Last week, well over 600 breweries nationwide competed at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF). The proclaimed “Super Bowl of Craft Beer” is a 3-day annual event celebrating craft beer and awards medals for various categories based on different styles of beer. This year, Colorado breweries took home 46 medals, only second to California’s tally of 52 medals.
While the Great American Beer Festival is wrapped up until next fall, several breweries around Denver went home with bragging rights for the next year. This year's medal winners ranged from GABF veterans to brand-new breweries.
Great Divide is no stranger to GABF and has been a part of the craft beer scene since opening their brewery in 1996. This year, they took home the gold in the Chocolate Beer category for their “Oak Aged Chocolate Yeti”, a variation of their flagship Yeti Imperial Stout beer which spawned several versions of the brewery’s popular “Yeti Clan”. This year’s win is the 18th time to bring home a GABF medal for Great Divide.
Prost Brewing is a relatively new brewery having recently celebrated their 1st birthday last month during Oktoberfest. The LoDo/Ballpark neighborhood brewery specializes in German-style beers and is known for only bottling in growlers. They took a gold medal home in the Keller or Zwickelbeir category, for their “Keller Pils”. The brewery will celebrate the win by having a tapping of their award winning beer starting this Friday.
The Sandlot Brewery located at Coors Field won this year’s “Large Brewing Company of the Year” despite their "Craft Beer" production size due to being a part of the much bigger beer giant MillerCoors. In addition, the brewery took home gold medals in the Smoke Beer and Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest categories with their beers “Second Hand Smoke” and “Move Back” respectively. They also brought home a bronze medal in the Bock category for their beer “Goat Rancher”. Their Coors Field neighbor Blue Moon Brewing Company, also owned by MillerCoors, received a gold medal in the Fruit Beer category for their beer “Golden Knot-Chardonnay”. Sister MillerCoors owned brewery AC Golden brought in a bronze medal for their "IPL" in the International-Style Pale Ale Category as well.
In nearby Aurora, Dry Dock Brewing Company was able to register as 2 breweries thanks to a new production facility dubbed as “Dry Dock Brewing Company-North Dock”. The expansion allowed the Aurora brewery to walk away with 2 Gold medals for “SS Minnow Mild” and “Wee Heavy” representing the English-Style Mild Ale and Scotch Ale Categories. The brewery also won 2 silver medals for “HMS Victory Amber” and “Extra Pale Summer Ale” in the Ordinary or Special Bitter and the Classic English-Style Pale Ale categories. Finally, the brewery took home a bronze in the English-Style India Pale Ale category with “Enterprise IPA”.
Other Denver breweries old and new were able to bring home medals as well. The Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project located in the River North neighborhood of Denver won a bronze medal for their “HopSavant” in the American-Style Brett Beer category. Bull and Bush a popular brewpub near Cherry Creek, won the bronze in the Barleywine Category for their “Release the Hounds Barleywine”. Finally, Renegade Brewing Company won bronze in the Imperial Stout category with their “Hammer and Sickle” stout.
Outside the Denver metro area, popular front range breweries such as Left Hand, City Star, Grimm Brothers, Odell, Avery, Twisted Pine, Upslope, New Belgium, Trinity and Rock Bottom all took home medals home as well.
The next Great American Beer Festival will take place October 2-4, 2014. The festival itself, possibly as a result of growing pains such as limited space for breweries and record sell-outs, were recently approved to expand for the festival in 2015, allowing more space for breweries and allows the organizers to sell more tickets. However, until the next GABF, there are plenty of events (not counting brewery openings and special brewery parties) to keep Denver beer fans happy for the remainder of the year as two popular Denver beer events from last year make their return. Next month will be the Denver Bacon and Beer Festival on November 10th and on December 14th Denver Beer Festivus returns as well. Both events are presented by Denver Off the Wagon. For more information on Great American Beer Festival’s winners, please visit the site at http://www.greatamericanbeerfestival.com/the-competition/winners/