Beer Birthday: Paul Gatza

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Today is also Paul Gatza’s 52nd birthday. Paul is the Director of the Brewers Association in Boulder, Colorado. He’s held numerous executive positions with the BA and its previous incarnation, the Association of Brewers. An avid homebrewer, Paul is great face for the BA and a terrific person. Join me in wishing Paul a very happy birthday.

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Toasting in New Orleans for CBC.

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Working the AHA booth at GABF.

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At the podium during the opening of CBC in 2008.

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Paul giving his annual state of the industry talk at CBC in 2012.

Homebrewers Pick The Best Beers In America 2016

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For the 14th straight year, the readers of Zymurgy magazine were asked to send in a list of their 20 favorite commercially available beers. With a record number of votes in the poll’s fourteenth year — over 18,000 votes. The results were not exactly shocking, and most of the beers and breweries that got the most votes were what you’d expect, I think, but it’s an interesting list all the same, but boy is there a lot of complaining going on in the comments. The results are, as usual, printed in the latest issue, July 2016.
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Top Rated Beers
KEY: T indicates tie / (#) indicates rank last year / [Arrow indicates their movement over the previous year].

Four of the top ten are California beers (the same number as last year), with again 24 making the list. This is the eighth year in a row AHA members chose Pliny the Elder as the top beer. This also the seventh consecutive year that Bell’s Two Hearted Ale came in second.

1. Russian River Pliny the Elder [↔]
2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale [↔]
3. The Alchemist Heady Topper (6) [↑3]
4. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA (3) [↓1]
5. Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin (T33) [↑28]
6. Founders Breakfast Stout (5) [↓1]
7. Three Floyds Zombie Dust (8) [↑1]
8. Bell’s Hopslam Ale (7) [↓1]
9. Goose Island Bourbon Country Brand Stout (15) [↑6]
T10. Stone Enjoy By IPA (4) [↓4]
T10. Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA [↔]
12. Founders KBS (17) [↑5]
13. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (T12) [↓1]
14. Lawson’s Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine (not on last year’s list)
15. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA (9) [↓6]
T16. Founders All Day IPA (27) [↑11]
T16. Sierra Nevada Celebration (T28) [↑12]
18. Cigar City Jai Alai (40) [↑22]
19. Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale (T33) [↑14]
20. Firestone Walker Wookey Jack (10) [↓10]
21. Arrogant Bastard Ale (T17) [↓4]
22. Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ (32) [↑10]
23. Deschutes Black Butte Porter (21) [↓2]
T24. Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro (T12) [↓12]
T24. Tröegs Nugget Nectar [↔]
26. Firestone Walker Union Jack (T22) [↓4]
T27. Founders Backwoods Bastard (44) [↑17]
T27. Russian River Blind Pig I.P.A. (16) [↓11]
T29. Lagunitas IPA (30) [↑1]
T29. Odell IPA (T24) [↓5]
T29. Russian River Consecration (T19) [↓10]
32. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA (T12) [↓20]
33. Tree House Julius (not on last year’s list)
T34. Ballast Point Victory at Sea (T49) [↑15]
T34. Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA (T28) [↓6]
T34. Fat Head’s Head Hunter (T45) [↑11]
T34. Firestone Walker Double Jack (T24) [↓10]
38. North Coast Old Rasputin (31) [↓7]
T39. Oskar Blues Ten Fidy [↔]
T39. Russian River Supplication (T19) [↓20]
T39. Topping Goliath pesudoSue (not on last year’s list)
T42. Firestone Walker Parabola (T22) [↓20]
T42. Surly Todd the Axe Man (not on last year’s list)
44. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (T41) [↓3]
45. Russian River Pliny the Younger (T49) [↑4]
T46. Prairie Artisan Ales Bomb! (not on last year’s list)
T46. Surly Furious (35) [↓11]
T46. Victory DirtWolf Double IPA (T45) [↑1]
49. Maine Beer Lunch (not on last year’s list)
T50. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (not on last year’s list)
T50. New Belgium La Folie (T41) [↓9]

Brewery Rankings

Brewery rankings are based on total votes received by each brewery’s beers. This year’s top brewery is the same as last year, Russian River Brewing Co., in Santa Rosa, Calif. Russian River again placed five beers in the top 50, including both its Plinys. Founders Brewing finished second, while Bell’s Brewery came in third. Six California breweries made the list (two less than last year), with five from Colorado, and two each from Michigan and Pennsylvania. Again, (#) indicates their rank last year, while [Arrow indicates their movement over the previous year].

1. Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, CA [↔]
2. Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, MI (4) [↑2]
3. Bell’s Brewery, Inc., Kalamazoo, MI [↔]
4. Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, CA (2) [↓2]
5. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA & Mill River, NC (6) [↑1]
6. Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA (5) [↓1]
7. Ballast Point Brewing, San Diego, CA (9) [↑2]
8. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE (7) [↓1]
9. Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma, CA & Chicago, IL (8) [↓1]
10. Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR [↔]
11. Avery Brewing Co., Boulder, CO (12) [↑1]
12. Three Floyds Brewing Co., Munster, IN (14) [↑2]
13. New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO (11) [↓2]
14. Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, IL (16) [↑2]
15. Surly Brewing Co., Minneapolis, MN (18) [↑3]
16. Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont, CO (15) [↓1]
17. The Alchemist, Waterbury, VT (not on last year’s list)
T18. Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO (not on last year’s list)
T18. Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO (13) [↓5]
20. New Glarius Brewing Co., New Glarus, WI (17) [↓3]
21. Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL (T23) [↑2]
22. Victory Brewing Co., Downington, PA (T25) [↑3]
23. Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, CO (not on last year’s list)
24. Tree House Brewing, Monson, MA (not on last year’s list)
25. Tröegs Brewing Co., Hershey, PA (19) [↓6]

Best Portfolio

They also determined which breweries got the most votes for different beers that they produce, and called that list “best portfolio.” The number following their name is how many of their beers got at least one vote. (#) indicates their rank last year, while [Arrow indicates their movement over the previous year].

1. Stone Brewing Co. [67 Beers] (2) [↑1]
T2. Bell’s Brewery, Inc. [47 Beers] (3) [↑1]
T2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. [47 Beers] (1) [↓1]
4. Avery Brewing Co. [42 Beers] (5) [↑1]
5. New Belgium Brewing [41 Beers] (4) [↓1]
6. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery [39 Beers] (T6) [↔]
T7. Firestone Walker Brewing Co. [38 Beers] (T8) [↑1]
T7. The Bruery [38 Beers] (T8) [↑1]
9. Boulevard Brewing Co. [37 Beers] (not on last year’s list)
10. Founders Brewing Co. [33 Beers] (not on last year’s list)

Top Imports

With a few ties, several imports also received votes as readers’ favorite beers. For at least a third year in a row, Unibroue’s La Fin du Monde claimed the number one spot among imports. Again, (#) indicates their rank last year, while [Arrow indicates their movement over the previous year].

1. Unibroue La Fin Du Monde, Canada [↔]
T2. St. Bernardus Abt 12, Belgium (2) [↔]
T2. Guinness Draught, Ireland (4) [↑2]
4. Saison Dupont, Belgium (5) [↑1]
T5. Orval, Belgium (T6) [↑1]
T5. Rodenbach Grand Cru, Belgium (3) [↓2]
7. Chimay Grande Reserve/Blue Label, Belgium (T6) [↓1]
8. Duchess De Bourgogne (not on last year’s list)
9. Weihenstephan Hefeweissbier, Germany [↔]
10 Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, England (8) [↓2]

World Beer Cup Awards 2016

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The 2016 World Beer Cup Awards were announced this evening in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This was the 11th time for the biennial international competition, with a record 6,596 entries from 1,907 breweries in 55 countries, judged by 253 judges (including yours truly). This year, 287 awards were given in 96 separate categories to breweries in 16 countries. Congratulations to all the winners.

This is the second time that the competition used a lottery system. Any brewery that wants to enter their beer first registers their desire to participate in the World Beer Cup over a set period of time. Once the number of interested breweries is known, then the number of different beers each one can enter is determined. This year, every brewery could enter up to four beers. As a result, the winners were far more diverse than in any previous year. Of all 287 award winners, six breweries won three awards and 22 breweries won two, with 225 winning only one.

Not surprisingly, the category with the highest number of entries was American-Style IPA, with 275. Second was Imperial India Pale Ale, with 181 entries, and the third most-entered category was American-Style Pale Ale, with 167. The average number of entries for each category was 69 beers.

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Overall, the United States won the most medals, with 230. Germany was second, with 17, and Japan came in third, with 9. Canada won eight and the United Kingdom won seven. Belgium picked up 3 awards, while Austria and Australia each brought home two.

Within the U.S., California won the most medals, with 49. Colorado was second with 37 and Oregon was third, with 19. Pennsylvania won 11, Virginia brought home 9 and New Mexico won 7. Ohio nabbed six, Massachusetts picked up 4 and Utah 3, while Connecticut, Maine, Nebraska and New Jersey each won two.

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Category: 1 American-Style Wheat Beer – 28 Entries
Gold: Whammy Bar Wheat, Amplified Ale Works, San Diego, CA
Silver: Whacked Out Wheat, Telluride Brewing Co., Telluride, CO
Bronze: Flash Bang, Excel Brewing Co., Breese, IL
Category: 2 American-Style Wheat Beer with Yeast – 39 Entries
Gold: Fuzztail, Sunriver Brewing, Sunriver, OR
Silver: Haybag Hefeweizen, Philipsburg Brewing Co., Philipsburg, MT
Bronze: Lost Meridian Wit, Base Camp Brewing Co., Portland, OR
Category: 3 Fruit Beer – 77 Entries
Gold: Shady Spot, Susquehanna Brewing Co., Pittston, PA
Silver: Razz Against the Machine, Little Machine, Denver, CO
Bronze: That Guava Beer, Legacy Brewing Co., Oceanside, CA
Category: 4 Fruit Wheat Beer – 46 Entries
Gold: First Peach Ale, Blue Moon Brewing Co., Golden, CO
Silver: Mr. Pineapple, SanTan Brewing Co., Chandler, AZ
Bronze: Raspberry Wheat Beer, Meantime Brewing Co., London, United Kingdom
Category: 5 Belgian-Style Fruit Beer – 58 Entries
Gold: Rosetta, Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY
Silver: Coal Kriek, Gravity Brewing, Louisville, CO
Bronze: Sunken City, Insight Brewing Co., Minneapolis, MN
Category: 6 Pumpkin Beer – 25 Entries
Gold: Pump Action Imperial Pumpkin Ale, 4 Noses Brewing Co., Broomfield, CO
Silver: Tributary Jacques, Tributary Brewing Co., Kittery, ME
Bronze: Pumpkin Down, Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits – Scripps Ranch, San Diego, CA
Category: 7 Field Beer – 57 Entries
Gold: Ponce, Quest Brewing Co., Greenville, SC
Silver: Coconut Delight, Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery, Goochland, VA
Bronze: Cranberry Beet Wild Night, Swamp Head Brewery, Gainesville, FL
Category: 8 Chili Beer – 58 Entries
Gold: Yellow Fever, Comrade Brewing Co., Denver, CO
Silver: Hellcat, Fort George Brewery + Public House, Astoria, OR
Bronze: Thunder Axe, Brew Hub, Lakeland, FL
Category: 9 Herb and Spice Beer – 129 Entries
Gold: Sakura Mankai Lager, Chateau Kamiya Ushiku Brewery, Ushiku, Japan
Silver: Squatters Bumper Crop Honey Ale, Squatters Pub Brewery, Salt Lake City, UT
Bronze: Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat, Tallgrass Brewing Co., Manhattan, KS
Category: 10 Chocolate Beer – 80 Entries
Gold: Pasteur Street Cyclo Stout, Pasteur Street Brewing Co., Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Silver: Airporter Chocolate Porter, Marin Brewing Co., Larkspur, CA
Bronze: Kerplunk! Imperial Chocolate Stout, Spring House Brewing Co., Lancaster, PA
Category: 11 Coffee Beer – 154 Entries
Gold: Mocha Machine, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, Long Beach, CA
Silver: Overload Stout, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant – West Chester, West Chester, PA
Bronze: Portola Breakfast Stout, Tustin Brewing Co., Tustin, CA
Category: 12 Specialty Beer – 60 Entries
Gold: Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, Funky Buddha Brewery, Oakland Park, FL
Silver: Maple Tripple Ale, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Warren, VT
Bronze: Nut Smasher, Willoughby Brewing Co., Willoughby, OH
Category: 13 Rye Beer – 54 Entries
Gold: Rye Dawn, Breakwater Brewing Co., Oceanside, CA
Silver: Grimlock, Loowit Brewing Co., Vancouver, WA
Bronze: Uncle Dave’s Rye IPA, Discretion Brewing, Soquel, CA
Category: 14 Honey Beer – 55 Entries
Gold: Honey Chamomile Wheat, Nexus Brewery, Albuquerque, NM
Silver: Cross-Pollination, Magic Rock Brewing, Huddersfield, United Kingdom
Bronze: Long Sun Brewing Honey Beer, Long Sun Brewing, New Taipei City, Taiwan
Category: 15 Session Beer – 34 Entries
Gold: Otra Vez, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Mills River, NC
Silver: La Fete, 7venth Sun Brewery, Dunedin, FL
Bronze: Golden Dragon, Ise Kadoya Brewery, Ise, Japan
Category: 16 Session India Pale Ale – 111 Entries
Gold: Little Secret, Triptych Brewing, Savoy, IL
Silver: Down to Earth, 21st Amendment Brewery, San Leandro, CA
Bronze: Eternal, Northern Monk Brew Co., Leeds, United Kingdom
Category: 17 Other Strong Beer – 47 Entries
Gold: Brilliant, 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend, OR
Silver: Laissez-Faire, Monday Night Brewing, Atlanta, GA
Bronze: Winter Woman, Revolution Brewing Brewpub, Chicago, IL
Category: 18 Experimental Beer – 86 Entries
Gold: Arima Japan Ale, Konishi Brewing Co., Itami, Japan
Silver: Cerise Mousseux Nouveau, Manitou Brewing Co., Manitou Springs, CO
Bronze: Iwate Kura Beer Oyster Stout, Iwate Kura Beer, Ichinoseki, Japan
Category: 19 Fresh or Wet Hop Ale – 10 Entries
Silver: High Ground IPA, Manitou Brewing Co., Manitou Springs, CO
Bronze: Double Conundrum Imperial Red Fresh Hop, Aspen Brewing Co., Aspen, CO
Category: 20 Historical Beer – 27 Entries
Gold: Archetype Historical IPA, Circle Brewing Co., Austin, TX
Silver: Great Odin’s Beard Oat Ale, Third Street Aleworks, Santa Rosa, CA
Bronze: Dortmunder Adambier, Blue Pants Brewery, Madison, AL
Category: 21 Gluten-Free Beer – 40 Entries
Gold: Glutenberg India Pale Ale, Brasseurs Sans Gluten, Montreal, Canada
Silver: Glutenberg Lapsang d’Automne, Brasseurs Sans Gluten, Montreal, Canada
Bronze: A Dark Night, Departed Soles Brewing Co., Jersey City, NJ
Category: 22 American-Belgo-Style Ale – 61 Entries
Gold: Snowcat White IPA, Rock Bottom – Chicago, Chicago, IL
Silver: Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO
Bronze: Salad Days, Pale Fire Brewing Co., Harrisonburg, VA
Category: 23 American-Style Sour Ale – 84 Entries
Gold: Confliction, Sloop Brewing, Elizaville, NY
Silver: Ensorcelled, The Rare Barrel, Berkeley, CA
Bronze: DAM Wild – Hops and Lemon Verbena, Flat Tail Brewing Co., Corvallis, OR
Category: 24 Brett Beer – 70 Entries
Gold: Blushing Star, Liquid Riot Bottling Co., Portland, ME
Silver: Sauvage, NOLA Brewing, New Orleans, LA
Bronze: La Bonte Pear, Wicked Weed Brewing, Asheville, NC
Category: 25 Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer – 66 Entries
Gold: Bourbon Barrel Aged Koffi Porter, La Quinta Brewing Co., Palm Desert, CA
Silver: Rye Robustito, Drake’s Brewing Co., San Leandro, CA
Bronze: Wild Warehouse, Wander Brewing, Bellingham, WA
Category: 26 Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer – 151 Entries
Gold: Bourbon Barrel Aged Jinx Remover, Fall Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
Silver: Omega Point, Olde Hickory Brewery Co., Hickory, NC
Bronze: Samuel Adams Utopias, Boston Beer Co., Boston, MA
Category: 27 Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout – 152 Entries
Gold: A Night to End All Dawns, Kane Brewing, Ocean, NJ
Silver: Darkstar November, Bottle Logic Brewing, Anaheim, CA
Bronze: Ruse, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Richmond, VA
Category: 28 Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer – 115 Entries
Gold: Love Among the Ruins, Thornbridge, Bakewell, United Kingdom
Silver: Days of Creation, Thornbridge, Bakewell, United Kingdom
Bronze: Bramble On Rose, Toolbox Brewing Co., Vista, CA
Category: 29 Aged Beer – 40 Entries
Gold: Nine-Tailed Fox, Nasu Kohgen Beer Co., Nasumachi, Japan
Silver: Solzhenitsyn, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant – Media, Media, PA
Bronze: 2012 Dr. Strangelove Barleywine, Strange Craft Beer Co., Denver, CO
Category: 30 Kellerbier or Zwickelbier – 69 Entries
Gold: Baumgartner Junghopfenpils, Brauerei Jos. Baumgartner, Schaerding, Austria
Silver: Ulmer Hexensud, Familienbrauerei Bauhoefer, Renchen, Germany
Bronze: Pilsner, Marble Brewery, Albuquerque, NM
Category: 31 Smoke Beer – 79 Entries
Gold: Ashes from the Grave, Monkey Paw Brewing, San Diego, CA
Silver: Breakside Smoked Porter, Breakside Brewery – Pub Brewery, Portland, OR
Bronze: Raucher, Wolverine State Brewing Co., Ann Arbor, MI
Category: 32 Light Lager – 45 Entries
Gold: Miller Lite, Miller Brewing Co., Milwaukee, WI
Silver: Asahi The Dream, Asahi Breweries, Tokyo, Japan
Bronze: Landshark, Margaritaville Brewing Co., Wildwood, MO
Category: 33 International-Style Lager – 103 Entries
Gold: BEER, La Cumbre Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM
Silver: Amend This!, TAPS Fish House & Brewery – Brea, Brea, CA
Bronze: Wonderstuff, Bauhaus Brew Labs, Minneapolis, MN
Category: 34 Baltic-Style Porter – 44 Entries
Gold: Apogee Baltic Porter, Morgan Territory Brewing, Tracy, CA
Silver: Cobaltic Porter, Bottle Logic Brewing, Anaheim, CA
Bronze: Black Aria Baltic Porter, Mountain Sun Breweries, Denver, CO
Category: 35 German-Style Pilsener – 108 Entries
Gold: Trumer Pils, Trumer Brauerei, Berkeley, CA
Silver: Pilsner, Dry Dock Brewing Co. – South Dock, Aurora, CO
Bronze: Saalfelder Premium, Buergerliches Brauhaus Saalfeld, Saalfeld, Germany
Category: 36 Bohemian-Style Pilsener – 65 Entries
Gold: Duchovni, Medusa Brewing Co., Hudson, MA
Silver: High Plains Pils, Canteen Brewhouse, Albuquerque, NM
Bronze: Pilsner, River Rat Brewery, Columbia, SC
Category: 37 Muenchner-Style Helles – 76 Entries
Gold: Loewenbraeu Original, Loewenbraeu, Muenchen, Germany
Silver: Aktien Hell, ABK Betriebsgesellschaft der Aktienbrauerei Kaufbeuren, Kaufbeuren, Germany
Bronze: Beach Blonde, Crystal Lake Brewing Co., Crystal Lake, IL
Category: 38 Dortmunder/Export or German-Style Oktoberfest – 52 Entries
Gold: Festbier, Muellerbraeu, Pfaffenhofen, Germany
Silver: Tauras Tradicinis, Kalnapilio-Tauro Grupe, Panevezys, Lithuania
Bronze: Eder’s Export, Eder & Heylands Brauerei, Grossostheim, Germany
Category: 39 Vienna-Style Lager – 57 Entries
Gold: Dock Time, Stony Creek Brewery, Branford, CT
Silver: Firebrick, August Schell Brewing Co., New Ulm, MN
Bronze: Puesta del Sol, WeldWerks Brewing Co., Greeley, CO
Category: 40 German-Style Maerzen – 34 Entries
Gold: Hissy Fit Marzen Lager, Bitter Sisters Brewing Co., Addison, TX
Silver: Rhinofest, Lost Rhino Brewing Co., Ashburn, VA
Bronze: Ur-Saalfelder, Buergerliches Brauhaus Saalfeld, Saalfeld, Germany
Category: 41 European-Style Dark/Muenchner Dunkel – 56 Entries
Gold: I Dunkled in My Pants, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. – Arroyo Grande, Santa Barbara, CA
Silver: Mother in Lager, Karbach Brewing Co., Houston, TX
Bronze: Yee-Haw Dunkel, Yee-Haw Brewing, Johnson City, TN
Category: 42 German-Style Schwarzbier – 51 Entries
Gold: Schwartz Bier, Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost, Lexington, VA
Silver: Magnetron Schwarzbier, Metropolitan Brewing, Chicago, IL
Bronze: TAPS Schwarzbier, TAPS Fish House & Brewery – Brea, Brea, CA
Category: 43 German-Style Bock or Maibock – 75 Entries
Gold: Maibock, Stoudts Brewing Co., Adamstown, PA
Silver: Pivo Bublina, Ploughshare Brewing Co., Lincoln, NE
Bronze: Engel Bock Dunkel, Biermanufaktur ENGEL, Crailsheim, Germany
Category: 44 German-Style Doppelbock or Eisbock – 53 Entries
Gold: Lucubrator, Occidental Brewing Co., Portland, OR
Silver: Warning Sign, Rockyard Brewing Co., Castle Rock, CO
Bronze: ATOR 20, Brauerei S. Riegele, Augsburg, Germany
Category: 45 American-Style Lager – 82 Entries
Gold: Rainier Lager, Pabst Brewing Co., Los Angeles, CA
Silver: High Life, Miller Brewing Co., Milwaukee, WI
Bronze: Rocket 100, The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Austin, TX
Category: 46 American-Style Amber Lager – 59 Entries
Gold: Steam Engine Lager, Steamworks Brewing Co., Durango, CO
Silver: Ringside Red, Boxing Cat Brewery, Shanghai, China
Bronze: Holsteiner, Argus Brewery, Chicago, IL
Category: 47 American-Style Dark Lager – 29 Entries
Gold: Jump Seat Black Lager, Lancaster Brewing Co., Lancaster, PA
Silver: El Moreno, TAPS Fish House & Brewery – Brea, Brea, CA
Bronze: Saint Patrick’s Black, Saint Patrick’s Brewing Co., Littleton, CO
Category: 48 Australian- or International-Style Pale Ale – 84 Entries
Gold: Triumvirate, Reuben’s Brews, Seattle, WA
Silver: Breakside Lunch Break ISA, Breakside Brewery, Milwaukie, OR
Bronze: Bosque IPA, Bosque Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM
Category: 49 German-Style Koelsch – 75 Entries
Gold: Claritas, Mike Hess Brewing Co. – North Park, San Diego, CA
Silver: Feder Monde, All Rise Brewing Co., Chicago, IL
Bronze: Straub Kolsch, Straub Brewery, St. Marys, PA
Category: 50 German-Style Altbier – 56 Entries
Gold: 90 Shilling, Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO
Silver: Little Red Cap, Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, Loveland, CO
Bronze: Breakside Will’s Alt, Breakside Brewery – Pub Brewery, Portland, OR
Category: 51 German-Style Sour Ale – 78 Entries
Gold: Volkssekt, Bend Brewing Co., Bend, OR
Silver: Gosebusters, Noble Ale Works, Anaheim, CA
Bronze: Original Ritterguts Gose, Ritterguts Gose, Borna, Germany
Category: 52 South German-Style Hefeweizen – 100 Entries
Gold: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan, Freising, Germany
Silver: Premier OB Weizen, Oriental Brewery Co., Icheon-si, South Korea
Bronze: Baumgartner Weisse Hell, Brauerei Jos. Baumgartner, Schaerding, Austria
Category: 53 German-Style Wheat Ale – 62 Entries
Gold: Franziskaner Weissbier Royal, Spaten-Franziskaner-Braeu, Muenchen, Germany
Silver: Weihenstephaner Kristallweissbier, Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan, Freising, Germany
Bronze: Plank Original Hefeweizen, Brauerei Michael Plank, Laaber, Germany
Category: 54 South German-Style Weizenbock – 33 Entries
Gold: Ladenburger Weizenbock Hell, Brauerei Ladenburger, Neuler, Germany
Silver: Plank Heller Weizenbock, Brauerei Michael Plank, Laaber, Germany
Bronze: Plank Dunkler Weizenbock, Brauerei Michael Plank, Laaber, Germany
Category: 55 Belgian-Style Witbier – 78 Entries
Gold: Hoegaarden Wit, Hoegaarden Brewery, Inbev Belgium, Hoegaarden, Belgium
Silver: Gentleman’s Wit, Camden Town Brewery, London, United Kingdom
Bronze: Plum Island White, Newburyport Brewing Co., Newburyport, MA
Category: 56 French & Belgian-Style Saison – 116 Entries
Gold: Classic Saison, Blackberry Farm Brewery, Walland, TN
Silver: La Saison du Tracteur, Microbrasserie Le Trou Du Diable, Shawinigan, Canada
Bronze: Soleil Saison, 12Degree Brewing, Louisville, CO
Category: 57 Belgian- and French-Style Ale – 42 Entries
Gold: Barrel Aged Woodthrush, Little Fish Brewing Co., Athens, OH
Silver: Farnam House Biere de Garde, Farnam House Brewing Co., Omaha, NE
Bronze: Domaine DuPage, Two Brothers Brewing Co., Warrenville, IL
Category: 58 Belgian-Style Pale Ale or Blonde Ale – 60 Entries
Gold: La Trappe Trappist Blond, Bierbrouwerij de Koningshoeven, Berkel-Enschot, Netherlands
Silver: Raise the Roost, Portland Brewing, Portland, OR
Bronze: Golden Ghost, Lost Highway Brewing, Denver, CO
Category: 59 Belgian-Style Sour Ale – 46 Entries
Gold: Oude Geuze Boon Black Label, Brouwerij Boon, Lembeek, Belgium
Silver: Lindemans Oude Kriek Cuvee Rene, Lindemans Brewery, Vlezenbeek, Belgium
Bronze: Red Angel, Wicked Weed – Funkatorium, Asheville, NC
Category: 60 Belgian-Style Flanders Oud Bruin or Oud Red Ale – 36 Entries
Gold: Yearling, Eagle Rock Brewery, Los Angeles, CA
Silver: Oude Tart, Bruery Terreux, Placentia, CA
Bronze: 2014 Vintage Blue Sunday, New Holland Brewing Co., Holland, MI
Category: 61 Belgian-Style Dubbel or Quadrupel – 73 Entries
Gold: Sanitarium, Bier Brewery and Taproom, Indianapolis, IN
Silver: Hertog Jan Dubbel, Hertog Jan Brouwerij, Arcen, Netherlands
Bronze: Three Philosophers, Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY
Category: 62 Belgian-Style Tripel – 76 Entries
Gold: Bedotter, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant – Lancaster, Lancaster, PA
Silver: 33 Acres of Euphoria, 33 Acres Brewing Co., Vancouver, Canada
Bronze: Gnomegang, Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY
Category: 63 Belgian-Style Pale Strong Ale – 48 Entries
Gold: Treachery, 12Degree Brewing, Louisville, CO
Silver: Sanctuary Golden Strong Ale, Gemini Beer Co., Westminster, CO
Bronze: Deceit, Funkwerks, Fort Collins, CO
Category: 64 Belgian-Style Dark Strong Ale – 37 Entries
Gold: The Sixth Glass, Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO
Silver: Four Swords, Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Dallas, TX
Bronze: La Grivoise de Noel, Microbrasserie Le Trou Du Diable, Shawinigan, Canada
Category: 65 Other Belgian-Style Ale – 43 Entries
Gold: Supernatural, Crooked Run Brewing, Leesburg, VA
Silver: Chump Change, Oak Highlands Brewery, Dallas, TX
Bronze: Sugarfoot Belgian Table Beer, Spangalang Brewery, Denver, CO
Category: 66 English-Style Mild Ale – 38 Entries
Gold: Song In Your Heart, Discretion Brewing, Soquel, CA
Silver: Triple Crown Brown, The Mitten Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, MI
Bronze: Brockwell, Heist Brewery, Charlotte, NC
Category: 67 English-Style Summer Ale – 30 Entries
Gold: James Squires The Swindler Summer Ale, West End Brewery, Thebarton, Australia
Silver: Pacific Ale, Stone & Wood Brewing Co., Byron Bay, Australia
Bronze: True Blonde Ale, SKA Brewing Co., Durango, CO
Category: 68 Ordinary or Special Bitter – 36 Entries
Gold: Amber, Dry Dock Brewing Co. – North Dock, Aurora, CO
Silver: Sawtooth Ale, Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, CO
Bronze: Broken Dial, Harviestoun, Alva, United Kingdom
Category: 69 Classic English-Style Pale Ale – 33 Entries
Gold: Caldera Ashland Amber, Caldera Brewing Co., Ashland, OR
Silver: Puddlers Row ESB, Conshohocken Brewing Co., Conshohocken, PA
Bronze: Breakside ESB, Breakside Brewery – Pub Brewery, Portland, OR
Category: 70 Extra Special Bitter – 68 Entries
Gold: ESB, Bier Brewery and Taproom, Indianapolis, IN
Silver: End of Summer Beer, Mother Earth Brew Co., Vista, CA
Bronze: Old Jalopy Pale Ale, Powell Street Craft Brewery, Vancouver, Canada
Category: 71 English-Style India Pale Ale – 41 Entries
Gold: Independence Pass Ale, Aspen Brewing Co., Aspen, CO
Silver: Punjabi Pale Ale, CooperSmith’s Pub & Brewing, Fort Collins, CO
Bronze: Big Wave Bay IPA, Hong Kong Beer Co., Chai Wan, Hong Kong
Category: 72 Scottish-Style Ale – 41 Entries
Gold: Kilt Lifter, Four Peaks Brewing Co. – Wilson Street, Tempe, AZ
Silver: Druthers 80 Shilling, Druthers Brewing Co., Albany, NY
Bronze: Maltopia Scotch Ale, Hermitage Brewing Co., San Jose, CA
Category: 73 English-Style Brown Ale – 50 Entries
Gold: Boar Brown, Pig Pounder Brewery, Greensboro, NC
Silver: Sweet George’s Brown, Dillon Dam Brewery, Dillon, CO
Bronze: Brewers Special Brown Ale, New English Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
Category: 74 Brown Porter – 66 Entries
Gold: Capella Porter, Ecliptic Brewing, Portland, OR
Silver: Polygamy Nitro Porter, Utah Brewers Cooperative, Salt Lake City, UT
Bronze: Blue Nose Brown, Red Leg Brewing Co., Colorado Springs, CO
Category: 75 Robust Porter – 92 Entries
Gold: P.M. Porter, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery – West Covina, West Covina, CA
Silver: Gaspar’s Porter, Florida Beer Co., Cape Canaveral, FL
Bronze: Stranger than Fiction Porter, Collective Arts Brewing, Hamilton, Canada
Category: 76 Sweet Stout or Cream Stout – 63 Entries
Gold: Chocolate Milk Stout, Boxing Bear Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM
Silver: Buried at Sea, Galway Bay Brewery, Galway, Ireland
Bronze: Udder Love, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, Long Beach, CA
Category: 77 Oatmeal Stout – 67 Entries
Gold: Scaredy Cat, Vintage Brewing Co., Madison, WI
Silver: Stumblers Stout, Columbia River Brewing Co., Portland, OR
Bronze: Sasquatch Shadow, Elk Horn Brewery, Eugene, OR
Category: 78 Scotch Ale – 70 Entries
Gold: Clan Warrior Scotch Ale, Odyssey Beerwerks, Arvada, CO
Silver: AleSmith Wee Heavy, AleSmith Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
Bronze: Glasgow Butcher, Crooked Ewe Brewery & Ale House, South Bend, IN
Category: 79 British-Style Imperial Stout – 53 Entries
Gold: Arch Devil Imperial Stout, DevilCraft, Shinagawa-ku, Japan
Silver: Russian Imperial Stout, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant – Media, Media, PA
Bronze: Corvo Negro, Novo Brazil Brewing Co., Chula Vista, CA
Category: 80 Old Ale or Strong Ale – 55 Entries
Gold: Ninja Pirate, Black Lotus Brewing Co., Clawson, MI
Silver: Heini’s Good Cheer, Roundabout Brewery, Pittsburgh, PA
Bronze: Irish Walker, Olde Hickory Brewery Co., Hickory, NC
Category: 81 Barley Wine-Style Ale – 71 Entries
Gold: 2013 10&2 Barleywine, Fifty West Brewing Co., Cincinnati, OH
Silver: Old Bounder, Boundary Bay Brewery, Bellingham, WA
Bronze: Stormwatcher’s Winterfest, Pelican Brewing Co. – Pacific City, Pacific City, OR
Category: 82 Irish-Style Red Ale – 66 Entries
Gold: Reilly’s Red, Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost, Lexington, VA
Silver: Piper Down, Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, San Diego, CA
Bronze: Red Molly, Pale Fire Brewing Co., Harrisonburg, VA
Category: 83 Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout – 42 Entries
Gold: Minoh Beer STOUT, A·J·I Beer, Minoh, Japan
Silver: Irish Stout, Carver Brewing Co., Durango, CO
Bronze: O’Connor’s Dry Irish Stout, O’Connor Brewing Co., Norfolk, VA
Category: 84 Export Stout – 52 Entries
Gold: Fade to Black, Volume 1, Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, CO
Silver: Spetsnaz, The Grumpy Troll Brewpub, Mount Horeb, WI
Bronze: Dirty Frank Stout, River’s Edge Brewing Co., Milford, MI
Category: 85 Golden or Blonde Ale – 82 Entries
Gold: Power & Light Pale, Independence Brewing, Austin, TX
Silver: Squatters Chasing Tail Golden Ale, Squatters Pub Brewery, Salt Lake City, UT
Bronze: German Blonde, Bemidji Brewing Co., Bemidji, MN
Category: 86 American-Style Pale Ale – 167 Entries
Gold: Pistol River Pale, Arch Rock Brewing Co., Gold Beach, OR
Silver: Pale Ale, North High Brewing, Columbus, OH
Bronze: Knotty Pine Pale Ale, Lumberyard Brewing Co., Flagstaff, AZ
Category: 87 American-Style Strong Pale Ale – 118 Entries
Gold: Lucky Day, Central Coast Brewing Co., San Luis Obispo, CA
Silver: IPA 2016, Yo-Ho Brewing Co., Saku, Japan
Bronze: Paladin, Wicks Brewing Co., Riverside, CA
Category: 88 American-Style India Pale Ale – 275 Entries
Gold: I Love It!, Noble Ale Works, Anaheim, CA
Silver: IPA, Great North Aleworks, Manchester, NH
Bronze: Santilli, Night Shift Brewing, Everett, MA
Category: 89 Imperial India Pale Ale – 181 Entries
Gold: Hop JuJu Imperial IPA, Fat Head’s Brewery – Middleburg Heights, Middleburg Heights, OH
Silver: Trebuchet, Second Street Brewery, Santa Fe, NM
Bronze: Nobility, Noble Ale Works, Anaheim, CA
Category: 90 American-Style Amber/Red Ale – 96 Entries
Gold: Epiphany Red Ale, Iron Springs Pub & Brewery, Fairfax, CA
Silver: Sabre-Toothed Squirrel, Smog City Brewing Co., Torrance, CA
Bronze: Beast of Bray Road, Second Salem Brewing Co., Whitewater, WI
Category: 91 Double Red Ale – 51 Entries
Gold: Summit Sunrise, Denver Beer Co. – Canworks, Denver, CO
Silver: Valentinus IPA, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant – Wilmington, Wilmington, DE
Bronze: Toaster Pastry, 21st Amendment Brewery, San Leandro, CA
Category: 92 Imperial Red Ale – 37 Entries
Gold: Blood Junkie, Three Weavers Brewing Co., Inglewood, CA
Silver: December Nights Imperial Red, Thorn Street Brewery, San Diego, CA
Bronze: Wreak Havoc, Bootstrap Brewing, Niwot, CO
Category: 93 American-Style Brown Ale – 81 Entries
Gold: Granola Brown Ale, Black Hog Brewing, Oxford, CT
Silver: Open Road Brown Ale, Troubled Monk Brewery, Red Deer, Canada
Bronze: Upslope Brown Ale, Upslope Brewing Co. – Flatiron Park, Boulder, CO
Category: 94 American-Style Black Ale – 67 Entries
Gold: Turmoil, Barley Brown’s Brew Pub, Baker City, OR
Silver: Carlton, Melvin Brewing – Jackson, Jackson, WY
Bronze: Midnight Moonlight, Fat Head’s Brewery – Middleburg Heights, Middleburg Heights, OH
Category: 95 American-Style Stout – 51 Entries
Gold: The Defender, Haymarket Pub & Brewery, Chicago, IL
Silver: Kilgore, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, Long Beach, CA
Bronze: P2P, 10 Barrel Brewing Co. – Boise, Boise, ID
Category: 96 American-Style Imperial Stout – 62 Entries
Gold: Blot Out the Sun, Three Floyds Brewing Co., Munster, IN
Silver: HoliDAVE, Artifex Brewing Co., San Clemente, CA
Bronze: Happy Ending, SweetWater Brewing Co., Atlanta, GA

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Champion Brewery and Brewer Awards

Very Small Brewing Company Category
Arch Rock Brewing Co.
James Smith
Small Brewing Company Category
Noble Ale Works
Evan and The Giants
Mid-Size Brewing Company Category
Brewery Ommegang
Brewery Ommegang Brewing Team
Large Brewing Company Category
Miller Brewing Co.
Miller Brewing Co. Brewing Team
Small Brewpub Category
12Degree Brewing
Jon Howland and Tor O’Brien
Large Brewpub Category
Beachwood BBQ & Brewing
Julian Shrago, Ian McCall and Gene Wagoner

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Historic Beer Birthday: Richard Katzenmayer

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Today is the birthday of Richard Katzenmayer (April 15, 1839-October 3, 1893). He came with his family to America from the Bodensee, the European lake that borders Germany, Austria and Switzerland. They settled in New York City, and his father, John Katzenmayer, was a bookkeeper for a brewery there, A. Schmid & Co. John Katzenmayer was a founding member of the United States Brewers Association in 1862, and was its first secretary, a position he held until his death in 1866. When Richard’s father passed away, he became the secretary of the USBA and continued in that role for over thirty years until his own death. Although not a brewer by trade, he was a fixture of the association in its early days and helped shape the future of the brewing industry in the late 19th century. Considering his prominent role in the USBA, surprisingly there isn’t much information I could find about him, much less a photograph, apart from this obituary from 100 Years of Brewing:

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The Top 50 Annotated 2015

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This is my ninth annual annotated list of the Top 50, skipping two years ago because the BA provided that information then, so here again you can see who moved up and down, who was new to the list and who dropped off. So here is this year’s list again annotated with how they changed compared to last year.

  1. Anheuser-Busch InBev; #1 last ten years, no surprise
  2. MillerCoors; ditto for #2
  3. Pabst Brewing; ditto for #3
  4. D. G. Yuengling and Son; Same as last year
  5. Boston Beer Co.; Same as last year
  6. North American Breweries; Same as last year
  7. Sierra Nevada Brewing; Same as last year
  8. New Belgium Brewing; Same as last year
  9. Craft Brewers Alliance; Same as last year
  10. Lagunitas Brewing; Up 1 from #11 last year
  11. Gambrinus Company; Down 1 from #10 last year
  12. Bell’s Brewery; Same as last year
  13. Deschutes Brewery; Same as last year
  14. Minhas Craft Brewery; Up 2 from #16 last year
  15. Stone Brewing; Down 1 from #14 last year
  16. Sleeman Brewing; Down 1 from #15 last year
  17. Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits; Rocketed up 20 from #37 last year
  18. Brooklyn Brewery; Down 1 from #17 last year
  19. Firestone Walker Brewing; Up 3 from #22 last year
  20. Founders Brewing; Up 3 from #23 last year
  21. Oskar Blues Brewing; Jumped up 9 from #30
  22. Duvel Moortgat USA (Boulevard Brewing/Ommegang); Down 4 from #18 last year
  23. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Down 4 from #19 last year
  24. Matt Brewing; Down 4 from #20 last year
  25. SweetWater Brewing; Down 1 from #24 last year
  26. Harpoon Brewery; Down 5 from #21 last year
  27. New Glarus Brewing; Down 2 from #25 last year
  28. Great Lakes Brewing; Up 1 from #29 last year
  29. Alaskan Brewing; Down 3 from #26 last year
  30. Abita Brewing; Down 3 from #27 last year
  31. Anchor Brewing; Down 3 from #28 last year
  32. Stevens Point Brewery; Same as last year
  33. Victory Brewing; Up 2 from #35 last year
  34. August Schell Brewing; Down 1 from #33 last year
  35. Long Trail Brewing; Down 1 from #36 last year
  36. Summit Brewing; Down 2 from #34 last year
  37. Shipyard Brewing; Down 6 from #31 last year
  38. Full Sail Brewing; Up 5 from #39 last year
  39. Odell Brewing; Up 1 from #40 last year
  40. Southern Tier Brewing; Up 1 from #41 last year
  41. Rogue Ales Brewery; Down 3 from #38 last year
  42. 21st Amendment Brewery; Jumped up 7 from 49 last year
  43. Ninkasi Brewing; Down 1 from #42 last year
  44. Flying Dog Brewery; Same as last year
  45. Narragansett Brewing; Not in Top 50 last year
  46. Pittsburgh Brewing (fka Iron City); Down 1 from #45 last year
  47. Left Hand Brewing; Up 1 from #48 last year
  48. Uinta Brewing; Down 2 from #46 last year
  49. Green Flash Brewing; Not in Top 50 last year
  50. Allagash Brewing; Same as last year

Not too much movement this year, except for a few small shufflings. The top is virtually unchanged, with only numbers 10 and 11 switching places. And apart from those two small changes, the top 13 were all the same as 2014. The biggest jump came from Ballast Point, which leapt up 20 spots, while Shipyard slipped the furthest, dropping six slots. Only two new breweries made the list; Green Flash Brewing and Narragansett Brewing. Off the list was World Brew/Winery Exchange, a California contract label brewer making private label beers for retailers, and Bear Republic Brewing.

If you want to see the previous annotated lists for comparison, here is 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006.

Top 50 Craft Breweries For 2015

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The Brewers Association just announced the top 50 craft breweries in the U.S. based on sales, by volume, for 2015, which is listed below here. I should also mention that this represents “craft breweries” according to the BA’s membership definition, and not necessarily how most of us would define them, as there’s no universally agreed upon way to differentiate the two. For the eighth year, they’ve also released a list of the top 50 breweries, which includes all breweries. Here is this year’s craft brewery list:

2016_Top_50-craft

Here is this year’s press release. The last couple of years, the BA has helpfully annotated the list, saving me lots of time, since I’ve been annotating the list for the last eight years, but they’ve abandoned that practice this time around. So for the eighth consecutive year, I’ll also posted an annotated list, showing the changes in each brewery’s rank from year to year, but it will take me some time to put together so I’ll have that again later today.

The BA, this year, did create a map showing the relative location of each of the breweries that made the list.

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Craft Market Exceeds 12%

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The preliminary numbers for 2015 are out, and the news is again pretty damn good. The Brewers Association today revealed that craft beer’s share of market, which finally passed 10% last year, is now 12.2% of the total beer market, by volume.

From the press release:

In 2014, craft brewers produced 22.2 million barrels, and saw an 18 percent rise in volume and a 22 percent increase in retail dollar value. Retail dollar value was estimated at $19.6 billion representing 19.3 percent market share.

“With the total beer market up only 0.5 percent in 2014, craft brewers are key in keeping the overall industry innovative and growing. This steady growth shows that craft brewing is part of a profound shift in American beer culture—a shift that will help craft brewers achieve their ambitious goal of 20 percent market share by 2020,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “Small and independent brewers are deepening their connection to local beer lovers while continuing to create excitement and attract even more appreciators.”

But wait, there’s more.

Additionally, in 2015 the number of operating breweries in the U.S. grew 15 percent, totaling 4,269 breweries—the most at any time in American history. Small and independent breweries account for 99 percent of the breweries in operation, broken down as follows: 2,397 microbreweries, 1,650 brewpubs and 178 regional craft breweries. Throughout the year, there were 620 new brewery openings and only 68 closings. One of the fastest growing regions was the South, where four states—Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Texas—each saw a net increase of more than 20 breweries, establishing a strong base for future growth in the region.

Combined with already existing and established breweries and brewpubs, craft brewers provided nearly 122,000 jobs, an increase of over 6,000 from the previous year.

“Small and independent brewers are a beacon for beer and our economy,” added Watson. “As breweries continue to open and volume increases, there is a strong need for workers to fill a whole host of positions at these small and growing businesses.”

If you’re curious how those numbers are calculated, BA economist Bart Watson posted an explanation of the 2015 Craft Brewing Growth by the Numbers.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Danny Williams

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Today would have been Danny Williams’ 57th birthday today, having been born exactly two days before yours truly in 1959. Unfortunately, Danny lost a battle with cancer a little over four years ago, and passed away peacefully in his sleep on January 23, 2012. For over a decade, Danny worked for the Brewers Association as the beer competition manager for both the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup. Danny left behind two grown children and an 8-year old son, Fletcher. His friend Ben Spencer, who’s also a good friend of mine, lets me know from time to time how Danny’s kids are doing, which is great. Join me in raising a birthday beer and giving a toast to the memory of Danny Williams tonight. Danny would have wanted it that way.

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Danny Williams and a friend at the World Beer Cup dinner in Chicago two years ago.

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Tom Nickel (owner of O’Brien’s in San Diego), Nancy Johnson, Director of GABF and Danny at Slow Food Nation 2008 in San Francisco.

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Danny in the former goldmine beer cellar.

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Danny’s Angels, after a BA event.

Brewers Association Poll Reveals Top 51 Favorite American Bars

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The Brewers Association‘s consumer website, CraftBeer.com, asked visitors to the site to choose their “favorite craft beer bar” in their home state by filling “out a short survey about what makes it so great including atmosphere, staff, beer selection and special events.” Over 9,000 people voted between August and December of last year. More of a popularity contest, so I’m not sure it’s fair to call them the 51 Best Beer Bars in America, but still the results are interesting. California’s top vote-getter was the Twisted Oak Tavern, in Agoura Hills. I confess I’ve never heard of it, but then Agoura Hills is in Southern California, in west L.A. County.

But I can name some pretty great beer bars in California, even quite a few in that part of the state with great reputations. How is this the best one in the state? It’s also a brewpub, sort of, although according to a newspaper article they refer to it as a “restaurant located at the former LAB Brewing Co. space in the Agoura Hills Town Center. The brewery continues to operate on the premises.” They seem to have a full bar, and of the thirty taps, eight of them are house beers, and the rest are mostly local, with another fourteen bottles and cans. But the original LAB Brewing Co. opened sometime around late 2011, and the new space — the one that is the best bar is California — opened March 25, 2015. That means it was open for four months when voting opened, and just nine months when it ended. I’m sure it’s a nice place, but I have a hard time believing it’s better than any number of great bars, like the Toronado (either one), The Trappist, Hamilton’s, Blue Palms Brewhouse, Beer Revolution, 38 Degrees, Urge, Naja’s, Stuffed Sandwich, O’Brien’s, Capitol Beer & Tap Room, Monk’s Kettle, Library Alehouse, Tony’s Darts Away, Boneyard Bistro, La Trappe, The Bistro, Blind Lady, Lucky Baldwin’s, Good Karma, Tiger Tiger, Father’s Office, ØL Beercafe, Barclay’s, Zeitgeist, Live Wire, The Good Hop, Taps, Harry’s Hofbrau, Congregation Ale House, Original Gravity Public House, The Surly Goat, The Hopyard, Jupiter, Lanesplitter and the Public House at AT&T Park, to rattle off a few that come to mind.

It’s not listed at all on Beer Advocate’s L.A. Beer Guide, suggesting there at least fifty better bars just in the L.A. area, let alone the state. In fact, it has no listing at all, though the now-closed LAB Brewing still does. The same is true for RateBeer, too, which similarly does not yet list the best beer bar in California, only its predecessor. So it’s too new for either of the premiere beer listing websites, but still got more votes than countless great beer bars in California. Not knowing how they got the most votes, or why, it’s hard not to consider ballot stuffing, or a campaign of getting people to vote for them. I hate to be so hard on a place I don’t know, but given how many California bars they appear to have bested in being voted the state’s best bar, it’s difficult to comprehend.

To be fair, the Falling Rock won Colorado, which I fully endorse, and the same with Saint Paul’s Happy Gnome, Asheville’s Thirsty Monk and Max’s in Baltimore. Unfortunately, I’m not as sure about many of the rest. Of the 51, only 11 have been open since at least the 1990s or earlier. A perplexing five of the bars on the list opened in 2015, and another three the year before, in 2014. A total of 25, or nearly half of the list, opened in 2010 or afterwards, meaning half of the best beer bars in America are around five or less years old. I’m sure it’s the curmudgeon in me, but that just doesn’t seem like enough time to build a reputation that you’re the best in your state. But despite my objections, congratulations to the bars who got the most votes. I’m sure they’re all worth visiting and enjoying a few beers.

GABB_2016_Winners