Another year has come and gone for the Great American Beer Festival. For those who have never been, it has turned into a week long party for craft brewers and fans in Denver that ended Saturday.

While most articles locally will talk about how Texas did, I decided to take a deeper look into the numbers of all of this.

This year, there were 4 new categories to bring the total to 96. These range from American Style-Wheat Beer to Wood-and-Barrel-Aged Sour Beers. The number of entries per category ranges from just ten to 312 (which, lately, has always been the IPA category with the most). The average entered per category came out to 75, up from 72 in 2015.

The total number of beers submitted to the festival was 7,227 (up 580 from last year) coming from 1,752 breweries (up 200 from last year) across the US. 264 judges take part in the judging of the beers entered.

brewers-association Texas at the Great American Beer Festival Recap 2016
(Photo © Brewers Association)

As it seems to happen every year, one category did not receive a gold or silver medal. This happens when judges feel the beers do not meet the required style guidelines or quality that they should be. This year, Pumpkin/Squash (which only had 10 entries) had only a bronze medal winner (Butt-ah Nut from BTU Brasserie in Portland). Due to this, the total medals awarded across all categories came to 286.

The state of Texas brought home 12 total awards with 10 being medals for individual styles. They are as follows:

Gold:

Revolver – Anodyne Wheat Wine – Other Strong Beer
ABGB – Industry – German-Style Pilsner
Solid Rock – Big Drought Stout – Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout
Real Ale – Real Heavy – Scotch Ale

Silver:

Grapevine Craft Brewery – Sir Williams – English-Style Brown

Bronze:

Independence – Redbud with Cucumber – Field Beer
ABGB – Hell Yes – Munich-Style Helles
Community – Witbier – Belgian-Style Witbier
Adelbert’s – Flyin’ Monks – Belgian-Style Dubbel or Quadrupel
Nine-Band – Toad Choker Barley Wine – Barley-Wine Style Ale

Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year:

The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company/Amos Swifty Kim

abgb-at-gabf Texas at the Great American Beer Festival Recap 2016
(ABGB at GABF)

Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am Competition:

Gold: Panther Island Brewing/Clifton Ellis – Just Rye’te

Here is a quick breakdown over how Texas has done since 2010:

2010: 6
2011: 4
2012: 9
2013: 10
2014: 16
2015: 15
2016: 10

Definitely a fall in the total numbers this year for Texas. While the total decreased, two awards do not show in these numbers. Panther Island Brewing also won a gold medal in the Pro-Am competition (with home brewer Clifton Ellis) for their Just Rye’te. Along with this, the ABGB/Amos Siwfty Kim also won the Best Large Brewpub and the Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year.

Here are the numbers of golds over the same time period:

2010: 3
2011: 1
2012: 5
2013: 4
2014: 6
2015: 9
2016: 4

Another big drop in the number of golds brought home by Texas.

As far as where Texas placed as a state, they finished with the eight best haul of medals out of all states. Again, this is a fall from 4th over the last two years.

California: 68 (up 1 medal from last year)
Colorado: 38 (up 2)
Oregon: 21 (up 2)
North Carolina: 17 (up 9)
Washington: 14 (up 1)
Virginia: 13 (up 4)
Illinois: 13 (up 9)
Texas: 10 (down 5)
Michigan: 10 (up 4)
Ohio: 8 (down 2)

Michigan and Illinois are newcomers on the top 10 list this year while Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Wisconsin fell out of the top 10 (there was a tie at the 10th position last year, which explains why 3 fell out and only 2 came in). The top 3 states remained unchanged, which is really no big surprise based on who they are. North Carolina and Illinois saw large jumps as well. Ohio, even down in the number they took from last year, was fueled on by Fat Head (who brought in 5 medals themselves).

It is also interesting comparing the numbers of breweries in each state to the number of medals won. I generally use the Brewers Association numbers for this, but they will may not be exact as they are only updated once a year.

California: 518 (up 87 from last year)
Colorado: 284 (up 49)
Oregon: 228 (up 12)
North Carolina: 161 (up 60)
Washington: 305 (up 49)
Virginia: 124 (up 46)
Illinois: 157 (up 54)
Texas: 189 (up 72)
Michigan: 205 (up 46)
Ohio: 143 (up 33)

Based on this, you can look into the number of medals per brewery by state:

California: 1 medal for every 7.6 breweries
Colorado: 1 medal for every 7.5 breweries
Oregon: 1 medal for every 10.8 breweries
North Carolina: 1 medal for every 9.5 breweries
Washington: 1 medal for every 21.8 breweries
Virginia: 1 medal for every 9.5 breweries
Illinois: 1 medal for every 12.1 breweries
Texas: 1 medal for every 18.9 breweries
Michigan: 1 medal for every 20.5 breweries
Ohio: 1 medal for every 17.8 breweries

Colorado (not surprisingly) has the best ratio. This could also be caused by the GABF happening in Colorado and much more breweries are likely to enter their beer locally. But, this does not exactly explain California, who even though they have the most breweries, also seem to be taking an even more impressive share of the medals.

Other random bits of info:

– Real Ale won another award at the GABF. This continues a streak of being awarded at least one medal for every year starting in 2012. Along with that, this is the second year in a row that the ABGB, Panther Island, and Adelbert’s have won awards. If you are curious who are the top 5 awarded breweries in Texas (if you take out macros and shut down places), I decided to look that up:

Saint Arnold: 21 medals dating back to 1999
Spoetzl Brewery: 14 medals dating back to 1999
Real Ale: 7 medals dating back to 2010
Hub City (currently named Triple J’s in Lubbock): 6 dating back to 2001-03 (this one should have an asterisk next to it as they changed owners/names since then, but still in operation)
Frederickburg Brewing: 5 medals dating back from 2002-09

Overall, the brewery with the biggest hauls to Texas is Pabst Brewing (San Antonio), which has brought in 41 medals from 1990 to 2005. I am guessing things were a lot less competitive back then.

– Texas had a couple of first time winners at GABF, which included Independence, Solid Rock and Nine Band.

– This is the second medal for both Grapevine’s Sir Williams and Real Ale’s Real Heavy at the GABF.

– ABGB, who won the Best Large Brewpub and the Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year, is not the first Texas brewery/brewpub to be honored in the Brewery and Brewer of the Year awards. Hub City Brewing (currently Triple J’s in Lubbock) won the Small Brewpub of the Year back in 2002 and Big Horn Brewing (Dallas but now closed) won the Large Brewpub of the Year in 2001.


Texas has great beer everywhere we look and regardless that we went down in the medal count, there is still a lot to be proud of. With the pace that the beer scene is growing in the U.S., any awards coming our way are great achievements.

Texas at the Great American Beer Festival Recap 2016

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