Texas breweries made a strong showing at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival in Denver over the weekend, taking home an impressive 15 medals in the country’s largest beer competition. As the cherry on top, Nine of those medals were golds, the most Texas breweries have ever walked away with in a single year.
California, which boasts around four times as many breweries as Texas, was the only state in the nation to earn more gold medals this year.
The Texas breweries to take home awards are The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Adelbert’s Brewery, (512) Brewing Co, Black Star Co-Op, Real Ale Brewing Co., Pedernales Brewing Co., Saint Arnold Brewing Co., Panther Island Brewing Co., 903 Brewers, Karbach Brewing Co., Rabbit Hole Brewing, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery (Temple production facility), and Twin Peaks Brewery. Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. took home two medals.
“This was our best GABF showing to date and we are very proud of our brewing team for giving us our first GABF Gold Medal win… and 2 golds at that,” Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. Creative Director Jeff Wood told Bitch Beer.
For the team at Rahr, the wins couldn’t have come at a more apropos time.
“It was a real treat to be able to announce the Oktoberfest Gold win during our 6th annual Oktoberfest 5K celebration Saturday afternoon as we had the GABF awards presentation live-streaming in the brewer’s offices,” Wood said. “Then a few minutes later… another gold for The Regulator Doppelbock gave us all tears of joy! Thanks to all who have supported us over our past 11 years, and congrats to our fellow Texas medal winners!”
For the brewers who attended the medal ceremony at the Colorado Convention Center Saturday morning, the rush of hearing their names called in front of a packed auditorium of thousands was just the beginning of the honor.
“Winning this medal has been amazing,” Black Star Co-Op Beer Team Leader/ Head Brewer Andy Martinec, who earned a gold medal for Recalcitrant Dockhand in the Robust Porter category, said. “Hearing our name called was incredible, but the overwhelming amount of congratulations and support from peers in the industry has been the most rewarding part of this experience. We are extremely proud to be recognized along side the best breweries in the country and bring back a medal for the co-op.”
Black Star Co-Op was not the only Austin brewery to bring home a gold from GABF. The Adelbert’s Brewery team earned their very first medal from the festival this year, a gold for Vintage Monks.
“We are lucky to be a part of such a vibrant craft beer scene in Austin and Texas as a whole,” Adelbert’s Brewery General Manager Sarah Haney told Bitch Beer. “It was amazing to see the out pour of love on social media right after the ceremony for all the winners. We are honored and proud to be recognized by such a reputable award. Most importantly, we want to send out a huge thank you to our fans who have supported us and helped us get to where we are today. We are excited this award brings to light our every growing barrel program.”
Another Austin brewery to win a gold medal was The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company (The ABGB). While Brewers Amos Lowe and Brian “Swifty” Peters have had the honor of winning medals during their tenures at other local breweries in the past, this is the first win for The ABGB, which just opened its doors in 2013.
“It’s always nice to win a medal in a competition with so many great brewers,” ABGB Owner/Brewer Amos Lowe, who won a gold for Rocket 100 in the American Style or International Style Pilsener category, said. “The lager medals are really special to us because we love lager beers and have a great deal of respect for the passion and technical proficiency of the legendary lager brewers who built the tradition.”
903 Brewers, based north of Dallas in Sherman, TX, also opened in 2013 and earned their first medal this year, a silver medal for Sasquatch in the Aged Beer category.
“To be honest, I think we are still in shock,” 903 Brewers Co-Owner Natalie Roberts told Bitch Beer. “I don’t know if you can really summarize what it means to us. It is very exciting and we are so happy to receive the recognition. The Texas brew scene is full of great breweries and people. It is really growing and it is awesome to see us as a whole out performing some other great states. We are so proud to be included in the impressive list of Texas winners.”
With more than 4,000 breweries now operating in the United States, the competition at GABF grows thicker every year. Winning a medal can feel akin to finding a needle in a haystack, and there are countless great beers that don’t receive recognition due to a variety of factors (be it the steep competition, or fact that the awards are based on traditional style guidelines so more experimental beers tend to under perform). But, for breweries new and old who do win a medal, this recognition can serve as a valuable marketing tool and testament to their beer’s quality.
“We’re absolutely thrilled that our Rapture Brown Ale was recognized at such a high profile and competitive event as the Great American Beer Festival,” Rabbit Hole Brewing’s John Lammers told Bitch Beer. “Medals at the GABF don’t come easily, and winning one certainly carries weight with our customers. Rabbit Hole hasn’t been around all that long, and we’re certainly hopeful that this will help us connect with local beer drinkers that may not be that familiar with us yet so they can discover what we have to offer.”
Texas by the Numbers: Quick Medal Stats
-Texas took home a total of 15 medals at the festival–nine gold, four silver and two bronze. In 2014, Texas breweries took home 16 total medals, but they were a much more even split at six gold, five silver and five bronze.
-14 Texas breweries won medals, with Rahr & Sons winning two.
-Texas ranked fourth in the nation by overall medal count, only placing behind beer powerhouses California, Colorado and Oregon, respectively.
-Texas ranked second in the nation by gold medal count, with only California’s 22 gold medals surpassing the Lone Star State’s showing.
-Of the 14 breweries who won medals, nine were first time winners.
-Of the 14 breweries who won medals, Seven are based in the Austin/Central Texas area, five in the Dallas/North Texas area and two in the Houston area.
-This year, 1,552 breweries nationwide submitted 6,738 beers into the competition to vie for 275 awarded medals. For more statistics on the festival as a whole, check out this press release.
Bitch Beer has been attending and covering the Great American Beer Festival since 2012. Check out our Texas medal wrap-ups from 2012, 2013 and 2014, as well as our photo gallery from the 2015 festival. We’ll have even more GABF 2015 coverage coming at you in the following days.