Colorado Brewers Dominate the GABF

rich mauroThe 28th Great American Beer Festival (GABF) held a few weeks ago at the Colorado Convention Center continued its record setting ways. While most everything else in the economy is contracting, it seems the beer world just keeps expanding. Attendance, volunteers, and the number of breweries, beers on the floor, beers in the competition, and judges all increased over last year! And Colorado dominated the competition with 45 medals won (19 percent of the total), besting even such craft beer powerhouses as California and Oregon. Coors won the Large Brewing Company and Large Brewing Company Brewer of the Year awards.Colorado’s craft brewers stepped up big time. They were led by Dry Dock Brewing Co. of Aurora, which took home the Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year awards. Upslope Brewing Co. of Boulder shared a Bronze medal in the Pro-Am competition, which pairs amateur brewers with professional brewers, for a brew called “Time of the Season.”

Here’s the impressive list of award winners.

Three medals each:

· Ska Brewing Co., Durango: True Blonde Ale (Bronze, English-Style Summer Ale), Buster Nut Brown (Silver, English Style Brown Ale), Steel Toe Stout (Bronze, Sweet Stout)

· Dry Dock Brewing Co., Aurora: Reines Marzen (Silver, German Style Märzen), Bismarck Altbier (Gold, German Style Altbier), U-Boat Hefeweizen (Silver, South German Style Hefeweizen)

· Great Divide Brewing Co., Denver: Hoss (Bronze, Rye Beer), Yeti Imperial Stout, (Silver, Imperial Stout), Old Ruffian Barley Wine, (Bronze, Barley Wine Style Ale)

· Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group, Broomfield: Czech Pilsner (Silver, Bohemian Style Pilsener), Golden Export (Bronze, Munich Style Helles), Dunkles, (Bronze, European Style Dunkel)

· The Sand Lot, Denver: Where the Helles Bill? (Silver, Munich Style Helles), Move Back, (Gold, Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest), Greenside Up (Silver, Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest)

Two medals each:

· Avery Brewing Co., Boulder: Brabant (Bronze, Experimental Beer), The Kaiser (Gold, German Style Doppelbock or Eisbock)

· Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery, Ridgway, CO: Colorado Boy IPA (Bronze, Extra Special Bitter or Strong Bitter), Colorado Boy Irish (Silver, Irish Style Red Ale)

· Glenwood Canyon Brewing Co., Glenwood Springs: Cardiff (Gold, Other Strong Beer), Carbonator (Bronze, German Style Doppelbock or Eisbock)

One medal each:

· Backcountry Brewery, Frisco: May Bock (Silver, Bock)

· Bristol Brewing Co., Colorado Springs: Cheyenne Cañon Ale (Silver, American Style Brown Ale)

· Colorado Brewing Co./Draft House, Boulder: 44 Pale Ale (Silver, American Style Pale Ale)

· Durango Brewing Co., Durango: Durango Colorfest (Gold, American Style Amber Lager)

· Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont: Smokejumper (Gold, Smoked Beer)

· Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery, Boulder: Temperance (Bronze, American-Belgo-Style Ale)

· New Belgium Brewing Co., Inc., Fort Collins: NBB Love (Silver, German-Style Sour Ale)

· Rockyard Brewing Co., Castle Rock: Double Eagle Ale (Bronze, American-Style Wheat Beer)

· Trinity Brewing Co, Colorado Springs: TPS Report (Gold, Experimental Beer)

· Upslope Brewing Co., Boulder: Upslope Dunkel Weizen (Bronze, German-Style Wheat Ale)

I was glad top see the festival continued its emphasis on matching beer with food. There were many interesting combinations available in the Beer & Food Pavilion. There also were informative seminars and cooking demonstrations. Even more impressive was that the festival continues its efforts to remain on the cutting edge of sustainability initiatives. A good example was the partnership with “Zero Hero” to assure all disposable items were either compostable or recyclable. Another welcome innovation this year was the “Farm to Table” Pavilion. This joined chefs and local farmers with craft brewers to create exciting dishes and satisfying pairings. The Brewers Association, a brewing company trade association based in Boulder that markets the festival should be proud for organizing such a successful event in these tough economic times. And the future looks good, too. The Brewers Association also reports continued growth in the craft beer industry, with the country now reaching 1525 breweries, the most in 100 years. Let’s all raise a glass …. or two!

About Rich

I first became interested in wine while I worked in numerous liquor stores during college in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. In the years following college, I researched, tasted, traveled to vineyards in California and Europe, participated in countless tastings. I began writing about wine in 1995 with a column in Out Front Colorado. For me, wine is more than a drink. It is food. It is a connection to the earth. It is culture. There is just something amazing, even magical, about the transformation of grapes into wine. It is also remarkable how drinking wine with food enhances the taste and enjoyment of both. Appreciation of wine has become an integral part of my approach to life, which emphasizes balance, respect for nature, physical and emotional health, and an appreciation of our nature as social beings. In 2006, I was awarded a fellowship to the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers.