New England took home 8 medals from the 2009 GABF

Great American Beer Festival 2009

The 2009 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) came to an end yesterday and it will be 364 more days of planning until the festival next year. The 2009 festival was a major success – largest festival in the country – uniting 457 breweries and beer fanatics together.

As the party winds down, the 49,000 attendees are making their way home. The city of Denver will be quiet(er) and those who attended the festivities will be walking zombies for the next week or so (until they catch up on their sleep). The GABF lasted for three days, but the whole week was packed with brewery tours, beer dinners and other events all throughout Colorado.

Great American Beer Festival 2009 Statistics:

  • 457 breweries in the festival hall
  • 2,100 beers served at the festival
  • 49,000 attendees (includes brewers, volunteers and ticket holders)
  • 3,000 volunteers
  • 495 breweries in the competition
  • 3,308 beers judged in the competition
  • 78 categories judged + Pro-Am category
  • 132 judges from ten countries
  • Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 42
  • Category with highest number of entries: 134, American Style India Pale Ale

Breweries competed for the Gold:

The Great American Beer festival is not only about sampling quality beer but is also a beer competition. Breweries enter their beers to be judged by the festival’s Professional Judge Panel. Festival attendees can also sip the beer entered in the competition during the tasting sessions.

The Great American Beer Festival invites industry professionals from around the world to sit together in small groups and, without knowing the brand name, taste beers in each specified style category. 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.

The Professional Judge Panel awards gold, silver or bronze medals that are recognized around the world as symbols of brewing excellence. These awards are among the most coveted in the industry and heralded by the winning brewers in their national advertising.

Five different three-hour judging sessions take place over the three-day period during the week of the festival. Judges are assigned beers to evaluate in their specific area of expertise and never judge their own product or any product in which they have a concern.

Local New England Breweries bring home 8 medals:

Congratulations to our local breweries.  The competition was fierce, with 3,308 entries from breweries located in 32 states across the country.  Seven of our breweries took home medals, while two of our breweries brought home the Gold.  Otter Creak/Wolavers and The Alchemist,  both locate in Vermont, brought home the gold.  Here is a list of the locally awarded medals:

Brewery Beer State Medals Category
Boston Beer Co. Samuel Adams Double Bock MA Silver German Style Doppelbock or Eisbock
Harpoon Brewery UFO Hefeweizen MA Bronze American-Style Wheat Beer With Yeast
Allagash Brewing Co. Tripel ME Silver Belgian-Style Abbey Ale
Otter Creek Brewing/Wolaver’s Organic Ales Vermont Lager VT Gold Bohemian Style Pilsener
The Alchemist Celia Framboise VT Gold Gluten Free Beer
The Alchemist Celia IPA VT Bronze Gluten Free Beer
Redhook Ales – Portsmouth Weizen NH Bronze South German Style Hefeweizen
Cambridge House Brew Pub Three Steve Stout CT Silver Classic Irish Style Dry Stout

The competition set a new record for entries, with 16% more entries the last year – remaining the largest beer competition in the world.  Colorado and California typically dominate the competition each year for the most medals won by each state, with Colorado breweries and brewpubs coming out ahead for 2009. The top five medal winning states were: CO (45), CA (39), OR (22), WA (13), PA (12).

The GABF competition attracted 132 international beer judges from ten countries. Award-winning brewers received prestigious gold, silver and bronze medals in 78 beer categories, establishing the best examples of each style in the U.S.

2009 Brewery and Brewer of the Year Awards:

Large Brewing Company and Large Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Coors Brewing Company, Golden, CO; Dr. David Ryder

Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Sponsored by Crosby & Baker Ltd.
Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD; Robert Malone

Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Sponsored by Microstar Keg Management
Dry Dock Brewing Company, Aurora, CO; Dry Dock Brewing Team

Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year
Sponsored by Brewers Supply Group
Pizza Port Carlsbad, Carlsbad, CA; Pizza Port Brew Guys

Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year
Sponsored by Briess Malt & Ingredients Co.
Chuckanut Brewery, Bellingham, WA; Will Kemper

Gold, silver and bronze medals were also awarded in the GABF Pro-Am competition, which pairs amateur brewers with professional brewers, who scale up the award-winning homebrew recipes. American Homebrewers Association member Ben Miller teamed up with Chama River Brewing Co. in Albuquerque, N.M. to win gold for Herbal Joe’s Columbarillo IPA.

2009 Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am Competition:

Sponsored by Briess Malt & Ingredients Co. and HopUnion

Gold: Herbal Joe’s Columbarillo IPA, Chama River Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM
Brewmaster: Jeff Erway, AHA Member: Ben Miller

Silver: Alright Already Amber, O’Fallon Brewery, O’Fallon, MO
Brian Owens, AHA Member: Jim Yeager

Bronze: Time of the Season, Upslope Brewing Co., Boulder, CO
Daniel Pages, AHA Member: Brian Patterson

The most competitive category was American Style India Pale Ale with 134 entries. The gold medal went to Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA for Union Jack for the second straight year. The second most hotly contested category was Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer with 110 entries (up from 79 in 2008). The gold medal went to Arcadia Brewing Co., Battle Creek, MI for Cereal Killer Barleywine.

2009 GABF Top Medal Winning States:

State # of Medals Won % of Total Medals Awarded Total # of Entries % of Entries in the Competition
Colorado 45 19% 459 14%
California 39 16% 594 18%
Oregon 22 9% 172 5%
Washington 13 5% 162 5%
Pennsylvania 12 5% 126 4%
Michigan 9 4% 138 4%
New York 8 3% 117 4%
Virginia 8 3% 58 2%
Illinois 7 3% 93 3%
Maryland 7 3% 63 2%

Click here for the full results of the medal winners.

(The statistics and some of the descriptions were provided by the AHA and GABF website.)

Congratulations to all of the breweries who attended.  We (beer drinkers), appreciate the time and efforts that you do to produce the best beers in the world.



Drink Craft Beer, You’ve Earned It!!!

If you attended the event and would like to share any stories about the festival, please add a comment or send me an email.

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