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The Year’s Best Beers Honored At 2018 Great American Beer Festival

Great American Beer Festival winners on stage

The Brewers Association (BA) awarded 306 medals to 280 breweries across the U.S. at the 2018 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) competition. In a ceremony at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, award-winning breweries received gold, silver and bronze medals in 102 beer categories covering 167 different beer styles (including all subcategories). Now in its 32nd year, the GABF drew more than 8,000 entries from 2,404 breweries.

The complete list of winners can be found here. Below are highlights of the event. 

Most-entered style categories

In its GABF competition debut, the Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale style category was the most-entered with 391 entries. Since 2002, the most-entered category was American-Style India Pale Ale (IPA), which saw 311 entries in 2018.

The winners of the top five most-entered categories were:

Category 63: Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale (391 entries)
Gold: Alarmist Brewing, Le Jus, (Chicago, Illinois)
Silver: Kros Strain Brewing Co., Fairy Nectar London Double Dry Hopped (La Vista, Nebraska)
Bronze: Eris Brewery and Cider House, Foiken Haze (Chicago, Illinois)

Category 62: American-Style India Pale Ale (311 entries)
Gold: Root Down Brewing Co., Bine, (Phoenixville, Pennsylvania)
Silver: Appalachian Mountain Brewery Portsmouth, Not an IPA (P.S. it’s an IPA) (Portsmouth, New Hampshire)
Bronze: Green Cheek Beer Co., West Coast IPA is Dead! (Orange, California)

Category 29: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout (177 entries)
Gold: Against the Grain Brewery, 70K Amburana (Louisville, Kentucky)
Silver: Kane Brewing, A Night to End All Dawns (Ocean, New Jersey)
Bronze: FiftyFifty Brewing Co., Eclipse (Truckee, California)

Category 59: American-Style Pale Ale (170 entries)
Gold: Ocean Beach Brewery, B.Right On Pale Ale (San Diego, California)
Silver: Ventura Coast Brewing Co., Neighborhood (Ventura, California)
Bronze: Maplewood Brewing Co., Charlatan (Chicago, Illinois)

Category: 28 Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer (162 entries)
Gold: Drake’s Brewing Co., Santa’s Brass (San Leandro, California)
Silver: The Wrecking Bar Brewpub, Willett Barrel-Aged Ye Old Sprinklerhead Barleywine (Atlanta, Georgia)
Bronze: Revolution Brewing, Straight Jacket (Chicago, Illinois)

Brewery and Brewer of the Year awards

Seven companies were honored with Brewery or Brewer of the Year awards at this year’s competition:

Packaging Breweries

Very Small Brewing Company of the Year (Sponsored by Brewers Supply Group)
Fewer than 1,000 barrels produced in 2017
Brink Brewing Co., Cincinnati, Ohio; Brewmaster: Kelly Montgomery

Small Brewing Company of the Year (Sponsored by ABS Commercial)
1,000–14,999 barrels produced in 2017
Lewis & Clark Brewing Co., Helena, Montana; Brewmaster: Lewis & Clark Brewing and Packaging Crew

Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year (Sponsored by MicroStar Logistics)
15,000–6,000,000 barrels produced in 2017
pFriem Family Brewers, Hood River, Oregon; Brewmaster: pFriem Family Brewers


Small Brewpub of the Year (Sponsored by Briess Malt & Ingredients)
Fewer than 750 barrels produced in 2017
Ocean Beach Brewery, San Diego, California; Brewmaster: Jim Millea & Scott Watkins

Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year (Sponsored by Brewers Supply Group)
750–1,500 barrels produced in 2017
Root Down Brewing Co. Phoenixville, Pennsylvania; Brewmaster: Root Down Brew Team

Large Brewpub of the Year (Sponsored by The Country Malt Group)
Over 1,500 barrels produced in 2017
The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Austin, Texas; Brewmaster: Amos Swifty Kim

Large Breweries or Multiple Location Breweries

Brewery Group of the Year (Sponsored by Live Oak Bank)
More than 6,000,000 barrels produced in 2017 or multi-location breweries wishing to compete as a group
FiftyFifty Brewing Co., Truckee, California; Brewmaster: FiftyFifty BrewCrew

The BA is a nonprofit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers. It represents 4,800-plus U.S. breweries.

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About the author

Alissa Marchat

A word nerd, grocery geek and three-year member of The Shelby Report. She is a proud new homeowner and a great lover of avocado toast.

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