outside the Colorado Convention Center ahead of GABF
pFriem Family Brewers, Alesong Brewing & Blending, and 10 Barrel Brewing stole the show at the 32nd annual 2018 Great American Beer Festival(GABF) today, September 22nd, 2018. Produced by the Brewers Association (BA), there were 306 medals awarded to 280 breweries this year in Denver, and I was there for a firsthand report on both the festivities and the awards ceremony. Oregon brewers won 22 medals this year; that’s an improvement on last year’s 19 medals, and even on the 21 in 2016! Even more impressive, two Oregon breweries triple tied for the most medals won by any brewery this year. Both 10 Barrel Brewing and Alesong Brewing & Blending took home 3 medals each, along with Montana’s Lewis & Clark Brewing Co..
GABF is arguably the most prestigious beer competition in the world. It is certainly the most competitive beer competition in America with 102 beer categories judged that cover 167 different beer styles (including all subcategories), establishing the best examples of each style in the country and earning a symbol of brewing excellence.
Most notable this year was the addition of new style categories for the so-called New England-style IPA, which the Brewers Association has recognized as the Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale style category, with separate awards for Pale Ales, IPA, and Double IPA versions. It was also crazy that the Hazy IPA category became the most-entered category, overtaking the American-style IPA this year with 311 entries into the category. Many were looking at the breweries and beers known for the style to win awards, such as Oregon’s Great Notion Brewing, Colorado’s Weldwerks, and Nevada’s Revision Brewing, not to mention all the east coast examples. It was not surprising to me, though, that almost no nationally known breweries or brands won these awards, which just shows that the hype does not make something the best beer in the country, as well as the fast that there is so much quality spread out over the country that goes largely unrecognized.
The big stories from Oregon this year were Alesong Brewing & Blending’s 3 medals, pFriem Family Brewers’ 2 medals, and the sad fact that award winning stalwarts Breakside Brewery and Barley Browns were both completely shut out in the medal competition.
pFriem Family Brewers won 3 GABF Medals and was named Best Mid-Sized Brewer
pFriem Family Brewers has been a beer geek favorite and industry darling since practically day one, but has previously not had stellar results at the GABF, with just one Silver Medal (though that’s nothing to sneeze at) before this year, when the brewery claimed a Gold for Druif, the excellent lambic-style sour ale with wine grapes, and a second medal for the phenomenal Pilsner. Not only that, but pFriem was named Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year.
Matt van Wyk and Brian Coombs of Alesong Brewing & Blending won 3 medals at the 2018 GABF
Alesong Brewing & Blending tied for the most medals won by any brewery this year, as we previously mentioned. Perhaps even cooler, Alesong won two medals in the same category, and two were wine grape beers. Alesong’s Terroir Pinot Gris beer won a Silver in the Brett Beer category, while the brewery’s Touch of Brett Mandarina won a Bronze. Another grape wild ale, Terroir Pinot Noir, won a Silver in the Experimental Beer category. Along with pFriem’s win for Druif, does this mean Oregon is the king of wild wine-grape hybrid beers?
10 Barrel Brewing out of Bend has been cleaning up at awards for a long time, so it’s no surprise the company won three medals. More impressive is that the brewery reportedly was allowed just three entries, and they returned with three medals!
Sunriver, 10 Barrel and Goodlife Brewing in Bend, Oregon all captured 2018 GABF Medals!
Bend really had a great showing with the consistently buzz-worthy medal winners Sunriver Brewing winning two medals, Worthy Brewing taking home a Silver for Strata IPA, and Goodlife Brewing winning a second gold in a row for Sweet As Pale Ale. Coupled with 10 Barrel’s success, these wins made for a really impressive showing for Central Oregon.
Oregon’s 2018 Great American Beer Festival Awards:
Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
pFriem Family Brewers Hood River, OR
pFriem Family Brewers Team
Category 1: American-Style Wheat Beer – 54 Entries
1. Gold: Sweet As Pacific Ale, GoodLife Brewing Co., Bend, OR
Category 2: American-Style Wheat Beer with Yeast – 37 Entries
2. Silver: Fuzztail, Sunriver Brewing, Sunriver, OR
3. Bronze: Hefeweizen, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Portland, OR
Category 4: Fruit Wheat Beer – 103 Entries
4. Gold: Passionate Envy, 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend, OR
Category 13: Specialty Beer – 55 Entries
5. Silver: Double Stack, Great Notion Brewing, Portland, OR
Category 16: Session Beer – 50 Entries
6. Bronze: Stonefly Session Ale, Three Creeks Production, Sisters, OR
Category 19: Experimental Beer – 112 Entries
7. Silver: Terroir Pinot Noir, Alesong Brewing & Blending, Eugene, OR
Category 21: Gluten-Free Beer – 38 Entries
8. Bronze: Dark Ale, Ground Breaker Brewing, Portland, OR
Category 25: Brett Beer – 61 Entries
9. Silver: Terroir Pinot Gris, Alesong Brewing & Blending, Eugene, OR
10. Bronze: Touch of Brett Mandarina, Alesong Brewing & Blending, Eugene, OR
Category 26: Mixed-Culture Brett Beer – 77 Entries
11. Gold: Druif, pFriem Family Brewers, Hood River, OR
12. Bronze: Coming to Fruition: Cherry, Oregon City Brewing Co., Oregon City, OR
Category 41: German-Style Pilsener – 159 Entries
13. Silver: Pilsner, pFriem Family Brewers, Hood River, OR
Kevin Davey of Wayfinder Beer and his Silver Medal from the 2018 GABF
Category 44: Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest – 67 Entries
14. Silver: Freiheit Oktoberfest Wiesn, Wayfinder Beer, Portland, OR
Category 55: Classic English-Style Pale Ale – 33 Entries
15. Gold: Pale Ale, Omission Brewing Co., Portland, OR
16. Silver: MacTarnahan’s Amber Ale, Portland Brewing – Portland, OR
Jim Prinzing and Darron Welch of Pelican Brewing won a Silver medal for Sunspot IPA at the 2018 GABF
Category 56: English-Style India Pale Ale – 50 Entries
17. Silver: Silverspot IPA, Pelican Brewing Co., Pacific City, OR
Category 57: Australian-Style Pale Ale – 46 Entries
18. Silver: Strata IPA, Worthy Brewing Co., Bend, OR
Category 68: Imperial Red Ale – 45 Entries
19. Bronze: Cinder Beast, Sunriver Brewing, Sunriver, OR
Category 77: Berliner-Style Weisse – 115 Entries
20. Gold: Baywindow, 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend, OR
Category 93: Robust Porter – 91 Entries
21. Gold: Lomporter, Lompoc Brewing – The 5th Quadrant, Portland, OR
Category 96: American-Style Stout – 43 Entries
22. Silver: P2P, 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend, OR
Grains of Wrath is across the river in Camas, WA and claimed a Bronze for their Vienna Lager at the 2018 GABF
GABF COMPETITION STATISTICS
- 32nd edition of the GABF competition
- 8,496 entries plus 101 Pro-Am and 49 Collaboration entries
- 2,404 breweries in the competition from 49 states plus Washington, D.C. (no Mississippi)
- 293 judges from 13 countries
- Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 83
- Category with the highest number of entries: Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale (391 entries)
- 280 medal-winning breweries (including Pro-Am and Collaboration)
- 306 total medals awarded plus three (3) each for Pro-Am and Collaboration
- 537 first-time GABF entrants
- 31 first-time GABF winners
- 37th anniversary of the festival
- Over 800 breweries in expanded festival hall
- 4,000+ beers served at the festival
- 62,000 attendees
- 4,086 volunteers (festival and competition combined)
- 584,000 square feet of festival hall
packed crowd at the 2018 Great American Beer Festival awards ceremony
View the 2018 winners or download a PDF list of the winners.