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GABF Report 3: Brewpubs of the Year include Gella’s Diner, Beachwood BBQ, Pelican Pub and Rock Bottom

gabf13_logo_insideA 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 logoGella’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.) 

Beachwood logoLong 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) 

Pelican logoEstablished 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)

rock_bottomMeanwhile, 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.

A pdf list of the winners is available at the GABF website.  

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.

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Funkwerks, Troegs, Pabst top breweries at Great American Beer Festival


Top honors at this year’s Great American Beer Festival went to Funkwerks, Troegs Brewing Co. and Pabst Brewing Co., each of which medaled in multiple categories.

Meanwhile, brewpubs receiving top honors were Devils Backbone Brewing Co., Church Brew Works and Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co.

The winners were announced at the festival in Denver on Oct. 13.

The awards, among the most coveted in the brewing industry, have been compared to winning the Super Bowl or in 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. Five different three-hour judging sessions take place over three days during the festival. Judges are assigned beers to evaluate in their specific area of expertise and never judge their own product or any product in which they have a concern.

The judges’ ultimately aim to identify three beers that best represent each GABF-defined beer-style category. These beers receive gold, silver or bronze medals that are recognized around the world as symbols of brewing excellence

A pdf listing the 254 winners can be found at the web site of the Brewers Association, which puts on the GABF.

The Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year award went respectively to Devils Backbone Brewing Co., of Roseland, Va. and its brewery team. It was a gold medal winner in the German-Style Sour Ale category with its Berliner Metro Weiss. Devils Backbone won silver in the American-Style Dark Lager category with its Old Virginia Dark and silver in the Baltic-Style Porter category for its Danzig .The pub also took a bronze medal in the Irish-Style Dry Stout Category for its Ramsey’s Draft Stout and bronze in the foreign stout category with its Ramsey’s Export Stout.

Meanwhile, Church Brew Works of Pittsburgh, Pa, was honored as Large Brewpub and head brewer, Steve Sloan, was honored as Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year. Church also won its first gold medal since 2005, this time in the old ale/strong ale category with its Henry’s Hootch. It also won silver for its Pius Monk Dunkel in the European-Style Dunkel category and a bronze for its Pipe Organ Pale Ale in the international pale ale category. Its Celestial Gold won a bronze medal in the Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest category.

Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co, Madison, Wis., was singled out as Brewpub Group and head brewer Rob LoBreglio as brewpub group brewer of the year.  Its Uber Bock was a gold medal winner in the German-Style Doppelbock or Eisbock category.

Funkworks, a three-year-old brewery in Fort Collins, Colo., was named small brewery of the year. Its brewing team received honors as the best brewer at a small brewery. It also won gold for its Deceit beer in the in Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale category and its Saison won gold in the French- and Belgian-Style Saison category.

The Mid-Size Brewing Company award and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year honor went to Troegs Brewing Co. of Hershey, Pa. and brewer John Trogner. Troeg’s Dreamweaver, won gold in the south German style hefeweizen category and its Hopback Amber Ale was a gold medalist in the Hopback Amber Ale category.

Pabst Brewing, once synonymous with  Milwaukee and now headquartered in Los Angles and which has no breweries, was named large brewing company of the year. Honors also went to head brewer Gregory Deuhs. It’s best known for its Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, which won gold in the American Light/Premium Lager category. Pabst also took silver in the American-Style Specialty Lager or Cream Ale or Lager category with its Old Style. Pabst contract brews 30 brands, from defunct companies, at MillerCoors plants. Besides PBR, its brands include G. Heileman, Lone Star, Pearl, Piels, National, Olympia, Primo, Rainier, Schaefer, Schlitz and Stroh’s.  “Ironic that the winner of the “Large Brewery Company (of the year) award doesn’t have a brewery,” Tweeted Greg Koch, owner of Stone Brewing.

Only one metro New York area brewer medaled at the fest. Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. of Elmsford, won a gold in the American Style Sour Ale category with its Barrel Select. It took silver in the Belgian-Style Lambic or Sour Ale category with its, FO/BB and a bronze in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer with its Golden Delicious.




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