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Brewers Take Top Honors at Great American Beer Festival
Illinois Ag Connection - 10/10/2017

The 2017 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) competition awarded 293 medals to some of the best commercial breweries in the United States, plus three GABF Pro-Am medals to teams of homebrewers paired with professionals. Presented by the Brewers Association (BA), GABF is the largest commercial beer competition in the world and the premier symbol of brewing excellence.

In a ceremony at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, award-winning breweries received prestigious gold, silver and bronze medals in 98 beer categories covering 161 different beer styles (including all subcategories), establishing the best examples of each style in the country.

Winners were chosen out of 7,923 competition entries from 2,217 breweries in 50 states plus Washington, D.C. (a 15 percent and 24 percent increase respectively from the 7,301 entries and 1,783 breweries in 2016).

The competition took place in six sessions over a period of three days and was judged by 276 beer experts from 13 countries, including the U.S. In addition to commercial brewery entries, the judging panel also evaluated 118 Pro-Am entries. The competition was made possible with the help of 365 volunteers.

2017 Brewery and Brewer of the Year Awards included Packaging Breweries, Very Small Brewing Company and Brewmaster of the Year (<1,000 BBLS) to On Tour Brewing Co., Chicago, Ill., and Mark Poffenberger & Mark Legenza.

Most medals won by a single brewery: Saint Arnold Brewing Co. (3)

Top three states by ratio of medals to entries by state:

West Virginia -- 12 entries, 2 medals

Wyoming -- 46 entries, 5 medals

Connecticut -- 39 entries, 4 medals

First-time GABF competition entrants (self-identified during the registration process) numbered 584. Of those first-time entering breweries, 36 won medals.

Since 2002, the most-entered category has been American-Style India Pale Ale (IPA), which saw 408 entries in 2017 compared to 312 entries in 2016. The top five entered categories and number of entries per category were:

Category 60 American-Style India Pale Ale (408 entries)

Category 61 Imperial India Pale Ale (221 entries)

Category 58 American-Style Pale Ale (199 entries)

Category 59 American-Style Strong Pale Ale (182 entries)

Category 29 Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer (175 entries)

The winners in the most-entered (that is, the most competitive) categories included Category 60 American-Style India Pale Ale (408 entries) and a Gold Medal to Prairie Madness, Hailstorm Brewing Co., Tinley Park, Ill.

The Brewers Association (BA) is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The BA represents 4,000-plus U.S. breweries. The BA's independent craft brewer seal is a widely adopted symbol that differentiates beers by small and independent craft brewers. The BA organizes events including the World Beer Cup, Great American Beer Festival, Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America, SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience, Homebrew Con, National Homebrew Competition and American Craft Beer Week. The BA publishes The New Brewer magazine, and Brewers Publicationsis the largest publisher of brewing literature in the U.S.

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