Sunday, September 23, 2018

GABF Awards Recap

The 2018 GABF Awards ceremony seems to have been streamlined compared to past years. Not a bad thing, as you can only say the same thing year after year. Trust me.
This year, 2,404 breweries entered beer in the competition. An insane amount, but with a total of over 6,300 breweries in the US as of 2017, there's still room for more entries. Judges only had to try 8,496 beers, so why not bring on more?

The Juicy or Hazy IPA category burst onto the scene with 391 entries. Last year's highest number of entries was the IPA category, with 408. This year, 311 entered in the regular IPA category. Nothing wrong with being old school, but time for people to recognize hazy IPA is a real thing. Should have been its own category two years ago. I think it should go further and hazy and juicy should have their own individual awards. They are distinctly different beers.

And onto the winners!

Six medals awarded in the first two categories and three went to Oregon breweries. Would the trend continue?

Not at that pace, but Oregon was well represented at the awards ceremony with 22 medals. Not quite the 72 medals collected by California breweries, but close to the 30 won by Colorado breweries. Of Texas' 18 medals, 6 were for lagers. Interesting. Having AVGB in their state doesn't hurt. Washington did well with 17 medals, while North Carolina and Ohio were well represented with 13 and 14, respectively.

We here in New Mexico? We did pretty well! We have been spoiled in the past with larger medal counts, but with the number of entries not growing so much as multiplying at an alarming rate, we should be happy with any morsel of metal we can get. 6 medals is pretty darned good, plus a bronze in the collaboration category for Palmer/Quarter Celtic's Mocha Hipster Bomb. It matches the number hit in 2017 and 2016. That's three 6's in a row, for those who keep track of that sort of thing. And it's 3 more medals than New Jersey, who has 7 million more people living there. 5 more medals than Firestone Walker, who only took 1 medal this year. That number was matched by Starr Brothers, who took a Bronze in the Other Strong Beer category for their Lampshade Porter.

Rowley Farmhouse Ales won a Silver in the Berliner-Style Weisse category for Germophile. The Rowley medal count of 1 matched Russian River's.

La Cumbre's Malpais Stout took a Silver in the Robust Porter category. Malpais also took a Silver in La Cumbre's GABF debut in 2011.

Sierra Blanca's Cherry Wheat met the guidelines for the Fruit Wheat category as it contained both fruit (cherry), and wheat (wheat). It earned them a Bronze, the second year in a row they have medaled in that category! At that rate, Rich Weber is going to have to start wearing Jeff Bagby pants.

Bosque (pronounced Bosk in tourist-speak) took Bronze for Pistol Pete's 1888 Ale in the Golden/Blonde Ale category. Their beer is made in Berna-Lill-O, in Chris Swersey-speak.

Turtle Mountain rounded out the NM winners with Gold for Wooden Teeth in the International-Style Pilsner category. That's 2 Gold medals since 2011 for NM in this category.

Other notes:

Medals were awarded in the Juicy or Hazy IPA category to three breweries I've never heard of.

For those of you who live in NM and want to try the Gold medal winner in the Hazy DIPA category, you can make the drive to AZ, where Black Market New England DIPA is available in cans.

It's 2014 all over again, as the Imperial Stout category awarded no medal to a Brewery named Iron Hill or 2SP. Iron Hill had medaled in that category from 2010-13, 2015, and then in 2016 their former Head Brewer medaled with 2SP Brewing and again in 2017 (with Iron Hill medaling in the same category).

Best beer name: how about Cannonball Creek's Netflix and Pils, which won Gold in the German-Style Pilsner category. Colorado wins Gold in this category at GABF and Gold at World Beer Cup as well (Rockyard Primadonna). Look out, Texas!

Worst beer name: Bananenhängematte, FiftyFifty Brewing. For obvious reasons.

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