After three days, nearly 50,000 attendees and more than 2,700 American beers, the 2012 Great American Beer Festival seems to have been a roaring success again. The 30 years since the inception of the GABF has seen craft-brewing grow into an $8.7 billion industry, with nearly 600 different United States breweries on tap to slake the thirst of local suds enthusiasts.
In between all the fun and excitement of tasting beer at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver was the Great American Beer Festival competition, a judging of the best beers in 84 separate categories and 134 distinct beer styles. More than 4,000 beers were entered into the contest, which was overseen by 188 judges from 11 different countries.
As expected, the Napa Valley of beer represented well. Colorado breweries garnered 35 medals in this year’s competition. Here is a look at local businesses that have outshone their peers at the GABF.
Boulder County winners
With seven medalists in this year’s competition, Boulder County continues to show why the GABF first originated here. Twisted Pine Brewing Company led with way, with two honors for its efforts. The brewery’s Big Shot Espresso Stout won bronze in the Coffee Beer category, while its West Bound Braggot bested 32 other entries to receive gold in the Specialty Honey Beer category.
Upslope Brewing Company showed why it has been growing exponentially over the past few years, winning the silver medal in the category of American-Style Brown Ale with its Upslope Brown Ale.
Avery Brewing Company emerged from a pack of 50 entries to win a silver medal with White Rascal in the category of Belgian-Style Witbier. Showcasing the health-conscious lifestyle prevalent in Boulder, New Planet Beer Company won silver in the Gluten-Free Beer category with its Brown creation.
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery in Boulder entered its Got Beer selection, which won a gold medal for the franchise in the Indigenous Beer category. Longmont’s Left Hand Brewing Company got its hands on a bronze medal in the Ordinary or Special Bitter category with Sawtooth Ale.
Other Colorado medals
Outside our neck of the woods, yet firmly ensconced within the four corners of our state, Colorado brewers picked up more hardware.
Strange Brewing Company of Denver won bronze for Barley Wine-Style Ale with its Dr. StrangeLove entry. Funkwerks in Fort Collins was a multiple winner, garnering gold for Deceit, its entry into the Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale category. Funkwerks also took home gold for its French- and Belgian-Style Saison beer, beating out Aspen Brewing Company for the honors in that category.
Bull & Bush Brewery in Denver won silver with The Tower E.S.B. in the Extra Special Bitter category, while Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project staved off most of the competition in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer category with its silver medal-winning Sentience. The silver for Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout beer went to the Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout from AC Golden Brewing Company in Golden.
Echo Brewing Company of Frederick won bronze for Balefire Red, its entry in the Irish-Style Red Ale class.
Other medalists from Colorado include Milk Stout from Rock Bottom Westminster in the Sweet Stout category, and in the German-Style Altbier category, Loveland-based Grimm Brothers Brewhouse took bronze for its Little Red Cap. NBB Love Felix, a German- Style Sour Ale from New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, also won bronze. Rock Bottom Westminster added to its haul with a bronze in the English-Style Brown Ale category with its Molly’s Titanic Brown Ale.
Milton Waddams of Office Space would be proud of Trinity Brewing Company in Colorado Springs, as its TPS Report won a bronze medal for American-Style Brett Ale.
Dry Dock Brewing Company of Aurora and The SandLot of Denver took home multiple awards. Dry Dock won a bronze in the English-Style Mild Ale category for its S.S. Minnow Mild Ale, and gold in the Fruit Beer category for Dry Dock Apricot Ale. The SandLot took two gold medals, one for Move Back in the Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest category, and one for its Wildpitch Hefeweizen in the category of German-Style Wheat Ale.
Other Colorado gold medal recipients at the 2012 GABF included Knight Ryder Munich Dunkel from Equinox Brewing Company in Fort Collins for European-Style Dunkel.
Fort Collins-based CB & Potts Restaurant and Brewery won gold with its 6X Helles, a Munich-Style Helles. Bambastic, from Fort Collins Brewery, won the Smoke Beer category.
And in the 2012 GABF Pro-Am Competition, New Belgium Brewery emerged victorious with its More Fun Blonde beer.
Click here for video coverage of the GABF.