The Great American Beer Festival took place this past weekend in Denver, Colorado, and Oregon brewers had their best showing in years.
The state's producers brought home 22 medals—three more than in 2017 and also topping the haul of 21 in 2016.
Held in what is essentially an aircraft hangar filled with kegs instead of planes, the event not only showcases the largest collection of U.S. beer in one place, it's also host to one of the most highly respected tasting competitions in the country. There were 8,496 entries in 102 categories—a number that has grown annually and jumped by nearly 600 from last year.
Three breweries tied for the most medals this year, two of them from Oregon: 10 Barrel Brewing's Bend location and Eugene's Alesong Brewing & Blending. Both nabbed three awards apiece, an achievement matched by Montana's Lewis & Clark Brewing.
Pfriem Family Brewers was another standout, winning Mid-Sized Brewing Company of the Year—awarded to companies producing 15,000-6,000,000 barrels—and snagging a gold medal in the Mixed-Culture Brett Beer category for their Druif. The brewery also took home a silver in the German-Style Pilsner grouping.
While some of the heavy-hitters from recent years—such as Breakside and Barley Brown's—went away empty-handed, GoodLife Brewing, Ground Breaker Brewing and Sunriver Brewing were among the few to medal in back-to-back years.
Lompoc Brewing was perhaps the surprise of the competition, taking gold in the Robust Porter category for its Lomporter. That's a big win for an OG in the Portland brewing industry, coming on the heels of the announcement that the company would be closing its original pub on Northwest 23rd Avenue.
One of the more buzzed-about changes to the contest was the addition of style categories to recognize hazy beers. Hazy haters may not like it, but the Brewers Association update reflects the current market. And the trend doesn't appear to be fading anytime soon: The Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale category drew 391 submissions, knocking American-Style India Pale Ale out of position for most-entered category for the first time since 2002.
The Brewers Association also split a style into two classes: Classic Australian-Style Pale Ale (darker color, lower hop aroma) and Australian-Style Pale Ale (paler appearance, more hop-forward). Worthy Brewing in Bend took a silver in the latter for Strata IPA, which is made with a hop that was the result of a collaboration with Oregon State University's hop-breeding program.
Also of note on the convention floor was a dramatic increase in the number of breweries pouring brut IPAs. The dry and bubbly "champagne of beers" is a hit-and-miss effort so far. But who knows? Three years from now the BA could carve out a new category just like they did for hazies.
Here's a rundown of the Oregon winners:
Category: Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year
pFriem Family Brewers, Hood River. Brewmaster: pFriem Family Brewers
Category: American-Style Stout, 43 entries
Silver: P2P, 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend
Category: American-Style Wheat Beer, 54 entries
Gold: Sweet As Pacific Ale, Goodlife Brewing Co., Bend
Category: American-Style Wheat Beer with Yeast, 37 entries
Silver: Fuzztail, Sunriver Brewing, Sunriver
Bronze: Hefeweizen, Widmer Brothers Brewing
Category: Australian-Style Pale Ale, 46 entries
Silver: Strata IPA, Worthy Brewing Co.
Category: Berliner-Style Weisse, 115 entries
Gold: Baywindow, 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend
Category: Brett Beer, 61 entries
Silver: Terroir Pinot Gris, Alesong Brewing & Blending, Eugene
Bronze: Touch of Brett Mandarina, Alesong Brewing & Blending, Eugene
Category: Classic English-Style Pale Ale, 33 entries
Gold: Pale Ale, Omission Brewing Co., Portland
Silver: MacTarnahan's Amber Ale, Portland Brewing Co., Portland
Category: Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest, 67 entries
Silver: Freiheit Oktoberfest Wiesn, Wayfinder Beer, Portland
Category: English-Style India Pale Ale, 50 entries
Silver: Silverspot IPA, Pelican Brewing Co., Pacific City
Category: Experimental Beer, 112 entries
Silver: Terroir Pinot Noir, Alesong Brewing & Blending, Eugene
Category: Fruit Wheat Beer, 103 entries
Gold: Passionate Envy, 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend
Category: German-Style Pilsener, 159 entries
Silver: Pilsner, pFriem Family Brewers, Hood River
Category: Gluten-Free Beer, 38 entries
Bronze: Dark Ale, Ground Breaker Brewing, Portland
Category: Imperial Red Ale, 45 entries
Bronze: Cinder Beast, Sunriver Brewing, Sunriver
Category: Mixed-Culture Brett Beer, 77 entries
Gold: Druif, pFriem Family Brewers, Hood River
Bronze: Coming to Fruition: Cherry, Oregon City Brewing Co., Oregon City
Category: Robust Porter, 91 entries
Gold: Lomporter, Lompoc Brewing—The 5th Quadrant, Portland
Category: Session Beer, 50 entries
Bronze: Stonefly Session Ale, Three Creeks Production, Sisters
Category: Specialty Beer, 55 entries
Silver: Double Stack, Great Notion Brewing, Portland