GABF Awards 2016

On Saturday, October 8, the winners of the 34th Great American Beer Festival were announced. A record 7,227 beers were judged in 96 categories by 264 judges, of which I was again privileged to be one. First, here’s some statistics about the festival:

  • 35th anniversary of the festival; 30th edition of the GABF competition
  • 780 breweries in the festival hall
  • 3,800+ beers served at the festival
  • 60,000 attendees
  • 3,600 volunteers (festival and competition combined)
  • 1,752 breweries in the competition from 50 states plus Washington, D.C.
  • 254 medal-winning breweries
  • 286 total medals awarded
  • 7,227 beers judged (not including 88 Pro-Am competition entries), a nearly 9 percent increase over 2015
  • 96 style categories judged, plus the Pro-Am competition
  • 264 judges from 12 different countries
  • Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 75 (excludes Pro-Am beers)
  • Category with highest number of entries: American-Style India Pale Ale: 312

This year’s GABF competition saw seven new style categories:

  • Pumpkin/Squash Beer (category 6)
  • Four new historical beer categories were added: Finnish Sahti, Swedish Gotlandsricke, and Pale and Dark Breslau Schoeps (categories 21e, 21f, 21g, 21h)
  • German Leichtbier (category 36c)
  • Specialty Saison (category 79)

Since 2002, the most-entered category has been American-Style India Pale Ale (IPA), which saw 312 entries in 2016 compared to 336 entries in 2015.The top five entered categories were:

  1. American-Style India Pale Ale (312 entries)
  2. Imperial India Pale Ale (211 entries)
  3. American-Style Strong Pale Ale (169 entries)
  4. Coffee Beer (168 entries)
  5. Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer (159 entries)


Only one brewery won 4 medals (Überbrew), but three won 3 (Brown Truck, Fat Head’s, Karl Strauss). By ratio, Wyoming did best (45 entries and 5 medals) for .111. In second was Hawaii (28 entries and 3 medals) with .107 and third was Virginia (200 entries and 14 medals) with .07. 464 breweries entered the competition for the first time, and of those, 41 won a medal.

Medals Won by State:

  1. California = 68
  2. Colorado = 38
  3. Oregon = 21
  4. North Carolina = 17
  5. Washington = 14
  6. TIE: Illinois / Virginia = 13
  7. TIE: Michigan / Texas = 10
  8. Ohio = 8
  9. Pennsylvania = 7
  10. TIE: Montana / New Mexico = 6

In addition two states won 6, two won 5 and three won 4. Two won 3 medals, 10 won 2, and 7 won a single medal. Thirteen states, plus DC, did not win a medal.


The 2016 Great American Beer Festival Winners

Category 1: American-Style Wheat Beer – 37 Entries
Gold: Tumblewheat, Altitude Chophouse and Brewery, Laramie, WY
Silver: Shredder’s Wheat, Barley Brown’s Beer, Baker City, OR
Bronze: Flash Bang, Excel Brewing Co., Breese, IL

Category 2: American-Style Wheat Beer With Yeast – 31 Entries
Gold: White Noise, Überbrew, Billings, MT
Silver: Medley of Moods, Gibb’s Hundred Brewing Co., Greensboro, NC
Bronze: Boulder Bend Dunkelweizen, Fish Brewing Co., Olympia, WA

Category 3: American-Style Fruit Beer – 106 Entries
Gold: Slingback, High Heel Brewing, St. Louis, MO
Silver: Miss IPPA, Peter B’s Brewpub, Monterey, CA
Bronze: Apricot Cream Ale, Vertigo Brewing, Hillsboro, OR

Category 4: Fruit Wheat Beer – 84 Entries
Gold: Mexican Spring, 515 Brewing Co., Clive, IA
Silver: Mango Wheat, Blue Moon Brewing Co., Denver, CO
Bronze: Apricot Hefeweizen, Wasatch Brewery, Salt Lake City, UT

Category 5: Belgian-Style Fruit Beer – 61 Entries
Gold: Apricot Wheat, Wiens Brewing Co./Wiens Family Cellars, Temecula, CA
Silver: Cherry Busey, Sun King Brewing Co., Indianapolis, IN
Bronze: Cerasus, Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, Hood River, OR

Category 6: Pumpkin/Squash Beer – 10 Entries
Gold: None awarded
Silver: None awarded
Bronze: Butt-Ah Nut, BTU Brasserie, Portland, OR

Category 7: Field Beer – 92 Entries
Gold: Imperial Coconut Porter, Maui Brewing Co. – Production, Kihei, HI
Silver: Slam Piece, Coppertail Brewing, Tampa, FL
Bronze: Redbud with Cucumber, Independence Brewing Co., Austin, TX

Category 8: Chili Beer – 112 Entries
Gold: Rocky Mtn Saison, 14er Brewing Co., Denver, CO
Silver: The Contender IPA with Fresh Chilis, Duck Foot Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
Bronze: Vengeance! Jalapeno Cream Ale, Jack Pine Brewery, Baxter, MN

Category 9: Herb and Spice Beer – 114 Entries
Gold: NoDajito, NoDa Brewing Co. – Davidson, Charlotte, NC
Silver: Ginger American Ale, Broken Compass Brewing, Breckenridge, CO
Bronze: 1634 Ale, Brewer’s Alley Restaurant & Brewery, Frederick, MD

Category 10: Pumpkin Spice Beer – 39 Entries
Gold: Pump Action Imperial Pumpkin Ale, 4 Noses Brewing Co., Broomfield, CO
Silver: Twisted Gourd, South Street Brewery, Charlottesville, VA
Bronze: 5 Phantoms Pumpkin Spice Barleywine, Philipsburg Brewing Co., Philipsburg, MT

Category 11: Chocolate Beer – 46 Entries
Gold: Chaos, RAM/Big Horn Brewery – Wheeling, Wheeling, IL
Silver: The Ticket Chocolate Beer, ZwanzigZ Brewing, Columbus, IN
Bronze: 4th Gear (4th Anniversary), Kinetic Brewing Co., Lancaster, CA

Category 12: Coffee Beer – 168 Entries
Gold: Gusto Crema, Georgetown Brewing Co., Seattle, WA
Silver: Dusk ‘til Dawn – SC, Pizza Port San Clemente, San Clemente, CA
Bronze: Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout, New English Brewing Co., San Diego, CA

Category 13: Specialty Beer – 54 Entries
Gold: Campfire Stout, High Water Brewing, Stockton, CA
Silver: Good Conduct, Fieldwork Brewing Co., Berkeley, CA
Bronze: GAZPROM!, Lion Bridge Brewing Co., Cedar Rapids, IA

Category 14: Rye Beer – 81 Entries
Gold: Breakside Rye Curious?, Breakside Brewery, Portland, OR
Silver: Rock-Biter Roggenbier, Hop Dogma Brewing Co., El Granada, CA
Bronze: Runaround Rye Ale, Roundhouse Brewery, Brainerd, MN

Category 15: Honey Beer – 64 Entries
Gold: Jetty Cream Ale, Great South Bay Brewery, Bay Shore, NY
Silver: Spring Fever, FiftyFifty Brewing Co., Truckee, CA
Bronze: Belgian Honey Blonde Ale, No Clue Craft Brewery, Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Category 16: Session Beer – 52 Entries
Gold: PSB Session IPL, Perry Street Brewing Co., Spokane, WA
Silver: Oatmeal Stout, Benchmark Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
Bronze: Slippery When Wit, South Street Brewery, Charlottesville, VA

Category 17: Session India Pale Ale – 118 Entries
Gold: Trump Hands, Cannonball Creek Brewing Co., Golden, CO
Silver: Pace Car Racer, Bear Republic Brewing Co. – Production Facility, Cloverdale, CA
Bronze: Mosaic Session IPA, Karl Strauss Brewing Co. – San Diego, San Diego, CA

Category 18: Other Strong Beer – 46 Entries
Gold: Anodyne Wheat Wine, Revolver Brewing, Granbury, TX
Silver: Black Muddy River, Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon, North Olmsted, OH
Bronze: Muir Woods Coastal Red, Barebottle Brewing Co., San Francisco, CA

Category 19: Experimental Beer – 87 Entries
Gold: Dry Hopped Systema Naturae – Scuppernong & Lily, D9 Brewing Co., Cornelius, NC
Silver: Wineification II, The Bruery, Placentia, CA
Bronze: Oyster Weiss, Scratch Brewing Co., Ava, IL

Category 20: Fresh or Wet Hop Ale – 45 Entries
Gold: Melvin IPA, Melvin Brewing – Jackson, Jackson, WY
Silver: Acequia IPA, Bosque Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM
Bronze: IBUsive, Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon, North Olmsted, OH

Category 21: Historical Beer – 43 Entries
Gold: Valhalla, El Rancho Brewing, Evergreen, CO
Silver: Grosse Teufel, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Richmond, VA
Bronze: Wild & Crazy Rye, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery – Boulder, Boulder, CO

Category 22: Gluten-Free Beer – 37 Entries
Gold: Dark Ale, Ground Breaker Brewing, Portland, OR
Silver: Copperhead, Greenview Brewing, Madison, WI
Bronze: Grapefruit IPA, Ghostfish Brewing Company, Seattle, WA

Category 23: American-Belgo-Style Ale – 70 Entries
Gold: Mischief, The Bruery, Placentia, CA
Silver: #4.5 Hops with Saison Added, Brown Truck Brewery, High Point, NC
Bronze: White Wall Wit, Crank Arm Brewing Co., Raleigh, NC

Category 24: American-Style Sour Ale – 142 Entries
Gold: Queen of Tarts, Karl Strauss Brewing Co. – San Diego, San Diego, CA
Silver: Heart of Gold, Great Notion Brewing, Portland, OR
Bronze: Excommunication, Forte Cerise, Max Lager’s Wood-Fired Grill & Brewery, Atlanta, GA

Category 25: Brett Beer – 53 Entries
Gold: Touch of Brett, Alesong Brewing & Blending, Eugene, OR
Silver: Dreamy Thing, Cerebral Brewing, Denver, CO
Bronze: Brett Saison, Ardent Craft Ales, Richmond, VA

Category 26: Mixed-Culture Brett Beer – 65 Entries
Gold: Fünke Hop Farm, Sudwerk Brewing Co., Davis, CA
Silver: White Label, Almanac Beer Co., San Francisco, CA
Bronze: DAM Wild Marionberry Pink Peppercorn, Flat Tail Brewing Co., Corvallis, OR

Category 27: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer – 66 Entries
Gold: Drama Queen, Denver Beer Co. – Canworks, Denver, CO
Silver: Brett Saison, Blackberry Farm Brewery, Walland, TN
Bronze: Rye Robustito, Drake’s Brewing Co., San Leandro, CA

Category 28: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer – 159 Entries
Gold: Silent Warrior, TAPS Fish House & Brewery – Corona, Corona, CA
Silver: Mélange À Trois, Nebraska Brewing Co. – Papillion, Papillion, NE
Bronze: 15th Anniversary Ale, Island Brewing Co., Carpinteria, CA

Category 29: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout – 131 Entries
Gold: Barrel-Aged Darkness, Surly Brewing Co., Brooklyn Center, MN
Silver: The Event Horizon, Olde Hickory Brewery, Hickory, NC
Bronze: Little Nonsense, Verboten Brewing, Loveland, CO

Category 30: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer – 64 Entries
Gold: Sour Project Ale, Adirondack Pub and Brewery, Lake George, NY
Silver: Avant-Chard, Historic Brewing Co., Flagstaff, AZ
Bronze: Angelina, Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids, MI

Category 31: Fruited Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer – 82 Entries
Gold: Razz-Jerry Tart, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery – Brea, Brea, CA
Silver: Saint Dekkera Reserve Sour Framboise, DESTIHL, Normal, IL
Bronze: Pi, Propolis Brewing, Port Townsend, WA

Category 32: Aged Beer – 40 Entries
Gold: Doc’s Scotch Ale, Millersburg Brewing, Millersburg, OH
Silver: Expedition Stout, Bell’s Brewery, Inc., Comstock, MI
Bronze: Winter Wheatwine 2007, Rubicon Brewing Company Pub, Sacramento, CA

Category 33: Kellerbier or Zwickelbier – 69 Entries

Gold: Sunnyside Dweller, Ocelot Brewing, Sterling, VA
Silver: Kelly Alt, Snake River Brewing Co., Jackson, WY
Bronze: Pilsner, Marble Brewery, Albuquerque, NM

Category 34: Smoke Beer – 65 Entries
Gold: Raucher, Wolverine State Brewing Co., Ann Arbor, MI
Silver: Cowboy Curtis, Arts District Brewing Co., Los Angeles, CA
Bronze: Croydon Is Burning, Neshaminy Creek Brewing Co., Croydon, PA

Category 35: American-Style or International-Style Pilsener – 66 Entries
Gold: Robot Crush, Aeronaut Brewing Co., Somerville, MA
Silver: Pelicano Extra!, Pelican Brewing Co., Tillamook, OR
Bronze: Mexican Logger, SKA Brewing, Durango, CO

Category 36: American-Style Light Lager or German-Style Light Lager – 21 Entries
Gold: #10 American Lager, Brown Truck Brewery, High Point, NC
Silver: Lightner Creek Lager, Carver Brewing Co., Durango, CO
Bronze: Coors Light, Coors Brewing Co., Golden, CO

Category 37: American-Style Lager or Ice Lager or Malt Liquor – 34 Entries
Gold: Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR), Pabst Brewing Co., Los Angeles, CA
Silver: Coors Banquet, Coors Brewing Co., Golden, CO
Bronze: Lager, Craft Brew Alliance – Omission, Portland, OR

Category 38: American-Style Cream Ale – 65 Entries
Gold: El Sully, 21st Amendment Brewery, San Leandro, CA
Silver: Old Style Lager, Pabst Brewing Co., Los Angeles, CA
Bronze: Broadway Light, Detroit Beer Co., Detroit, MI

Category 39: American-Style Amber Lager or Dark Lager – 108 Entries

Gold: Casa Azul, El Segundo Brewing Co., El Segundo, CA
Silver: Tragedy of the Commons, Iowa Brewing Co., Cedar Rapids, IA
Bronze: Lighter Than I Look, Figueroa Mountain Brewing – Buellton, Buellton, CA

Category 40: German-Style Pilsener – 115 Entries
Gold: Industry, The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Austin, TX
Silver: Bosque Lager, Bosque Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM
Bronze: Lokahi Pilsner, Kohola Brewery, Lahaina, HI

Category 41: Bohemian-Style Pilsener – 62 Entries
Gold: Sweet Ride, Bagby Beer Co., Oceanside, CA
Silver: Polaris Pilsner, Chainline Brewing Co., Kirkland, WA
Bronze: Torch Pilsner, Foothills Brewing Co., Winston-Salem, NC

Category 42: Munich-Style Helles – 84 Entries
Gold: Chuckanut Helles, Chuckanut Brewery, Bellingham, WA
Silver: Helles, Dry Dock Brewing Co. – South Dock, Aurora, CO
Bronze: Hell Yes, The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Austin, TX

Category 43: Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest – 46 Entries
Gold: Dortmunder Mifflin, Emmett’s Tavern & Brewing Co. – Palatine, Palatine, IL
Silver: Longboard Island Lager, Craft Brew Alliance – Kona Brewery, Kailua-Kona, HI
Bronze: Figtoberfest, Figueroa Mountain Brewing – Westlake Village, Westlake Village, CA

Category 44: Vienna-Style Lager – 67 Entries
Gold: Vienna Lager, Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost Production Facility, Lexington, VA
Silver: 13.FIVE Ofest, Blue Mountain Barrel House and Organic Brewery, Arrington, VA
Bronze: Churchville Lager, Neshaminy Creek Brewing Co., Croydon, PA

Category 45: German-Style Maerzen – 79 Entries
Gold: Zirkusfest Oktoberfest Lager, Hi-Wire Brewing – Big Top Production Facility, Asheville, NC
Silver: Seven Bridges, Jekyll Brewing, Alpharetta, GA
Bronze: Fruhauf Oktoberfest, Pollyanna Brewing Co., Lemont, IL

Category 46: European-Style Dark Lager/Munich-Style Dunkel – 38 Entries
Gold: I Dunkled in My Pants, Figueroa Mountain Brewing – Buellton, Buellton, CA
Silver: Piney Ridge Dunkel, Front Range Brewing Co., Lafayette, CO
Bronze: Prunkle’s Dunkle, Horse Thief Hollow Brewery, Chicago, IL

Category 47: German-Style Schwarzbier – 47 Entries
Gold: General Schwarz, Central Coast Brewing Co., San Luis Obispo, CA
Silver: Alternate Present, Fiction Beer Co., Denver, CO
Bronze: Once You Go Schwarz…, Figueroa Mountain Brewing – Arroyo Grande, Arroyo Grande, CA

Category 48: Bock – 36 Entries
Gold: Breakline Bock, Rip Current Brewery, San Marcos, CA
Silver: Numbskull, Swamp Rabbit Brewery & Taproom, Travelers Rest, SC
Bronze: Bridge Street Bock, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant – Phoenixville, Phoenixville, PA

Category 49: German-Style Doppelbock or Eisbock – 29 Entries
Gold: Warning Sign, Rockyard American Grill & Brewing Co., Castle Rock, CO
Silver: Frankenwald Eisbock, ZwanzigZ Brewing, Columbus, IN
Bronze: Apocalyptinator, Nevin’s Brewing Co., Plainfield, IL

Category 50: Baltic-Style Porter – 41 Entries
Gold: Danzig, Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Basecamp, Roseland, VA
Silver: Apogee Baltic Porter, Morgan Territory Brewing, Tracy, CA
Bronze: Siberian Silk, La Cumbre Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM

Category 51: Golden or Blonde Ale – 115 Entries
Gold: Kirby, Echo Brewing Co., Frederick, CO
Silver: Miss Conduct, Moonraker Brewing Co., Auburn, CA
Bronze: German Blonde Ale, Bemidji Brewing Co., Bemidji, MN

Category 52: German-Style Koelsch – 111 Entries

Gold: Light of Cologne, Ornery Beer Co., Woodbridge, VA
Silver: Vacation, Daredevil Brewing Co., Indianapolis, IN
Bronze: Lü, Solemn Oath Brewery, Naperville, IL

Category 53: English-Style Summer Ale – 68 Entries
Gold: Hometown Blonde, RAM/Big Horn Brewery – Lakewood, Lakewood, WA
Silver: Ridgway Blonde, Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery, Ridgway, CO
Bronze: Liquid AC, Karl Strauss Brewing Co. – La Jolla, La Jolla, CA

Category 54: Classic English-Style Pale Ale – 38 Entries
Gold: Extra Pale Ale, Summit Brewing Co., Saint Paul, MN
Silver: Breakside ESB, Breakside Brewery, Portland, OR
Bronze: HopFish IPA, Flying Fish Brewing Co., Somerdale, NJ

Category 55: English-Style India Pale Ale – 43 Entries
Gold: Gatecrasher, Temperance Beer Co., Evanston, IL
Silver: Face Plant, Lost Rhino Brewing Co., Ashburn, VA
Bronze: Live Wire, Roak Brewing Co., Royal Oak, MI

Category 56: Australian-Style or International-Style Pale Ale – 90 Entries
Gold: Drop Bear Australian Pale Ale, Lynnwood Brewing Concern, Raleigh, NC
Silver: Mai Tai P.A., Alvarado Street Brewery, Salinas, CA
Bronze: Breakside Lunch Break ISA, Breakside Brewery & Taproom, Milwaukie, OR

Category 57: American-Style Pale Ale – 157 Entries
Gold: Stick’s Pale Ale, Bootstrap Brewing Co., Niwot, CO
Silver: Monterey Street, Central Coast Brewing Co., San Luis Obispo, CA
Bronze: The Charlatan, Maplewood Brewery, Chicago, IL

Category 58: American-Style Strong Pale Ale – 169 Entries
Gold: Good Green, Highland Park Brewery, Los Angeles, CA
Silver: Rippin, Sunriver Brewing, Sunriver, OR
Bronze: HFS, Alpine Beer Co., San Diego, CA

Category 59: American-Style India Pale Ale – 312 Entries
Gold: Bodhizafa IPA, Georgetown Brewing Co., Seattle, WA
Silver: Super Cali IPA, Riip Beer Co., Huntington Beach, CA
Bronze: Breaking Bud, Knee Deep Brewing Co., Auburn, CA

Category 60: Imperial India Pale Ale – 211 Entries
Gold: Humulus Insani, Überbrew, Billings, MT
Silver: Nobility, Noble Ale Works, Anaheim, CA
Bronze: Hop JuJu Imperial IPA, Fat Head’s Brewery, Middleburg Heights, OH

Category 61: American-Style Amber/Red Ale – 114 Entries
Gold: Ole Prospector Red Ale, BNS Brewing & Distilling Co., Santee, CA
Silver: Better Off Red, Vintage Brewing Co., Madison, WI
Bronze: Sabre-Toothed Squirrel, Smog City Brewing Co., Torrance, CA

Category 62: Double Red Ale – 78 Entries
Gold: The Red Glove, Boxing Bear Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM
Silver: Average at Best, Überbrew, Billings, MT
Bronze: RIPA, Carson’s Brewery, Evansville, IN

Category 63: Imperial Red Ale – 62 Entries
Gold: Paradocs Red Imperial IPA, Raised Grain Brewing Co., Waukesha, WI
Silver: reDANKulous – Backstage Series, Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, MI
Bronze: Wreak Havoc, Bootstrap Brewing Co., Niwot, CO

Category 64: English-Style Mild Ale – 44 Entries
Gold: Workman’s Compensation, Lion Bridge Brewing Co., Cedar Rapids, IA
Silver: Saddle Bronc Brown, Black Tooth Brewing Co., Sheridan, WY
Bronze: Old Town Brown, Auburn Alehouse, Auburn, CA

Category 65: Ordinary or Special Bitter – 39 Entries
Gold: DBA (Double Barrel Ale), Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA
Silver: Drop Top Amber Ale, Craft Brew Alliance – Widmer, Portland, OR
Bronze: Special Bitter, Redwood Curtain Brewing Co., Arcata, CA

Category 66: Extra Special Bitter – 71 Entries
Gold: Redfeather, Black Raven Brewing Co., Redmond, WA
Silver: Red Fish, Flying Fish Brewing Co., Somerdale, NJ
Bronze: Mother Earth ESB, Mother Earth Brew Co., Vista, CA

Category 67: Scottish-Style Ale – 46 Entries
Gold: White Street Scottish Ale, White Street Brewing Co., Wake Forest, NC
Silver: Scottish Ale, Two Kilts Brewing, Sherwood, OR
Bronze: McGreagor Scottish Ale, Kootenai River Brewing Co., Bonners Ferry, ID

Category 68: Irish-Style Red Ale – 80 Entries
Gold: Highlander Devil’s Hump Red Ale, Missoula Brewing Co., Missoula, MT
Silver: St. James Irish Red Ale, Glenwood Canyon Brewing Co., Glenwood Springs, CO
Bronze: Riley’s Irish Red, The Packinghouse Brewing Co., Riverside, CA

Category 69: English-Style Brown Ale – 47 Entries
Gold: Tri-Town Brown, Echo Brewing Cask and Barrel, Erie, CO
Silver: Sir Williams, Grapevine Craft Brewery, Grapevine, TX
Bronze: Not Brown, CooperSmith’s Pub & Brewing, Fort Collins, CO

Category 70: American-Style Brown Ale – 84 Entries
Gold: Brown, Culture Brewing Co., Solana Beach, CA
Silver: Upslope Brown Ale, Upslope Brewing Co. – Flatiron Park, Boulder, CO
Bronze: Face Down Brown, Telluride Brewing Co., Telluride, CO

Category 71: American-Style Black Ale – 61 Entries
Gold: Once You Go, Lynnwood Brewing Concern – Production Facility, Raleigh, NC
Silver: Midnight Moonlight, Fat Head’s Brewery, Middleburg Heights, OH
Bronze: Alpha Force Double Tap, Überbrew, Billings, MT

Category 72: German-Style Sour Ale – 141 Entries
Gold: Gose, Reuben’s Brews, Seattle, WA
Silver: Gose, Kulshan Brewing Co., Bellingham, WA
Bronze: Farmers Market Citrus Gose, Sudwerk Brewing Co., Davis, CA

Category 73: German-Style Altbier – 57 Entries
Gold: Little Red Cap, Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, Loveland, CO
Silver: Deep Roots, Red Cypress Brewery, Winter Springs, FL
Bronze: On-Sight Alt, Hutton & Smith Brewing Co., Chattanooga, TN

Category 74: South German-Style Hefeweizen – 111 Entries
Gold: Windansea Wheat, Karl Strauss Brewing Co. – San Diego, San Diego, CA
Silver: Weißbier, Prost Brewing, Denver, CO
Bronze: Shotgun Betty, Lonerider Brewing Co., Raleigh, NC

Category 75: German-Style Wheat Ale – 33 Entries
Gold: AlpenGlow, Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon, North Olmsted, OH
Silver: Slam Dunkel, Steamworks Brewing Co., Durango, CO
Bronze: Küsterer Original Weissbier, Cedar Springs Brewing Co., Cedar Springs, MI

Category 76: Belgian-Style Blonde Ale or Pale Ale – 61 Entries

Gold: Solid Gold, Cannonball Creek Brewing Co., Golden, CO
Silver: Lunatic, Wicked Weed Brewing – Asheville, Asheville, NC
Bronze: Sunken Road, Spencer Devon Brewing, Fredericksburg, VA

Category 77: Belgian-Style Witbier – 85 Entries
Gold: Ommegang Witte Ale, Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY
Silver: Wit’s End Ale, Great American Restaurants – Sweetwater Tavern, Centreville, VA
Bronze: Witbier, Community Beer Co., Dallas, TX

Category 78: Classic Saison – 88 Entries
Gold: Achtertuin Seizoen Farmhouse Ale, The Post Brewing Co., Lafayette, CO
Silver: Meriwether, Perennial Artisan Ales, St. Louis, MO
Bronze: Saison, Baere Brewing Co., Denver, CO

Category 79: Specialty Saison – 92 Entries
Gold: Six Finger Sam Saison, Two Rivers Brewing Co., Easton, PA
Silver: #4 Saison, Brown Truck Brewery, High Point, NC
Bronze: Creme de Peche, The Commons Brewery, Portland, OR

Category 80: Belgian- and French-Style Ale – 27 Entries
Gold: Domaine DuPage, Two Brothers Brewing Co., Warrenville, IL
Silver: Swingin’ Single, Piece Brewery, Chicago, IL
Bronze: Antonym, 2SP Brewing Co., Aston, PA

Category 81: Belgian-Style Lambic or Sour Ale – 74 Entries
Gold: Hexotic, Two Roads Brewing Co., Stratford, CT
Silver: Chaos is a Friend of Mine, Beachwood Blendery, Long Beach, CA
Bronze: Roes Red, Pure Project, San Diego, CA

Category 82: Belgian-Style Dubbel or Quadrupel – 63 Entries
Gold: Abbey Dubbel, Elm City Brewing Co., Keene, NH
Silver: Responsibly, Nebraska Brewing Co. – Papillion, Papillion, NE
Bronze: Flyin’ Monks, Adelbert’s Brewery, Austin, TX

Category 83: Belgian-Style Tripel – 92 Entries
Gold: Allagash Tripel, Allagash Brewing Co., Portland, ME
Silver: PDA, Black Bottle Brewery, Fort Collins, CO
Bronze: Tripel Dog Dare, Big Dog’s Brewing Co., Las Vegas, NV

Category 84: Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale – 70 Entries
Gold: Old Split-Foot, Broken Bow Brewery, Tuckahoe, NY
Silver: Monk in Public, Maize Valley Craft Brewery, Hartville, OH
Bronze: Treachery, 12Degree Brewing, Louisville, CO

Category 85: Other Belgian-Style Ale – 31 Entries
Gold: Blond, Copper Kettle Brewing Co., Denver, CO
Silver: Standard Issue, Central Standard Brewing, Wichita, KS
Bronze: Petite Classique, The Commons Brewery, Portland, OR

Category 86: Brown Porter – 61 Entries
Gold: FivePine Chocolate Porter, Three Creeks Production, Sisters, OR
Silver: Black Shack Porter, Wachusett Brewing Co., Westminster, MA
Bronze: Porter, Back East Brewing, Bloomfield, CT

Category 87: Robust Porter – 94 Entries
Gold: Tabula Rasa Toasted Porter, Second Chance Beer Co., San Diego, CA
Silver: Shallow Grave, Heretic Brewing Co., Fairfield, CA
Bronze: Point Reyes Porter, Marin Brewing Co., Larkspur, CA

Category 88: Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout – 41 Entries

Gold: Big Drought Stout, Solid Rock Brewing, Spicewood, TX
Silver: Love Stout, Yards Brewing Co., Philadelphia, PA
Bronze: Bangin The Mash, Latitude 42° Brewing Co., Portage, MI

Category 89: Export Stout – 43 Entries
Gold: Dirty Frank Stout, River’s Edge Brewing Co., Milford, MI
Silver: Fade to Black, Volume 1, Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, CO
Bronze: Starway Stout, Barrel Mountain Brewing, Battle Ground, WA

Category 90: American-Style Stout – 55 Entries
Gold: P2P, 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend, OR
Silver: Black Cliffs, Boise Brewing, Boise, ID
Bronze: The Volcanist, Societe Brewing Co., San Diego, CA

Category 91: Sweet Stout or Cream Stout – 71 Entries
Gold: Chocolate Milk Stout, Boxing Bear Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM
Silver: Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout, Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, Farmville, NC
Bronze: Good Mooed Milk Stout, Railtown Brewing Co., Dutton, MI

Category 92: Oatmeal Stout – 61 Entries
Gold: Sless’ Oatmeal Stout, Iron Springs Pub & Brewery, Fairfax, CA
Silver: Backside Stout, Steamworks Brewing Co., Durango, CO
Bronze: Feelin’ Your Oats, SLO Brew, San Luis Obispo, CA

Category 93: Imperial Stout – 91 Entries
Gold: The Russian, 2SP Brewing Co., Aston, PA
Silver: Gatling Gun Imperial Stout, BNS Brewing & Distilling Co., Santee, CA
Bronze: Iron Triangle Jawbone, Iron Triangle Brewing Co., Los Angeles, CA

Category 94: Scotch Ale – 76 Entries
Gold: Real Heavy, Real Ale Brewing Co., Blanco, TX
Silver: Oh My Darlyn!, Revelry Brewing Co., Charleston, SC
Bronze: Going Plaid, Fifty West Brewing Co., Cincinnati, OH

Category 95: Old Ale or Strong Ale – 38 Entries
Gold: Irish Walker, Olde Hickory Brewery, Hickory, NC
Silver: COLOSSAL FIVE, Port City Brewing Co., Alexandria, VA
Bronze: Old Silenus Ale, Migration Brewing Co., Portland, OR

Category 96: Barley Wine-Style Ale – 60 Entries
Gold: AleSmith Old Numbskull, AleSmith Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
Silver: Barley Wine Ale, Dick’s Brewing Co., Centralia, WA
Bronze: Toad Choker Barley Wine, Nine-Band Brewing Co., Allen, TX

Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am Competition – 88 Entries
Gold: Just Rye’te, Panther Island Brewing Co., Fort Worth, TX
     Brewmaster Panther Island Brewing, AHA Member Clifton Ellis
Silver: Vernal Equinox, Starr Hill Brewery, Crozet, VA
     Brewmaster Starr Hill Brewing Team, AHA Member Gary Layton
Bronze: The Kolsch Experiment, Altitude Chophouse and Brewery, Laramie, WY
     Brewmaster Jesse Brown, AHA Member Shawn Miller

2016 Brewery and Brewer of the Year Awards

Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year
ZwanzigZ Brewing, Columbus, IN
Mike Rybinski & Trent Fleener

Mid-Size Brewpub and Mid-Size Brewpub Brewer of the Year
Boxing Bear Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM
Justin Hamilton and Dylan Davis

Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year
The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Austin, TX
Amos Swifty Kim

Very Small Brewing Company and Very Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Brown Truck Brewery, High Point, NC
Team Brown Truck

Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Überbrew, Billings, MT
Über Cru

Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Karl Strauss Brewing Co. – San Diego, San Diego, CA
Team Karl

Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year *
Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon, North Olmsted, Ohio
Matt Cole and Mike Zoscak

Large Brewing Company and Large Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Pabst Brewing Co., Los Angeles, CA
Gregory Deuhs

* – Note: During the awards ceremony, for the brewery and brewmaster of the year awards, Karl Strauss was awarded Mid-Size Brewpub and Mid-Size Brewpub Brewer of the Year, while Fat Head’s Brewery received the award for Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year. Afterwards, a correction was sent out indicating that Karl Strauss was considered a brewing company rather than a brewpub, and the points were re-calculated. As a result, Karl Strauss’ award moved from brewpub to brewing company, Boxing Bear Brewing was awarded the mid-size brewpub award vacated by Karl Strauss, and Fat Head’s was stripped of their award. What I heard (but haven’t confirmed) is that it may have been a paperwork error on Karl Strauss’ part in filling out their GABF entry form (which is understandable since they operate both a production brewery and brewpubs). As I understand it, brewpubs are considered brewing companies if they sell 25% or more beer on-site, so therefore Karl Strauss is a brewing company, and apparently that’s reflected in their membership. One could argue that Karl Strauss should have filled out the entry form correctly (assuming what I heard is correct) and if they didn’t … well, then it’s on them. I know that in some sports or contests, that’s cause for being disqualified. But the BA maybe could have caught it earlier since the form didn’t match their membership. To be fair, I doubt there was a procedure to check for that since you wouldn’t expect anyone to get that wrong. There are only a few companies like Karl Strauss where there might be any confusion. In the end, I think the BA was right to correct the error as soon as someone caught it. Even though I can’t really quibble with that, the one thing I wish they might have considered was not taking the award away from Fat Head’s and letting them share it this year with Karl Strauss. I feel confident that Karl Strauss would have been alright with that, especially if it was indeed their clerical error. That just seems like the kinder, fairer result.

California Reaches 700 Brewery Milestone

The California Craft Brewers Association announced today that the number of breweries in the state reached 700, more then at any time in California’s history. The number of breweries has more than doubled in just the last four years. There are more breweries in the Golden State, by a wide margin, then any other state. Eleven of the breweries on the list of the nation’s top fifty craft breweries, as defined by the Brewers Association, are from California.


California has more breweries than many countries. So it only makes sense that we have our own world class, statewide events. This September, the CCBA will put on the second annual California Craft Beer Summit and Beer Festival in the state capitol of Sacramento.

The three-day Summit includes 24 educational sessions, 60,000 feet of interactive displays, 450 beers, 160 breweries and unlimited tastings. It’s an amazing event, especially the huge beer festival. I’ll be there again this year, and if you work in any part of the beer industry, or want to, you should be there, too. Here’s more information about it from the CCBA’s press release.

“California continues to lead the nation’s craft beer movement and the Summit showcases the wild success of a community united over a common passion: craft beer,” said Tom McCormick, executive director of the CCBA. “CCBA’s signature event is the ultimate opportunity for craft beer enthusiasts to join the tribe, learn from brewers and experts across the Golden State and taste the creativity and passion that serves as the foundation of the industry.”

Reigning as the largest California-brewed craft beer event of its kind, the 2016 Craft Beer Summit and Festival gives attendees a tasting tour through the state’s craft brewing landscape.

“At the Summit, beer lovers and brewers have the chance to experience wonderful techniques and ideas from the best of the industry,” said McCormick. “David Walker from Firestone Walker, Fritz Maytag, the founder of the American craft beer movement, the brewers and owners from AleSmith, 21st Amendment, Russian River Brewing Company, and many others will share their knowledge, history, expertise and passion with every person connected or passionate about the craft beer industry.”

Educational highlights at the Summit include:

  • How to start a career in craft beer from the hiring managers of Mikkeller Brewing San Diego, Russian River Brewing Co. and other growing breweries
  • Advanced homebrew lessons, including how to go “off recipe” and explore yeast management, hosted by the homebrewers now running successful commercial breweries
  • Mock judging at a “Taste Like a Judge” session teaching attendees how rate and taste beers
  • The rise of sour beer as a style, including how to differentiate between sour beers and what you can expect in a wild ale versus a spontaneously fermented sour
  • How to develop a beer list for taproom managers and beer buyers looking to advance their offerings in the craft beer sector

“The Summit has become, in a very short period of time, one of the largest and most significant craft beer events not only in California but across the nation,” said Natalie Cilurzo, co-owner of Russian River Brewing Company and president of the CCBA Board of Directors. “The unique part about the Summit is the bringing together of brewers, retailers, wholesalers, suppliers, and consumers all in one location, something I have not experienced to this level at any other event. I’m proud to be a part of this incredible state trade association as well as the second annual Summit.”

Early bird tickets, available online through June 30, 2016, include: 25 percent off the Summit Beer Festival ($45 at early bird, $60 regular price), single-day Summit entry ($99 early bird, $119 regular price) or full weekend packages ($219 early bird, $239 regular price).

Observe & Report The Next Session

For our 113th Session, our host will again be Boak & Bailey. For their topic, they’re asking everyone to Observe and Report, a very specific Session mission, which they more fully explain in their announcement, Mass Observation: The Pub and The People.


In the late 1930s a team of social researchers descended on Lancashire and spent several years observing the people of Bolton and Blackpool as they went about their daily lives. As part of that, in 1937 and 1938, they made a special study of pubs, which led to the publication of one of our favourite books of all time, The Pub and The People, in 1943.

We’re hosting the 113th edition of The Session in July and we’re asking you to go to the pub, observe, and report.

In the late 1930s a team of social researchers descended on Lancashire and spent several years observing the people of Bolton and Blackpool as they went about their daily lives. As part of that, in 1937 and 1938, they made a special study of pubs, which led to the publication of one of our favourite books of all time, The Pub and The People, in 1943.

This is an extract from a typical entry from the original observation logs, probably from 1938, describing the Vault of a pub in Bolton:

13 men standing, 8 sitting. 4 playing dominoes. 2 of the sitters are postmen.

2 men, about fifty, short, sturdy, caps and scarves, shiny worn blue shirts quarrelling about politics. One keeps saying, ‘If ee don’t like the country why don’t ee go away? No one stops me getting a living.’ Then he suddenly shouts ‘Why shouldn’t the king and queen be there. I’m for them! They should be there.’ … Barman comes round with a small canvas bag, jangling it, asks me if I want a penny draw for a pie. So I put my hand into the bag and get out a worn brass disc about size of a half penny, which says Riggs Pies and has a number in the middle. The draw takes place somewhere else. Number 9 wins… and he gets a small hot pie, the sort you can get for fourpence.

What we want people to do for The Session is to recreate this exercise in 2016: take a notebook to a pub or bar — any one you fancy — and write a note of what you observe.

  • How many people are drinking?
  • Which beers are on tap, and which are people actually drinking?
  • What are they eating?
  • How are they passing the time?
  • What are the topics of conversation?
  • How is the pub decorated?
  • How many TVs are there and what are they showing?
  • Are there pot plants, parrots, spittoons?
  • How many smokers are there? And vapers?
  • Is there a dartboard, pool table or quiz machine, and are they in use?

Over the years, people have fretted about Mass Observation’s attitudes to privacy and so, in line with original Mass Observation practice, you might want to anonymise the pub — city centre sports bar, suburban dining pub, industrial estate brewery tap, and so on. And it’s bad form to give names and details which might allow individuals to be identified from your descriptions.

And an Optional Extra

As a chaser, after your observations, write whatever you like spurred by the idea of ‘The Pub and The People’. Really, whatever you like, as vaguely related to theme as it might be. Or instead of making any observations, even. The main thing is that you feel inspired to write something.

This is what my copy looks like.

If you’re curious about the book, The Pub and the People: A Worktown Study (Mass Observation Social Surveys), used copies of two versions are available on Amazon, the original and Cresset Library reprint, or you can read excerpts on Google Books.

So anytime in the next couple weeks, get yourself to a pub or bar with your checklist, and start observing and reporting. Then post the results on or around Friday, July 1. Let the hosts know about your participatory Session post by either posting a comment to the original announcement or by tweeting the link to @boakandbailey. They’re playing fast and loose with the deadline for submission, so as soon as you get around to it in early July is probably fine.


The Downside To Working Long Hours

A few months ago, Anheuser-Busch InBev head honcho Carlos Brito was quoted as saying that “every employee should behave like an owner-entrepreneur, committed to building the company.” That bullshit mantra favored by corporate leaders, known as “DWYL” (do what you love), is just another way to exploit workers, in the same way “monarchs used to tell about being ordained by God help us get through the day not by easing our pain, but by increasing our capacity for suffering.” As I noted at the time, I hate that way of thinking, and it completely pisses me off that they think anyone should fall for it. AlterNet had an interesting pice at the time that refuted that way of thinking, called Don’t Feel Like a Failure for Not Loving Your Corporate Job Enough.

Curiously, though not exactly a surprise, a recent meta-study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) entitled “Long working hours and alcohol use: systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies and unpublished individual participant data,” found that the more you work, the more at risk you are to drink too much. Anybody shocked to hear that? The study looked at 63 different studies, and in the aggregate reached the same conclusion. Too much work will drive you to drink. Here’s the abstract:

Objective To quantify the association between long working hours and alcohol use.

Design Systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies and unpublished individual participant data.

Data sources A systematic search of PubMed and Embase databases in April 2014 for published studies, supplemented with manual searches. Unpublished individual participant data were obtained from 27 additional studies.

Review methods The search strategy was designed to retrieve cross sectional and prospective studies of the association between long working hours and alcohol use. Summary estimates were obtained with random effects meta-analysis. Sources of heterogeneity were examined with meta-regression.

Results Cross sectional analysis was based on 61 studies representing 333 693 participants from 14 countries. Prospective analysis was based on 20 studies representing 100 602 participants from nine countries. The pooled maximum adjusted odds ratio for the association between long working hours and alcohol use was 1.11 (95% confidence interval 1.05 to 1.18) in the cross sectional analysis of published and unpublished data. Odds ratio of new onset risky alcohol use was 1.12 (1.04 to 1.20) in the analysis of prospective published and unpublished data. In the 18 studies with individual participant data it was possible to assess the European Union Working Time Directive, which recommends an upper limit of 48 hours a week. Odds ratios of new onset risky alcohol use for those working 49-54 hours and ≥55 hours a week were 1.13 (1.02 to 1.26; adjusted difference in incidence 0.8 percentage points) and 1.12 (1.01 to 1.25; adjusted difference in incidence 0.7 percentage points), respectively, compared with working standard 35-40 hours (incidence of new onset risky alcohol use 6.2%). There was no difference in these associations between men and women or by age or socioeconomic groups, geographical regions, sample type (population based v occupational cohort), prevalence of risky alcohol use in the cohort, or sample attrition rate.

Conclusions Individuals whose working hours exceed standard recommendations are more likely to increase their alcohol use to levels that pose a health risk.


Unusually, the entire study is available online if you want to read the entire study, their methodology, the data sets and their analysis. But you probably don’t need to in order to come to the same conclusion. Being worked too hard by companies trying to squeeze every ounce of labor out of their salaried and even hourly employees is not good for them. People need to balance their work life with the rest of their lives. It may be a cliche that nobody every says on their death bed that they wished they’d spent more time at work, but that doesn’t make it any less true. As the class divide continues to widen, people are feeling increasing pressure to work longer hours just to keep their jobs, and employers are exploiting, encouraging and even requiring such behavior. In my own experience, my last corporate job required 60-hour work weeks, and I had to work from home a few hours every single Sunday, vacation, sick day, holiday or not. One of my biggest regrets was after having taken a week off to fly back to Pennsylvania to be with by father on his deathbed, he begged me to stay a few more days. The pressure to return to work was so great that I felt that I could not, and reluctantly I flew back to California. He died in his sleep while my plane was still in the air flying home to San Francisco. Our society is unhealthy when we’re expected to put our companies — which in reality care almost nothing for our loyalty and hard work, and would fire each and every one of us in an instant if it helped the share price or the bottom line — ahead of our personal lives. The more that becomes normalized, the worse off we’ll be as a nation. Working too long and/or too hard is not good for people.


NBWA Brewery Count Over 4,800

Some very interesting analysis from the NBWA, and their economist Lester Jones, about the number of breweries in America. Lester’s analysis uses slightly different metrics from the TTB and doesn’t define craft breweries as narrowly as the BA, and also the TTB doesn’t distinguish exactly what mat beverages are being made, if they’re licensed as a brewery then they’re included in the data. Those difference in calculating show the NBWA’s number for how many breweries there in America is 4,824, or over 550 more. But even more remarkable is that based on the number of “permitted breweries on record” at the TTB by the end of last year, that number could swell beyond 6,000, which seems absolutely crazy. The number is California alone, at 788, is just shy of 800. Sheesh!

Here’s the entire analysis below since the whole summary is worth reading:

Each year, the NBWA requests data from the TTB on tax paid withdraw volumes by size of brewery. Once again, this year’s TTB data provides some interesting brewing industry insights into the dynamics of the U.S. brewing industry. This data also is helpful for us to supplement the Brewers Association data on overall independent craft beer growth and brewery count. According to the BA, craft brewer volumes grew by 13 percent to 24.5 million barrels in 2015. The BA also reported 4,269 total operating breweries for 2015. As with all statistics, how the numbers are collected and reported can vary across organizations. In our industry, the numbers also change quickly.

As of April 2016, the U.S. domestic brewing industry had 4,824 reporting breweries according to the TTB. As with the BA’s brewery count of 4,269, this number is expected to change as additional new brewers are counted that may not yet have been fully recognized and/or reported by either the TTB or the BA data. The data presented below is for all types of malt beverage manufacturers and recognizes only the individual facility, not the ownership or control group.

Highlights from the 2015 TTB brewery count data include:

  1. The small brewer group (making less than 7,500 barrels) accounted for less than 2 percent of all domestic volumes yet accounted for 93 percent of all breweries. The smallest of this group has 566 breweries reporting less than one barrel of production each in 2015. These super small brewers can thank the contracting brewing industry for helping them sell almost 100,000 barrels – a figure well beyond their reported production capacity.
    The medium brewer group (making between 7,501 and 60,000 barrels) is a much smaller group consisting of 246 breweries, but these few breweries account for 1.6 times more volume than the 4,475 breweries in the small brewer group.
  2. The large brewer group consists of only 82 breweries making between 60,001 and 1.9 million barrels. This is a unique group within the industry as they pay the mixed rate federal excise tax of $7 for the first 60,000 barrels and $18 on each barrel over 60,001. While a much smaller group of only 82 breweries, they collectively produce more than four times the amount of beer as the medium brewer group. The large brewer group also has the largest range of production volumes and saw the fewest number of new entrants (17 breweries) into its ranks in 2015.
  3. Finally, we get the extra-large group. This is a group of only 21 breweries that produce more than 84 percent of all domestic beer – more than five times the amount made by all 4,803 combined. The closing of the MillerCoors brewery in Eden, North Carolina, will reduce this class of brewers by one in future reports and will take a significant-sized brewery offline for the first time in many years.
  4. The industry added around 1,500 new breweries in 2015 – that is equivalent to four new breweries a day entering the marketplace. As a highly capital-intensive business, starting small is the name of the game. Growing a beer brand takes a long time, and economies of scale are earned over decades. The largest U.S. breweries have been in operation for decades, and economies of scale should help maintain the beer volumes even in the face of declining per capita beer consumption.
  5. With more than 6,000 permitted breweries on record at the end of CY 2015, 2016 is set to be an even more competitive year for the brewing industry. Just as economies of scale drive the brewing side of the industry, logistical expertise and local market insights drive the efficiencies inherent in beer distributor networks. Working together and maximizing their comparative advantages, brewers, distributors and retailers will deliver unprecedented choice and value to American beer consumers in 2016.

Brewery counts by size 2015_Page_1

Brewery counts by size 2015_Page_2

The Top 50 Annotated 2015

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

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:


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.


Craft Market Exceeds 12%

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.

growth infographic

The Dangers Of Full Beer Bottles Vs. Empties

I’ve been slowing reading through the December issue of Mental Floss, one of my favorite magazines, and their lis of the “500 Most Important People in History.” At No. 77 is Swiss scientist Stephan Bolliger. Specifically he’s a forensic pathologist at the University of Bern, “and he often appears in court to testify as an expert witness.” But what caught my attention is a question that he couldn’t answer, but then preceded to examine scientifically. The question? What will do more damage in a bar fight, a full bottle of beer, or an empty one? And by damage, they specifically looked at which could break your skull.

So he picked up bottles of his favorite beer, Feldschlösschen Original, and got to work.


You have to give him, and his team, points for taking a seemingly silly question very seriously. The results were published in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine in 2009. The article was entitled Are full or empty beer bottles sturdier and does their fracture-threshold suffice to break the human skull?, and here’s the abstract:

Beer bottles are often used in physical disputes. If the bottles break, they may give rise to sharp trauma. However, if the bottles remain intact, they may cause blunt injuries. In order to investigate whether full or empty standard half-litre beer bottles are sturdier and if the necessary breaking energy surpasses the minimum fracture-threshold of the human skull, we tested the fracture properties of such beer bottles in a drop-tower. Full bottles broke at 30 J impact energy, empty bottles at 40 J. These breaking energies surpass the minimum fracture-threshold of the human neurocranium. Beer bottles may therefore fracture the human skull and therefore serve as dangerous instruments in a physical dispute.

I love that “duh” conclusion. Beer bottles may be “dangerous instruments in a physical dispute.”

But you can read or download the whole enchilada at Research Gate. Here’s some highlights:

1. Introduction

The examination of living or deceased victims of bar fights is not uncommon in routine forensic practice. These fights are commonly carried out with fists, feet, furniture, and drinking vessels. Depending on the state of the drinking vessels, namely intact or broken, different trauma forms are to be expected. According to a British group, 1 readily available one pint beer glasses such as straight-sided glasses, referred to as nonik, and tankards display a mean impact resistance of up to 1.7 Joule (J). The glass shards of shattered beer glasses may give rise to stab and cut wounds, which may sever blood vessels or other vital structures of the body. Indeed, glasses with lower impact resistance cause more injuries, 2 for which reason toughened glassware has been advocated. On the other hand, if the drinking vessels remain intact, they may serve as clubs. In Switzerland and various other countries, refillable (and therefore sturdy) beer bottles are commonly encountered in pubs and at festivals. In Switzerland, the half-litre, refillable beer bottle is, according to the authors’ own experience, a commonly utilized instrument in physical disputes. The authors have been asked at court whether hitting a human on the head with such intact bottles suffices to break a skull and whether full or empty bottles are more likely to cause such injuries. Obviously, this depends on the breaking properties of the bottle. If the bottle (full or empty) breaks at a minimal energy, no skull fracture is to be expected. On the other hand, should the stability of the bottle surpass that of the head, severe, even life-threatening injuries may be inflicted. We therefore tested the breaking energy of such beer bottles in a drop-tower as described below in order to estimate at which energies the bottles break and if this amount of energy exceeds the energy necessary to inflict serious injuries to a victim.


2. Methods and materials

Ten (six empty and four full) standard 0.5 l beer bottles (Feldschlösschen Brewery, Rheinfelden, Switzerland, Fig. 1) were examined. The full bottles weighed 898 g, the empty ones 391 g. With multislice computed tomography (Somatom Emotion 6, Siemens Medical Solutions, D-91301 Forchheim, Germany) the wall thickness was measured. The minimal thickness was 0.2 cm and maximal thickness 0.36 cm (Fig. 2). To one side of the beer bottles, a 7.5  1.2  5 cm pinewood board was fixed using a thin layer of modeling clay (Fig. 3a). The wood board served to distribute the very small impact point of the steel ball to a more realistic situation concerning the impact area of a beer bottle against a cranium. The modeling clay not only served as a fixing material, but also as a substitute for the soft tissues of the scalp. The bottles were then fixed horizontally to the bottom of a baby-bath tub with a thin layer of modeling clay (Fig. 3b). A 1 kg heavy steel ball was dropped from different heights (minimum 2 m, maximum 4 m) onto the beer bottles in a droptower specifically designed for the testing of materials (Figs. 4 and 5). Depending on the region of the beer bottle, the wall thickness, curvature, and therefore the expected stability vary. As our aim was to assess the minimum breaking threshold, we let the ball strike the weakest part of the bottle, namely the bottom third of the shaft.


In this discussion, they came up with the following equation to describe the energy in the real life situation.


“E is the energy, MN is the mass of the bottle, MT is the mass of body part moving the bottle, i.e. the arm and shoulder (which can be assumed to weigh 2.5–4 kg) and W is the work performed by the muscles.”

If one considers the masses of the bottles, namely full bottles weighing 898 g and empty ones 391 g, a full bottle will strike a target with almost 70% more energy than an empty bottle. In other words, it takes less muscle work to achieve a greater striking energy when fighting with a full bottle, even though lifting the bottle requires slightly more energy.

And here’s the full conclusion:

5. Conclusions

Empty beer bottles are sturdier than full ones. However, both full and empty bottles are theoretically capable of fracturing the human neurocranium. We therefore conclude that half-litre beer bottles may indeed present formidable weapons in a physical dispute. Prohibition of these bottles is therefore justified in situations
which involve risk of human conflicts.

However, further studies involving different bottle types and an examination regarding the extent of brain damage is needed to assess the overall danger originating from bottle-related head trauma.


The New York Times, in reporting Bollinger’s findings, has a more succinct description

Bolliger’s conclusion: Full bottles shatter at 30 joules, empties at 40, meaning both are capable of cracking open your skull. But empties are a third sturdier.

Why the difference? The beer inside a bottle is carbonated, which means it exerts pressure on the glass, making it more likely to shatter when hitting something. Its propensity to shatter makes it less sturdy — and thus a poorer weapon — than an empty one. As for the ubiquitous half-full bottle, if you hold it like a club, Bolliger says, “it tends to become an empty bottle very rapidly.”