California, Colorado, Oregon Breweries Rule Beer Awards

Nearly half the medals presented last month at the Great American Beer Festival were won by breweries in California, Colorado and Oregon, an analysis by this journalist shows.

Breweries in the three western states captured 45% of the 303 medals at the annual event in Denver that’s known as the Oscars of the U.S. brewing industry. Breweries in California, which has more breweries than any other state, took home the most gold, silver and bronze medals — 73. Breweries in Colorado won 40 medals, and those in Oregon won 23.

The competition was judged during nine days by 250 experts from 10 countries who evaluated 9,298 beers from 2,033 breweries in 175 beer styles. The breweries were from every state, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and awards were given to 263.

One Colorado brewery, Westbound & Down, copped three medals: a gold for Westbound Select in the West Coast-Style IPA category, a silver for Spirit of the West in the New Zealand IPA category and a bronze for The Coloradan in the American Cream Ale category.

Oregon’s employee-owned Breakside Brewery did one better, winning four medals, including three golds. Its winning golds were for Cheat Codes in the American Black Ale or American Stout category; Life in the Other Strong Beer category, and The Trappings and The Suits of Woe in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout category. The brewery’s IPA won a silver in the American-Style IPA category.

Ohio may not be as renowned for beer making as many other states, but its breweries finished No. 4 in medals won — 19 — and the Buckeye State’s Third Eye Brewing Company won more awards than any other brewery in the country.

Third Eye, of Sharonville, Ohio, won five awards: two golds, two silvers and Brewer of the Year for breweries producing 1,001-2,000 barrels annually. Its gold-winning beers were Double Astral in the Chocolate Beer category and Chai Eye Captain in the Herb and Spice Beer category. Silver winners were Gourd Darn-it in the Pumpkin Beer category and Mounds of Importance, which Third Eye brewed with Ohio’s Narrow Path Brewing Co., in the collaboration competition.

In 14 states, breweries combined to win six or more medals (see list below), according to this journalist’s analysis. Breweries in 11 states — Arkansas, Alaska, Alabama, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia — won no medals.

The Great American Beer Festival, organized by the Brewers Association trade group, was held Sept. 21-23 at the Colorado Convention Center. The awards ceremony was held Sept. 23 at Denver’s Bellco Theatre.

Here are the 14 states with six medals or more won by their breweries.

California: 73 medals, 21 gold, 20 silver, 32 bronze

Colorado: 40 medals, 12 gold, 20 silver, 4 bronze

Oregon: 23 medals, 9 gold, 8 silver, 6 bronze

Ohio: 20 medals, 8 gold, 9 silver, 3 bronze

Texas: 19 medals, 12 gold, 3 silver, 4 bronze

Washington: 14 medals, 3 gold, 7 silver, 4 bronze

Tennessee: 8 medals, 4 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze

Virginia: 8 medals, 4 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze

Illinois: 7 medals, 2 gold, 2 silver, 3 bronze

Indiana: 6 medals, 2 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze

Florida: 6 medals, 2 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze

Arizona: 6 medals, 1 gold, 2 silver, 3 bronze

Georgia: 6 medals, 1 gold, 5 bronze

New York: 6 medals, 4 silver, 2 bronze

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