On Saturday, September 26, the winners of the 34th Great American Beer Festival were announced. A record 6,647 beers were judged in 92 categories by 242 judges, of which I was again privileged to be one. Here are some more factoids on the results and about this year’s festival:
- Category with the most entries: American-style IPA: 336 entries
- Top 5 Categories: IPA (336 entries); Imperial IPA (208); Wood- & Barrel-Aged Strong Beer (179); Session IPA (161); and American Pale Ale (160)
- Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 72
- 1,552 breweries in the competition from all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C.
- 38 first-time breweries won medals
- 4 breweries tied for most medals won, with three apiece; Firestone Walker Brewing, Sun King Brewing, Port City Brewing, and Left Hand Brewing.
- 750 breweries in the festival hall
- Over 3,800 beers served at the festival
- 60,000 attendees
- New Categories This Year: Chili Pepper Beer, Session IPA and Mixed Culture Brett Beer.
Medals Won by State:
- California = 67 (46 last year)
- Colorado = 36 (39 last year)
- Oregon = 19 (22 last year)
- Texas = 15 (16 last year)
- Washington = 13 (9 last year)
California won a whopping 67 medals this year, 21 more than last year, and 31 more than the nearest state. Of those medals, 3 were from San Francisco breweries, 16 from the Bay Area, and 26 in Northern California. A few of our newer breweries won medals this year, including St, Florian’s in Windsor, The Rare Barrel in Berkeley (who won two), Fort Point Brewing in San Francisco, New Bohemia in Santa Cruz, Headlands Brewing in Mill Valley, and Morgan Territory Brewing (the former Schooner’s, now renamed as a new production brewery).
Of the seven major awards — three brewpub and brewer of the year and four brewery and brewer of the year, divided by size — four of them were won by California breweries: TAPS Fish House & Brewery in Corona won Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year, Rip Current Brewery of San Marcos won Very Small Brewing Company of the Year, Firestone Walker Brewing Co. of Paso Robles won Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year and Pabst Brewing Co., headquartered in Los Angeles, won Large Brewing Company of the Year.
Category 18: Experimental Beer, 85 Entries
Gold: Mystery Airship Imperial Chocolate Porter, New Helvetia Brewing Co., Sacramento, CA
Silver: Melt My Brain, Short’s Brewing Co., Elk Rapids, MI
Bronze: Ramjet, Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales, Denver, CO