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Great American Beer Festival winners announced, several from Indiana and Michigan

Denver is home to the largest and most prestigious U.S beer festival, The Great American Beer Festival (GABF), which just took place October 1-4.

Created in 1982, the event is comprised of both a public tasting and a private competition. Tickets generally sell out quickly for this popular event, which this year hosted 710 breweries offering samples of more than 3,500 beers in the festival hall.  

It took more than 3,200 volunteers to make the event run smoothly for the crowd of 49,000 people who attended the festival.

This year 5,507 commercial entries (a 16% increase over 2013) were judged by 222 beer experts from 10 countries. A total of 1,309 breweries from all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. competed for gold, silver, and bronze medals in 90 beer categories covering 145 different beer styles.

Certified professional judges participated in five three-hour judging sessions which took place over the three-day festival. Judges were assigned beers in specific categories to taste and evaluate without knowing the brewery or the brand that they were tasting. They never judge their own product or any product in which they have a concern.

GABF medals are among the most coveted in the brewing industry and winning breweries proudly promote their accomplishments in their advertising.

This year there were 268 professional medals awarded, with 461 first-time participants competing.

According to the festival website, the ultimate goal of the Great American Beer Festival Judge Panel is to “identify the three beers that best represent each beer-style category as described and adopted by the Great American Beer Festival.” Learn more about GABF Beer Styles for the Competition Style Descriptions and Specifications.

Since 2002, the most-entered category has been American-Style India Pale Ale (IPA), with 279 entries in this year’s competition. The next top four most entered categories included:  Herb and Spice Beer (150 entries), American-Style Pale Ale (145 entries), American-Style Amber/Red Ale (140 entries), and Imperial India Pale Ale (135 entries).  

There were 52 first-time entering breweries that won awards, and four breweries tied for the most medals won, with three medals each: 10 Barrel Brewing Co. out of Bend, Oregon, Barley Brown’s Brew Pub from Baker City, Oregon, Devils Backbone Brewing Co.–Outpost in Roseland, VA, and Left Hand Brewing Co. from Longmont, Colorado.  

Goshen’s own Constant Spring will be hosting a tap takeover of award winning Left Hand Brewing Co. on Thursday, October 9, beginning at 4 p.m.  The event will feature Sawtooth Ale, 400 Pound Monkey IPA, Warrior IPA and Jalapeño Cream Ale. Representatives from Left Hand will be on hand throughout the evening.

Here are some medals won by breweries in our region — Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois:

  • Silver medal, Half Acre Beer Co. Heyoka, Chicago IL – American-Style India Pale Ale
  • Bronze medal,  Columbus Brewing Co. Bodhi, Columbus OH – American-Style India Pale Ale
  • Gold medal, Haymarket Pub & Brewery Defender, Chicago IL – American-Style Stout
  • Gold medal, Carson’s Brewery Red Dawn, Evansville IN – American-Style Wheat Beer
  • Silver medal, Bier Brewery Sanitarium,  Indianapolis IN-  Belgian-Style Abbey Ale
  • Bronze medal, Ale Stormcloud Brewing Co. Rainmaker, Frankfort MI – Belgian-Style Blonde Ale or Pale Ale
  • Silver medal, Bastone Brewery Thor’s Hammer, Royal Oak MI – Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale
  • Silver medal, Temperance Beer Co. Gatecrasher IPA, Evanston IL English-Style India Pale Ale
  • Gold medal, Short’s Brewing Co. Key Lime Pie, Elk Rapids MI – Experimental Beer
  • Silver medal, Wooster Brewery Wooster New Stout JAFB, Wooster OH – Foreign-Style Stout
  • Silver medal,  Virtues Brewing Co. Weizenbock 13, Portland OR – German-Style Wheat Ale
  • Silver medal, 5 Rabbit Cerveceria 5 Rabbit Golden Ale, Bedford Park IL – Golden or Blonde Ale
  • Silver medal, RAM Restaurant & Brewery White Eagle Smoked Wheat – Schaumburg, Schaumburg IL – Historical Beer
  • Gold medal, Columbus Brewing Co. Creeper, Columbus OH – Imperial India Pale Ale
  • Bronze medal, Horse Thief Hollow 18th Rebellion, Chicago IL – Kellerbier or Zwickelbier
  • Silver medal, Flossmoor Station Brewing Co. Shadow of the Moon Imperial Stout, Flossmoor IL – Other Strong Beer
  • Silver medal, Founders Brewing Co. Porter, Grand Rapids MI – Robust Porter
  • Bronze medal, Tapistry Brewing Co Peck’s Porter, Bridgman MI – Robust Porter
  • Gold medal, Carbondale Craft Beer Little Egypt Hefeweizen, Carbondale IL – South German-Style Hefeweizen
  • Bronze medal, Listermann/Triple Digit Brewing Co. Nutcase Peanut Butter Porter, Cincinnati OH – Specialty Beer
  • Silver medal, Bastone Brewery Private Stock #472, Royal Oak MI – Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer
  • Gold medal, Two Brothers Brewing Co. Sour Beer #2, Warrenville IL – Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer
  • Gold medal, Sun King Brewery Lonesome Dove, Indianapolis IN – Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer
  • Silver medal, Sun King Brewery Barrel Aged 666: Sympathy for the Devil,  Indianapolis IN – Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer

Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year went to Bastone Brewery in Royal Oak, MI, and Rockne Van Meter, the brewer there. Many of the winning breweries are smaller and do not have distribution in the Michiana area. However, some do, so it’s worth a check at your local bottle shop.

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