Late last week, the Brewers Association (BA) announced the top beers in the Fresh Hop Beer category for the 2021 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) competition. Gold, silver, and bronze medal winners in the Fresh Hop Beer category bring the 35th edition of the world’s largest commercial beer competition total count to 293 medals awarded to 267 breweries.
This year’s GABF judging began earlier than ever before in order to host the GABF awards ceremony during the Craft Brewers Conference in Denver in September. To include the Fresh Hop category in the competition, judging was pushed to October to allow for the fall hop harvest and beer production. Judges from Colorado evaluated 83 entries submitted by 69 breweries from 14 states during three consecutive elimination rounds in a single day with health and safety measures in place.
The Fresh Hop Beer category entries at GABF have grown in recent years following an uptick in consumer interest in the seasonal brew. Conventionally, hops are dried and stored to be used throughout the year. Conversely, a fresh, wet hopped beer is made with whole hops harvested only hours before being dropped in the kettle.
“Brewers love the connection with their hop growers, and drinkers enjoy these unique hop-driven ales and lagers, which are becoming harvest season staples within the year-round cycle of beer styles,” said Chris Swersey, competition director, Great American Beer Festival. “Congratulations to this year’s winners. These beers were worth the wait.”
FRESH HOP CATEGORY WINNERS:
Category 98: FRESH HOP (83 entries)
GOLD: Energy Cone – Single Hill Brewing Co., Yakima, WA
SILVER: Fresh Hop Green Battles – Pinthouse Pizza North, Austin, TX
BRONZE: Seems So Long Since We Walked in the Moonlight – Burke-Gilman Brewing Co., Seattle, WA
The 2021 GABF competition was the largest judged to date with 9,762 beers judged, including the 83 Fresh Hop Beer category entries. In total, 2,191 breweries from all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico entered the competition.