Monday, September 25, 2023

GABF Awards Ceremony 2023- Them's the Breaks

The morning of the 2023 GABF Awards began like so many before, with me scrambling to wake up, brush last night's beer taste out of my mouth, and find some coffee to drink while writing about the awards. I needn't have rushed, as former CO Governor and current Senator John Hickenlooper hit the stage first and gave a not short but very engaging speech on his time in the beer industry.

2,033 breweries entered this year's competition, with 9,298 beers being evaluated by a panel of 250 judges. That's an average of 37 beers per judge. I had about that many pours at First Draft on Friday night after the fest.

On the local front, Marble Brewery took a Silver medal with Thunder From Dortmunder in the Dortmunder or German-style Oktoberfest category. Also, Flix Brewhouse won Bronze in the Juicy or Hazy Strong Pale Ale Category with Tropical Mirage. The two medals were the fewest New Mexico has brought home since the 2010 GABF, when Chama River took the lone NM medal for Three Dog Night Baltic Porter.

Here's some random observations and stats on the awards: As usual, California and Colorado were the big winners, or more specifically, California was the BIG winner, with 73 medals, while Colorado had 36. Oregon did pretty well with 23.

California swept the American-Style Strong Pale Ale category, as well as the Imperial IPA category. And the Imperial Stout category. And the International-Style Pale Ale category. They also took Silver and Gold in the Juicy or Hazy Imperial IPA category. Ironically, they only took one medal in the new-for-2023 West Coast Style IPA category.

And now for a word from our sponsors. Heard that many times during the awards this year. I get it; it's a necessary part of the ceremony in the current climate. Fewer breweries pouring at the fest means less revenue for the BA, who still put on a hell of an event and frankly deserve all the money they can bring in. Locally, Marble consolidated their production and MavLab spots into a single booth, while La Cumbre, a stalwart Featured Brewery, chose not to pour at the fest this year. On the other hand, Santa Fe and The 377 Brewery both paid to be a Featured Brewery. I did appreciate the emcee's subtle (sales) reminder of how gratifying it is to be able to pour your award winning beer on the festival floor after winning a medal. Always be closing.

Quick, what do 1852 Brew Co., Corn Coast Brewing Co., and Side Hustle Brewing Co. have in common? Yes, they all have Co. in their name, but I was going for the fact that they all medaled in the Juicy or Hazy IPA category this year. In the most competitive category (365 entries). And I never heard of any of those three breweries. And none got to experience the gratification of serving their award-winning IPAs on the festival floor.

The numerous breaks for people to "get up and dance" were curious considering that the awards ALWAYS run over into festival pouring time.

Remember when Iron Hill would win a bunch of medals? A lot less cowbell these days.

Lazarus Brewing out of Austin winning Gold in both Bohemian and German Pilsner categories means another lager stop besides ABGB next time I'm in Austin.

Modern Times lives! Bronze and Silver in the new Dessert or Pastry Stout category. Don't mess with a good thing, Maui.

Brett Pack members took Gold and Silver in the Belgian-Style Witbier category, with Adam Avery's White Rascal taking the Gold over Rob Todd's Allagash White, which took Silver. And if you were at the festival, you may have been served a sample by four of the five members of the unofficial group: Tomme at the Lost Abbey Booth, Sam at the Dogfish Head booth, Adam at the Avery Booth, and Vinnie at Russian River. Aaaanndd I'll admit here first that I didn't see if Rob was pouring at Allagash this year, really just f'ing up this whole nice little sidebar piece I was writing. But it was nice to see industry vets continuing to be a presence at their booths, though I'm not mad when there are just volunteers pouring who can't tell you anything about the beer. Even if there are brewery reps at the booth, there just isn't time to stand there and talk when there are 30 people in line and the rep has to pour for everyone.

German-Style Pilsner had the 4th most entries of any of the 99 categories, with 228 entries. And the Light Lager category had even more, with 284 entries. Fizzy yellow beers are for wussies, it was once said.

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