A brewpub in central Kansas named for a local immigrant group, a Southern California brewpub that specializes in BBQ, a brewpub in a coastal Oregon resort town and a national chain with 38 brewpubs from coast to coast, share a common theme: they’re all winners of 2013 Great American Beer Festival brew pub of the year honors.
The brewpubs were recognized for their brewing achievements at the GABF awards ceremony on Oct. 12 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.
Gella’s Diner and LB Brewing Co., of Hays, Kan. (population 20,510), which draws its first name from a 19th Century immigrant Volga-German term meaning “you know” or “don’t you agree,” won the Small Brewpub of the Year award. The second part of the brewpub’s name stands for liquid bread and pays homage to pioneer days where beer and bread sometimes played interchangeable roles. Established by Kansas rancher-turned-brewer, Gerald Wyman, and Chuck Comeau, a rural entrepreneur, Gella’s won its first GABF medal only months after it opened in the summer of 2005. This year, Wyman’s beers garnered the top honor after winning a gold medal for its American Hefeweizen and silver for its American Wheat beer. (Gella’s Diner and LB Brewing Co., 117 E. 11th St., Hays, Kan. (785) 621-2739.)
Long Beach, Calif.’s Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, where BBQ is slow-smoked and dry-rubbed and 24 brews are on tap on a rotating basis, nabbed the Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year award with honors going to its brewers Julian Shrago and Ian McCall. Beachwood, founded in 2010,
snared two gold medals, one silver and two bronzes in this year’s GABF competition. Gold medals went to Beachwood’s Foam Top in the Golden Ale category and Kilgore Stout in the American Stout category. The brewpub’s Udder Love took silver in the Sweet Stout or Cream Stout category. And, it won bronze medals for its System of a Stout in the Coffee Beer category and for its Barrel-Aged Full Malted Jacket in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer category. (Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, 210 E. 3rd St., Long Beach, (562) 436-4020)
Established by Jeff Schons and Mary Jones in 1995 in Pacific City, Ore. (population 1,027), on the central Oregon Coast, the oceanfront Pelican Pub and Brewery is a repeat winner for Brewery of the Year honors, having won three previous times. This year, the brewpub, a repeat Brewpub of the Year winner, took honors as Large Brewpub of the Year with honors also going to brewers Darron Welch and Steve Panos. The brewpub snared a silver medal and three bronze medals. The silver went to the brewpub’s Silverspot IPA in the English-style India Pale Ale category. Bronze medals went to the brewpub’s Kiwanda Cream Ale in the Golden or Blonde Ale category, its Doryman Dark Ale in the American-style Brown Ale category and its Tsunami Stout in the Foreign-Style Stout category. (Pelican Pub & Brewery, 33180 Cape Kiwanda Dr., Pacific City, Ore. (503) 965-7007)
Meanwhile, the Brewpub Group of the Year award went to the Rock Bottom group, a unit of CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries Inc. based in Broomfield, Colo. The first Rock Bottom opened in Denver in 1991. Today, there are 38 locations across the United States. In 2010, Rock Bottom Restaurants and Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group were acquired by Centerbridge Capital Partners to form CraftWorks. Rock Bottom brewpubs snared a gold, silver and two bronze medals. Moonlight Porter took a gold medal in the Robust Porter category; The Hammer nabbed silver in Baltic-style Porter category and bronzes went to Rag Top Red in the Irish-style Red Ale category and Longboard Brown in the English-style Brown Ale category.
The winning beers emerged from a record field of 4,809 beers entered in the competition. Go here for a list of all GABF winners,
The GABF, which claims to be the largest commercial beer competition in the world, awarded 252 medals to some of the best commercial breweries in the United States. This year, 24 first-time entrants won awards from among 230 first-time entrants.
The awards, among the most coveted in the brewing industry, have been compared to winning the Super Bowl or the Olympics and winning a medal often translates into higher sales for the winners.
The GABF awards are judged by industry professionals from around the world ho work together in small groups and, without knowing the brand name, taste beers in each specified style category.