GABF Winners 2015

Yesterday, the winners of the 34th Great American Beer Festival were announced. A record 6,647 beers were judged in 92 categories by 242 judges, of which I was again privileged to be one. Some more factoids on the results and the festival:

  • Category with the most entries: American-style IPA: 336 entries (279 last year; #1 since 2002)
  • Top 5 Categories: IPA (336 entries); Imperial IPA (208); Wood- & Barrel-Aged Strong Beer (179); Session IPA (161); and American Pale Ale (160)
  • Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 72 (61.2 last year)
  • 1,552 breweries in the competition from all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. (1,309 last year)
  • 38 first-time breweries won medals (52 last year)
  • 4 breweries tied for most medals won, with three apiece; Firestone Walker Brewing, Sun King Brewing, Port City Brewing, and Left Hand Brewing.
  • 750 breweries in the festival hall (710 last year)
  • Over 3,800 beers served at the festival (3,500 last year)
  • 60,000 attendees (49,000 last year)
  • New Categories This Year: Chili Pepper Beer, Session IPA and Mixed Culture Brett Beer.


Medals Won by State:

  1. California = 67 (46 last year)
  2. Colorado = 36 (39 last year)
  3. Oregon = 19 (22 last year)
  4. Texas = 15 (16 last year)
  5. Washington = 13 (9 last year)
  6. TIE:
    • Indiana = 10 (4 last year)
    • Ohio = 10 (5 last year)
  7. Virginia = 9 (7 last year)
  8. TIE:
    • North Carolina = 8 (6 last year)
    • Pennsylvania = 8 (12 last year)
    • Wisconsin = 8 (7 last year)
  9. Minnesota = 7 (6 last year)
  10. Michigan = 6 (6 last year)
  11. TIE:
    • Missouri = 5 (4 last year)
    • Nevada = 5 (3 last year)
    • New York = 5 (3 last year)
  12. TIE:
    • Arizona = 4 (1 last year)
    • Illinois = 4 (9 last year)
    • New Mexico = 4 (8 last year)


The 2015 Great American Beer Festival Winners

Category 1: American-Style Wheat Beer, 58 Entries
Gold: Super 77 Wheat, Wiley Roots Brewing Co., Greeley, CO
Silver: Whacked Out Wheat, Telluride Brewing Co., Telluride, CO
Bronze: Mogabi, Elevator Brewing Co. – Production Facility, Columbus, OH

Category 2: American-Style Wheat Beer With Yeast, 41 Entries
Gold: The Big O, O’so Brewing, Plover, WI
Silver: WeldWerks Hefeweizen, WeldWerks Brewing Co., Greeley, CO
Bronze: Boulder Bend Dunkelweizen, Fish Brewing Co., Olympia, WA

Category 3: American-Style Fruit Beer, 87 Entries
Gold: Chchchch-Cherry Bomb, Melvin Brewing, Jackson, WY
Silver: Rasplendent, Mazama Brewing Co., Corvallis, OR
Bronze: Apricot Blonde, Dry Dock Brewing Co. – Production Facility, Aurora, CO

Category 4: Fruit Wheat Beer, 69 Entries
Gold: Magnolia’s Peach, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery – Chandler, Chandler, AZ
Silver: You’re My Boy, Blue!, Brew Bus Brewing, Tampa, FL
Bronze: Purple Line, Smylie Brothers Brewing Co., Evanston, IL

Category 5: Belgian-Style Fruit Beer, 63 Entries
Gold: X-Reserve Ale 05-15 Peach and Ginger Saison, Saucony Creek Brewing, Kutztown, PA
Silver: Kumquat Saison, Smog City Brewing, Torrance, CA
Bronze: Cherry Busey, Sun King Brewing Co., Indianapolis, IN

Category 6: Pumpkin Beer, 56 Entries
Gold: No Medal
Silver: Pumpkin Grinder, Mankato Brewery, Mankato, MN
Bronze: The Great Pumpkin Ale, Great Basin Brewing Co. – Sparks, Sparks, NV

Category 7: Field Beer, 52 Entries
Gold: Beets, Rhymes and Life, Fonta Flora Brewery, Morganton, NC
Silver: Window Seat Coconut Almond Porter, Baxter Brewing Co., Auburn, ME
Bronze: Coconut Porter, Broken Compass Brewing, Breckenridge, CO

Category 8: Chili Beer, 79 Entries
Gold: Fire Tiger, Lander Brewing Co., Lander, WY
Silver: Heir Apparent, Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery, Goochland, VA
Bronze: Ballast Point Pale Ale with Serrano, Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits – Scripps Ranch,
San Diego, CA

Category 9: Herb and Spice Beer, 142 Entries
Gold: Garden Party, Free State Brewing Co., Lawrence, KS
Silver: Allergeez, Panther Island Brewing Co., Fort Worth, TX
Bronze: Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ale, Aftershock Brewing Co., Temecula, CA

Category 10: Chocolate Beer, 65 Entries
Gold: The Velvet Hog, TAPS Fish House & Brewery – Corona, Corona, CA
Silver: El Toro Coco Chocolate Stout, El Toro Brewing Co., Morgan Hill, CA
Bronze: Wonka Bar, Mispillion River Brewing, Milford, DE

Category 11: Coffee Beer, 149 Entries
Gold: Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout, New English Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
Silver: Mocha Machine, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, Long Beach, CA
Bronze: Bacon and Eggs, Pizza Port Ocean Beach, San Diego, CA

Category 12: Specialty Beer, 59 Entries
Gold: Hog Cabin, Great South Bay Brewery, Bay Shore, NY
Silver: Hazelnut Brown Nectar, Rogue Ales, Newport, OR
Bronze: Pack Dog Peanut Butter Ale, Marley’s Brewery & Grille, Bloomsburg, PA

Category 13: Rye Beer, 84 Entries
Gold: Blitzkrieg Bock, Fat Head’s Brewery – Portland, Portland, OR
Silver: Concrete Dinosaur, Right Brain Brewery, Traverse City, MI
Bronze: Pt. Bonita Rustic Lager, Headlands Brewing Co., Mill Valley, CA

Category 14: Honey Beer, 52 Entries
Gold: Electric Stinger, The Tap Beer Co., Bloomington, IN
Silver: Honey Chamomile Wheat, Nexus Brewery, Albuquerque, NM
Bronze: Spring Fever, FiftyFifty Brewing Co., Truckee, CA

Category 15: Session Beer, 44 Entries
Gold: BJ’s LightSwitch Lager, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery – Temple, Temple, TX
Silver: MCA, 21st Amendment Brewery Cafe, San Francisco, CA
Bronze: Guillaume, Pizza Port Ocean Beach, San Diego, CA

Category 16: Session India Pale Ale, 161 Entries
Gold: The Coachman, Societe Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
Silver: Size 4, Steel Toe Brewing, St. Louis Park, MN
Bronze: Nose Candy, Noble Ale Works, Anaheim, CA

Category 17: Other Strong Beer, 43 Entries
Gold: Ursa Minor, McCoy’s Public House, Kansas City, MO
Silver: Humboldt Brownie, Mad River Brewing Co., Blue Lake, CA
Bronze: Take Back the Streets, Piece Brewery, Chicago, IL

Category 18: Experimental Beer, 85 Entries
Gold: Mystery Airship Imperial Chocolate Porter, New Helvetia Brewing Co., Sacramento, CA
Silver: Melt My Brain, Short’s Brewing Co., Elk Rapids, MI
Bronze: Ramjet, Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales, Denver, CO

Category 19: Fresh or Wet Hop Ale, 34 Entries
Gold: Acequia IPA, Bosque Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM
Silver: Fresh Hop Superpower IPA, Comrade Brewing Co., Denver, CO
Bronze: Melvin IPA, Melvin Brewing, Jackson, WY

Category 20: Historical Beer, 40 Entries
Gold: Black Eagle Gratzer, Platform Beer Co., Cleveland, OH
Silver: Dortmunder Adambier, Blue Pants Brewery, Madison, AL
Bronze: Snow Drop, Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, Loveland, CO

Category 21: Gluten-Free Beer, 24 Entries
Gold: Watchstander Stout, Ghostfish Brewing Co., Seattle, WA
Silver: IPA No. 5, Ground Breaker Brewing, Portland, OR
Bronze: Ghostfish Grapefruit IPA, Ghostfish Brewing Co., Seattle, WA

Category 22: American-Belgo-Style Ale, 71 Entries
Gold: Le Freak, Green Flash Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
Silver: Summer Saison, Blackberry Farm Brewery, Walland, TN
Bronze: Salad Days American Saison, Pale Fire Brewing Co., Harrisonburg, VA

Category 23: American-Style Sour Ale, 86 Entries
Gold: Savant Blanc, Perennial Artisan Ales, Saint Louis, MO
Silver: Ensorcelled, The Rare Barrel, Berkeley, CA
Bronze: Apropos of Nothing, The Rare Barrel, Berkeley, CA

Category 24: American-Style Brett Beer, 85 Entries
Gold: (512) Wild Bear, (512) Brewing Co., Austin, TX
Silver: Red Swingline IPA Primitif, Trinity Brewing, Colorado Springs, CO
Bronze: 2015 Golden Ale, New Glarus Brewing Co. – Hilltop, New Glarus, WI

Category 25: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer, 69 Entries
Gold: Wild Warehouse, Wander Brewing, Bellingham, WA
Silver: Palo Santo Aged Porter, Spellbound Brewing, Mount Holly, NJ
Bronze: Barrel Aged Brown Ale, Twin Peaks Brewery, Irving, TX

Category 26: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer, 179 Entries
Gold: Melange A Trois, Nebraska Brewing Co., La Vista, NE
Silver: Batch 666: Sympathy For The Devil, Sun King Brewing Co., Indianapolis, IN
Bronze: Ska Face, SKA Brewing, Durango, CO

Category 27: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer, 128 Entries
Gold: Ctayt, AC Golden Brewing Co., Golden, CO
Silver: Sherry Ink, Rhinegeist Brewing, Cincinnati, OH
Bronze: Dosvidanya, DESTIHL – Champaign, Champaign, IL

Category 28: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer, 137 Entries
Gold: Veritas 015, The Lost Abbey, San Marcos, CA
Silver: 24 Frames Per Second, Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew, Denver, CO
Bronze: Sour Opal, Firestone Walker Barrelworks, Buellton, CA

Category 29: Aged Beer, 38 Entries
Gold: Big Deluxe, Ritual Brewing Co., Redlands, CA
Silver: Sasquatch 2014, 903 Brewers, Sherman, TX
Bronze: Old Diablo, Morgan Territory Brewing, Tracy, CA

Category 30: Kellerbier or Zwickelbier, 45 Entries
Gold: STS Pils, Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, CA
Silver: TAPS Kellerbier, TAPS Fish House & Brewery – Brea, Brea, CA
Bronze: Fargo Original, Fargo Brewing Co., Fargo, ND

Category 31: Smoke Beer, 57 Entries
Gold: Smoked Märzen, 49th State Brewing Co., Denali National Park, AK
Silver: S.S.A., Titletown Brewing Co., Green Bay, WI
Bronze: Smokie Robbins, Lager Heads Brewing Co., Medina, OH

Category 32: American-Style or International-Style Pilsener, 51 Entries
Gold: Rocket 100, The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Austin, TX
Silver: Mexican Logger, SKA Brewing, Durango, CO
Bronze: Amend This!, TAPS Fish House & Brewery – Brea, Brea, CA

Category 33: German-Style Pilsener, 100 Entries
Gold: Pivo, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA
Silver: Pilsner, pFriem Family Brewers, Hood River, OR
Bronze: Pilsner, Dry Dock Brewing Co., Aurora, CO

Category 34: Bohemian-Style Pilsener, 62 Entries
Gold: Shower Beer, Champion Brewing Co., Charlottesville, VA
Silver: Bohemian Pilsner, von Trapp Brewing, Stowe, VT
Bronze: Peacemaker Pilsner, Pug Ryan’s Brewing Co., Dillon, CO

Category 35: Munich-Style Helles, 55 Entries
Gold: Bucket Seat Blonde, Garage Brewing Co. & Pizzeria, Temecula, CA
Silver: Long Goodbye, Ahnapee Brewery, Algoma, WI
Bronze: Goldencold Lager, Susquehanna Brewing Co., Pittston, PA

Category 36: Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest, 48 Entries
Gold: Oktoberfest, Fort Collins Brewery & Tavern, Fort Collins, CO
Silver: Longboard Island Lager, Craft Brew Alliance – Kona Brewery, Kailua Kona, HI
Bronze: Helles Lager, Lucky Envelope Brewing, Seattle, WA

Category 37: American-Style Lager or Light Lager, 55 Entries
Gold: Coors Banquet, Coors Brewing Co., Golden, CO
Silver: Lone Tree Mexican Lager, Lone Tree Brewing Co., Lone Tree, CO
Bronze: Southern Girl Lager, Sycamore Brewing, Charlotte, NC

Category 38: American-Style Cream Ale, 56 Entries
Gold: Rainier Lager, Pabst Brewing Co., Los Angeles, CA
Silver: Olympia, Pabst Brewing Co., Los Angeles, CA
Bronze: Nuff, Dale Bros Brewery, Upland, CA

Category 39: Vienna-Style Lager, 46 Entries
Gold: Vienna Lager, Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost, Lexington, VA
Silver: Oktoberfest, Stoudts Brewing Co., Adamstown, PA
Bronze: Firebrick, August Schell Brewing Co., New Ulm, MN

Category 40: German-Style Märzen, 65 Entries
Gold: Oktoberfest, Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., Fort Worth, TX
Silver: Antonius 1742 Oktoberfest, Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co., Indianapolis, IN
Bronze: Duck-Rabbit Märzen, Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, Farmville, NC

Category 41: American-Style Amber Lager, 48 Entries
Gold: Auburn Lager, Mad Anthony Brewing Co., Fort Wayne, IN
Silver: Karbachtoberfest, Karbach Brewing Co., Houston, TX
Bronze: St. Florian’s Brewery California Common, St. Florian’s Brewery, Windsor, CA

Category 42: European-Style Dark/Münchner Dunkel, 34 Entries
Gold: Gigi, Exile Brewing, Des Moines, IA
Silver: Fearless Youth, Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, Loveland, CO
Bronze: Chuckanut Dunkel, Chuckanut Brewery, Bellingham, WA

Category 43: American-Style Dark Lager, 21 Entries
Gold: Lagerithm, Bottle Logic Brewing, Anaheim, CA
Silver: Lighter Than I Look, Figueroa Mountain Brewing – Arroyo Grande, Arroyo Grande, CA
Bronze: Black Diamond, Bend Brewing Co., Bend, OR

Category 44: German-Style Schwarzbier, 37 Entries
Gold: Lobo Negro, Pedernales Brewing Co., Fredericksburg, TX
Silver: Black Knight, Fat Head’s Brewery – N. Olmstead, North Olmsted, OH
Bronze: Eastside, Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee, WI

Category 45: Bock, 38 Entries
Gold: Break Line Bock, Rip Current Brewery, San Marcos, CA
Silver: Rock Out with Maibock Out, Hailstorm Brewing Co., Tinley Park, IL
Bronze: A Cart Ride to Mexico, Red Eye Brewing Co., Wausau, WI

Category 46: German-Style Doppelbock or Eisbock, 25 Entries
Gold: The Regulator, Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., Fort Worth, TX
Silver: Procrastinator Doppelbock, Fitger’s Brewhouse, Duluth, MN
Bronze: Hot for Teacher Ms. Doppelbock, Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co., Indianapolis, IN

Category 47: Baltic-Style Porter, 35 Entries
Gold: Cobaltic Porter, Bottle Logic Brewing, Anaheim, CA
Silver: Double Porter, Bemidji Brewing Co., Bemidji, MN
Bronze: Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter, Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, Farmville, NC

Category 48: Golden or Blonde Ale, 107 Entries
Gold: Sunlight Cream Ale, Sun King Brewing Co., Indianapolis, IN
Silver: Boxcar Blonde Ale, Heroes Restaurant and Brewery, Riverside, CA
Bronze: Alpine Gold, Tied House Cafe & Brewery – Mt. View, Mountain View, CA

Category 49: German-Style Kölsch, 111 Entries
Gold: Chuckanut Kolsch Style, Chuckanut Brewery, Bellingham, WA
Silver: Colorado Kölsch, Steamworks Brewing Co., Durango, CO
Bronze: Friar Chuck, Black Bottle Brewery, Fort Collins, CO

Category 50: English-Style Summer Ale, 38 Entries
Gold: Beaverton Blonde, Golden Valley Brewery and Pub, McMinnville, OR
Silver: Cream Ale, Newburgh Brewing Co., Newburgh, NY
Bronze: Lonely Blonde, Fulton Beer, Minneapolis, MN

Category 51: Classic English-Style Pale Ale, 46 Entries
Gold: Mr. Kite’s Pale Ale, Social Kitchen & Brewery, San Francisco, CA
Silver: India Pale Ale, Arcadia Brewing Co., Kalamazoo, MI
Bronze: PBW Pale Ale, Paducah Beer Werks, Paducah, KY

Category 52: English-Style India Pale Ale, 42 Entries
Gold: Shanghai’d IPA, Old Town Brewing, Portland, OR
Silver: Monumental IPA, Port City Brewing Co., Alexandria, VA
Bronze: Hammersmith IPA, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA

Category 53: International-Style Pale Ale, 75 Entries
Gold: Mai Tai P.A., Alvarado Street Brewery & Grill, Monterey, CA
Silver: Rain Delay IPA, JAFB Wooster Brewery, Wooster, OH
Bronze: San Diego-Style IPA, Karl Strauss Brewing Co. – La Jolla, La Jolla, CA

Category 54: American-Style Pale Ale, 160 Entries
Gold: Monterey St. Pale Ale, Central Coast Brewing Co., San Luis Obispo, CA
Silver: Hoppy Palm, Track 7 Brewing Co. – Natomas, Sacramento, CA
Bronze: Featherweight Pale Ale, Cannonball Creek Brewing Co., Golden, CO

Category 55: American-Style Strong Pale Ale, 134 Entries
Gold: Ratchet Strap IPA, Barley Brown’s Beer, Baker City, OR
Silver: Via Chicago, CODA Brewing Co., Aurora, CO
Bronze: 3C India Pale Ale, Triple C Brewing, Charlotte, NC

Category 56: American-Style India Pale Ale, 336 Entries
Gold: Revolver IPA, BNS Brewing & Distilling Co., Santee, CA
Silver: Pernicious IPA, Wicked Weed Brewing – Candler, Candler, NC
Bronze: White Rajah, The Brew Kettle Taproom and Smokehouse, Strongsville, OH

Category 57: Imperial India Pale Ale, 208 Entries
Gold: Hop JuJu Imperial IPA, Fat Head’s Brewery, Middleburg Heights, OH
Silver: Eazy Duz It IIPA, Laurelwood Public House and Brewery, Portland, OR
Bronze: Teahupo’o, Breakwater Brewing Co., Oceanside, CA

Category 58: American-Style Amber/Red Ale, 94 Entries
Gold: Immersion Amber Ale, Two Beers Brewing Co., Seattle, WA
Silver: Proletariat Red, Lompoc Brewing – The 5th Quadrant, Portland, OR
Bronze: Sharkbite Red, Pizza Port Bressi Ranch, Carlsbad, CA

Category 59: Double Red Ale, 71 Entries
Gold: Bone Head Imperial Red, Fat Head’s Brewery, Middleburg Heights, OH
Silver: Toaster Pastry, 21st Amendment Brewery, San Leandro, CA
Bronze: GRAMBO, Pizza Port Solana Beach, Solana Beach, CA

Category 60: Imperial Red Ale, 35 Entries
Gold: reDANKulous, Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, MI
Silver: Wreak Havoc, Bootstrap Brewing Co., Niwot, CO
Bronze: Imperial Red Ale, Marble Brewery, Albuquerque, NM

Category 61: English-Style Mild Ale, 40 Entries
Gold: Mild, Brothers Craft Brewing, Harrisonburg, VA
Silver: Summer Porter, Fort Point Beer Co., San Francisco, CA
Bronze: Mamoot, Logboat Brewing Co., Columbia, MO

Category 62: Ordinary or Special Bitter, 43 Entries
Gold: DBA (Double Barrel Ale), Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA
Silver: Spitfire Best Bitter, Flyers Restaurant and Brewery, Oak Harbor, WA
Bronze: Sawtooth Ale, Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, CO

Category 63: Extra Special Bitter, 67 Entries
Gold: The Guilty Party, Gibb’s Hundred Brewing Co., Greensboro, NC
Silver: 14° ESB, Bent Paddle Brewing Co., Duluth, MN
Bronze: Red Fish, Flying Fish Brewing Co., Somerdale, NJ

Category 64: Scottish-Style Ale, 52 Entries
Gold: Copper John Scotch Ale, Madison River Brewing Co., Belgrade, MT
Silver: Cold Smoke, KettleHouse Brewing Co., Missoula, MT
Bronze: Barrio Rojo, Barrio Brewing Co., Tucson, AZ

Category 65: Irish-Style Red Ale, 70 Entries
Gold: TAPS Irish Red, TAPS Fish House & Brewery – Corona, Corona, CA
Silver: Johnny Blood Red, Titletown Brewing Co., Green Bay, WI
Bronze: Hooligan’s Irish Red Ale, Montana Brewing Co., Billings, MT

Category 66: English-Style Brown Ale, 72 Entries
Gold: Red Hydrant Ale, Big Dog’s Brewing Co., Las Vegas, NV
Silver: No Name, Glenwood Canyon Brewing Co., Glenwood Springs, CO
Bronze: Rogue River Brown, Rockford Brewing Co. – Rockford, Michigan, Rockford, MI

Category 67: American-Style Brown Ale, 85 Entries
Gold: 1623 Brown Ale, 7th Settlement Brewery, Dover, NH
Silver: Rapture Fusion Brown Ale, Rabbit Hole Brewing, Justin, TX
Bronze: Restraint, Institution Ale Co., Camarillo, CA

Category 68: American-Style Black Ale, 54 Entries
Gold: Midnight Moonlight, Fat Head’s Brewery – N. Olmstead, North Olmsted, OH
Silver: Singularity, Karl Strauss Brewing Co. – Costa Mesa, Costa Mesa, CA
Bronze: King Ink, Denver Beer Co. – Canworks, Denver, CO

Category 69: German-Style Sour Ale, 111 Entries
Gold: Gose, Reuben’s Brews Taproom, Seattle, WA
Silver: Volkssekt, Bend Brewing Co., Bend, OR
Bronze: Cucumber Crush, 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend, OR

Category 70: German-Style Altbier, 49 Entries
Gold: Copper Alt, Zipline Brewing Co., Lincoln, NE
Silver: Generation Alt, Flix Brewhouse – Indy, Carmel, IN
Bronze: Altbier, Liquid Mechanics Brewing Co., Lafayette, CO

Category 71: South German-Style Hefeweizen, 95 Entries
Gold: Weißbier, Prost Brewing, Denver, CO
Silver: Wild Wapiti Wheat, Elk Mountain Brewing Co., Parker, CO
Bronze: Windansea Wheat, Karl Strauss Brewing Co., San Diego, CA

Category 72: German-Style Wheat Ale, 35 Entries
Gold: Saint Arnold Weedwacker, Saint Arnold Brewing Co., Houston, TX
Silver: Weizenbock, Kansas City Bier Co., Kansas City, MO
Bronze: Monkey Business, New Bohemia Brewing Co., Santa Cruz, CA

Category 73: Belgian-Style Blonde Ale or Pale Ale, 47 Entries
Gold: Bear Hair, Logboat Brewing Co., Columbia, MO
Silver: Bleek Worden, Prison City Brewing, Auburn, NY
Bronze: Belgian Style Pale Ale, Aardwolf Brewing Co., Jacksonville, FL

Category 74: Belgian-Style Witbier, 82 Entries
Gold: Allagash White, Allagash Brewing Co., Portland, ME
Silver: White Rascal, Avery Brewing Co., Boulder, CO
Bronze: Optimal Wit, Port City Brewing Co., Alexandria, VA

Category 75: French- and Belgian-Style Saison, 132 Entries
Gold: Siren’s Lure, Fair Winds Brewing Co., Lorton, VA
Silver: Daily Wages, Brasserie Saint James, Reno, NV
Bronze: Saison, URBN St. Brewing Co., El Cajon, CA

Category 76: Belgian- and French-Style Ale, 47 Entries
Gold: Vintage Monks, Adelbert’s Brewery, Austin, TX
Silver: Grisette, Sly Fox Brewing Co., Pottstown, PA
Bronze: Petite Classique, The Commons Brewery, Portland, OR

Category 77: Belgian-Style Lambic or Sour Ale, 78 Entries
Gold: Turbulent Consequence, Peche, Block 15, Corvallis, OR
Silver: Feral One, Firestone Walker Barrelworks, Buellton, CA
Bronze: Viejo Rojo, Tahoe Mountain Brewing Co. – Truckee, Truckee, CA

Category 78: Belgian-Style Dubbel or Quadruple, 60 Entries
Gold: Sanitarium, Bier Brewery and Taproom, Indianapolis, IN
Silver: Dubbel Entendre, River’s Edge Brewing Co., Milford, MI
Bronze: Qualified, Taxman Brewing Co., Bargersville, IN

Category 79: Belgian-Style Tripel, 52 Entries
Gold: Wild West Tripel, Chicago Brewing Co. – NV, Las Vegas, NV
Silver: Allagash Tripel, Allagash Brewing Co., Portland, ME
Bronze: Millennium Trippel, Church Brew Works – Lawrenceville Brewery, Pittsburgh, PA

Category 80: Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale, 65 Entries
Gold: Van Dammit, Jailbreak Brewing Co., Laurel, MD
Silver: The Cannibal, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant – Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA
Bronze: Quad Damn It, Chicago Brewing Co. – NV, Las Vegas, NV

Category 81: Other Belgian-Style Ale, 45 Entries
Gold: Spangalang Table Beer, Spangalang Brewery, Denver, CO
Silver: Summer Rye Ale, Mayflower Brewing Co., Plymouth, MA
Bronze: Witty Moron, Stone Brewing World Bistro, Liberty Station, San Diego, CA

Category 82: Brown Porter, 57 Entries
Gold: Disaster at Meux, Lion Bridge Brewing Co., Cedar Rapids, IA
Silver: Peter Brown Tribute Ale, Bear Republic Brewing Co. – Factory 5, Cloverdale, CA
Bronze: Black Jack Porter, Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, CO

Category 83: Robust Porter, 102 Entries
Gold: Recalcitrant Dockhand, Black Star Co-op, Austin, TX
Silver: Porter, Port City Brewing Co., Alexandria, VA
Bronze: Night Watchman, City Star Brewing, Berthoud, CO

Category 84: Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout, 36 Entries
Gold: Stearns Stout, Figueroa Mountain Brewing – Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA
Silver: Dragoon’s Dry Irish Stout, Moylan’s Brewery & Restaurant, Novato, CA
Bronze: Dry Stout, Reuben’s Brews, Seattle, WA

Category 85: Export Stout, 39 Entries
Gold: Fade to Black, Volume 1, Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, CO
Silver: Black Rock Stout, Crossroads Brewing Co., Athens, NY
Bronze: Z-man Stout, Pizza Port Carlsbad, Carlsbad, CA

Category 86: American-Style Stout, 39 Entries
Gold: Disorder Stout, Barley Brown’s Brewpub, Baker City, OR
Silver: Black Cliffs, Boise Brewing, Boise, ID
Bronze: P2P, 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend, OR

Category 87: Sweet Stout or Cream Stout, 75 Entries
Gold: West O CocO, West O Beer, West Okoboji, IA
Silver: Chocolate Milk Stout, Boxing Bear Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM
Bronze: The Husstler, Huss Brewing, Tempe, AZ

Category 88: Oatmeal Stout, 73 Entries
Gold: R & R Oatmeal Stout, Beaver Street Brewery, Flagstaff, AZ
Silver: Scripps Pier Stout, South Park Brewing – CA, San Diego, CA
Bronze: Scaredy Cat, Vintage Brewing Co., Madison, WI

Category 89: Imperial Stout, 80 Entries
Gold: Double Negative, Grimm Artisanal Ales, Brooklyn, NY
Silver: Russian Imperial Stout, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant – Lancaster, Lancaster, PA
Bronze: The Miller’s Toll, Raleigh Brewing Co., Raleigh, NC

Category 90: Scotch Ale, 55 Entries
Gold: MacPelican’s Wee Heavy Ale, Pelican Pub & Brewery, Pacific City, OR
Silver: Black Lagoon Scottish Strong, Rip Current Brewery, San Marcos, CA
Bronze: Real Heavy, Real Ale Brewing Co., Blanco, TX

Category 91: Old Ale or Strong Ale, 39 Entries
Gold: Old Scrooge, Silver City Brewery, Bremerton, WA
Silver: Innsmouth Olde Ale, Narragansett Brewing Co., Providence, RI
Bronze: MASSIVE! 2013, Gigantic Brewing Co., Portland, OR

Category 92: Barley Wine-Style Ale, 56 Entries
Gold: Fat Hog, Ritual Brewing Co., Redlands, CA
Silver: Statik, Brewery Rickoli, Wheat Ridge, CO
Bronze: Old Skook, Three Magnets Brewing, Olympia, WA

2015 Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am Competition, 91 Entries
Gold: Muscat Love, Great South Bay Brewery; Bay Shore, NY
Brewmaster: Great South Bay Brewery Team, AHA Member: Brian Giebel

Silver: Atahsaisa, Odd13 Brewing; Lafayette, CO
Brewmaster: Ryan Scott and Brandon Boldt, AHA Member: Mike Froehlich

Bronze: Citra IPA, FATE Brewing; Boulder, CO
Brewmaster: FATE Brewing Company Team, AHA Member: Ryan Lotter

The 2015 Great American Beer Festival Brewery & Brewer of the Year Awards

Very Small Brewing Company of the Year
Rip Current Brewery; San Marcos, CA
Brewer: Paul Sangster and Guy Shobe

Small Brewing Company of the Year
Port City Brewing; Alexandria, VA
Brewer: Port City Brewing Team

Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year
Firestone Walker Brewing; Paso Robles, CA
Brewer: Matt Brynildson & the Firestone Walker Brewing Team

Large Brewing Company of the Year
Pabst Brewing; Los Angeles, CA
Brewer: Gregory Deuhs

Small Brewpub of the Year
Melvin Brewing; Jackson, WY
Brewer: Kirk McHale and Jeremy Tofte

Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year
TAPS Fish House & Brewery; Corona, CA
Brewer: TAPS Fish House & Brewery Team

Large Brewpub of the Year
Titletown Brewing; Green Bay, WI
Brewer: David Oldenburg

Beer Birthday: Evan Rail

Today is the 43rd birthday of Evan Rail, expat American writer living, and writing about beer, in Prague, Czech Republic. Evan was born and raised in Fresno, but discovered his love for beer while attending U.C. Davis as a French and German literature major. While there, he spent his time at the nearby Sudwerk Privatbrauerei brewpub, and counted among his friends several students in the Master Brewers program. That’s also where he began homebrewing in 1993. He also studied in New York and Paris, before making the Czech Republic his home in 2000. His move to Prague was meant to be for a single year, but he’s still there fifteen years later. Given that he met his wife there, and they’ve started a family, it’s likely he won’t be moving home any time soon. In addition to writing the Good Beer Guide to Prague and the Czech Republic, Rail’s also penned Why Beer Matters, In Praise of Hangovers and Triplebock, all Kindle singles. While we haven’t yet shared a beer in person, I did interview him via Skype for a newspaper column and look forward to a trip to Prague at some point in the future. Join me in wishing Evan a very happy birthday.

A Facebook cover photo of Evan (which is where I purloined it from, along with the next one, too).

A screenshot from a video of Evan talking about Czech beer.

Session #102: A Beery Landscape

For our 102nd Session, our host is Allen Huerta, who writes Active Brewer. For his topic, he’s asking us to look at the big picture, the entire landscape of beer; yesterday, today, and/or tomorrow, or as he more fully explains what he has in mind for the August Session in his announcement, “The Landscape of Beer:”

SURPRISE, SURPRISE! The Landscape of Beer in America is changing. It has even begun influencing beer in countries all around the world. Everyone has their opinion on Local vs Global, Craft vs Macro, and Love vs Business. Those who were at the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference in Asheville this past weekend had a brief talk about how “Small and Independent Matters”. Something that quite a few people say matters to them, but where is the upper limit? Does a purchase of another brewery still allow a brewery to fall into the Small and Independent camp?

Our topic this month is, “The Landscape of Beer“. How do you see that landscape now? What about in 5, 10, or even 20 years? A current goal in the American Craft Beer Industry is 20% market share by the year 2020. How can we get there? Can we get there?

Whether your view is realistic or whimsical, what do you see in our future? Is it something you want or something that is happening? Let us know and maybe we can help paint the future together.


Because the weekend’s all but over, I decided — as usual — not to follow instructions per se, and instead found four literal landscapes of beer’s constituent parts in my library of photographs.

The River Trent, in Burton upon Trent, although the brewing water actually comes from an aquifer deep below the town (but the photo of the aquifer is pretty dull).

Barley growing in the San Luis Valley of southwest Colorado.

Hops in the Yakima Valley, Washington.

Yeast bubbling at White Labs in San Diego.

A Landscape View Of Beer For The Next Session

For our 102nd Session, our host will be Allen Huerta, who writes Active Brewer. For his topic, he’s asking us to look at the big picture, the entire landscape of beer; yesterday, today, and/or tomorrow, or as he more fully explains what he has in mind for the August Session in his announcement, “The Landscape of Beer:”

SURPRISE, SURPRISE! The Landscape of Beer in America is changing. It has even begun influencing beer in countries all around the world. Everyone has their opinion on Local vs Global, Craft vs Macro, and Love vs Business. Those who were at the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference in Asheville this past weekend had a brief talk about how “Small and Independent Matters”. Something that quite a few people say matters to them, but where is the upper limit? Does a purchase of another brewery still allow a brewery to fall into the Small and Independent camp?

Our topic this month is, “The Landscape of Beer“. How do you see that landscape now? What about in 5, 10, or even 20 years? A current goal in the American Craft Beer Industry is 20% market share by the year 2020. How can we get there? Can we get there?

Whether your view is realistic or whimsical, what do you see in our future? Is it something you want or something that is happening? Let us know and maybe we can help paint the future together.


So start painting your thoughts in broad strokes, and give us your take on the beer landscape. To participate in the July Session, leave a comment to the original announcement, on or before Friday, August 7.


Your Favorite Beer State By State

Here’s another interesting map of the U.S., supposedly showing the most popular beer for each state. I have no idea how the data was compiled as the creator of the map, and presumably the data behind it, CubeYou, all day yesterday presented you with the following error message when you click on State by State Favorite Beer: “Error establishing a database connection.” And you get that same message even trying to visit their home page so either they’ve been inundated with visitors today (doubtful) or something’s going on with their website (but whatever it is has been going on for several hours). This morning it was finally back up, but we’re no closer to understanding their methodology. They state that “the Beer Map below illustrates the beer brands that have the highest popularity in each state. Popularity indicates how popular a beer is in each state compared with the national distribution.” But that really doesn’t tell us much. And not having any information about who’s in second, third, etc. also makes it difficult to rely on their data.

There are a lot of local favorites, and of course the big boys hold sway in a number of states (10 for ABI beers and 2 apiece for Coors, Miller and Pabst). A few I can’t quite make out because of the size of the map so my own analysis may be off accordingly. Lagunitas owns both California and Illinois, where they have breweries. Heineken’s got Nevada and Hawaii (damn tourists) and imports rule in a few more states, sadly. A few more curious spots: Coors in Washington, and more surprising, Alaskan Brewing in Oregon. Given how fiercely loyal the state is toward their beer, that surprises me most of all, but maybe it has to do with how many strong brands their are in Oregon and that causes them to cancel one another out (or maybe it’s just wrong).

UPDATE: Now that I’m able to see the map larger and make out all of the name on it, even more problems emerge. In Minnesota and Tennessee, Midwest Supplies is listed as those states’ most popular beer, even though it’s a homebrew supply store. Arkansas and Montana have listed “Craft Beer On Tap,” a generic logo and not a brand at all as far as I can tell. Ceres, the Danish beer, in Florida seems questionable and as a reader pointed out, Yuengling is not even distributed in the state of Maine so it’s hard to see how it could be the most popular beer there. And as another reader mentioned, Dogfish Head not being the most popular in their home state of Delaware stretches credulity, as well, and all of these issues in total are making this exercise veer toward farce or chicanery. Whatever CubeYou’s actual methodology might have been, it’s hard to see that they produced any legitimate results. I had wished once their website was back up that there would be more transparency about how the data was collected and perhaps even a way to peek into the raw data itself. Unfortunately, if anything, they seem to have gone out of their way to obfuscate how they arrived upon the results.


Cancer Charities Grow Cancerous

One of the byproducts of keeping a close watch on prohibitionist groups and other so-called non-profit organizations is that I’ve become quite jaded not just about those particular ones, but about the charitable industrial complex in general. It’s really become big business and, in my opinion, most have strayed very far from the (hopefully) good intentions that spawned them. Longtime readers will recognize this thread, that many of the charities and organizations that choose to attack the beer community from the high moral ground, are themselves often in no position to take such a lofty nose-in-the-air position.

In recent years, several cancer charities have criticized the alcohol industry for our fundraising efforts while hypocritically working with KFC and other unhealthily partners, as I detailed a few years ago with Biting the Hand That Feeds You. Between several of these cancer charities, and the usual prohibitionists, people who work in the alcohol field who want to do good and raise money for a cause that’s dear to them are routinely insulted and criticized for doing so. But taking a closer look at the charities themselves, as I started doing a few years ago, it’s not always clear how much actual good they’re really doing.

Just how many charities are there? In the U.S. alone there are a staggering 1.5 million non-profit organizations, the vast majority of them characterized as public charities. That’s essentially one charity organization for every 213 people in America. Of those, I don’t know how many are involved with cancer, but you can bet it’s a lot. In a partnership between the Tampa Bay Times, the California-based Center for Investigative Reporting, and CNN (who joined the partnership in 2013), they examined all of the charities and created a list of America’s 50 Worst Charities. Of the top ten, the second worst charity in the U.S. is a cancer one, the Cancer Fund of America. In fact, fully four of the top ten are cancer charities. In the full list of the top 48 worst charities, ten of them involve cancer. A surprising number of them are also about missing children, veterans and police and fire fighting groups, sad to say.


But what prompted this was a report on Mashable I saw recently entitled Cancer charities allegedly misused $187 million for concerts and dating sites, U.S. says. Apparently, “Law enforcement from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, along with the Federal Trade Commission” charged four of them — Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, Children’s Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society — “with taking money that donors had given to help cancer patients and using it to on themselves as well as their families and friends,” in an amount in excess of $187 million. The money was used “to buy cars, trips, luxury cruises, college tuition, gym memberships, jet ski outings, sporting event and concert tickets, and dating site memberships,” and even for providing lucrative jobs to friends and family. Two of the charities, Children’s Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society, will be shut down. I don’t know why the other two would continue.

The Washington Post also detailed the story, and also published their 5 reasons why it took the feds so long to catch on to the cancer charities scam.

I find it incredibly sad that the state of charities has become so deplorable. It’s to the point where you don’t know whether you can even trust someone soliciting donations, no matter how worthy the cause might sound. The odds are becoming increasingly likely that it may very well be a scam. And undoubtedly that hurts however many charities remain that are actually staying true to their purpose, because at least in my case I’m not giving to anybody until I’ve had a chance to look into the charity asking for my donation. And without the time to adequately do that most times, my default position is a blanket no. So I think the state of the charitable industrial complex has itself become a cancer of sorts, eating itself. With trust in non-profits understandably plummeting, what will that mean for the good work of the few? The sham charities are harming not only the people they bilk out of their cash and savings, but making many others, I have to assume, reluctant to donate to any charity without first knowing more about them. There must be a special circle of hell reserved for these people, praying on people’s better natures with their own worst.


Beer Excise Taxes By State 2015

Back in 2009, I wrote a post about Beer Excise Taxes By State, based on data from by the Tax Foundation, and they also created a nice map of the 50 states with the individual beer excise tax brewers in each state has to pay in addition to the federal excise taxes, too.

They’ve now updated that map with more recent tax rates as of January 1, 2015. As they note, “[t]ax treatment of beer varies widely across the U.S., ranging from a low of $0.02 per gallon in Wyoming to a high of $1.29 per gallon in Tennessee.” They also acknowledge that “taxes are the single most expensive ingredient in beer, costing more than labor and raw materials combined,” citing an economic analysis that found “if all the taxes levied on the production, distribution, and retailing of beer are added up, they amount to more than 40% of the retail price.”


The Most Distinctive Causes Of Death By State

This is somewhat interesting, though it was little to do with beer. The CDC released the results of an analysis of the “most distinctive cause of death for each state and the District of Columbia, 2001–2010.” I never realized this, but it makes sense. The CDC uses a standardized List of 113 Selected Causes of Death, based on the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision. This is to help the data collected be more useful, and allows comparisons to be drawn if the data is not affected by local bias or custom. Then the data used was “age-adjusted state-specific death rate for each cause of death relative to the national age-adjusted death rate for each cause of death, equivalent to a location quotient.”

The analysis that went into creating the map was done by Francis Boscoe, who’s a researcher at the New York State Cancer Registry. Here’s the main findings, from the CDC website:

The resulting map depicts a variety of distinctive causes of death based on a wide range of number of deaths, from 15,000 deaths from HIV in Florida to 679 deaths from tuberculosis in Texas to 22 deaths from syphilis in Louisiana. The largest number of deaths mapped were the 37,292 deaths in Michigan from “atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, so described”; the fewest, the 11 deaths in Montana from “acute and rapidly progressive nephritic and nephrotic syndrome.” The state-specific percentage of total deaths mapped ranged from 1.8% (Delaware; atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, so described) to 0.0005% (Illinois, other disorders of kidney).

Some of the findings make intuitive sense (influenza in some northern states, pneumoconioses in coal-mining states, air and water accidents in Alaska and Idaho), while the explanations for others are less immediately apparent (septicemia in New Jersey, deaths by legal intervention in 3 Western states). The highly variable use of codes beginning with “other” between states is also apparent. For example, Oklahoma accounted for 24% of the deaths attributable to “other acute ischemic heart diseases” in the country despite having only slightly more than 1% of the population, resulting in a standardized mortality rate ratio of 19.4 for this cause of death, the highest on the map. The highest standardized mortality rate ratio after Oklahoma was 12.4 for pneumoconioses in West Virginia.

A limitation of this map is that it depicts only 1 distinctive cause of death for each state. All of these were significantly higher than the national rate, but there were many others also significantly higher than the national rate that were not mapped. The map is also predisposed to showing rare causes of death — for 22 of the states, the total number of deaths mapped was under 100. Using broader cause-of-death categories or requiring a higher threshold for the number of deaths would result in a different map. These limitations are characteristic of maps generally and are why these maps are best regarded as snapshots and not comprehensive statistical summaries.

Notice that despite prohibitionists claiming that alcohol is the “3rd-Leading Preventable Cause Of Death,” it’s actually not even on the list. It’s not even on the list of 113, apart from the more specific “Alcoholic Liver Disease.” Also, cancer isn’t among any of the top cause for any individual state, which is surprising given that it’s usually listed as the number two cause overall. Some of the stranger ones include Oregon and Nevada, whose leading cause is “legal intervention.” Then there’s Alabama and Tennessee with “accidental discharge of firearms,” while in Arizona and Arkansas it’s “discharge of firearms, undetermined intent.” Is anyone else bothered by the fact that in four states you’re most likely to die by being shot, whatever the reason?

What 3,465 Breweries Are Doing To The Hop Supply

I admit there’s a certain “duh” factor to this, but it’s still interesting to see the numbers. With IPA and other hoppy beers accounting for over 20% of the craft beer market, there’s not enough hops being grown to keep up with current demand, and it will only get worse as interest continues to grow, as it seems likely the popularity of hoppy beers will be with us for the foreseeable future. This is from the May 2015 issue of Popular Science, which has a short article entitled Craft Beer is Annihilating the Hop Supply, which adds that demand for hops has “nearly quadrupled in the past decade.”

The article is subtitled “why that might be a good thing,” presumably alluding to the increased demand, but never really answers that question satisfactorily. There’s a quote from the former director of the Hop Growers of America, Doug MacKinnon, saying “Craft brewing is sucking up every pound of hops in the U.S. Growers can’t expand fast enough,” and suggesting that’s opening up the market beyond Washington, Oregon and Idaho, where U.S. hop growing has been concentrated at least since prohibition ended.

The article cites as proof that “single-acre hop operations are popping up on other types of farms across the country, including “Growers in New York, Minnesota, and Colorado,” and I’m also aware of similar efforts with commercial farms in Maine, Wisconsin and California, and I’m sure I’m forgetting somebody. Hops-Meister, which is near Clearlake, started in 2004 and grows ten different varieties on at least 15 acres. Co-owner Marty Kuchinski will be talking to my class tonight about hop farming. California used to grow more hops than any other state prior to prohibition, but never rebounded as farmers here found they could make more per acre growing grapes, but it’s why that legacy includes the town of Hopland and the Hop Kiln Winery. And New York used have an entire hop industry in the 19th century, until a downy mildew problem and other issues forced many to move production out west. So it’s little surprise that, with more modern farming methods, this growing demand would bring back hop farming to many parts of the country, not to mention a strong desire for brewers to have more local ingredients.

But the numbers just seem crazy: 27 million pounds of hops in 2014, and an estimated 31 million pounds this year.


Where Do The Moderate Drinking Guidelines Come From?

For as long as I can remember, the recommended daily allowance to remain within moderate drinking guidelines has been one drink for a woman and two for a man. With the USDA’s new 2015 Dietary Guidelines open for comment, Modern Drunkard magazine, through their Brutal Hammer news blog, attempted to discover where those longstanding “2 for a man/1 for a woman” (2m/1w) guidelines came from, and wrote up their efforts in The CDC Is Stonewalling Us. In some ways it’s a silly piece, hinging on the CDC’s website comment apparatus not working, but the overriding question is sound. While the rest of the document about the Dietary Guidelines is heavily footnoted, with numerous references to the basis for their recommendations, the 2m/1w guidelines is suspiciously and conspicuously absent of any underlying scientific support.

Nowhere is it apparent how they came to that determination. No footnotes, no citations of scientific studies, not a damn bit of evidence to support it. Granted, my bourbon binoculars (the classier version of beer goggles, but they see deep into the truth of things) can only take in so much information at a time, but I couldn’t find a shred of reasoning for these arbitrary numbers.

I’d never thought about that before, but it’s a valid question. Where did they come up with that? And it’s not an unimportant one. The guidelines for defining moderate consumption are not the same worldwide, and in fact vary widely.

For example, Professor David J. Hanson at the State University of New York notes. “The fact that alcohol consumption guidelines are arbitrary is demonstrated by the wide variance in maximum limits recommended around the world. For example Poland’s recommended limit is 12.5 units per week whereas Australia’s is 35. Indeed, much research finds better health and greater longevity associated with drinking above the recommended guidelines published by most countries.” To contrast the U.S. guidelines, “Canada recommends that men on average consume no more than three drinks per day, five days per week, for a total of 15 drinks per week. For women it recommends, on average, no more than two drinks per day, five days per week, for a total of 10 drinks per week.”


A British examination of 27 European nation’s guidelines found “a remarkable lack of agreement about what constitutes harmful or excessive alcohol consumption on a daily basis, a weekly basis and when driving, with no consensus about the ratios of consumption guidelines for men and women.” Hanson concluded. “Thus, it appears that the differences in recommended guidelines are not based solely on the scientific medical evidence, but on cultural and political considerations. That is, the guidelines are highly arbitrary.”

And in some cases, capricious, as well. It was revealed in 2007, twenty years after the guidelines for the UK had been set in stone in 1987, that they were simply made up. One committee member who’d worked on the guidelines remembered that they were simply “plucked out of the air” and had “no basis in science” whatsoever, which I detailed at the time in Target: Alcohol. Without a clear basis on which our own guidelines were arrived upon, how can we be certain ours are any less fabricated inventions?

The other issue that’s never adequately addressed is the split for men and women. Supposedly, it’s because “Women tend to be smaller, but also have different body compositions and different metabolic enzymes.” But we know that weight matters. It’s how we figure out how much an individual can drink before they’ll be drunk or at least reach a specific blood alcohol level, because the rates are fairly precise when accounting for weight plus intake. So why do we ignore that simple knowledge with the guidelines? There are, of course, plenty of small, light men as well as many heavier women. It’s just a reality that people are diverse.

The International Center for Alcohol Policies or ICAP, somewhat disingenuously claims that the “Recommendations are based on scientific data regarding drinking levels at which risk increases,” yet never reveals where this “scientific data” comes from. And the fact that the guidelines vary widely from country to country would seem to suggest otherwise. Because if there was hard scientific data it would be the same everywhere, and the guidelines would not vary by as much as they do.

The closest thing I can find in the U.S. is at the Recommended Alcohol Questions on the NIH and NIAAA website states that the guidelines are “based on recent epidemiological studies on alcohol intake and risks which have demonstrated that for estimating risk of mortality, morbidity (including injuries) and other problems including drunk driving and social harms.” But then where are the citations for these epidemiological studies, and how could they possibly quantify such subjective issues as “social harms.” Quick answer: they can’t, not and remain purely scientific as the guidelines really should be.

I had never stopped to question the 2m/1w guidelines before, and it appears neither did almost anyone else. While there are plenty of citations for many aspects of the dietary guidelines, when it comes to alcohol, the government suddenly goes silent. But it doesn’t seem like too much to ask that the scientific basis for them be revealed and transparent. I’m not even arguing against them, and have always thought they were somewhat reasonable, especially in their current incarnation with the addition of the weekly limits. But we really should be able to see how they were arrived at, and what science, if any, they were based on.