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Virginia’s Devil’s Backbone wins again at GABF, MillerCoor’s AC Golden Brewing unit also a winner

gabf_medalsBy Alan J. Wax

Top honors at this year’s Great American Beer Festival went to AC Golden Brewing, Devils Backbone Brewing Co.-Outpost, Marble Brewery and Draught Works, each of which medaled in multiple categories.

Meanwhile, brewpubs receiving top honors were Beachwood BBQ & Brewing Beach, Brasserie Saint James and Bastone Brewery.

The winners, announced at the festival in Denver on Oct. 4, emerged from a pool of 5,507 individual commercial beer entries and 89 Pro-Am entries. A total of 268 medals were awarded.

The awards, among the most coveted in the brewing industry, often are compared to winning the Super Bowl or medaling in the Olympics. Winning a medal often translates into higher sales for the winners, if not prestige.

This year, the awards recognized a new category of brewer with the “Very Small Brewing Company and Very Small Brewing Company Brewer Award going to Draught Works, of Missoula, Montana, and its brew team.  The brewery won gold with its Scepter Head in the American Strong Ale Category.

Marble Brewery, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and its brewing team received the awards for Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year.  It won gold in the Other Strong Beer Category with its Double White and gold in the Imperial Red Category with its Imperial Red.

The Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year awards went to Devil’s Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost, of Lexington, Virginia, www.dbbrewingcompany.com/theoutpost.aspx and its brewery team. The 15,000-square-foot Outpost is the newest addition to the Devils Backbone brewing group, which also received awards at the GABF in 2013 and 2012. Outpost took gold in the Germany-Style Schwartz Beer Category with its Schwartz Beer and silver in the Bock and American-style dark lager categories, respectively with its Turbo Cougar and Old Virginia Dark.

The award for Large Brewing Company and Large Brewing Company Brewer of the Year went to AC Golden, of Golden, Colorado, and the AC Golden Brewing Team, which took gold and silver in the American-style Amber Lager Category with its Colorado Native Amber and its Colorado Native Golden, respectively. AC Golden is the development brewing operation of MillerCoors.

Bastone Brewery, of Royal Oak, Michigan, and its brewer, Rockne Van Meter, won honors for Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year. The brewpub took a silver medal in the Wood and Barrel Aged Beer Category with its Private Stock  #472 and silver in the Belgian-style Strong Specialty Ale Category with its Thor’s Hammer.

Brasserie Saint James, of Reno, Nevada, and brewers Josh Watterson and Matt Watterson won for Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year and brewer. The brewpub took a gold for its Daily Wages brew in the French-Belgian style Saison category. Its specialty is Belgian-style beer.

The Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year award honors went to Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, Long Beach, California and brewers Julian Shrago and Ian McCall. The brewpub’s Mocha Machine took gold in the Coffee Beer Category and its Un Atout won gold in the French-Belgian style Saison Category.

Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, Long Beach, California and brewers Julian Shrago and Ian McCall. The brewpub’s Mocha Machine took gold in the Coffee Beer Category and its Un Atout won gold in the French-Belgian style Saison Category.

Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Scottish 80 Shilling, brewed by Bear Republic Brewing Co. of Healdsburg, California, won the gold in the ProAm competition, which pairs amateur brewers with professional brewers, who scale up the award-winning homebrew recipes. The winning team included Bear Republic brewmaster Richard Norgrove, and AHA member Michael Kelly. Silver went to Spencer Pale Ale, from Kokopelli Beer Co., of Westminster, Colorado, which paired its brew team AHA Member Daniel Christensen. Bronze was awarded to I Wanna Rauch!, Springfield Brewing Co., of Springfield, Missouri, brewed by brewmasters Ashton Lewis and Bruce Johnson, and AHA member Keith Wallis

Industry professionals—222 from 10 countries— judged the competition. They worked together in small groups and, without knowing the brand name, tasted beers in each of 145 specified style categories.

A list of the winners is available on festival’s web site.

Fifty-two first-time entering breweries won awards in the competition and four breweries tied for most medals won, with three medals each: 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend Oregon; Barley Brown’s Brew Pub, Baker, Oregon; Devils Backbone Brewing Co.–Outpost, Lexington, Va.; and Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, Colorado.

Since 2002, the most-entered category has been American-Style India Pale Ale (IPA), which saw 279 entries in 2014. This year’s gold medalist was Breakside IPA from the Breakside Brewery in Milwaukee, Oregon.

This year’s competition featured three new categories: Belgian-Style Fruit Beer, with 41 entries; Historical Beer, with 12 entries; and Kuyt Beer, which had no entries

Industry professionals—222 from 10 countries— judged the competition. They worked together in small groups and, without knowing the brand name, tasted beers in each of 145 specified style categories.

 

 

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GABF Report 2: Top brewery honors for Baker City, Devils Backbone, Firestone Walker and Sandlot

gabf_medalsTop honors at this year’s Great American Beer Festival went to a tiny Oregon brewer, Baker City Brewing Co., Virginia’s Devils Backbone Brewing Co., California’s Firestone Walker Brewing Co. and Denver’s Sandlot Brewing, each of which medaled in multiple categories.

The winners emerged from a record field of 745 breweries and brewpubs, which together submitted 4,809 beers to the competition.

Baker City logoThis year for the first time, the Brewers Association, which sponsors the competition, added a new award: Very Small Brewery, which went to Baker City and its brewers 
Marks Lanham and Eli Dickison. Baker City, in Baker City, Ore. (population 9,828 and close to Hell’s Canyon), is the production brewery for Barley Brown’s Beer, a nearby restaurant. Baker City won two gold medals for its American-style wheat beer, Shredder’s Wheat; its international style pale ale, Hand Truck. It also won silver for its foreign-style stout, Don Vanuchi “The Killer.”

devils-backbone-brewing-logoThe Small Brewing Company award went to Devil’s Backbone Brewing Co. Basecamp
, of Roseland, Va., along with head brewer Jason Oliver. The brewery, established in 2008, won two gold medals for its American-style dark lager, Old Virginia Dark and Azeal, it’s Belgian- and French style ale. It also took silver its American-style pilsner, Gold Leaf Lager and its German-style sour, Berliner Metro Weiss. A bronze medal went to its Baltic-style porter, Danzig.

firestone-walker-brewing-logoFirestone Walker Brewing Co., of Paso Robles, Calif., on California’s Central Coast, and its brewer, Matt Brynildson, won Mid-Size Brewing Company top honors. Firestone Walker Brewing is a pioneering regional craft brewery founded in 1996 and specializes in iconic pale ales and vintage barrel-aged beers. This year, the brewery took three gold medals, for its German-style pilsner, Pivo; English-style IPA, Taproom IPA, and its American-style black ale, Wookey Jack. It also won silver in the American-style IPA category with its Union Jack.

KegLabel_2013_EditableSandlot Brewing, the brewery at Denver’s Coors Field and the producer of Blue Moon beers and a host of others and is a unit of brewing giant MillerCoors won the Large Brewery of the Year award along with its brewers, Tom Hail, Bill Hasse and Addison Horine. This year’s medal haul included gold for Second Hand Smoke in the smoke beer category, bronze for Goat Rancher in the bock category and gold for Move Back in the Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest category. Move Back has medaled four times over the years.

The winners were announced in a packed ballroom in the festival’s home, the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, on Oct. 12. A  PDF list of the winners is available at the GABF web site.

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.

This year’s competition saw its biggest-ever panel of judges Two hundred and one beer experts from 11 countries evaluated 4,809 entries. Awards were presented in 84 beer categories covering 138 different beer styles (encompassing subcategories).

“GABF is easily the most rigorous commercial competition I have judged in to date,” English beer writer Des de Moor tweeted. “Those beers worked for their medals.”

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.

Since 2001, the most-entered GABF category has been American-Style India Pale Ale (IPA), which saw 252 entries in 2013. It was followed by Imperial India Pale Ale (149 entries); Herb and Spice Beer (134 entries); American-Style Pale Ale (124 entries) and American-Style Strong Pale Ale (120 entries).

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