 entries) – Sponsored by The Alison Group 

GOLD: The Hopsplainer, Burke-Gilman Brewing Co., Seattle, WA

SILVER: Not A Scientist, Cloudburst Brewing, Seattle, WA

BRONZE: Sugar on My Tongue, Highland Park Brewery, Los Angeles, CA

 

MOST MEDALED BREWERIES

The most medals won by individual breweries included:

Sun King Brewery – Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN – 4 medals 

GOLD – Afternoon Delight, Category 26 – Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer

BRONZE – Cherry Busey, Category 30 – Fruited Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer

BRONZE – Pachanga, Category 34 – Light Lager

BRONZE – Sunlight Cream Ale, Category 49 – Golden or Blonde Ale

 

Cannonball Creek Brewing Co., Golden, CO – 3 medals 

GOLD – Featherweight Pale Ale, Category 53 – American-Style Pale Ale

BRONZE – Vladimir Brutin, Category 18 – Experimental India Pale Ale

BRONZE – Let’s Talk About Mex, Category 37 – American-Style Cream Ale

 

Chuckanut Brewery – North Nut, Bellingham, WA – 3 medals 

GOLD – Chuckanut Maibock, Category 47 – Bock

SILVER – Chuckanut Chuck Lite, Category 34 – Light Lager

BRONZE – Chuckanut Rye, Category 12 – Rye Beer

 

Riip Beer Co., Huntington Beach, CA – 3 medals 

GOLD – Tangible Passion, Category 82 – Belgian-Style Specialty Ale

SILVER – The Riizzo, Category 10 – Coffee Stout or Porter

SILVER – Black the Riipper, Category 69 – American-Style Black Ale or American-Style Stout

 

23 individual breweries won 2 medals

213 individual breweries won 1 medal

 

BREWERY AND BREWPUB 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 2019 

Five Branches Brewing, Tarpon Springs, FL; Jerry Brown

 

Small Brewing Company of the Year – Sponsored by ABS Commercial 

1,000 – 14,999 barrels produced in 2019 

Big aLICe Brewing Co., Long Island City, NY; Big aLICe Production Team

 

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

15,000 – 6,000,000 barrels produced in 2019 

Lost Forty Brewing, Little Rock, AR; Lost Forty Brewing Team

 

BREWPUBS:

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

<750 barrels produced in 2019 

The Good Society, Seattle, WA; Phil Cammarano & Nick Berger

 

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

750 – 1,500 barrels produced in 2019 

Monkless Belgian Ales, Bend, OR; Todd Clement & Chris Dinsdale

 

Large Brewpub of the Year – Sponsored by Ska Fabricating 

Over 1,500 barrels produced in 2019 

The Freehouse, Minneapolis, MN; The Freehouse Team

 

LARGE BREWERIES AND MULTIPLE LOCATION BREWERIES:

Brewery Group of the Year – Sponsored by Live Oak Bank 

Over 6,000,000 barrels produced in 2019 or multi-location breweries wishing to compete as a group 

Three Creeks Brewing Co., Sisters, OR; Team Three Creeks

 

great american beer festival

America’s largest annual beer competition moves forward, festival will take place online

Boulder, Colo.  — The Great American Beer Festival® (GABF), the country’s preeminent beer festival and competition, will pivot its 2020 event, originally scheduled for September 24-26 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, to an immersive online experience October 16-17. This decision was further confirmed with the announcement on May 20, when Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued an Executive Order temporarily suspending certain statutes to allow the operation of alternate care sites in Colorado because of the presence of COVID-19, rendering GABF at the Colorado Convention Center infeasible.

“While we are disappointed to not be gathering in Denver this fall for the craft beer community’s annual big tent event, the health and safety of our attendees, brewers, volunteers, judges, and employees is and always has been our top priority,” said Bob Pease, president and CEO of the Brewers Association. “As the world is still greatly affected by the spread of COVID-19 and will continue to be affected for the foreseeable future, we must stay true to our priorities and pursue other ways to host GABF.”

The 39th Great American Beer Festival may look different, but beer lovers from around the country will have the opportunity to come together in new ways to celebrate the nation’s craft beer community. The spirit of the festival will live on through live and virtual experiences with beer lovers and breweries nationwide on October 16-17, 2020. The event is still in planning, but experiences will likely include beer tastings, conversations with brewers, local brewery activations, and at-home beer and food pairing deliveries.

The festival’s renowned professional beer competition will take place in 2020. A panel of more than 100 professional judges will assess the more than 7,000 expected entries to identify the three beers that best represent each style category. The GABF gold, silver, and bronze medals are recognized around the world as symbols of brewing excellence. Brewery registration opens on June 9. More information on the competition, style guidelines, and awards ceremony here.

“We are thankful to be able to move forward with this year’s competition and have the opportunity to award brewers’ achievements and generate consumer awareness for beer styles and trends,” added Pease. “We look forward to celebrating the annual accomplishments in brewing excellence and unveiling this year’s winners.”

Over the past few months, the Brewers Association has worked tirelessly on behalf of its members and the larger brewing community to provide critical resources, as well as lobbying Congress both independently and with other hospitality and food industry groups, for relief. Following the cancellation of the Craft Brewers Conference® & BrewExpo America® and World Beer Cup™ in April, the Brewers Association offered five weeks of complimentary virtual, online seminars to interested participants. Furthermore, the Brewers Association’s COVID-19 Resource Center includes information on draught system shutdown, how to forecast cashflow, a checklist for safely reopening, and more.

More information about the 2020 GABF logistics, schedule, and ticket options will be released in the coming months. For the latest news, follow @BrewersAssoc on Twitter.

 

About the Brewers Association

The Brewers Association (BA) is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The BA represents 5,400-plus U.S. breweries. The BA’s independent craft brewer seal is a widely adopted symbol that differentiates beers by small and independent craft brewers. The BA organizes events including the World Beer Cup®Great American Beer Festival®Craft Brewers Conference® & BrewExpo America®SAVOR™: An American Craft Beer & Food ExperienceHomebrew Con™National Homebrew Competition and American Craft Beer Week®. The BA publishes The New Brewer® magazine, and Brewers Publications® is the leading publisher of brewing literature in the U.S. 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® and the free Brew Guru® mobile app. Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

The Brewers Association is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital/familial status. The BA complies with provisions of Executive Order 11246 and the rules, regulations, and relevant orders of the Secretary of Labor.

 

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

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.

 

Michigan Guild

LANSING, Mich—Ten (10) brewery members of the Michigan Brewers Guild were awarded medals 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.

In all, 286 medals were presented in 96 unique beer categories covering 161 different beer styles (including all subcategories). Winners were chosen from 7,227 competition entries (nearly 9 percent more than the 6,647 entries in 2015 and surpassing all previous participation records) from 1,752 breweries hailing from 50 states, plus Washington, D.C.

The competition also saw its biggest-ever panel of judges, with 264 beer experts from 12 countries, including the U.S., and 170 competition volunteers.

Michigan Brewers Guild member received the following awards:

GOLD

  • Dirty Frank Stout — River’s Edge Brewing, Milford
    Category 89: Export Stout
  • Raucher – Wolverine State Brewing Co., Ann Arbor Category 34: Smoke Beer

SILVER

  • Expedition Stout – Bell’s Brewing Co., Galesburg
    Category 32: Aged Beer
  • reDANKulous – Backstage Series – Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids
    Category 63: American Imperial Red

BRONZE

  •  Angelina – Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids
    Category 30: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer
  • Kusterer Original Weissbier – Cedar Springs Brewing Co, Cedar Springs
    Category 75: German-Style Wheat Ale
  • Broadway Light – Detroit Brewing Company, Detroit
    Category 38: American Style Cream Ale
  • Bangin The Mash – Latitude 42 Brewing Co., Portage
    Category 88: Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout
  • Good Mooed Milk Stout – Railtown Brewing Co, Dutton
    Category 91: Sweet Stout or Cream Stout
  • Live Wire – Roak Brewing, Royal Oak
    Category 55: English IPA

 

The Great American Beer Festival invites industry professionals from around the world to sit together in small groups and, without knowing the brand name, taste beers in each specified style category. The ultimate goal of the judging panel is to identify the three beers that best represent each beer-style category as described and adopted by the GABF.

Five different three-hour judging sessions take place over the three-day period during the week of the festival, with judges assigned to evaluate beers in their specific area of expertise. Breweries are awarded points, which are tabulated to arrive at the top three place medals in each category. 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.

Now in its 35th year, the Great American Beer Festival is the granddaddy of all U.S. beer festivals, offering the largest collection of U.S. beer ever assembled. Sponsored by The Brewers Association, the festival features more than 3,800 different beers from 780 breweries throughout the country. More than 60,000 attendees and 3,600 volunteers gathered at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver for the 3-day event.

Michigan’s brewing industry continues to grow in the total volume of beer produced and sold, as well as in the number of breweries. Michigan currently ranks #5 in the nation in terms of the total number of breweries and the Guild proudly represents its highest number of members at 210 (and continually growing)—thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.” Michigan’s breweries are located in every area of the state, operating as community-focused small businesses that collectively employ more than 7,000 individuals and pay more than $144 million in wages. The overall impact of the craft beer industry in Michigan totals more than $608 million.

I recently moved to the great state of Wyoming and one of my biggest fears was missing Michigan craft beer. Not one Michigan brewery distributes in Wyoming, and my only saving grace was the state just eight miles south. When I found out I would be attending the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, though, what excited me most was being able to once again taste home.

 Arriving at the festival, I headed straight to the Founders Brewing Company booth, almost exactly opposite the media entrance. To my surprise, the line was already backed up to the booth across the aisle. Although the beer festival had just started, it was clear that Founders beer was in demand. Its a common name in the craft beer industry, but there are not many times us Westerners are able to get it.

 While my husband and I were there for Rubaeus and Backwoods Bastard, many festival goers were there for the limited release Imperial Red Ale, reDANKulous, gold medal award winner of its category it was gone before the last session was finished.

 The legendary, rare Founders KBS, named RateBeer.coms 2014 Best Beer in Americamade an appearance at the festival as well, if you knew where to go. While the Founders booth did not have it, the Michigan Brewers Guild did, along with several other Michigan favorites.

 Our second stop was right around the corner, Shorts Brewing Company, with a line as wide as their booth and then back a ways. People knew them, and it wasnt just other Michiganians such as myself.

 As I perched myself on the side of the booth to grab some photos, a man beside me was mingling with the Shorts representatives and discussing how great their beer was. One of my first thoughts was that he must be from Michigan, but to my surprise, he told me that he was from Denver. He just knew what Shorts was and was there to soak up each experimental beer in their line-up.

 I love beers that stimulate my palate in a different way, Andy Coyle said. Shorts beers, I think, create your palate it is evolving as you taste the different flavors.

 Experimental beers are Shorts expertise, bringing home a silver medal in the category this year for Melt My Brain, a gin and tonic inspired experimental Golden Ale. Other beers they featured in their lineup included Bloody Beer, which won a silver medal in Experimental Beer in 2009, and Key Lime Pie, which won a gold medal in Experimental Beer in 2010 and 2014.

 We kind of thrive in that area,Founder Joe Short said in a press release. Like many of our beers, they are developed from many different inspirations.

 Neither Shorts nor Founders are strangers to GABF, but many of the Michigan breweries made their first appearance at GABF in 2015.

 Its the coolest thing, Michael Biddick from Saugatuck Brewing Company said about attending the festival for the first time. People from everywhere are here to taste your beer. We get to try everyone elses beer, too. Its like youre traveling the U.S. in one big room.

 Mitten Brewing Companys Wob Wanhatalo admitted that he was somewhat new to the brewing industry in comparison to some of his colleagues but that his experience as a first timer was enlightening.

 Bookwriters, homebrewers, legends are all here and are trying our beers and giving us feedback, Wanhatalo said.

 While its nice having Colorado close by with some of the best breweries in the country, GABF proved that Michigan beer, while not distributed in the area, are still very much relevant in the craft brewing industry not that I have ever doubted that. This year, Michigan took home six medals total, but what spoke most to Michigan success in craft brewing was the popularity surrounding each booth and the longing for the beer many of these people may only get to have just once a year.

 To view the complete list of 2015 GABF winners, visit https://www.greatamericanbeerfestival.com/the-competition/winners/.