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Monday, October 14, 2013

Wrapping Up GABF 2013

The 2013 edition of the GABF is now in the books, and the brewers are back home polishing medals or grudges.  Oregon took 25 medals, ten percent of the total, which seems like a nice haul indeed.  But before webfeet get a big head, keep in mind that California took 52 and Colorado 46.  And further keep in mind that the medals are only distributed to breweries who did (or were able) to enter the fest.  Of the 2,500 breweries in the US, only 600 got to enter beers.  When you look at the paltry haul for Wisconsin (5), Washington (4), and Maine (0) three superb brewing states, you can see how the numbers don't show the whole picture. 

On the other hand, medal-winners can take enormous pride.  GABF's blind-tasting is rigorous and no half-assed beers makes it through the juggernaut.  If a beer medaled, it's a very good beer.  So which very good Oregon beers were acknowledged by judges?  The 25 came from twelve breweries, and there were a number of multiple-award winners.  A few notes:
  • The Barley Brown/Baker City Brewing operation is a medal machine: five in all, three of which were gold--including Pallet Jack IPA, entered in the most-competitive category in the competition (252 entries).  The brewery hasn't lost a beat since Shawn Kelso decamped for 10 Barrel.  Congrats to Marks Lanham and Eli Dickison.
  • Nor has Bend Brewing, which lost Tonya Cornett to 10 Barrel, but still picked up three medals.  Congrats to Ian Larkin. 
  • Harvester gets some serious cred for winning gold in the gluten-free category.  Everyone wants to brew a better gluten-free beer, and in 2013, they're all looking to Harvester.
  • Bolt Minister (Old Town) and Dave Marliave (Flat Tail) were first-time winners.  Bolt took gold in the fresh hop category, and Dave took silver in kolsch and bronze in the catastrophically-named American-Belgo-Style Ale.  
  • I don't know if the big breweries entered this year, but it was the little guys who brought home the medals.  In addition to the ones already mentioned, Breakside and The Commons double-medaled, and not-quite-so-wee 10 Barrel, Oakshire, and Pelican also medaled.  Of the big boys, only Deschutes (two silvers) and Ninkasi (1 gold) made the winner's circle.
I'd like to offer a special shout-out to The Commons for their silver in the saison category.  When I suggested it was one of Oregon's best beers, some folks scoffed--other Commons offerings are more complex, they said.  But that's just the point: Urban Farmhouse is an understated masterpiece, with tons of fermentation character highlighted by its small size.  The judges agreed.  Also to Ninkasi, which won, perhaps improbably, for Bohemian Pils.  Jamie Floyd and Co. have demonstrated remarkable fealty to honest lagers over the past few years--despite their reputation as a hop house--and I'm glad to see the judges agreed.  

Of course, congrats go to everyone--


  1. Congratulations to the winners. When all is said and done, and factoring not everyone enters, etc., it is still evident Oregon has done great and it's no surprise, my one visit there some years ago convinced me it is the best brewing state in the country and outpaces California in particular.

    It will be easy to remember a lot of the winners, I just need to look at breweries starting with a B on the (U.S.) retail shelves! Where's Barrier though of Ocean City!? Maybe it didn't enter.

    I can't believe the plethora of styles, categories, now existing in which to compete. Can there be a beer in the world which doesn't fit one of them? It's a construct to a point buy hey, it's good for craft brewing, for the BA, for everyone, it keeps interest up and perhaps encourages brewers to try for new styles. (My robust porter not doing it these days, I'll go for a brown porter!). :)

    But it's all god and wish I could have been there.

  2. I meant, it's all good.


  3. American-Belgo- style ale? where is my BJCP guide book....
    Congrats all around though and great wrap up! Merci!