Well that tornado of tastings has come and gone for another year in Denver. Many brews were tasted. Some were good, some not so much, but all attendees, that much is certain, had a good time. Yes, I am talking about the Great American Beer Festival that saw over 60,000 people pour through the Colorado Convention Center over three days last month. Damn that’s a lot of people.

Here are a few fun facts; over 3,800 beers were poured which represents the largest selection of American beers ever served. 750 breweries were in attendance, another record. And best of all Colorado finished with 36 medals good enough for second overall, 17 ahead of third place Oregon and 31 behind California.

Photos © Brewers Association

Photos © Brewers Association

To say that this is the Golden Age of brewing in Colorado and the rest of the country would be an understatement. In fact craft beer is doing so well growing its market share across the country it has motivated the two largest brewers in the world (ABInBev and SABMiller) to merge. So the fact that our state had the second most medals despite only having 4 Million residents is fantastic.

The six gold medals, 15 silver medals and 15 bronze medals for the Mile High State came from 92 categories in which 275 total medals were awarded. To give you an idea of how special your beer has to be to actually take home some hardware consider this; more than 6,600 beers were judged from 1,552 breweries representing every single state.

Besides having so many established leaders in the craft beer industry (Oscar Blues, Left Hand, Great Divide, Odells, and New Belgium) our state is an incubator for new and exciting breweries as the festival showed. Ten breweries took home their first medals ever bringing the total to 25 first time winners the last two years.

Here is a list of the rookies this year and their winning beers.

  • Denver Beer Co.-Canworks: King Ink in the American-Style Black Ale
  • Lone Tree Brewing Co.: Summer Siesta Mexican Lager-American-Style Lager
  • WeldWerks Brewing Co.: WeldWerks Hefeweizen-American-Style Wheat Beer with Yeast
  • Brewery Rickoli: Statik-Barley Wine Style Ale
  • Fort Collins Brewery & Tavern: Oktoberfest-Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest
  • Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales: Ramjet-Experimental Beer
  • Broken Compass Brewing: Coconut Porter-Field Beer
  • Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brewery: 24 Frames Per Second-Wood and Barrel Aged Sour Beer
  • Spangalang Brewery: Spangalang Table Beer-Other Belgian-Style Beer
  • Bootstrap Brewing Company: Wreak Havoc-Imperial Red Ale

Besides these fine new establishments several other breweries wracked up some notable wins. Left Hand brewing continued their torrid streak of late bringing home three more medals to take their total to 12 in the last six years. Cannonball Creek won their fourth medal in the last three years, and Comrade brewing companies Fresh Hop Superpower IPA took home its second silver medal in the last two years.

So rejoice Colorado, as most of us know we are blessed to live in this fine state. Not only are the mountains beautiful, but the beer is damn good.

HZ12_ShieldLogo-300x190Liquid Gear is proudly sponsored by Hazel’s Beverage World which is the go-to store for outdoor enthusiasts and everyone else on the go.  Featuring Boulder’s largest selection of wine, beer and spirits at everyday low prices, Hazel’s has lots of beverages that are easy to carry along and enjoy no matter what your adventure.  So don’t forget to pack the party—fly by Hazel’s before your next excursion and stock up on your favorite liquid refreshments. Hazel’s – Same Planet, Different World.