The Great American Beer Fest is like the Super Bowl of American brewing. What started as a simple beer competition in 1982 has transformed into a popular public tasting event. The three-day event, hosted by the Brewers Association, represents the largest collection of U.S. beer and sells more than 60,000 tickets in just 4 hours 15 minutes. This year, Texas took home the third most awards as a state, only behind California and Colorado which is an impressive feat.
The line starts early, wrapping around the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, CO. Attendees come armed with pretzel necklaces, prepared to taste hundreds of beer samples. Once inside, you can look down the dizzying rows of beer vendors as you come to a startling realization: it will be simply impossible to try all 7,923 entries from 780 breweries.
The beer lines form at each booth, extending to as many as 100 people for popular breweries and hard-to-find beers. The noise is astounding as thousands of people chatter excitedly about their next taste. When the winners are announced (after the 276 judges hailing from 13 countries sample all the entries), a roar goes through the crowd.
Each beer is entered in one of 99 categories, and although gold, silver, and bronze medals are typically awarded, sometimes the judges don’t award any. This year, despite the 105 entries in fruited American-style sour ale, only a silver and bronze medal was awarded.
Some of the medals go to big beers that make up the backbone of America, like Shiner Bock placing a predictable silver in American-Style Amber Lager. Many first-time breweries bring home medals, but most breweries leave empty-handed. We all know that Texas makes some great craft beer, but earning medals is hard at such popular competitions. We’ve brought home some medals in the past, but I dare say we killed it this year!
Texas Award-Winning Beers
Texas brought home a record-breaking number of awards from Great American Beer Festival this year: 20 medals, 9 of which shone gold. If you haven’t had a chance to check out these breweries, now might be a good time for a road trip!
In addition to the regular medals, GABF also hands out awards for small, mid-size, and large brewpub of the year. They also award one very small, small, and midsize brewing company. These awards are much harder to achieve, with only 6 total medals available to the almost 800 breweries entering the competition. For Texas to win one medal in each category is a great accomplishment!
Large Brewpub and Brewer of the Year
The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Austin, TX; Brewer: Amos Swifty Kim
Mid-Size Brewing Company and Brewer of the Year
Saint Arnold Brewing Co., Houston, TX; Brewer: Saint Arnold Brew Crew
2017 Texas Gold Medal Winners
Freetail Brewing Co. – San Antonio, TX – for the beer La Muerta in the Aged Beer category.
Eureka Heights Brewing Co. – Houston, TX – for the beer Buckle Bunny in the American-Style Cream Ale category.
The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. – Austin, TX – for the beer Rocket 100 in the American-Style Pilsener or International-Style Pilsener category.
Lazarus Brewing Co. – Austin, TX – for the beer Amandus in the Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale category.
The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. – Austin, TX – for the beer Velvet Revolution in the Bohemian-Style Pilsener category.
Pinthouse Pizza North – Austin, TX – for the beer Bearded Seal in the Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout category.
Austin Beerworks – Austin, TX – for the beer Super Awesome Lager in the Light Lager category.
Saint Arnold Brewing Co. – Houston, TX – for the beer Saint Arnold Pumpkinator in the Pumpkin/Squash Beer or Pumpkin Spice Beer category.
Real Ale Brewing Co. – Blanco, TX – for the beer Real Heavy in the Scotch Ale category.
2017 Texas Silver Medal Winners
Peticolas Brewing Co. – Dallas, TX – for the beer It’s Always Something in the Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale category.
Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. – Fort Worth, TX – for the beer Oktoberfest in the German-Style Maerzen category.
Real Ale Brewing Co. – Blanco, TX – for the beer Firemans 4 in the Golden or Blonde Ale category.
Oasis Texas Brewing Co. – Austin, TX – for the beer Luchesa Lager in the Kellerbier or Zwickelbier category.
Save the World Brewing Co. – Marble Falls, TX – for the beer Lux Mundi in the Other Belgian-Style Ale category.
2017 Texas Bronze Medal Winners
Galveston Island Brewing – Galveston, TX – for the beer Blue Bridge in the American-Style Amber/Red Ale category.
Holler Brewing Co. – Houston, TX – for the beer Holler ESB in the Extra Special Bitter category.
Saint Arnold Brewing Co. – Houston, TX – for the beer Saint Arnold Weedwacker in the German-Style Wheat Ale category.
Armadillo Ale Works – Denton, TX – for the beer Honey Please in the Honey Beer category.
Honey Please won Bronze at GABF for the Honey Beer category! This was our second time to enter and second time to win! Cheers to our crew and all the other winners from Texas, this year our state placed third in overall medals, only behind CA and CO! #gabf #representindenton #craftexcellence #armadilloaleworks #honeyplease
Saint Arnold Brewing Co. – Houston, TX – for the beer Saint Arnold Amber Ale in the Ordinary or Special Bitter category.
Big Bend Brewing Co. – Alpine, TX – for the beer Barrel-Aged Marfa Light in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout category.
Congratulations to all of our Texas breweries, your hard work is recognized and well-earned! For the full winner list, check out the Great American Beer Festival’s official website.