Texas at the Great American Beer Festival Recap 2020

What normally is the largest beer festival in the US, the Great American Beer Festival, was forced to go digital for the 2020 edition. This did not stop them from still hosting the yearly GABF awards ceremony. It definitely had a different feel this year watching it on a computer screen, versus sitting in a large hall and watching the breweries actually be able to celebrate their wins. Hopefully, things can be back to normal for the next edition of the festival.

(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 16 less categories than last, bringing the total number down to 91. Along with that, there were no Collaboration category or Pro-Am category. The categories range from American Style-Wheat Beer to Wood-and-Barrel-Aged Sour Beers. The number of entries per category ranges from just 28 (Historical Beer) to 377 (Juicy or Hazy IPA).  The average entered per category came out to 97, up from 88 in 2019. Basically, the competition gets tougher each and every year.

The total number of competition entries submitted to the festival was 8,806 (down 691 from last year) coming from 1,720 breweries (down 575 from last year) across the US. All 50 states, along with Washington D.C., were represented this year.

Brewers Association GABF 2019

(Photo © Brewers Association)

A total of 337 new breweries entered beer into the competition, while 19 were first time winners.

One brewery had the largest medal haul from GABF with 4 medals – Sun King Brewery (Indianapolis).

The state of Texas brought home 10 total awards. They are as follows:


Armadillo Ale Works – Honey Please (Honey Beer)
Eureka Heights – Wicket Awesome (Extra Special Bitter)
Panther Island – Allergeez (Herb and Spice Beer)
Pinthouse Pizza – Cosmic Sloth (Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale)
Vallensons’ Brewing – Settlers’ Oatmeal Stout (Oatmeal Stout)


Freetail Brewing – Imagine a World with Beer Cellars Instead of 401ks (American Pilsener)
White Rock Alehouse & Brewery – White Rocktoberfest (German-Style Maerzen)


New Magnolia Brewing – Fr. Bernard’s Grodziskie (Historical Beer)
Save The World Brewing – Lux Mundi (Belgian-Style Abbey Ale)
True Anomaly Brewing – Freedom 7 (Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer)

This list includes 4 Texas first time winners: New Magnolia, True Anomaly, Vallensons’, and White Rock Alehouse & Brewery.

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
2020: 10

There has been a substantial drop in the medals Texas is bringing home since 2017. Overall, more breweries are entering, more beers are entered, and it gets harder to win consistently. Along with this, we really do not know how Covid-19 may have factored into breweries deciding to send their beers in or not. There was a substantial drop in the number of breweries entering beer which could be caused by knowing that you would not actually be in Denver this year.

However, the biggest factor may just be that there were 16 less categories this year while not a huge drop in the number of entries. That means, there were 48 less chances to get a medal.

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
2020: 5

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 seventh best haul of medals out of all states (dropping from 3rd last year). Oregon and Washington both moved up 2 places for the 3rd and 4th best haul respectively. As always, California and Colorado finish first and second.

California: 63 (down 5 medals from last year)
Colorado: 26 (down 14)
Oregon: 22 (up 8)
Washington: 16 (up 2)
Virginia: 16 (up 3)
North Carolina: 11 (down 1)
Texas: 10 (down 6)
Indiana: 10 (up 2)
Ohio: 9 (down 6)
Illinois: 6 (down 3)
Michigan: 6 (up 2)

Michigan and Indiana 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: 907 (up 66 from last year)
Colorado: 425 (up 29)
Oregon: 311 (up 27)
Washington: 423 (up 29)
Virginia: 290 (up 54)
North Carolina: 333 (up 42)
Texas: 341 (up 58)
Indiana: 192 (up 11)
Ohio: 311 (up 21)
Illinois: 284 (up 55)
Michigan: 400 (up 43)

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

California: 1 medal for every 14.4 breweries (was at 12.4 last year)
Colorado: 1 medal for every 16.3 breweries (was at 9.9 last year)
Oregon: 1 medal for every 14.1 breweries (was at 20.3 last year)
Washington: 1 medal for every 26.4 breweries (was at 28.1 last year)
Virginia: 1 medal for every 18.1 breweries (was at 18.2 last year)
North Carolina: 1 medal for every 30.3 breweries (was at 24.3 last year)
Texas: 1 medal for every 34.1 breweries (was at 17.7 last year)
Indiana: 1 medal for every 19.2 breweries (was at 22.6 last year)
Ohio: 1 medal for every 34.5 breweries (was at 19.3 last year)
Illinois: 1 medal for every 47.3 breweries (was at 25.4 last year)
Michigan: 1 medal for every 66.7 breweries (was at 89.3 last year)

These ratios should continue to go up as more and more breweries open (and not many categories are being added). Unlike last year, Colorado does not have the most medals per brewery, which is the first time that I have seen this since keeping tabs on these stats. That honor goes to Oregon this year. Texas had a pretty steep fall, but that is not surprising considering the medal haul.

Other random bits of info:

– Medals by greater metro areas:

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

– Real Ale did NOT win a medal this year. This breaks a streak of winning a GABF medal for every year since 2012.

– The breweries with the longest winning streaks in Texas now belongs to Save The World and Pinthouse Pizza (if you do not differentiate between the locations). Both have a medal in 4 straight years of competition.

– 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 Brewing Co: 7 medals in the past 6 years.
Pinthouse Pizza: 6 medals dating back to 2013 (if including all locations)
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
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.

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

2nd Medal: Armadillo Ale Works Honey Please
2nd Medal: Save The World Brewing Lux Mundi
2nd Medal: Panther Island Brewing Allergeez

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.

Here is to hoping that the festival can be in person next year!

About The Author

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top