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 5 new categories to bring the total to 102, in addition to a Collaboration category and the Pro-Am category. These range from American Style-Wheat Beer to Wood-and-Barrel-Aged Sour Beers. The number of entries per category ranges from just 23 (International-Style Pale Ale) to 391 (Juicy or Hazy IPA). This is the first year for the Juicy or Hazy IPA category existed, and it dominated for the number of entries. Since 2002, the American-Style IPA category had the most entries. This year, it sat at 311 entries. The average entered per category came out to 83, up from 81 in 2017. Basically, the competition gets tougher each and every year with new breweries opening.

The total number of competition entries submitted to the festival was 8,496 (up 573 from last year) coming from 2,404 breweries (up 187 from last year) across the US. 293 judges take part in the judging of the beers entered. No breweries from Mississippi or Washington D.C. entered the competition.

Texas at the Great American Beer Festival Recap 2018
(Photo © Brewers Association)

A total of 280 breweries ended up winning a medal at this year’s GABF. 31 of those were first time winners. Three breweries were tied for the largest medal haul from GABF with 3 medals each – Alesong Brewing and Blending (Oregon), 10 Barrel (Oregon), and Lewis & Clark Brewing (Montana).

The state of Texas brought home 19 total awards with 18 being medals for individual styles. They are as follows:


ABGB – Rocket 100 – American-Style Pilsener
Texas Beer Company – Pecos Amber Lager – American-Style Amber Lager
ABGB – Hell Yes – Munich-Style Helles
Rahr & Sons – Oktoberfest – German-Style Marzen
Pinthouse Pizza – Green Battles IPA – American-Style Strong Pale Ale
Real Ale – Real Heavy – Scotch Ale


Kunstler – Chamuco – Chili Beer
NXNW – Hazelnut Crunch – Herb and Spice
Saint Arnold – Oktoberfest – Scottish-Style Ale
Bankhead Brewing – Hoofer’s Hef – South German-Style Hefeweizen


Ranger Creek Brewing – San Antonio Hatch Lager – Chili Beer
Austin Beerworks – Super Awesome Lager – Light Lager
Oak Highlands – Oktoberfest – German-Style Marzen
Austin Beerworks – Flavor Country – Australian-Style Pale Ale
Saint Arnold – Amber Ale – Ordinary or Special Bitter
Circle Brewing – Doppel Blur – German-Style Wheat Ale
Save The World Brewing – Sol Hominis (The Sun of Man) – Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale
903 Brewers – Kilt Switch – Scotch Ale

Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year:

The Austin Beer Garden and Brewing Company (ABGB)

Texas at the Great American Beer Festival Recap 2018
(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
2018: 18

This is the second largest amount of medals that Texas has ever pulled in. While it is a drop from last year, the competition continues to get tougher. Being able to consistently pull in the number of medals that Texas does is a great sign for the quality of the breweries we have in Texas.

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
2018: 6

We did have a drop in the number of golds, but still an impressive showing.

As far as where Texas placed as a state, they finished with the fourth best haul of medals out of all states. Oregon jumped Texas, once again, to take the third best haul. As always, California and Colorado finish first and second.

California: 72 (up 15 medals from last year)
Colorado: 30 (down 8)
Oregon: 22 (up 5)
Texas: 18 (down 3)
Washington: 17 (up 7)
Ohio: 14 (up 5)
North Carolina: 13 (down 1)
Minnesota: 12 (up 6)
Illinois: 11 (up 1)
Michigan: 9 (down 1)

Minnesota and Ohio are newcomers on the top 10 list this year while Indiana and Pennsylvania fell out.

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: 763 (up 141 from last year)
Colorado: 348 (up 14)
Oregon: 266 (up 23)
Texas: 251 (up 50)
Washington: 369 (under 35)
Ohio: 225 (up 48)
North Carolina: 257 (up 57)
Minnesota: 158 (up 46)
Illinois: 200 (up 19)
Michigan: 330 (up 108)

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

California: 1 medal for every 10.6 breweries (was at 10.9 last year)
Colorado: 1 medal for every 11.6 breweries (was at 8.8 last year)
Oregon: 1 medal for every 12.1 breweries (was at 14.2 last year)
Texas: 1 medal for every 13.9 breweries (was at 9.6 last year)
Washington: 1 medal for every 21.7 breweries (was at 33.4 last year)
Ohio: 1 medal for every 16.1 breweries (was at 19.7 last year)
North Carolina: 1 medal for every 19.8 breweries (was at 14.3 last year)
Minnesota: 1 medal for every 13.2 breweries (was at 18.7 last year)
Illinois: 1 medal for every 18.2 breweries (was at 18.1 last year)
Michigan: 1 medal for every 36.7 breweries (was at 22.2 last year)

These ratios should continue to go up as more and more breweries open (and not many categories are being added). Like last year, Colorado has the most medals per brewery. Part of that reason could just come from more Colorado breweries enter the festival as it is in their backyard. With that said, Texas continues keep their numbers in line with the heavy hitters (like Colorado and California). This was much like last year as well in that aspect.

Other random bits of info:

– Medals by greater metro areas:

Austin: 9 medals (7 last year).
Houston: 2 medals (6 last year)
DFW: 4 medals (3 last year)
San Antonio: 2 medals (1 last year)
Blanco: 1 medal (2 last year)

– 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 fourth 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: 26 medals dating back to 1999
Spoetzl Brewery: 15 medals dating back to 1999
Real Ale: 10 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.
Austin Beer Garden and Brewing Co: 7 medals in the past 4 years.
Austin Beerworks: 6 medals total going back through 2011
Rahr & Sons: 6 medals total going back to 2012

Overall, the brewery with the biggest hauls to Texas is Pabst Brewing (San Antonio), which has brought in 41 medals from 1990 to 2005.

– Texas had a couple of first time winners at GABF, which included Bankhead, Texas Beer Company, Ranger Creek, Oak Highlands, Kuntsler, and Circle.

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

4th Medal: Real Ale Real Heavy, Saint Arnold Amber, Saint Arnold Oktoberfest

3rd Medal: Rahr & Sons Oktoberfest, ABGB Rocket 100

2nd Medal: Austin Beerworks Super Awesome Lager, ABGB Hell Yes

Shiner Bock, along with Saint Arnold Summer Pils, are the biggest individual craft beer winners from Texas overall. Next up comes Celis White with 5 medals. However, none of these received a medal this year.

– ABGB, who won the Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year, has won this award three times in a row. This is an incredible accomplishment when you consider how many brewpubs there are in the US currently. Along with this, they are consistently winning awards for Rocket 100 and Hell Yes.

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 2018

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