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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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