The largest beer festival in the US, the Great American Beer Festival, has passed once again. 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 2 new categories to bring the total to 98, along with a 99th category for the Pro-Am competition. These range from American Style-Wheat Beer to Wood-and-Barrel-Aged Sour Beers. The number of entries per category ranges from just 26 to 408 (which, lately, has always been the IPA category with the most). To put that in perspective, last year, the IPA category had 312 entries while the smallest category had 10 entries. The average entered per category came out to 81, up from 75 in 2016. Basically, the competition gets tougher each and every year with new breweries coming online.

The total number of competition entries submitted to the festival was 7,923 (up 622 from last year) coming from 2,217 breweries (up 434 from last year) across the US. 276 judges take part in the judging of the beers entered.

Texas at the Great American Beer Festival Recap 2017
(Photo © Brewers Association)

As it seems to happen every year, one category did not receive a gold. This happens when judges feel the beers do not meet the required style guidelines or quality that they should be. This year, Fruited American-Style Sour Ale (which had 105 entries) had no gold medal winner. Due to this, the total medals awarded across all categories came to 293. A total of 266 breweries ended up winning a medal at this year’s GABF.

The state of Texas brought home 23 total awards with 21 being medals for individual styles. They are as follows:


Freetail – La Muerta – Aged Beer
Eureka Heights – Buckle Bunny – American-Style Cream Ale
The ABGB – Rocket 100 – American-Style Pilsener or International-Style Pilsener
Lazarus Brewing – Amandus – Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale
The ABGB – Velvet Revolution – Bohemian-Style Pilsener
Pinthouse Pizza North – Bearded Seal – Classic Irish Style Dry Stout
Austin Beerworks – Super Awesome Lager – Light Lager
Saint Arnold Brewing – Pumpkinator – Pumpkin/Squash Beer or Pumpkin Spice Beer
Real Ale – Real Heavy – Scotch Ale


Spoetzl Brewery – Shiner Bock – American-Style Amber Lager
Peticolas – It’s Always Something – Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale
Rahr & Sons – Oktoberfest – German-Style Maerzen
Real Ale – Firemans 4 – Golden or Blonde Ale
Oasis Texas Brewing – Luchesa Lager – Kellerbier or Zwickelbier
Save the World Brewing – Lux Mundi – Other Belgian-Style Ale


Galveston Island Brewing – Blue Bridge – American-Style Amber/Red Ale
Holler Brewing – Holler ESB – Extra Special Bitter
Saint Arnold – Weedwacker – German-Style Wheat Ale
Armadillo Ale Works – Honey Please – Honey Beer
Saint Arnold – Amber Ale – Ordinary or Special Bitter
Big Bend – Barrel-Aged Marfa Lights – Wood-and-Barrel-Aged Strong Stout

Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year:

Saint Arnold Brewing Company

Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year:

The Austin Beer Garden and Brewing Company

Texas at the Great American Beer Festival Recap 2017
(Photo courtesy of the ABGB)

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
2017: 21

This is the largest medal haul Texas has ever had at GABF. While the competition is only getting tougher at the festival, Texas seems to be gaining momentum as more and more breweries open. Even with the average number of entries increases for each category, Texas is doing great.

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
2017: 9

Again, this was another great year for gold medals going to Texas. While it is not a record, it does tie the best showing.

As far as where Texas placed as a state, they finished with the third best haul of medals out of all states. Again, this is a improvement from 8th last year.

California: 57 (down 11 medals from last year)
Colorado: 38 (even)
Texas: 21 (up 11)
Oregon: 17 (down 4)
Pennsylvania: 16 (up 9)
North Carolina: 14 (down 3)
Washington: 10 (down 4)
Indiana: 10 (up 5)
Illinois: 10 (down 3)
Michigan: 10 (down 1)

Pennsylvania and Indiana are newcomers on the top 10 list this year while Ohio (up 1 to 9 medals) and Virginia (down 9 to 4 medals) fell out of the top 10. The top 2 states remained unchanged, which is really no big surprise based on who they are. With that said, the last time Texas made it into the top 3 was back in 2005 with Pabst taking 5 medals and Spoetzl taking another 3. Clearly, things have changed for the the better when Pabst are not taking the medal haul for Texas. Pennsylvania, along with Texas, had the biggest jumps in individual style medals at 9. Both of our scenes are rapidly growing (Pennsylvania is really worth a visit for beer alone lately).

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: 623 (up 105 from last year)
Colorado: 334 (up 50)
Texas: 201 (up 12)
Oregon: 243 (up 15)
Pennsylvania: 205 (up 27)
North Carolina: 200 (up 39)
Washington: 334 (under 29)
Indiana: 127 (up 12)
Illinois: 181 (up 24)
Michigan: 222 (up 17)

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

California: 1 medal for every 10.9 breweries (was at 7.6 last year)
Colorado: 1 medal for every 8.8 breweries (was at 7.5 last year)
Texas: 1 medal for every 9.6 breweries (was at 18.9 last year)
Oregon: 1 medal for every 14.2 breweries (was at 10.8 last year)
Pennsylvania: 1 medal for every 12.8 breweries (was at 19.8 last year)
North Carolina: 1 medal for every 14.3 breweries (was at 9.5 last year)
Washington: 1 medal for every 33.4 breweries (was at 21.8 last year)
Indiana: 1 medal for every 12.7 breweries (was at 23 last year)
Illinois: 1 medal for every 18.1 breweries (was at 12.1 last year)
Michigan: 1 medal for every 22.2 breweries (was at 20.5 last year)

Colorado again (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, Texas came in 2nd for this ratio. Maybe that means that more Texas breweries are showing up in Denver than other states, or that we are making more quality beer per brewery than other states. If that is the case, then Washington is one of the most under performing states (in the top 10) based off of how many medals they bring home. It probably has more to do with just how many beers were entered by states further away, but that information is not publicly available to go through.

Other random bits of info:

– Medals by greater metro areas:

Austin: 7 medals (9 if you include Real Ale, but I will leave that argument for another day).
Houston: 6 medals (including Galveston Island in this)
DFW: 3 medals
San Antonio: 1 medal
Alpine: 1 medal
Shiner: 1 medal

– 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 third year in a row that the ABGB has won awards. If you are curious who are the top awarded breweries in Texas (if you take out macros and places that shut down), here they are:

Saint Arnold: 24 medals dating back to 1999
Spoetzl Brewery: 15 medals dating back to 1999
Humperdinks/Big Horn: 11 medals dating from 1998 to 2012.
Real Ale: 9 medals dating back to 2010
Celis: Well, shut down but open again?  I guess I can have it on here.  9 medals between 1992-98.
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)
Austin Beer Garden and Brewing Co: 5 medals in the past 3 years.
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 Holler, Freetail, Galveston Island, Eureka Heights, Lazarus, Save the World, and Big Bend.

– Just to keep tabs on some of the consistent winners at the GABF:

6th Medal: Spoetzl Shiner Bock

4th Medal: Saint Arnold Weekwacker

3rd Medal: Real Ale Real Heavy, Saint Arnold Amber

2nd Medal: Real Ale Fireman’s #4, Rahr & Sons Oktoberfest, ABGB Rocket 100

Shiner Bock, along with Saint Arnold Summer Pils, are the biggest individual craft beer winners from Texas overall with six medals. Next up comes Celis White with 5 medals. Maybe they can build on that number now that they are open again.

– ABGB, who won the Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year, has won this award twice in a row. The only brewpubs to win a brewpub award in Texas before ABGB were Hub City Brewing (currently Triple J’s in Lubbock), which 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.

This was really a great year for Texas at the GABF. As competition is getting harder all across the US, it is good to see our local breweries are keeping up with this.

Texas at the Great American Beer Festival Recap 2017

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