GABF 2021 Medal RoundUp

Friday saw this year’s Great American Beer Festival medals awarded. I have dug through all of the categories to present fun facts and kudos to breweries in California and in the other 49 states…

Let’s start this longer than my usual post off with the overall brewery winners in the order they were announced…

Short Fuse from Illinois, Cloudburst from Washington State, Sudwerk from California, Moontown Brewing in Indiana, Radiant Beer Co. from Anaheim, Metazoa Brewing from Indiana, Allagash from Maine and lastly Main and Sixth from Florida.

Now on to L.A. and adjacent medal winners. Highland Park Brewery won Silver for Fill Pils in the Kellerbier / Zwickelbier category. Figueroa Mountain had their name called four times for their Danish Red, Schwarz is the New Black, Meat Sweats and Davy Brown. Both Claremont Craft Ales and Arts District nabbed Bronze, the former in the Strong Red category and the latter in Special Berliner-Style.

The big winner was All Season Brewing who also secured Bronze through five rounds of judging in the second most entered category of American IPA. Third out of 404 entries is quite a feat.

Next up are my favorite beer names. Work Life Balance is great but the winner was Chris Barley in a Small Coat.

Other fun facts:

2,200 breweries participated so roughly a quarter of breweries overall.

Hazy IPA and American IPA both had over 400 entries but third was Fruited American Sour Ale and German Wheat Ale was fifth. Kolsch had 189 entries.

California swept the English / New Zealand category and had 60 medals overall.

Fresh Hop Ales were not judged because many are still in tanks. Those awards will be done next month.

The only category that didn’t award a prize was Scotch Ale, where no Gold was awarded.

GABF will return in 2022 from October 6-8.

Another GABF Schedule Change

No Great American Beer Festival for the second year in a row. The return has now been marked for Fall 2022. This year will be a combination of the brewery passport that they used for last year along with the Craft Brewer Conference and Denver Beer Week aligning in September. The awards will go on too and will be broadcast just like last year as well.

Obviously this was the safest option. They may well have been able to hold the event considering the vaccine rollout is over 17% now but any setback between now and September would have led to concerns. Not to mention that any festival this year would probably have to temperature check everyone or check their vaccination cards. Not to mention – Part 2, that they would probably have to reduce the amount of attendees drastically.

GABF Medal Winning Brewery # 1 – Twin Sisters Brewing Company

When I saw that a strawberry zwickebier had won Gold at this year’s GABF, I knew I would have to look into it. It came from Bellingham, Washington and the Twin Sisters Brewing Company.

Let’s see what else I would order next time I am in Northern Washington State.

Pilsner from Now On – “A brilliant gold Pilsner made in the classic Czech style. Spicy and fruity noble hop aromas. Smooth body and a crisp finish.”

Chap ESB – “Our Brew Boys’ take on a traditional ESB (Extra Special Bitter). With light hoppiness, aromas of marmalade, and soft caramel flavors reminiscent of pie crust and toast, this English pub-beer is the perfect ale for quaffing on a rainy day.”

Shift Bier Dortmunder – “Brewed in the traditional style, this pale lager is recognized for its firm bitterness, soft malt character, and unique minerality stemming from the hard water characteristic of the region. It’s slightly more malt-forward and higher in alcohol than its non-export counterparts but retains all the drinkability of a lower gravity lager. Dortmunder Export Lagers were historically a beer brewed for 19th-century German industrial workers, who would quaff it after long shifts at work.”

Bellingham Green IPA – “ A classic American IPA with firm bitterness, notes of citrus, pine, and resin. Crisp, clean finish.”

GABF Awards 2020 (no fist bump edition)

Brewnited at home, this year the Great American Beer Festival went virtual. But the awards carried on with 1700 competing breweries Here are my thoughts on the medals given….

First though, I have to say that busting through those categories so fast was dizzying. I admit that I liked the goofy intro and the videos sprinkled in between.

From the Los Angeles perspective, Beachwood remains king of this castle. Barrel-Aged Full Malted Jacket goes bronze, then Funk Yeah gold in the American Lambic category. But there are challengers. Claremont Craft Ales went yard twice once in the (new?) Experimental IPA category with Pepper & Peaches and then for Happy Days.

El Segundo got gold for Hammerland DIPA and then picked up bronze in the Strong Red category for Devil’s Path. They are strong in the strong categories.

Here are other winners from LA:

Ogopogo-Silver for Boeman Witbier

Three Weavers– Gold for Deep Roots ESB

Highland Park-Bronze for Sugar on My Tongue hazy

Firestone Walker Propagator-Gold for Wookey Jack

GABF Awards 2019

The votes have been tallied for 2019 and you can click HERE to see the winners from the Great American Beer Festival. Let’s rundown the Los Angeles medal view….

First though, let’s say upfront that only 2,295 breweries entered. California has 1,000+ breweries so this competition, though by far the biggest really only covers a percentage of beer in the US. Think of it as a snapshot in time.

Also, there are some weird categories. IPL is mixed with malt liquor. And some categories are only filled by 30 beers in total. And what makes a beer fit the “Emerging IPA” category?

On to LA, Claremont ring up gold for Station 101. Ambitious Ales bronze for their Friends-ian Central Perk coffee beer. King’s Brewing out in Rancho Cucamonga bagged two medals. Perennial favorites Beachwood and Firestone Walker each won but not as much as years past. Arrow Lodge and Ogopogo represented for Jungalo Juice and Boeman Witbier. Bluebird Brasserie won bronze for their excellent Stay Golden Belgian Ale. Gamecraft of Laguna Beach gave me another reason to finally visit with a medal in the coffee stout category.

What really made my day was Highland Park winning gold for Timbo Pils. Such a great beer. Also Evan and Brian at Green Cheek had a day with Gold for their Australian for Pale Ale and then a silver for Radiant Beauty in the ultra-competitive American IPA category. Well deserved.

What exemplifies the GABF awards are the apply moments and I leave for you with the one where Breakside Brewing of Portland was on stage, getting the glamour shot with Charlie Papazian when their name was announced as gold medal winner for another category. Brewer Ben Edmonds could not contain himself. He jumped up, bent over and was “in” the moment. That is what this whole revolution is about.

GABF Medal Winning Brewery # 3 – Wolverine State Brewing

I have saved the double winner for last. Ann Arbor’s Wolverine State Brewing picked up both Silver and Bronze this year.

SILVER – NZ Pils in the American-style Pilsener category
BRONZE – Raucher in the Smoke Beer category

In addition to those winners, I would add the following to my taster tray….

Wheelbarrow Weekend – “a refreshing Munich Helles made with oats & fresh-squeezed lemon juice.”

Tundra King – “This new addition to our IPL lineup is in contrast to many of our other IPLs and hop-forward lagers because it’s even more injected with hoppy and bitter goodness!”

Gulo Gulo – “India Pale Lager (I.P.L.) is hopped with Cascade, Chinook, Columbus, Warrior and Pilgrim hops. It is dry-hopped once in the fermenter and then a second time with whole-cone Cascade hops before packaging.”

Barista – “We brew this beer in collaboration with Roos Roast of Ann Arbor. Karl the Brewer used to be a coffee roaster before joining the brewing world and so we put him in charge of the coffee side.”

GABF Medal Winning Brewery # 2 – Smylie Brothers Brewing

Our second Medal Winning stop is bemusing, Smylie Brothers Brewing Co. in from the city of Evanston. SBBC won silver in the Fruit Wheat Beer category for Purple Line, a wheat ale brewed with hibiscus, blueberry and blackberry. This beer is no stranger to hardware as it also won GABF medals in 2015 and 2017 too.

So with that lineage, here is what I would sample in my “imagined” taster flight…

Helles Lager – “A Bavarian style pale lager. Crisp and clean, showcasing Pilsner malt. Lightly hopped with German noble hops.”

Gin Barrel Farmhouse Saison – “Our Farmhouse ale aged in Chicago Distilling Co.’s Finn’s Gin barrels.”

Simcoe Pale Ale – “An American Pale Ale hopped exclusively with Simcoe hops. Light and crisp malt body with pungent notes of pine, grapefruit and citrus.”

Grisette – “Light in body and low in alcohol, this saison is brewed with spelt, an heirloom variety of wheat. Floral aroma with notes of lemon and citrus. Very dry, crisp and refreshing.”

Smy Rye IPA – “Rye IPA brewed with Ekuanot and Citra hops. Aromas of citrus peel, melon and pine, with a crisp rye spice.”

GABF Medal Winning Brewery # 1 – Cloudburst Brewing

Cloudburst Brewing made the most of their time on the Great American Beer Festival stage. A colorful expletive on the shirt was straight to the point, “F*^%# ABInBev”

But let’s focus on the beer that earned them a bronze medal and also won in my informal, cool beer names awards that has no award (yet). Easy, Breezy, Beautiful won in the American-Style Wheat Beer.

After that, I would add the following to my first taster tray:

Happy Little Clouds – “a Bastardized” German Pilsner
Ministry Of Truth – Double Stout w/ Blackberries
The Ghost of Great Owl – Pumpkin Beer
Out of Touch – Throwback IPA w/ (mostly) Cascade & Chinook
Boom. Roasted! – Coffee Porter

In the Tap Lines for October 2018

It’s time to PSL your world! Now that we are in October it is officially BSP sanctioned that you can drink pumpkin beers. It is also Doctor Who season as Jodie Whitaker takes the controls of the Tardis and my Blazers start the 18/19 campaign as well.

~ e-visits to three 2018 GABF winning breweries: Cloudburst Brewing, Smylie Brothers Brewing and Wolverine State Brewing
~ special featured reviews of Non-LA beers
~ Heads-Up on Los Angeles Beer Events
~ Three suggested beers to buy this month. One light, one medium and one dark
~ A Book & A Beer reads Miss Subways by David Duchovny
~ I will tap the Firkin and give my no holds barred opinion on the craft beer world.

Here are two events to get your October started in the Los Angeles craft beer world:
1) October 5th – Hoptoberfest: West Coast vs New England style IPA at 38 Degrees in Monrovia
2) October 6th – Enegren Oktoberfest 2018