Texas at the Great American Beer Festival Recap 2019

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.

Brewers Association GABF 2019

(Photo © Brewers Association)

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 107, 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 17 (Non-Alcohol Beer or Alcohol-Free Beer) to 348 (Juicy or Hazy IPA). The numbers of entries for Juicy or Hazy IPA actually dropped by 43 from last year. The average entered per category came out to 88, up from 83 in 2018. Basically, the competition gets tougher each and every year.

The total number of competition entries submitted to the festival was 9,497 (up 1,001 from last year) coming from 2,295 breweries (down 109 from last year) across the US. All 50 states, along with the US Virgin Islands, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico were represented this year.

Brewers Association GABF 2019

(Photo © Brewers Association)

A total of 401 new breweries entered beer into the competition, while 47 of those were first time winners.

One brewery had the largest medal haul from GABF with 3 medals – Rowley Farmhouse Ales (New Mexico).

The state of Texas brought home 16 total awards. They are as follows:


Altstadt Brewery – Altstadt Kolsch (German-Style Koelsch)
Altstadt Brewery – Altstadt Lager (Munich-Style Helles)
Central District Brewing – Wit-Tington (American-Belgo-Style Ale)
Community Beer Co – Texas Lager (Session Beer)
Freetail Brewing Co – Snap Yo’ Baltics (Baltic-Style Porter)
Pinthouse Pizza North – Fresh Hop Green Battles (Fresh Hop Beer)
Princeps Pacis – Save The World Brewing (Belgian-Style Tripel)
St Elmo Brewing – Roxanne


Family Business Brewing Co – Golden Age Pilsner (German-Style Pilsener)
Real Ale Brewing – Real Heavy (Scotch Ale)
SpindleTap Brewery – Honey Hole (Honey Beer)

Brewers Association GABF 2019


Bitter Sisters Brewing Co – Sisters Quad (Belgian-Style Dark Strong Ale or Belgian-Style Quadrupel)
Great Heights Brewing Co – Bourbon Legend (Wood-and-Barrel-Aged Strong Beer)
Live Oak Brewing – HefeWeizen (German-Style Wheat Ale)
Saint Arnold Brewing – Pumpkinator (Pumpkin/Squash Beer or Pumpkin Spice Beer)
True Vine Brewing Co – Galactic Minotaurt (Contemporary Gose)

Texas at the Great American Beer Festival Recap 2019

This list includes 8 Texas first time winners: Central District Brewing, Altstadt Brewery (2 medals this year!), Bitter Sisters Brewing, Family Business Brewing, Great Heights Brewing, Live Oak Brewing, SpindleTap Brewery, and True Vine Brewing.

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
2019: 16

There is another drop from last year, but any number in the double digits is respectable at the GABF. Seeing how half of the Texas medals are gold, I don’t think anyone will complain.
Here are the numbers of gold over the same time period:

2010: 3
2011: 1
2012: 5
2013: 4
2014: 6
2015: 9
2016: 4
2017: 9
2018: 6
2019: 8

Quality over quantity? Definitely one way to look at it.

Brewers Association GABF 2019

(Photo © Brewers Association)

As far as where Texas placed as a state, they finished with the third best haul of medals out of all states. Oregon dropped 2 places for the 5th best haul after both Texas and Ohio jumped them. As always, California and Colorado finish first and second.

California: 68 (down 4 medals from last year)
Colorado: 40 (up 10)
Texas: 16 (down 2)
Ohio: 15 (up 1)
Oregon: 14 (down 8)
Washington: 14 (down 3)
Virginia: 13 (up 5)
North Carolina: 12 (down 1)
Florida: 9 (up 1)
Illinois: 9 (down 2)

Virginia and Florida are a newcomers on this list from last year for the top 10 medal hauls by state.

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 may not be exact as they are only updated once a year.

California: 841 (up 78 from last year)
Colorado: 396 (up 48)
Texas: 283 (up 32)
Ohio: 290 (up 65)
Oregon: 284 (up 18)
Washington: 394 (up 25)
Virginia: 236 (up 46)
North Carolina: 291 (up 34)
Florida: 285 (up 42)
Illinois: 229 (up 29)

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

California: 1 medal for every 12.3 breweries (was at 10.6 last year)
Colorado: 1 medal for every 9.9 breweries (was at 11.6 last year)
Texas: 1 medal for every 17.7 breweries (was at 13.9 last year)
Ohio: 1 medal for every 19.3 breweries (was at 16.1 last year)
Oregon: 1 medal for every 20.3 breweries (was at 12.1 last year)
Washington: 1 medal for every 28.1 breweries (was at 21.7 last year)
Virginia: 1 medal for every 18.1 breweries (was at 23.8 last year)
North Carolina: 1 medal for every 24.2 breweries (was at 19.8 last year)
Florida: 1 medal for every 31.6 breweries (was at 30,4 last year)
Illinois: 1 medal for every 25.4 breweries (was at 18.1 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 to keep their numbers high on this list.

Other random bits of info:

– Medals by greater metro areas:

Austin: 6 medals (9 last year).
Houston: 3 medals (2 last year)
Blanco/Fredericksburg: 3 medals (1 last year)
DFW: 2 medals (4 last year)
San Antonio: 1 medal (1 last year)
Tyler: 1 medal (0 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.

– ABGB won 0 awards this year…after coming off 3 straight Large Brewpub of the Year awards. It just shows that there are no guaranteed medals at GABF.

– 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: 27 medals dating back to 1999
Spoetzl Brewery: 15 medals dating back to 1999
Real Ale: 11 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 5 years.
Austin Beerworks: 6 medals total going back through 2011.
Rahr & Sons: 6 medals total going back to 2012
Community Beer Co: 5 medals dating back to 2013
Pinthouse Pizza: 5 medals dating back to 2013 (if including all locations)
Fredericksburg Brewing Company: 5 medals between 2002-2008

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

– Somehow, this is the first time that Live Oak has received a GABF medal. I do not understand how that is even possible when they have been making their HefeWeizen for decades.

– Fredericksburg received their first GABF medal (via Altstadt) since 2008 when Fredericksburg Brewing Co won their last medal.

– Save The World Brewing (Marble Falls) has now won medals at GABF for 3 years in a row.

– Only two beers from Texas, this year, had previously won a GABF medal before:

5th Medal: Real Ale Real Heavy
2nd Medal: Saint Arnold Pumpkinator

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 and now Real Ale Real Heavy.

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.

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