Beer Man

Here's What You Need to Know About Colorado's 38 GABF Medal Winners

Weldwerks Brewing Facebook page
Colorado held steady at the Great American Beer Festival this year, winning a total of 38 medals on Saturday, the same number it won in both 2015 and 2016. And while that doesn't seem like a lot of bling for a state with more than 320 breweries, it's notable because the number didn't decline as it has in previous years (Colorado won 40 medals in 2014 and 46 in 2013) as the competition has increased dramatically.

Also notable: Of those 38 medals, a whopping thirteen were gold, and they represented a very wide range of styles — variety being one of Colorado's strong suits.

A few things stood out. The first is that it is really, really hard to win a medal at GABF in this day and age. The increased number of breweries has meant more competition and fewes chances for breweries since they are only allowed to enter five beers, as opposed to ten in the old days. So the breweries that are winning consistently are not only making great beers, but they're picking their categories correctly and benefiting from a little luck.

Also, aside from Odell's Pro-Am win (see below), none of Colorado's biggest breweries won anything. New Belgium, Oskar Blues, Left Hand, Avery, Great Divide, Boulder Beer and Ska were collectively shut out. Instead, some of the smallest breweries in the state were knocking back gold, silver and bronze.

Here are some wins of note, followed by the entire list:

click to enlarge Ryan Wibby and the future Mrs. Wibby embrace. - BREWERS ASSOCIATION
Ryan Wibby and the future Mrs. Wibby embrace.
Brewers Association
It's hard not to start with Longmont's Wibby Brewing, which won a silver medal for Moondoor Dunkel in the Munich-Style Dunkel category, because the brewery's Ryan Wibby got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend, Robin, as they took the stage to receive their medal from the BA's Charlie Papazian. It makes you wonder, as the Denver Business Journal's Ed Sealover wondered aloud on Twitter, what his backup plan was if they hadn't won.

Colorado home brewers swept the Pro-Am category, which is set aside for breweries that want to team up on a recipe with award-winning members of the American Homebrewers Association. Denver Beer Co. and Doug Thiel took gold; Daniel Tomkins and Black Bottle Brewery in Fort Collins won silver; and Mark Boelman and Odell Brewing won bronze. It was a nice nod to home brewing in the state that made it a thing.

Weldwerks Brewing in Greeley won gold for its Medianoche in the carefully watched Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout category. The beer, which was already extremely rare and hard to find, has made a name for itself over the past two years as one of the best barrel-aged imperial stouts in the state. Now it can rank alongside the best in the country. It's a huge win for this very young, very small brewery — one that is primarily known for its New England-style IPAs. But anyone who has tried Medianoche is aware that it shines when compared to similar beers from Avery, Fremont Brewing, Modern Times, Perennial and more.

click to enlarge Funkwerks celebrates its big win. - FUNKWERKS FACEBOOK PAGE
Funkwerks celebrates its big win.
Funkwerks Facebook page
Funkwerks, which had struggled at the medal table since winning GABF's Small Brewery of the Year in 2012, took home a gold for its saison in the competitive Classic Saison category. The award comes at a great time for Funkwerks, which has just entered into a financial arrangement with Brooklyn Brewery and 21st Amendment.

Brett beers remained a Colorado specialty, as Jessup Farm Barrel House, a tiny niche brewery in Fort Collins, took gold in the Brett Beer category for Fancy Pants, followed by Our Mutual Friend, which won silver for Saison Trystero; OMF had been a collaborator in 2016 on Dreamy Thing, which won silver in the Brett Beer group for Cerebral Brewing. Greeley's Wiley Roots, meanwhile, a frequent collaborator with OMF, won gold in the Mixed-Culture Brett Beer category for Galaxy Dry Hopped Funk Yo Couch.

Greeley represent! In addition to the medals named above (from Weldwerks and Wiley Roots), Broken Plow Brewing, also in Greeley, won bronze for India Spring Honey Cream Ale.

Lone Tree Brewing was the only multiple-medal winner from Colorado, scoring gold for its Mexican Lager (a beer that won a medal two years ago as well) and a silver for Hop Zombie.

A few breweries won medals in their first year of existence, including Cellar West Artisan Ales in Boulder, New Terrain Brewing in Golden and Square Peg Brewerks in Alamosa.

Others that have been in business a little longer won medals for the first time, including Little Machine Beer in Denver, Co-Brew in Denver, Copper Club Brewing in Fruita, Jessup Farm Barrel House in Fort Collins, 105 West Brewing in Castle Rock, and Launch Pad Brewing in Aurora.

The Sandlot returned to form by winning its first medal in two years. Prior to that, the brewery owned the record for the most ever at GABF with 44 medals. It also returned to its silly names. So Long and Thanks for All the Smoked Fish took gold in the Smoke Beer category.

Scroll down to see all the winners.

click to enlarge FINKEL & GARF
Finkel & Garf
Gold Medals
F-Town Amber
Copper Club Brewing, Fruita
American-Style Amber/Red Ale

Fancy Pants
Jessup Farm Barrel House, Fort Collins
Brett Beer

Galaxy Dry Hopped Funk Yo Couch
Wiley Roots Brewing, Greeley
Mixed-Culture Brett Beer

Just Another Pretty Face
Doug Thiel and Denver Beer Co

WeldWerks Brewing, Greeley
Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout

Mexican Lager
Lone Tree Brewing
American-Style Lager or Malt Liquor

Oatmeal Milk Stout
Finkel & Garf Brewing
Sweet Stout or Cream Stout

CooperSmith’s Pub & Brewing, Fort Collins
English-Style India Pale Ale

Plum Creek Sour
Rockyard American Grill & Brewing, Castle Rock
Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer

Razz Against the Machine
Little Machine Beer, Denver
American-Style Fruit Beer

Funkwerks, Fort Collins
Classic Saison

So Long and Thanks for All the Smoked Fish
Sandlot Brewery at Coors Field, Denver
Smoke Beer

Waverly Tulip
Square Peg Brewerks, Alamosa
Historical Beer

Silver Medals
Black 28
Cannonball Creek, Golden
American-Style Black Ale

Hilltopper’s Pride Kentucky Common Ale
Ironworks Brewery & Pub, Lakewood
Historical Beer

Hop Zombie
Lone Tree Brewing
Imperial Red Ale

Lemon Rye,
105 West Brewing, Castle Rock
American-Style Wheat Beer

Daniel Tomkins and Black Bottle Brewery, Fort Collins

Make Hay
Cellar West Artisan Ales, Boulder
Specialty Saison

Moondoor Dunkel
Wibby Brewing, Longmont
Munich-Style Dunkel or European-Style Dark Lager

Patio Pounder
Twisted Pine Brewing, Boulder
Session India Pale Ale

Launch Pad Brewery, Aurora
Session Beer

Dry Dock Brewing, Aurora
German-Style Pilsener

Roswell: Grudge
Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales, Denver
Experimental Beer

Saison Trystero
Our Mutual Friend, Denver
Brett Beer

New Terrain Brewing,
Golden, Belgian-Style Witbier

Woods Monk
Odyssey Beerwerks, Arvada
Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer

Bronze Medals
Fifth Anniversary Tequila Sour
Loveland Aleworks
Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer

Blackberry Table Sour
Baere Brewing, Denver
Berliner-Style Weisse

Downhill Kolsch
Elk Mountain Brewing, Parker
German-Style Koelsch

Pug Ryan’s, Dillon
Munich-Style Dunkel or European-Style Dark Lager

Mark Boelman and Odell Brew Team, Fort Collins

Farmhouse Saison
Co-Brew, Denver
Specialty Saison

Gordon Biersch Brewery, Broomfield
South German-Style Hefeweizen

India Spring Honey Cream Ale
Broken Plow Brewery, Greeley
Herb and Spice Beer

Little Red Cap
Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, Loveland
German-Style Altbier

Mountain Series: Maibock
Breckenridge Brewery

Woody Pils
Bull & Bush Brewery, Glendale
Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer