This post brought to you by the Great American Beer Festival.
Jump to Map of Award-Winning Beers
This weekend we were lucky enough to go on the incredible wild ride that is the Great American Beer Festival! With over 800 brewers pouring over 3,900 different beers, this festival is both a madhouse of love for the art of craft beer and the greatest drinking celebration outside of Munich.
Have you guys seen this seal on your beer labels? The Brewer’s Association is rolling it out for an easy way to identify true small and independent craft brewers, letting you vote with your money to support craft. The past few years have been a whirlwind as more and more craft operations are bought out by mega-brewers; it’s good to know which breweries are running independently.
Craft beer has created a monster and it’s a challenge to satisfy our continual thirst for something new. There are 3 guidelines that define craft brewing: small, independent, and traditional. This means producing less than 6 million barrels per year, less than 25% ownership by “big alcohol”, and primarily working with traditional fermentation & ingredients. We had the opportunity to hear Jim Koch, founder of Samuel Adams, talk about the importance of independence and how the craft community can support each other. Above all, though, in Koch’s words: “All beer is good. Some beer is great, but all beer is good.” Seriously inspiring to see the camaraderie and community built around beer!
Back to the festival – I could drool just thinking about that cheese spread from American Cheese Society! After a hard afternoon of drinking, sinking into a big spread of delicious artisan cheeses (which pair incredibly well with your pretzel necklace, I might add) is absolute bliss.
The fabulous Julia Herz, craft beer director for the Brewer’s Association, led a Palate Trip session on pairing beers with food. She spoke with such incredible passion for the ways we experience beer, leading us through the emphasis and depression of flavors. It’s truly a joy to learn from someone who loves what they do every day.
Here are the locally-sourced pairings we tried:
FATE Uror Gose
Rogue’s Bolder Pickled Vegetables
Weldwerks Brewing Alpha Bits
Primo Strawberry Ancho Preserves
Hardywood / New Belgium collaboration SAVOR X
Chocolove Almonds & Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate
And of course, the second-biggest draw of the festival is the people! GABF is truly the greatest party of beer lovers you’ve ever seen. The mood is electric as everyone trades tips on their favorite beers, greets newcomers to the festival brewing scene, and shares pretzels to keep the party going.
Find GABF Award-Winning Beers Near You!
Okay, now here’s the fun part for all of you! The competition stats are pretty impressive:
7,923 entries submitted,
2,217 breweries, 276 judges
I’ve put together a map of all the 2017 GABF award-winning beers so you can discover the best craft beers in your area! Just zoom in and click on a medal to learn more.
With so many entries, it was clearly a fierce fight for the medals. I’m so happy that two of my favorite local Golden breweries took home awards, New Terrain for their Suntrip wit and Cannonball Creek for their Black 28 ale. Well-deserved awards for fantastic beers – congratulations Golden!
And of course we have to end with a fairytale surprise… Robin & Ryan from Wibby Brewing got engaged during the award ceremony! Wibby is just up the road in Longmont, Colorado and they turn out some fantastic brews – especially their Moondoor Dunkel, which won silver! – and it was such a sweet moment to witness.
Cheers to everyone at the Great American Beer Festival and a big thanks for the invite. We’re already looking forward to next year – it’s never too early to start planning your costume or strategy. Now get out there and drink local!
Craft Beer Recipes
Pretzel-Crusted Chicken with Beer Cheese Sauce
Sea Salt Porter Brownie Bites
Campfire Beer-Candied Bacon