The Great American Beer Festival took place this past weekend in Denver and beer fans from all over the world gathered to toast—and in many cases sample to the point of idiocy—excellence in American brewing.
But it wasnât just some 50,000 beer geeks and college kids that got to pick from around 2,700 to choose from: 185 certified beer judges awarded medals in 84 different beer categories that saw 4,338 beers entered.
Oregon brewers did well, hauling in an impressive 24 medals. Only California and Colorado did better, and both illustrious brewing centers also have more breweries. Washington is also home to more breweries than Oregon and Michigan is the only other state that supports more than 100. Those two combined for a total of 10 medalsâso Oregon did very well by comparison.
Seven Portland breweries earned spots on the podium: the Commons Brewery (Flemish Kiss), Burnside Brewing (Sweet Heat), Breakside Brewery (Breakside Session Brown), Laurelwood Brewing (Mother Lode Golden Ale and Organic Deranger Imperial Red Ale), Harvester Brewing (Gluten-free Pale Ale), Hopworks Urban Brewery (Organic Kellerbier) and Columbia River Brewing (Stumblerâs Stout).
Adding to the impressive feat is the fact that the Commons, Harvester, and Burnside are brand new to the competition.
The Commonsâ Flemish Kiss took the silver in the highly-competitive American-style Brett Ale, beers soured by Brettanomyces. It was beat by only Logsdon Farmhouse Alesâs Seizoen Bretta. Another double-medaling category is Aged Beer, in which Bend Brewingâs Lovely Cherry Baltic Porter nabbed bronze while neighbors Silver Moon Brewing grabbed gold for their 2010 Old Trainwreck Barleywine. Deschutes, amassed its 40th overall GABF award for Chainbreaker White IPA. It has now medaled in all but three years dating all the way back to 1990. Could a lifetime achievement award might be next? Not even Boston Beer Co. and the Samuel Adams beers have won more, unless you count the âconsumer preference pollâ category that they won (through much campaigning, reportedly) back in the eighties.
Columbia River Brewing brought home another silver for its Stumblerâs Stout, just as it did at the World Beer Cup earlier this year. Stoutstanding.
Last but not least, quadruple congratulations to Barley Brownâs Brew Pub for their four medals (Turmoil in the CDA category, again; Pallet Jack in the category with the most entries, American IPA; Shredders Wheat; and Scotch Ale). Shredders, by the way, has now taken the silver in American-style Wheat Beer four years running. The tiny brewpub way over in Baker City has done very well since Shawn Kelso split for 10 Barrelâs Boise brewpub.