Just days ago, many intrepid beer writers with bigger travel budgets than mine returned from the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), singing ballads of our gallant brewers returning from battle. San Diego brewers truly did represent us quite well, bringing home 11 medals as spoils of war.
However, even as I'm typing this, I realize that the full weight of this accomplishment is not readily apparent. These winners emerged through the sampling of 4,809 beers among 745 domestic breweries. Those beers are categorized across 84 primary beer styles, so the expected standard to meet is highly refined and specific. The beer judges will typically assign the best three of any given style a gold, silver or bronze medal, but it’s not enough to just be in the top three. These beers are not just judged against one another, but also against the best exemplification of the defined characteristics of that style. In other words, the judges are within their rights to not only forgo the awarding of a gold medal, they don’t technically have to award anything at all.
And through all that, San Diego took home five gold medals, three silver medals and six bronze medals. Impressive!
All the winners are deserving of praise, but it was particularly interesting to see Karl Strauss’ Red Trolley Ale bring home the gold, now for the second time at GABF. Though this is not a beer that I typically reach for, that rounds out 18 medals for Red Trolley during the last five years. That’s practically defining the style.
Congratulations to all our embattled brewers and their courageous showing in Denver!