Your 2016 Breweries of the Year
The awards ceremony is always the best time at GABF, with a room full of brewing industry professionals rooting each other on and celebrating their accomplishments. In all, 286 medals were awarded. Winners were chosen from 7,227 competition entries (nearly 9 percent more than the 6,647 entries in 2015 and surpassing all previous participation records) from 1,752 breweries hailing from 50 states plus Washington, D.C. First-time GABF competition entrants (self-identified during the registration process) numbered 464. Of those first-time entering breweries, 41 won medals.
The competition also saw its biggest-ever panel of judges, with 264 beer experts from 12 countries, including the United States, and 170 competition volunteers. The panel also evaluated 88 Pro-Am entries, which were judged in three rounds over four days.
Here is the complete list of winners. Below are some of the more notable awards and tidbits.
Very Small Brewing Company and Very Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year Sponsored by Brewers Supply Group (BSG): Brown Truck Brewery, High Point, N.C. / Team Brown Truck
Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year Sponsored by O-I: Überbrew, Billings, Mont. / Über Cru
Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year Sponsored by MicroStar Logistics: Karl Strauss Brewing Co. — San Diego / Team Karl
Large Brewing Company and Large Brewing Co. Brewer of the Year Sponsored by Beer Institute: Pabst Brewing Co., Los Angeles, Calif. /Gregory Deuhs
Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year Sponsored by Briess Malt & Ingredients Co.: ZwanzigZ Brewing, Columbus, Ind. / Mike Rybinski and Trent Fleener
Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year Sponsored by BSG: Boxing Bear Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM / Justin Hamilton and Dylan Davis
Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year Sponsored by Country Malt Group: The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Austin, Texas / Amos Swifty Kim
GABF awards pulls a Steve Harvey
During the Great American Beer Festival awards ceremony, the name Fat Heads’ seemed to pop up over and over again. The North Olmstead, Ohio-based brewery won a gold medal in the German-Style Wheat Ale category, a silver medal in Other Strong Beer, and a bronze medal in Fresh or Wet Hop Ale. Another Ohio Fat Head’s location took home two other medals as well. Finally, Fat Heads was named the Mid-Size Brewing Co. of the Year. And we thought this was cool because Fat Heads is one of our favorite local breweries.
Problem is, there was a slight goof on those results. Here is the explanation from the BA:
“During competition registration, Karl Strauss Brewing Co. self-identified their San Diego location as a Mid-Size Brewpub. After the award ceremony, GABF competition staff realized that this was inaccurate: this location is, in fact, a Mid-Size Brewing Company. Karl Strauss, while it operates brewpubs, is classified as a production facility by GABF competition guidelines.
After reassigning Karl Strauss to the Mid-Size Brewing Company category, and recalculating the Brewery of the Year results, it resulted that Karl Strauss was the winner of the Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year category. In addition, Boxing Bear Brewing Co. is the resulting winner of the Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year category.
Top three states by ratio of medals to entries by state
- Wyoming (.111) with 45 entries and 5 medals
- Hawaii (.107) with 28 entries and 3 medals
- Virginia (.07) with 200 entries and 14 medals
Winning with Style
The average number of competition beers entered in each category was 75 — up from 72 in 2015 — making the 2016 Great American Beer Festival competition the most competitive ever. The winners in the most-entered (that is, the most competitive) categories were:
American-Style India Pale Ale (312 entries)
- Gold: Bodhizafa IPA, Georgetown Brewing Co., Seattle, Wash.
- Silver: Super Cali IPA, Riip Beer Co., Huntington Beach, Calif.
- Bronze: Breaking Bud, Knee Deep Brewing Co., Auburn, Calif.
Imperial India Pale Ale (211 entries)
- Gold: Humulus Insani, Überbrew, Billings, Mont.
- Silver: Nobility, Noble Ale Works, Anaheim, Calif.
- Bronze: Hop JuJu Imperial IPA, Fat Head’s Brewery, Middleburg Heights, Ohio
American-Style Strong Pale Ale (169 entries)
- Gold: Good Green, Highland Park Brewery, Los Angeles, Calif.
- Silver: Rippin, Sunriver Brewing, Sunriver, Ore.
- Bronze: HFS, Alpine Beer Co., San Diego, Calif.
Coffee Beer (168 entries)
- Gold: Gusto Crema, Georgetown Brewing Co., Seattle Wash.
- Silver: Dusk ‘til Dawn – SC, Pizza Port San Clemente, San Clemente, Calif.
- Bronze: Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout, New English Brewing Co., San Diego, Calif.
Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer (159 entries)
- Gold: Silent Warrior, TAPS Fish House and Brewery – Corona, Corona, Calif.
- Silver: Mélange À Trois, Nebraska Brewing Co. – Papillion, Papillion, Neb.
- Bronze: 15th Anniversary Ale, Island Brewing Co., Carpinteria, Calif.