Texas at the Great American Beer Festival Recap 2021

What normally is the largest beer festival in the US, the Great American Beer Festival, was forced to change their award ceremony for the second year in a row. This year, it happened during the CBC (Craft Brewers Conference), which allowed many of the breweries, and brewers, to at least attend the award ceremony, unlike last year. It brought back the feel of older events, just without the masses of people participating in the yearly Great American Beer Festival session happening right after.

(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 7 more categories than last, bringing the total number down to 98. With that said, the Wet Hop category has yet to be judged to allow breweries more time to complete their Wet Hop beers. Expect those medals to come out sometime in mid-October (Edit: Article updated as of October 15th to reflect the winners). Along with that, there was no Collaboration category or Pro-Am category. The categories range from American Wheat Beer to Wood-and-Barrel-Aged Sour Beers. The number of entries per category ranges from just 24 (Session Beer) to 427 (Juicy or Hazy IPA).  The average entered per category came out to 99.6, up from 97 in 2020. Basically, the competition gets tougher each and every year.

The total number of competition entries submitted to the festival was 9,680 (up 874 from last year) coming from 2,192 breweries (down 472 from last year) across the US. All 50 states, along with Puerto Rico and Washington D.C., were represented this year.

(Photo © Brewers Association)

A total of 425 new breweries entered beer into the competition, while 30 were first-time winners.

One brewery had the largest medal haul from GABF with 3 medals -  Moontown Brewing Company (Whitestown, IN). This is the second year in a row that an Indiana brewery took home this honor, last year with Sun King, out of Indianapolis, taking home the most.

The state of Texas brought home 14 total awards. They are as follows:


Meanwhile Brewing Co - Meanwhile Pilsner (German-Style Pilsener)
Save The World Brewing - Celestis Thesauri (Belgian-Style Ale or French-Style Ale)
True Anomaly Brewing - Sea of Waves (Wood-and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer)
Westlake Brewing Co - Peter Porter (Brown Porter)


Cowtown Brewing Co - High Brau (Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest)
Pinthouse Pizza North - Timbo Pils (Hoppy Lager)
Real Ale Brewing - Real Heavy (Scotch Ale)
True Anomaly Brewing - Scout (International Lager)
Pinthouse Pizza - Fresh Hop Green Battles (Fresh Hop Beer)


Eureka Heights Brew Co - Buckle Bunny (American Cream Ale)
Galveston Bay Beer Co - Captain's Coffee Stout (Coffee Stout or Porter)
Galveston Bay Beer Co - Bull Shark (Scottish-style Ale)
Real Ale Brewing Co - Oktoberfest (German-Style Marzen)
The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co - Rocket 100 (American Pilsener)

This list includes 4 Texas first-time winners: Cowtown Brewing, Galveston Bay Beer Co, Meanwhile Brewing, and Westlake Brewing.

Here is a quick breakdown of 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
2021: 14

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. With that said, Texas outperformed their 2020 numbers.

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
2021: 4

(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 (staying level with last year). Illinois had the biggest improvement of them all, increasing their medal haul by 10 this year. The main difference, this year, is that Colorado fell one to the number 3 spot, while Washington took home the second most. Traditionally, Colorado and California take the most medals.

California: 60 (down 3 medals from last year)
Washington: 24 (up 8)
Colorado: 21 (down 5)
Illinois: 16 (down 10)
Oregon: 15 (down 7)
North Carolina: 15 (up 4)
Texas: 14 (up 4)
Ohio: 13 (up 4)
Virginia: 10 (down 6)
Indiana: 7 (down 3)
Michigan: 7 (up 1)
Iowa: 7 (up 2)

Iowa is the only newcomer 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: 958 (up 51 from last year)
Washington: 428 (up 5 from last year)
Colorado: 433 (up 8 from last year)
Illinois: 295 (up 11 from last year)
Oregon: 312 (up 1 from last year)
North Carolina: 359 (up 26 from last year)
Texas: 364 (up 23 from last year)
Ohio: 339 (up 28 from last year)
Virginia: 297 (up 7 from last year)
Indiana: 195 (up 3 from last year)
Michigan: 398 (down 2 from last year)
Iowa: 107 (up 2 from last year)

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

California: 1 medal for every 16 breweries (was at 14.4 last year)
Washington: 1 medal for every 17.8 breweries (was at 26.4 last year)
Colorado: 1 medal for every 20.6 breweries (was at 16.3 last year)
Illinois: 1 medal for every 18.4 breweries (was at 47.3 last year)
Oregon: 1 medal for every 20.8 breweries (was at 14.1 last year)
North Carolina: 1 medal for every 23.9 breweries (was at 30.3 last year)
Texas: 1 medal for every 26 breweries (was at 34.1 last year)
Ohio: 1 medal for every 26.1 breweries (was at 34.6 last year)
Virginia: 1 medal for every 29.7 breweries (was at 18.1 last year)
Indiana: 1 medal for every 27.9 breweries (was at 19.2 last year)
Michigan: 1 medal for every 56.9 breweries (was at 66.6 last year)
Iowa: 1 medal for every 15.3 breweries (was at 21 last year)

These ratios should continue to go up as more and more breweries open (and not many categories are being added). Traditionally, Colorado always "led" when you looked at it this way. However, Oregon took that honor last year, and Iowa sneaks in with the most medals per brewery this year. Texas improved slightly, but still falling behind in counts compared to the states in front of us.

(Photo © Brewers Association)

Other random bits of info:

- Medals by greater metro areas:

Austin: 7 medals (2 last year)
DFW: 2 medals (3 last year)
Houston: 5 medals (4 last year)
San Antonio: 0 medals (1 last year)

– Real Ale did get back to winning medals. Last year was the only year since 2012 that they did not win a medal.

- The two breweries with the longest winning streaks in Texas belong to Save The World and Pinthouse Pizza (if you do not differentiate between the locations). Both have a medal in 5 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: 13 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: 8 medals in the past 6 years.
Pinthouse Pizza: 8 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
Save The World Brewing: 5 medals dating back to 2017
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.

- Four beers from Texas, this year, had previously won a GABF medal before:

6th Medal: Real Ale Real Heavy
4th Medal: The Austin Beer Garden Brewing - Rocket 100
2nd Medal: Eureka Heights - Buckle Bunny
2nd Medal: Pinthouse PIzza - Fresh Hop Green Battles

Shiner Bock, along with Saint Arnold Summer Pils, have been the biggest individual craft beer winners from Texas overall, with 6 medals each. Real Ale Real Heavy now shares that honor with those two. Next up comes Celis White, with 5 medals,

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

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