Denver Beer Co. and New Belgium Brewing were the big winners among Colorado's breweries at the Great American Beer Festival, which ended Saturday. Both brought home two medals apiece. All together, the state added thirty medals to its GABF collection, half of them golds.
Denver Beer Co. scored a gold for Graham Cracker Porter, which was one of the first beers it ever made and the one that put the brewery on the map back in 2011, when Graham Cracker Porter earned its first medal, a bronze. The brewery also scored gold for Barrel-Aged Japance Off, a version of DBC's sake yeast saison that was aged in red-wine barrels for eight months. This is the fourth year in a row that DBC has won a medal.
Fort Collins-based New Belgium took gold for Transatlantique Kriek in the brand-new Collaboration category, which GABF organizers created this year in order to celebrate the camaraderie that craft brewers are known for. Like the Pro-Am category, the Collaboration beers were judged not by style, but on their own merits. New Belgium teamed up with Belgium's 130-year-old Oud Beersel on this sour classic.
Dayblazer Easygoing Ale, New Belgium's foray into the lower-alcohol light lager marketspace, won silver in the American-Style Cream Ale category.
Fiction Beer Company also scored, winning one of the first-ever medals in the three new — and very popular — Juicy or Hazy categories. Madame Psychosis won a bronze for Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale and was the only Colorado brewery to medal for this style. Named for a character in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, the beer is brewed with more than five pounds per barrel of Idaho 7, Mandarina Bavaria, Mosaic and Citra hops.
In a sweet symbol of validation, Wit's End Brewing won gold for Jean-Claude Van Blond, a Belgian-style blonde ale that won the same medal four years ago. Wit's End closed its taproom doors late last year but kept its beers and its brand alive by moving beer-making operations into Strange Craft Brewing's taproom.
A few breweries won medals for beers in categories that they aren't exactly known for. For instance, Cannonball Creek Brewing in Golden, which specializes in hoppy brews, won gold for Netflix and Pils, a German-style Pilsner. Ska Brewing in Durango won gold for its brand-new Oktoberfest Vienna-style lager, and Comrade Brewing, which also specializes in hops, won bronze for Defcon Red, an Irish Red.
And speaking of reds, Colorado almost swept the German-style Altbier category when Golden City Brewery took gold for its Legendary Red, while Little Red Cap, from Loveland's Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, won the silver.
Here are the rest of Colorado's awards, broken down by medal color:
Butcherknife Brewing, Steamboat Springs
Australian-Style Pale Ale
BJ's Restaurant & Brewery, Boulder
Belgian-Style Dubbel or Quadrupel
Gilded Goat Brewing, Fort Collins
Steamworks Brewing, Durango
High Hops Brewery, Windsor
Glenwood Canyon Brewing, Glenwood Springs
Banded Oak Brewing, Denver
Old Ale or Strong Ale
Left Hand Brewing, Longmont
Ordinary or Special Bitter
105 West Brewing, Castle Rock
1956 Golden Ale
Bootstrap Brewing, Niwot
Golden or Blonde Ale
Citra Dry Hopped Funk Yo Couch
Wiley Roots Brewing, Greeley
Mixed-Culture Brett Beer
The Post Brewing, Lafayette
Thirsty Monk Pub, Denver
Belgian- and French-Style Ale
Smuggler's Brewpub, Telluride
Belgian-Style Blonde Ale or Pale Ale
Crow Hop Brewing, Loveland
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Chips & Salsa Cream Ale
Cogstone Brewing, Colorado Springs
St. Nigels' Doppelbock
Front Range Brewing, Lafayette
German-Style Doppelbock or Eisbock
It Takes a Tribe Red Ale
Goat Patch Brewing, Colorado Springs
La Bomba Belgian Blonde
Cheluna Brewing, Aurora
Brewmaster Jennifer Perez; AHA Member Chris Cardillo