This past Saturday the 29th Annual Great American Beer Festival Awards Ceremony took place at the Colorado Convention Center. The Brewers Association awarded 275 medals to 242 different breweries across the country. Firestone Walker (Paso Robles, California), Sun King (Indianapolis, Indiana), Port City Brewing (Alexandria, Virginia) and Left Hand Brewing (Longmont, Colorado) were the top winners in the competition.
As a state, Oregon preformed relatively well in comparison to other states. Oregon brewers took home a total of 19 medals. Barley Browns, 10 Barrel, and Bend Brewing each won two medals, with the remaining breweries taking home single medals. Specifically of note was Laurelwood Brewing, their IIPA “Eazy Duz It” was awarded a silver medal. Imperial IPA had a total of 208 entries and was the second most competitive category in the festival next to American-Style India Pale Ale. From our neighboring states Washington brewers won 13 medal winners, while both Idaho and Alaska each had one medal winner.
2015 marks the largest GABF in history with 6,647 entries, brewed by 1,552 different breweries, and judged by a total of 242 judges. New style categories; Chili Pepper Beer, Session India Pale Ale, and Mixed Culture Brett Beer were all added to the competition this year. Session India Pale Ale had 161 entries, making ISA the 4th most competitive category and also the most popular new category in GABF history.
Very Small Brewing Company and Very Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Rip Current Brewery (San Marcos, Calif.)
Paul Sangster and Guy Shobe
Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Port City Brewing Co. (Alexandria, Va.)
Port City Brewing Co. Team
Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. (Paso Robles, Calif.)
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Team
Large Brewing Company and Large Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Pabst Brewing Co. (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year
Melvin Brewing (Jackson, Wyo.)
Kirk McHale and Jeremy Tofte
Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year
TAPS Fish House & Brewery (Corona, Calif.)
TAPS Fish House & Brewery Team
Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year
Titletown Brewing Co. (Green Bay, Wis.)
With the 29th edition of the Great American Beer Festival here’s a list of some interesting facts and statistics:
750 breweries in the festival hall
3,800 beers served at the festival
3,400 volunteers (festival and competition combined)
1,552 breweries in the competition from 50 states plus Washington, D.C.
242 medal-winning breweries
6,647 beers judged (not including 91 Pro-Am competition entries), a 20 percent increase over 2014
92 style categories judged, plus the Pro-Am competition
242 judges from 15 different countries
Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 72 (excludes Pro-Am beers)
Category with highest number of entries: American-Style India Pale Ale: 336
38 first-time entering breweries won awards
Save the date for the 2016 Great American Beer Festival will take place from October 6-8 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado. This will be a special year as the GABF will celebrate 30 years!
(Photos in this article were all taken by Brewpublic’s Nick Rivers and additional text was added by D.J. Paul)
One of Brewpublic's more recent contributors, Ryan Spencer is also a bartender at Bailey’s Taproom and The Upper Lip. He was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and aside from leaving to attend the University of Oregon has lived here ever since. Upon graduation Ryan has worked in various breweries holding several positions throughout the Portland area including Gigantic Brewing, Hopworks Urban Brewery and Deschutes PDX Pub. He is a Certified Cicerone and Certified BJCP judge, and recently passed the Advanced Cicerone Exam.