While the city of Denver is filled with over 60,000 beer lovers attending the Great American Beer Festival, an underground ballroom at a lower downtown hotel is jammed with 293 beer judges working their way through 8,864 beers in 102 categories. The newest style that was added saw the largest number of entries: 391 Hazy IPA’s overall.
Orange County and Long Beach doubled their medals from last year, a sign that we’re not only spoiled with world-class beer, its a sign that the scene is getting the attention it deserves. Here are the winners and notes for each.
Bronze: (repeat winner*)
- The Bruery Mischief* American Belgo-Style Ale: Great to see one of the Bruery’s core beers drinking better than ever.
- Unsung Brewing Lumino American-Style Malt Liquor: Usually this category is dominated by Miller, Pabst, and Coors over the years.
- Green Cheek West Coast IPA is Dead!: With 311 entries, it’s incredible to get a win in this category. Green Cheek also won at the World Beer Cup for IPA a few months ago with Radiant Beauty.
- Green Cheek Fools and Babies English-Style Mild Ale: Suck it, Andy Black.
- Gunwhale Ales Hayshaker Classic Saison: One of the most under-appreciated beer styles and the people at Gunwhale Ales usually have multiple on tap at all times.
- Stereo Brewing Wall of Sound Oatmeal Stout*: Consistency is key. This repeat winner is one of my favorite stouts.
- Stereo Brewing Robot Imperial Red Ale: During Stereo’s summer tour, I bought a pack of Robot every week. Great to see Stereo win for a big old school malty beer at 9.5% that is curiously easy to drink.
- Beachwood Brewing Udder Love* Sweet/Milk Stout: This is the third medal for this beer, but it’s the first time since being made in their new HB brewery. As different brewhouses and locations can change a beer’s character, it’s great to see it get validation at the new location.
- riip beer co Black the Riiper American Black Ale: When the award-winning brewer Ian McCall left Beachwood Long Beach to brew at riip, I knew we would see a medal pop up.
- Barley Forge Grandpa Tractor Dortmunder: This is such a hard beer style to nail and this is the first OC win in this category…just in time for Oktoberfest!
- Noble Ale Works Nobility* Imperial IPA: Solidifying OC as “home of the IPA,” Nobility has won two medals at GABF and two at the World Beer Cup.
- Beachwood Blendery Funk Yeah Belgian-Style Lambic: It was bitter-sweet not seeing blender Ryan Fields on stage for a beer he helped create, but seeing new barrel honcho Harrison McCabe bring in the new era of funk to the Blendery was pretty sweet.
Notable: TAPS Fish House & Brewery Corona won silver for their Irish Red Ale, a beer that now has four GABF medals!
What are you waiting for? Go out there and sample some award-winning #ocbeer!
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, level 1 WSET in Wine, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest happening this June!