Texas craft breweries experienced unprecedented success in the 2014 Great American Beer Festival Competition in Denver this weekend, walking away with an impressive 16 medals.
The breweries to win these awards were Peticolas Brewing Co., Spoetzl Brewery, Austin Beerworks, Thirsty Planet Brewing, Real Ale Brewing Co., Community Beer Co., Grapevine Craft Brewery, Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., Pedernales Brewing Co., Saint Arnold Brewing Co., 5 Stones Artisan Brewery, Armadillo Ale Works, Oasis, Texas Brewing Co. and Pinthouse Pizza Craft Brewpub.
The record-shattering success toppled last year’s already impressive 10 medal takeaway, further validating the lone star state’s reputation as a newly rising craft beer juggernaut.
“Texas made a big impression by having 44 breweries at the festival, but we were the talk of the festival with 16 medals,” Charles Vallhonrat, Executive Director of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild said. “Congratulations to all our winners, from those open less than a year to those open for decades.”
Indeed, while some of Texas’s medals were awarded to long-established, heavily decorated breweries like Saint Arnold and Spoetzl, several went to some of the newest breweries in the state. Take for example Oasis, Texas Brewing Company, who took home a gold medal in the Ordinary or Special Bitter Category for their London Homesick Ale after mere months in operation.
“We’re over the moon,” Oasis, TX Head Brewer Spencer Tielkemeier told Bitch Beer. “We’d have been happy with any medal, but it makes it so much sweeter that it’s gold. By the time they’ve announced the bronze and silver, you’ve already talked yourself out of it. I honestly don’t remember the ten seconds following the syllable “Lond-” I’m so proud of our team and our state.”
Thirsty Planet Brewing Company has competed in the competition for a few years now, but took home their first medal as well this year.
“We are super excited to have won a silver medal for our Yellow Armadillo (American Wheat), it definitely is a refreshing beer that is often overlooked,” Thirsty Planet’s Ben Sabin told us. “We are glad to be part of such a great local craft beer community here in Texas and the more attention we can get as a whole the better.”
In the spirit of that community, Sabin expressed his gratitude for some help from friends during the submission process.
“I definitely want to thank American Canning for allowing us to package our beers in cans for submission,” he said. “I know that helped.”
Seth Weatherly, Founder of Cibolo-based 5 Stones Artisan Brewery experienced a mix of shock and pride after his first year medal win Saturday.
“I was totally blown away and thankful Aloha Piña medaled,” Weatherly said. “It is a beer that is near and dear to me and quite frankly the one that started me on the journey of opening a small artisan brewery. I’m very honored to be a part of our Texas craft brewing community.”
Whether it’s a brewery’s first medal or its fifth, there’s still a lot of excitement that comes with a win, especially for a beer near and dear to the brewer’s heart.
“Not to sound cliche, but it has only partially sunken in.” Real Ale Brewing Co. Brewmaster Erik Ogershok told Bitch Beer as he described what it was like to take home a gold medal in the Belgian-Style Lambic or Sour Ale category for Benedictum. “We don’t brew beer to win medals, but it feels great to win one. This win is extra special since it is the first medal for a beer from our Mysterium Verum series. A lot of time and effort goes into each of them, especially the wild ales such as Benedictum. Winning a gold medal has capped off what was already a great experience at GABF this year. Now I have to get busy making more Benedictum.”
Dallas-based Community Beer Company has also experienced previous success at the festival, which made it all the more sweet when they were able to defend a gold medal in the Extra Special Bitter category this year. (And a second medal on top of that didn’t hurt either.)
“Winning a Gold medal last year for Public Ale was pretty surreal,” Community Founder Kevin Carr told us. “But to win it again two years running, along with a Bronze for Ascension Coffee Porter, is so incredibly humbling … particularly given the increase in entries in both those categories and the competition as a whole. What’s most exciting is the strongest showing from Texas breweries ever. This lets the world know that world class beer is regularly coming out of our state. We’re proud to be a part of that.”
Peticolas Brewing Co. won their second GABF medal this year, taking the Aged Beer category for their 2012 Great Scot!
“It was a great win,” Founder Michael Peticolas said. “A GABF gold medal is the ultimate validation of the quality we strive to achieve in our beer. An honor truly representing that we brew world class beer. There no is better feeling than hearing the name of your beer announced as a gold medal winner. This award makes our year!”
Austin-based Pinthouse Pizza took home a second medal in its second year in the competition, earning a bronze in the very last category announced (talk about a nail biter), Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout, and that wasn’t their only accolade of the GABF trip. They also took the runner up slot for their “Batch 69” Double IPA in the hop-centric Three Floyd’s Sponsored Alpha King Challenge, which occurred for its 15th year during GABF week in Denver Friday.
“It has been a great weekend, taking 2nd at Alpha King, a competition that is always full of the people we look up to when making hoppy beers and also being the first Texas brewery to make the final 15 even,” Pinthouse Pizza Head Brewer Joe Mohrfeld said. “And a bronze for Jaguar Shark in such a competitive category is amazing! Every year it gets more competitive at GABF, and to have Texas represent the way they did is so exciting for Texas craft beer and shows the direction we are all going.”
Texas by the Numbers
-Texas breweries won a combined 16 medals at this year’s festival, up from last year’s already impressive 10.
-Fourteen breweries walked away with a medal, with Saint Arnold and Community Beer Company both winning two medals.
-This was Texas’s most successful year at the festival by overall medal count since 2002 when the state took home 18 medals. Although, to quantify that, at least eight of the 2002 Texas medals went to LoneStar/Old Style/ Schlitz and other entrants in the American-Style Light Lager and American-Style Specialty Lager categories, which were brewed in Texas in those days. This year marks the most medals won by small, independent Texas craft breweries in the history of the competition.
-A total of 44 Texas breweries had booths at the festival, with additional breweries (like Thirsty Planet and 5 Stones) submitting beer just for the judging portion of the festival.
-Texas was the fourth most decorated state by total medal count this year, only coming behind California, Colorado and Oregon, respectively. This statistic represents a continued shift in upward momentum as Texas was the sixth most decorated state in 2013, and the eighth most decorated state in 2012.
-Of the 16 medals Texas breweries took home, six were gold, five were silver and five were bronze.
-Six of the 16 medals went to first time winners.
-For more interesting statistics on the festival and overall awards, check out this press release.
Congratulations to all of the Texas breweries who poured beer, competed or won medals at this year’s Great American Beer Festival!