Brewers Association Announces 2016 Great American Beer Festival Winners

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CORRECTION: Great Beers Awarded Great Honors at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival

An amendment was made to the 2016 Great American Beer Festival Brewery of the Year results.

GABF originally announced Karl Strauss Brewing Co. – San Diego as the Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year and Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon as the Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year.

There is an update to those results:

  • Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year — Boxing Bear Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM. (Justin Hamilton and Dylan Davis)
  • Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year — Karl Strauss Brewing Co. – San Diego, San Diego, CA (Team Karl)

The Brewers Association issued the following statement regarding the change:

“During competition registration, Karl Strauss Brewing Co.’s San Diego location was identified as a Mid-Size Brewpub. After the award ceremony, GABF competition staff realized that this was inaccurate: this location is, in fact, a Mid-Size Brewing Company. Karl Strauss, while it operates brewpubs, is classified as a production facility by GABF competition guidelines.

After reassigning Karl Strauss to the Mid-Size Brewing Company category, and recalculating the Brewery of the Year results, it resulted that Karl Strauss was the winner of the Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year category. In addition, Boxing Bear Brewing Co. is the resulting winner of the Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year category.

All of us with the Great American Beer Festival and the Brewers Association deeply regret this error. Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon, which had originally been identified as the Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year, had a very strong performance in the competition, winning a gold medal in the German-Style Wheat Ale category, a silver medal in Other Strong Beer, and a bronze medal in Fresh or Wet Hop Ale. They were among the top medal-winning breweries in the 2016 competition.

Congratulations to all of the winners in the most-entered Great American Beer Festival competition ever.”

An amended release is below.

GREAT BEERS AWARDED GREAT HONORS AT THE 2016 GREAT AMERICAN BEER FESTIVAL®

286 Medals Awarded to 254 Brewers

Boulder, CO — In its 30th year, the 2016 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) competition awarded 286 medals to some of the best commercial breweries in the United States, plus three GABF Pro-Am medals to teams of amateur homebrewers paired with professionals. Presented by the Brewers Association, GABF is the largest commercial beer competition in the world and a symbol of brewing excellence.

View the 2016 winners or download a PDF list of the winners.

Overview: Great American Beer Festival Competition

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In a ceremony at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, prestigious gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to winning breweries in 96 beer categories covering 161 different beer styles (including all subcategories), establishing the best examples of each style in the country. Neither a gold nor a silver medal were awarded in the Pumpkin/Squash Beer category.

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. The panel also evaluated 88 Pro-Am entries, which were judged in three rounds over four days.

2016 Brewery and Brewer of the Year Awards

Very Small Brewing Company and Very Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year (Sponsored by Brewers Supply Group)

Brown Truck Brewery, High Point, N.C. (Team Brown Truck)

Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year (Sponsored by O-I)

Überbrew, Billings, Mont. (Über Cru)

Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year (Sponsored by MicroStar Logistics)

Karl Strauss Brewing Co. – San Diego, San Diego, CA (Team Karl)

Large Brewing Company and Large Brewing Company Brewer of the Year (Sponsored by Beer Institute)

Pabst Brewing Co., Los Angeles, Calif. (Gregory Deuhs)

Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year (Sponsored by Briess Malt & Ingredients Co.)

ZwanzigZ Brewing, Columbus, Ind. (Mike Rybinski and Trent Fleener)

Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year (Sponsored by Brewers Supply Group BSG)

Boxing Bear Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM (Justin Hamilton and Dylan Davis)

Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year (Sponsored by Country Malt Group)

The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Austin, Texas (Amos Swifty Kim)

Overall Competition Highlights

Most medals won:

  • Four (4) medals were won by Überbrew, Billings, Mont. (2 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze)
  • Three (3) medals were won by each of the following breweries:
  • Karl Strauss Brewing Co. – San Diego, San Diego, Calif. (2 golds, 1 bronze)
  • Brown Truck Brewery, High Point, N.C. (1 gold, 2 silver)
  • Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon, North Olmsted, Ohio (1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze)

Top three states by ratio of medals to entries by state:

  • Wyoming (.111) with 45 entries and 5 medals
  • Hawaii (.107) with 28 entries and 3 medals
  • Virginia (.07) with 200 entries and 14 medals

First-time GABF competition entrants (self-identified during the registration process) numbered 464. Of those first-time entering breweries, 41 won medals.

Style Categories

Since 2002, the most-entered category has been American-Style India Pale Ale (IPA), which saw 312 entries in 2016 compared to 336 entries in 2015.The top five entered categories were:

  • American-Style India Pale Ale (312 entries)
  • Imperial India Pale Ale (211 entries)
  • American-Style Strong Pale Ale (169 entries)
  • Coffee Beer (168 entries)
  • Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer (159 entries)

In 2015, the top-five entered style categories included Session India Pale Ale and American-Style Pale Ale, which did not make the top five this year. New in the top five in 2016 compared to last year are American-Style Strong Pale Ale and Coffee Beer.

The average number of competition beers entered in each category was 75—up from 72 in 2015— making the 2016 Great American Beer Festival competition the most competitive ever.

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

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American-Style India Pale Ale (312 entries)

  • Gold: Bodhizafa IPA, Georgetown Brewing Co., Seattle, Wash.
  • Silver: Super Cali IPA, Riip Beer Co., Huntington Beach, Calif.
  • Bronze: Breaking Bud, Knee Deep Brewing Co., Auburn, Calif.

Imperial India Pale Ale (211 entries)

  • Gold: Humulus Insani, Überbrew, Billings, Mont.
  • Silver: Nobility, Noble Ale Works, Anaheim, Calif.
  • Bronze: Hop JuJu Imperial IPA, Fat Head’s Brewery, Middleburg Heights, Ohio

American-Style Strong Pale Ale (169 entries)

  • Gold: Good Green, Highland Park Brewery, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Silver: Rippin, Sunriver Brewing, Sunriver, Ore.
  • Bronze: HFS, Alpine Beer Co., San Diego, Calif.

Coffee Beer (168 entries)

  • Gold: Gusto Crema, Georgetown Brewing Co., Seattle Wash.
  • Silver: Dusk ‘til Dawn – SC, Pizza Port San Clemente, San Clemente, Calif.
  • Bronze: Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout, New English Brewing Co., San Diego, Calif.

Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer (159 entries)

  • Gold: Silent Warrior, TAPS Fish House and Brewery – Corona, Corona, Calif.
  • Silver: Mélange À Trois, Nebraska Brewing Co. – Papillion, Papillion, Neb.
  • Bronze: 15th Anniversary Ale, Island Brewing Co., Carpinteria, Calif.

This year’s GABF competition saw seven new style categories:

  • Pumpkin /Squash Beer (category 6)
  • Four new historical beer categories were added: Finnish Sahti, Swedish Gotlandsricke, and Pale and Dark Breslau Schoeps (categories 21e, 21f, 21g, 21h)
  • German Leichtbier (category 36c)
  • Specialty Saison (category 79)

2016 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 amateur brewers 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 Rye’te, Panther Island Brewing Co., Fort Worth, Texas (Panther Island Brewing and AHA member Clifton Ellis)
  • Silver: Vernal Equinox, Starr Hill Brewery, Crozet, Va. (Starr Hill Brewing Team and AHA member Gary Layton)
  • Bronze: The Kolsch Experiment, Altitude Chophouse and Brewery, Laramie, Wyo. (Jesse Brown and AHA member Shawn Miller)

Summary: 2016 Great American Beer Festival Statistics

  • 35th anniversary of the festival; 30th edition of the GABF competition
  • 780 breweries in the festival hall
  • 3,800+ beers served at the festival
  • 60,000 attendees
  • 3,600 volunteers (festival and competition combined)
  • 1,752 breweries in the competition from 50 states plus Washington, D.C.
  • 254 medal-winning breweries
  • 286 total medals awarded
  • 7,227 beers judged (not including 88 Pro-Am competition entries), a nearly 9 percent increase over 2015
  • 96 style categories judged, plus the Pro-Am competition
  • 264 judges from 12 different countries
  • Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 75 (excludes Pro-Am beers)
  • Category with highest number of entries: American-Style India Pale Ale: 312

2016 Great American Beer Festival Official Sponsors

  • Carhartt
  • DRAFT Magazine
  • MicroStar Logistics
  • Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews
  • CraftBeer.com
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