Oregon's brewers had a double-digit haul at this year's Great American Beer Festival, which just wrapped up this last weekend in Denver—but it was still the least number of medals awarded to our homegrown beers in what's become an increasingly fierce competition.
Overall, our state's producers took home 15 awards, coming off the previous year's high of 22, and 19 in 2017.
Held in the cavernous 800,000-square-foot Colorado Convention Center, the three-day event draws thousands of people who try to sample as much of the country's beer as possible, one ounce at a time. The festivities culminate Saturday with an awards ceremony following five three-hour judging sessions. Each year, the prestigious contest continues to draw more entries as more breweries open. There were 9,497 entries in 107 categories—1,001 more than 2018.
Some of the typically strong contenders, like Wayfinder Beer and Alesong Brewing & Blending out of Eugene, continued to earn hardware—each nabbed a bronze. Some of the heavy-hitters who were shut out last year made a comeback: Baker City's Barley Brown's Beer won a bronze in the American-Style Black Ale category, while Breakside Brewing led the Oregon medal count with three, including a gold for What Rough Beast.
Migration Brewing, which announced late last month that it had hired a new head brewer following the departure of Trever Bass, was another big winner with bronzes in both the Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale and Double Hoppy Red Ale groups.
"We couldn't be more proud of our brewery team's performance at GABF this year," Migration co-owner McKean Banzer-Lausberg told WW. "To win national awards for both Mo-Haze-ic IPA and Cannonball Northwest Red at the most prestigious beer competition in the nation is a true honor. Our team has worked hard to continuously make great beer, and to have that validated at the year's biggest craft beer event is extremely exciting."
By snagging a gold for its saison Obeisance, Von Ebert Brewing went down in history as a first-entry, first-win producer, an honor that fewer than 40 breweries have accomplished.
"We are very excited and humbled to get an award for the first bottle released out of Glendoveer. We have such a great team and this is the culmination of a lot of hard work," said head brewer Sean Burke. "These beers take time and it has been a long road just to get to bottling and releasing Obeisance, but we are proud of what we are doing. We can't wait to share more of our beers with everyone."
Of note on the convention floor this year was the return to organizing the pouring breweries by region. The Pacific Northwest, which included Oregon, Washington and Alaska, was packed—there were particularly long lines at Great Notion Brewing, as usual. And while the hazy IPA craze hasn't let up—it was again the most-entered category—there were far fewer brut takes on the style, which were abundant in booths last year.
Here is a recap of all Oregon winners:
American-Style Amber/Red Ale 2019
Diablo Rojo Boneyard Beer, Bend (bronze)
American-Style Black Ale
Turmoil Barley Brown's Beer, Baker City (bronze)
American-Style Pale Ale
Breakside Woodlawn Pale Ale Breakside Brewery, Portland (bronze)
Willie Big Dog Public Coast Brewing Co., Cannon Beach (bronze)
Double Hoppy Red Ale
Cannon Ball Migration Brewing Co. – Glisan, Portland (silver)
English-Style India Pale Ale
Shanghai'd IPA Old Town Brewing, Portland (gold)
English-Style or International-Style Pale Ale
Ferment Pale AleFerment Brewing Co., Hood River (bronze)
English-Style Summer Ale
Breakside Wentworth by the Sea Breakside Brewery, Portland (bronze)
Fruit Wheat Beer2019
Smash 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend (bronze)
Gluten-Free Beer 2019
Grandpa's Nap Evasion Brewing – Production Facility, McMinnville (bronze)
Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale 2019
Mo-Haze-Ic Migration Brewing Co. – Wilkes, Portland (gold)
Juicy or Hazy Strong Pale Ale 2019
Breakside What Rough Beast Breakside Brewery – NW Slabtown, Portland (bronze)
Wayfinder Hell Wayfinder Beer, Portland (bronze)
Obeisance Von Ebert Brewing – Glendoveer, Portland (gold)
Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout2019
Señor Rhino Alesong Brewing & Blending – Tasting Room, Eugene (bronze)