The 2011 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) concluded Saturday in Denver, CO, with qualified judges from nine countries awarding gold, silver, and bronze medals to America’s finest craft brews in 83 categories.
A list published Saturday by the GABF compiled the names of the victorious breweries and their prize beers. When the last pint was drained, industry giants Pabst and Busch stood in the winners’ circle alongside critically acclaimed microbreweries such as California’s Firestone Walker and Oregon’s Deschutes.
Contest categories included classic styles like Brown Porter and American-Style Pale Ale, as well as more experimental approaches involving chocolate, coffee, and pineapple. Over five hundred breweries from 48 U.S. states and Puerto Rico submitted entries.
In addition to the individual awards, judges commended breweries with consistent records of excellence in the past year. Among the winners were Chuckanut Brewery (Bellingham, WA, Brewer Will Kemper), and Pizza Port Ocean Beach (San Diego, CA, Brewer Yiga Miyashiro).
Since 1982, the GABF has drawn brewers, critics, aficionados, and designated drivers to Denver every autumn to celebrate the creative and unique ales and lagers that make America a recognized leader in craft brewing. Today, GABF is the largest commercial beer competition in the world according to its most recent press release.
This year’s three-day festival highlighted the potential of pairing artisan brews with fine food, featuring a dedicated Beer & Food Pavilion where expert chefs matched their creations with the GABF’s best concoctions. Many of Denver’s gourmet food trucks were also on hand to cater to hungry connoisseurs.
With accomplished and aspiring homebrewers in attendance, organizers ensured a strong presence by the American Homebrewers Association. This included founder and homebrewing icon Charlie Papazian, who awarded medals at the ceremony. Other authorities such as Randy Mosher and Stan Hieronymus were scheduled to sign new and well-worn copies of their renowned books at the on-site Beer Enthusiast Bookstore, per the GABF website.
One of the more striking spectacles at the 2011 GABF was the Silent Disco, where patrons danced wearing headphones wirelessly transmitting the performance of a live DJ that could not be heard by observers. If nothing else, it demonstrated beer’s timeless ability to make two left feet fly.