Oregon Cleans Up at America’s Most Prestigious Beer Competition

The state’s brewers brought home 22 medals—the Beaver State's best showing in years.

Courtesy of Brewers Association.

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.

Related: Lompoc Brewing Is Closing Its Original 23rd Avenue Pub.

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.

Related: We Tasted Damn Near Every IPA in Portland in a Blind Tasting. These Are the 10 Best.

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

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