The 2016 Great American Beer Festival was, yet again, bigger, and I suppose better, than ever before. The massive festival has become overwhelming on almost all fronts. But the near perfect execution by the Brewers Association, host of the GABF, has created a festival that is just plain epic in scale and in performance. Yes, the pretzel necklaces were abundant, the karaoke stage was busy and there were plenty of wiggling bodies at the silent disco stage, but the 379,000 square feet of all-things beer attended by 60,000 attendees is yet one more example of why the GABf has become the largest commercial beer competition in the world.
This year the GABF featured some 3,800 beers from more than 800 breweries while the competition awarded 286 medals from 7,227 competition entries submitted from 1,752 breweries hailing from 50 states plus Washington, D.C.
The competition also saw its biggest-ever panel of judges, with 264 beer experts from 12 countries, including the U.S., and 170 competition volunteers.
The most medals won (4) went to Überbrew, Billings, Mont. who picked up two gold, one silver and one 1 bronze. Karl Strauss Brewing Co. (San Diego, Calif.), Brown Truck Brewery (High Point, N.C.) and Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon (North Olmsted, Ohio) won three medals each.
All of the medal winners can be viewed here.
2016 Brewery and Brewer of the Year Awards
Very Small Brewing Company of the Year
- Brown Truck Brewery, High Point, N.C.
Small Brewing Company of the Year
- Überbrew, Billings, Mont.
Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year
- Karl Strauss Brewing Co. – San Diego, San Diego, CA
Large Brewing Company of the Year
- Pabst Brewing Co., Los Angeles, Calif.
Small Brewpub of the Year
- ZwanzigZ Brewing, Columbus, Ind.
Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year
- Boxing Bear Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM
- The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Austin, Texas