News and Views from the GABF

A record 29,500 fest-goers attended this year’s annual Great American Beer Festival last weekend in Denver. Occupying the newly rebuilt Denver Convention Center, it was perhaps the best laid out and organized GABF in many years.

The numbers just keep growing at the Brewer’s Association sponsored event. Three hundred and thirty seven breweries had booth space this year, up from 334 last year. Likewise, 466 breweries submitted beers for judging as compared to 398 in 2004. Two new categories were also added to the judging for a total this year of 69.

The GABF, billed as the “biggest collection of American beers ever presented in one location,” is held over a three day period. The gathering includes wholesalers, suppliers and even importers, all who use the event as an industry conference.

For a complete listing of medal winners and recognition awards, go to: www.GreatAmericanBeerFestival.com

Do you have photos from the GABF? If so, send ’em to us and we’ll post here. Send to [email]tom.mccormick@probrewer.com[/email]

See additional stories below.

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  1. admin says

    Fred Eckhardt – the ‘Dean’ – among award recipients

    The Brewers Association recognized the work of three journalists during a presentation Oct. 1 at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. The awards, sponsored by Rogue Ales, were given to Ken Wells for work that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, to Mike Reidel and Sandy Riesgraf for a feature piece that appeared on Fox 13 News at 9 in Salt Lake City, Utah and to Fred Eckhardt for an article that appeared in All About Beer Magazine.

    “American consumers have learned more about the flavor and diversity of the beers made in this country as a result of the work done by these journalists,” said Ray Daniels, Director of Craft Beer Marketing for the Brewers Association and coordinator of the Beer Journalism Awards program. “Thanks to Rogue Ales, we are able to both recognize and reward the work that they have done.”

    The three honorees received awards for work published or aired during the last half of 2004 or the first half of 2005.

    Wells received the Consumer Print award for three articles that appeared in the Wall Street Journal between August 13, 2004 and April 1, 2005. Wells’ writing was based on research done for his book, Travels with Barley. Between its print and online editions, The Wall Street Journal reaches some 2.2 million people with each issue.

    The award in Consumer Electronic Media went to Riesgraf and Reidel for a television feature entitled The Queen of Beer which appeared on KSTU Fox 13 News at 9 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The story focused on brewer Jennifer Talley of Squatter Pub & Brewery to tell the story of how beer is made.

    Eckhardt won the Trade and Specialty Beer Media Award for his magazine article entitled “Cocoa Bean and Grains of Barley” which appeared in All About Beer Magazine. The article discussed matching the flavors of beer with those of chocolate and chocolate-based desserts.

    Eckhardt has been writing about beer since 1969, earning him the title of “Dean of American Beer Writers.”

  2. admin says

    GABF visitors understand IPAs, get confused by hefeweizens

    Among the 377 brewery booths promoting beers during last week’s Great American Beer Festival in Denver was one with a big question mark. Near the festival stage consumers found a booth serving but a single beer each session and leaving it to consumers to determine what was in their tasting cup.

    “The point was to get consumers thinking about the characteristics of the basic beer styles and to see how well they know those styles,” said Ray Daniels, Director of Craft Beer Marketing for the Brewers Association.

    After receiving a sample of mystery beer, consumers were ask to determine which of six basic beer styles the mystery beer fell into. The style groups included Pilsner, pale ale and India pale ale, amber ale or lager, porter and stout, wheat beer, and Belgian-style ales. By completing a form with their opinion on the beer’s style, they also entered a drawing for tickets to the 2006 Great American Beer Festival.

    Nearly 1,400 consumers participated in the mystery beer program during the four sessions of the festival. On average, they correctly identified the style being poured 70% of the time – but there were wide variations in success based on the style of beer being poured.

    “India Pale Ale (IPA) and Porter got the highest percentage of correct answers,” said Daniels, “while the wheat beer and Belgian-style ale seem to have been the hardest styles to identify.”

    Eight-seven percent of consumers correctly identified the pale ale/IPA style when offered a sample of Avery IPA at the Mystery Beer Booth during the Thursday evening session.

    When a porter, Left Hand Brewing Company’s Blackjack Porter, was offered as the mystery beer during the Friday evening session, 83% of those participating correctly put it in the porter/stout category.

    When a Belgian-style ale was offered as the mystery beer, the vast majority of consumers (70%) correctly identified the style, but there was clearly more confusion. Fourteen percent of consumers polled during the Saturday afternoon Connoisseurs’ session identified Avery Brewing Company’s Salvation as a pale ale/IPA and another 9% thought it was a wheat beer.

    Finally, when Left Hand Brewing Company’s Haystack Wheat – a classic Bavarian-style hefeweizen – was served as the mystery beer during the Saturday night session of the festival, only 41% correctly identified it as a wheat beer. In this case, more consumers (43%) identified the beer as being a Belgian-style ale.

    “This exercise gives us a good indication of where consumers have solid knowledge and where they need some more education,” said Daniels. “Clearly a Bavarian-style hefeweizen is not readily identifiable to the majority of beer consumers and they aren’t entirely clear on Belgian-style ales either.

    “Offering a Bavarian-style wheat beer with its yeast-derived banana and clove aromas and flavors may have created a bigger challenge than intended, Daniels said. “I think that more breweries offer the American-style wheat beer and that may be more familiar to most beer drinkers,” he said. “Also, since Belgian-style wheat beers typically display spicy flavors, some consumers may have believed it was a Belgian-style wheat beer.”

    To help those consumers interested in learning more about beer styles, Daniels offered a 15-minute tutored tasting of the six basic beer styles at the start of each of the three evening sessions of the festival. A “cheat sheet” on the six basic styles to help people with their decision.

    “Educating consumers about beer is a key part of our mission at the Brewers Association,” said Daniels. “The Great American Beer Festival gives us an excellent opportunity to do that.”

  3. admin says

    SandLot captures 7 GABF medals in record-sized competition

    SandLot Brewery at Coors Field set a Great American Beer Festival record by capturing seven of the 206 medals awarded in the Professional Panel Blind Tasting competition.

    The brewery, owned by Coors, also generated one of the loudest cheers during the awards ceremony Saturday in Denver when the name of its silver-medal winning European-Style Pilsener was announced: “Most Beer Judges Are Bone Heads.”

    SandLot was honored as Small Brewing Company of the Year. Anheuser-Busch won Large Brewing Company of the Year and New Glarus Brewing Co. captured Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year.

    Iron Hill Restaurant & Brewery No. 3 in Wilmington, Del., won Large Brewpub of the Year, and Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City, Ore., won Small Brewpub of the Year. Pelican also won Small Brewpub honors in 2000, and this year just edged 2003 and 2004 winner Pizza Port Solana Beach.

    The GABF competition drew a record 2,335 beers in 69 categories, with 109 judges hailing from seven countries. The most popular category was American-Style India Pale Ale with 102 entries.

  4. admin says

    New Glarus Brewing, Dan Carey receive belated honors

    Following an internal audit, organizers of the 2005 Great American Beer Festival have announced that New Glarus Brewing Co. should be honored as Mid-Size Brewing Company of the year – although another brewery originally was given the award.

    “We do our best to ensure that GABF results are as accurate as possible. Ultimately, it’s about integrity,” said Nancy Johnson, Brewers Assocation Event Director. “Our results processing is complicated and technical, and takes place over a very short, hectic timeframe; sometimes we make mistakes. While it’s uncomfortable to acknowledge this, it’s our responsibility to do so, and to correct the results publicly and openly.”

    Breweries entering the competition select up to eight of their beers as eligible for points in the brewery of the year classifications. There were three breweries in the running for the Mid-Size Brewery of the Year Award: Boston Beer Co., New Glarus Brewing and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. All breweries won two gold medals among their eight eligible beers, thus creating a tie.

    The tiebreaker rules for determining the brewery of the year have four levels:

    1. Most points awarded as 3 for a gold medal, 2 for a silver medal and 1 for a bronze medal. 2. Most gold medals. 3. Most medals. 4. Most entries in medalled categories.

    The decision for the winner of the Mid-Size Brewery of the year came down to the fourth tiebreaker, most entries in medalled categories. New Glarus Brewing Co. won gold medals in categories with a total of 126 entries. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company won their gold medals in categories totaling 79 entries, and Boston Beer won gold medals in categories totaling 32 entries.

    New Glarus Brewing Co. has won a medal in every GABF competition since 1996. New Glarus also won the Small Brewing Company category award in 2003. With an increase in production, New Glarus moved into a new category this year (Mid-Size Brewery), with brewer/co-owner Dan Carey also honored.