In its 30th year, the 2016 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) competition awarded 286 medals to some of the best commercial breweries–mostly craft breweries–in the United States, plus three GABF Pro-Am medals to teams of amateur homebrewers paired with professionals. Presented by the Brewers Association, GABF is the largest commercial beer competition in the world and a symbol of brewing excellence.
In a ceremony at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, prestigious gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to winning breweries in 96 beer categories covering 161 different beer styles (including all subcategories), establishing the best examples of each style in the country. Neither a gold nor a silver medal were awarded in the Pumpkin/Squash Beer category.
Winners were chosen from 7,227 competition entries (nearly 9 percent more than the 6,647 entries in 2015 and surpassing all previous participation records) from 1,752 breweries hailing from 50 states plus Washington, D.C.
The competition also saw its biggest-ever panel of judges, with 264 beer experts from 12 countries, including the U.S., and 170 competition volunteers. The panel also evaluated 88 Pro-Am entries, which were judged in three rounds over four days.
American-Style India Pale Ale: Gold went to Seattle’s Georgetown Brewing Co. for their very West Coast Bodhizafa IPA, using Chinook, Citra, Mosaic and Columbus hops. Two California breweries finished off the winners podium–Riip Beer Co. of Huntington Beach took Silver with their Super Cali IPA and Knee Deep of Auburn took Bronze with their Breaking Bud.
Imperial IPA: Gold went to Überbrew of Billings, MT for their 8.6% ABV, 100 IBU Humulus Insani. Last year’s winner–twice Gold–Fat Heads’ Hop JuJu medaled in this category again, this time pulling Bronze.
Wood- And Barrel-Aged Strong Stout: Surley Brewing’s Barrel-Aged Darkness, a rye whiskey barrel aged variant of their wildly popular imperial stout, took Gold and 2013 Gold winner, Olde Hickory Brewery, took Silver with their The Event Horizon.
Session IPA: Gold in this crushable category went to a very timely, topical beer called Trump Hands by Cannonball Creek Brewing Co.
Gluten-Free Beer: Gold — Ground Breaker Brewing’s Dark Ale.
Fresh Or Wet Hop Ale: Gold — Melvin Brewing’s Melvin IPA.
Experimental Beer: Gold — D9 Brewing Co.’s Dry Hopped Systema of Naturae – Scuppernong & Lily
Brett Beer: Gold — Alesong Brewing & Blending’s Touch of Brett
Belgian-Style Witbier: Gold — Brewery Ommegang‘s Witte Ale
American-Style Light Lager Or German-Style Light Lager: Gold — Brown Truck Brewery’s #10 American Lager
Aged Beer: Millersburg Brewing’s Doc’s Scotch Ale
You can download a list of all the beer competition medalists here.
Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year: ZwanzigZ Brewing (Columbus, IN)
*Mid-Size Brewpub and Mid-Size Brewpub Brewer of the Year: Boxing Bear Brewing Co. (Albuquerque, NM)
Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year: The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. (Austin, TX)
Very Small Brewing Company and Very Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year: Brown Truck Brewery (High Point, NC)
Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year: Überbrew (Billings, MT)
*Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year: Karl Strauss Brewing Co. – San Diego (San Diego, CA)
Large Brewing Company and Large Brewing Company Brewer of the Year: Pabst Brewing Co. (Los Angeles, CA)
*Corrected from original announcement on Saturday. GABF originally announced Karl Strauss Brewing Co. – San Diego as the Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year and Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon as the Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year.