Every year around early October, beer makers and beer drinkers converge on Denver, Colo. for the Great American Beer Festival. GABF is a beer festival that began in 1982 to celebrate and reward the fantastic beers that breweries were producing.
The festival started small with 22 breweries participating in 1982, but has certainly grown over the years with 745 breweries participating from 49 states in 2013. It’s now considered the largest ticketed beer festival in the United States. This year the festival was completely sold out within 20 minutes of tickets becoming available, so planning ahead to snag some tickets for next year would be best.
There were several breweries from Pennsylvania that competed this year, and represented the state well with several medals being awarded in different categories. The GABF is set as a competition of sorts among breweries, a friendly one for the most part.
The festival divides beer into 84 different categories, with winners receiving either a bronze, silver, or gold medal for their beer, along with bragging rights. The categories do get rather specific at times, but this is to ensure beers are being judged with like beers as much as possible. It is no easy feat to win at the festival due to the ever-growing amount of breweries attending and better beer coming to the market every year.
The festival is not just about the competition, though. Many attendees are simply there to enjoy good beer and learn more about their favorite breweries or discover new ones. This year over 49,000 people were in attendance, a number that’s growing every year.
The first Pennsylvania brewery that medaled is Pennsylvania Brewing Company from Pittsburgh, which managed to score a bronze in the Chocolate Beer category for Chocolate Meltdown. Marley’s Brewery and Grille from Bloomsburg received a bronze medal in the Specialty Beer category with Pack Dog Peanut Butter Ale. Yard’s Brewing Co., from Philadelphia, also took home a bronze in the Indigenous Beer category for Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce, and a silver in the English Mild category for Brawler. Another win came with Dark and Stormy from McKenzie Brew House in Glen Mills, which earned a silver medal in the Wood- and Barrel- Aged Sour Beer category.
The winning list continues with a 2009 vintage Big Black Voodoo Daddy from Voodoo Brewery in Medville winning silver in the Aged Beer category. Another Pa. powerhouse, Troegs Brewing Co. from Hershey, got a bronze medal for Sunshine Pils in the German-Style Pilsner category and a gold for Troegenator in the Bock category. The biggest news for Pa. breweries came from Neshaminy Creek Brewing from Croydon, taking home a gold medal in the Vienna-Style Lager category, and Sly Fox taking bronze in the same category with its Octoberfest. Sly Fox also took silver for Grisette in the Belgin-French Style Ale category. Rounding out the winning, Lavery Brewing Co. from Erie also won gold for Liopard Oir Farmhouse Saision in the French-Belgian Style Saison category.
That’s a grand total of 12 medals from the total 252 medals awarded that Pennsylvania breweries won at this year’s festival. It just continues to show that we have an overabundance of fantastic beers being produced right here at home.