As many in the beer world know, the 2013 Great American Beer Festival just wrapped up in Denver, Colorado, this past weekend, marking its 27th year. As we wrote earlier, eight different Montana breweries were able to land a spot in the festival. The sold-out extravaganza included 49,000 attendees given access to over 3,100 beers. Most accounts reporting back during the festival said it was a grand time. Most “negative” comments centered around a couple high-profile breweries “tapping out” an hour into each session and bringing not much more than a standard line-up, and Saturday seemed to be much wilder in terms of drunkenness (i.e. dropped glasses and reports of hooligans running rampant).
But at the heart of GABF was the chance for brewers to show off their goods, and this year that happened in record numbers. 4,809 beers from 745 breweries were judged by 201 volunteers from 11 countries. 252 medals were awarded on Saturday for beers in 84 different categories, covering 138 different beer styles. The medals were for Gold, Silver, and Bronze, and here’s a breakdown for each one’s merits:
If judges believe that no beer in the category meets the quality and style-accuracy criteria, they may elect not to award a medal. Judges may award a beer with a silver or bronze medal and yet not award a gold medal.
· 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.
Some of the overall competition highlights include:
- 24 first-time entering breweries won awards.
- 230 of the 745 breweries in the competition were identified as first-time entrants.
- The two breweries that won the most gold medals were Left Hand Brewing Co. (Longmont, CO) and Firestone Walker Brewing Co. (Paso Robles, CA), each winning three gold medals.
- As a state, New Jersey was the most award-winning, per capita.
- Since 2001, the most-entered category in the competition has been the American-Style IPA, which had 252 entries this year.
- The average number of competition beers entered in each category was 51.
But What About Montana?
Montana breweries brought home a total of four medals, none gold. The 2013 winners were:
Silver: Wheatfish, Great Northern Brewing Co. (American-Style Wheat Beer with Yeast)
Silver: Power Wagon, Big Sky Brewing Co. (Other Strong Beer)
Bronze: Helio Hefeweizen, Red Lodge Ales Brewing Co. (American-Style Wheat Beer with Yeast)
Bronze: Resurrection Doppelbock, Red Lodge Ales Brewing Co. (German-Style Doppelbock or Eisbock)
This marks the second Bronze medal in a row for Red Lodge Ales’ Resurrection Doppelbock and its fifth GABF medal overall. Its first medal was won in 1999 for Red Lodge Reserve (German-Style Kolsch / Koln-Style Kolsch).
This was the first GABF medal for the Big Sky Brewing Company.
The Great Northern Brewing Co. won two previous medals: a Bronze for Black Star Black Lager in 1999 and Silver for Black Star Amber Export in 1998.
Did You Know?
- The most-winning Montana brewery at GABF, overall, is the Montana Brewing Co., having claimed 13 medals since 1998.
- There are four Montana breweries that have won medals at GABF but are no longer in production or in Montana: Kessler Brewing Co., Spanish Peaks Brewing Co., Sleeping Giant (now it’s Lewis and Clark), Wolf Pack Brewing Co.
- Montana’s Gold medal winning beers are: MBC Wheat Ale from Montana Brewing Co. (2012), Stillwater Rye from Montana Brewing Co. (2009), Whitetail Wheat from Montana Brewing Co. (2007), Custer’s Last Stout from Montana Brewing Co. (2004), Tumbleweed IPA from Sleeping Giant (2001), Sharptail Pale Ale from Montana Brewing Co. (1998), Black Widow Stout from Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co. (1998) and Kessler Grand Teton Dopplebock from Kessler Brewing Co. (1989).