Washington brewers win big at GABF 2017


This past weekend in Denver, judges at the Great American Beer Festival awarded gold, silver and bronze medals in 98 beer categories covering 161 different beer styles (including all subcategories). The GABF is the largest and most-prestigious beer competition in North America. Washington breweries brought home 10 medals this year: six gold medals and four silver medals. (Pictured above: The crew from Fremont Brewing celebrates the win. From Facebook.)

Of Washington’s ten medals, two were awarded to Chuckanut Brewery. Nobody should be surprised. Chuckanut is probably the most highly decorated brewer of lager-style beers in the country.


  • Chuckanut Brewery (two medals)
  • Fremont Brewing
  • Ghostfish Brewing
  • Orlison Brewing
  • The Ram, Big Horn (Seattle)
  • The Ram, Big Horn (Lakewood)
  • Reuben’s Brews
  • Silver City Brewery
  • Wander Brewing

Category: Coffee Stout or Porter – 114 Entries
Silver: Udder Chaos, RAM/Big Horn Brewery – Seattle, Seattle, WA


Category: Fresh or Wet Hop Ale – 44 Entries
Silver: Field to Ferment, Fremont Brewing Co., Seattle, WA (Amarillo fresh hop)

Category: Gluten-Free Beer – 33 Entries
Silver: Meteor Shower Blonde Ale, Ghostfish Brewing Co., Seattle, WA

Category: Munich-Style Dunkel or European-Style Dark Lager – 47 Entries
Gold: Chuckanut Dunkel, Chuckanut Brewery, Bellingham, WA. The beer I affectionately refer to as Chuckadunk.

Category: German-Style Kolsch – 154 Entries
Gold: Chuckanut Kolsch Style, Chuckanut Brewery, Bellingham, WA

Category: Australian-Style or International-Style Pale Ale – 105 Entries
Gold: Triumvirate, Reuben’s Brews Taproom, Seattle, WA (This is the beer they brew exclusively for Brouwer’s/Burgundian/Bottleworks). It’s also available on tap at the brewery’s taproom.

Category: Irish-Style Red Ale – 80 Entries
Gold: Ridgetop Red, Silver City Brewery, Bremerton, WA (Not at all the first medal for this beer: a quintessential example of the style).

Category: English-Style Brown Ale – 63 Entries
Gold: Boulder Garden Brown, Orlison Brewing Co., Airway Heights, WA

Category: South German-Style Hefeweizen – 128 Entries
Silver: Big Horn Hefeweizen, RAM/Big Horn Brewery – Lakewood, Lakewood, WA

Category: Export Stout – 48 Entries
Gold: Correspondent, Wander Brewing, Bellingham, WA.


Washington’s medal count is down from 14 last year (see last year’s results), but ten medals is still an impressive showing. As the number of breweries in America continues to increase so does the number of beers entered in the GABF competition. In all, 2,217 breweries entered 7,923 beers in the competition this year. That’s 15 percent more breweries and 24 percent more beers than last year.

For example, in 2017 there were 408 entries in the American-Style IPA category. Last year, when Georgetown Brewing’s Bodhizafa IPA brought home the gold, there were 312 beers in the running.

In other words, winning a medal at the GABF is getting more and more difficult every year. Another thing to consider, we have no idea how many Washington breweries submitted beer to the competition this year.

  • Most medals won by a single brewery: Saint Arnold Brewing Co. of Texas (3 medals)
  • Top three states by ratio of medals to entries by state:

o   West Virginia – 12 entries, 2 medals

o   Wyoming – 46 entries, 5 medals

o   Connecticut – 39 entries, 4 medals

  • First-time GABF competition entrants (self-identified during the registration process) numbered 584. Of those first-time entering breweries, 36 won medals.
  • California brought home the most medals (over 50). California, obviously, has a lot more breweries than any other state and presumably entered a lot more beer. Still, that’s a lot of medals.
  • Colorado brought home over 30 medals. Impressive, yes, but Colorado’s breweries enjoy a home field advantage. Compared to breweries across the country, it is exceedingly easy for them to physically submit their beer.
  • Consider this, even with 50+ and 30+ medals, neither California or Colorado made the top three in terms of ratio of medals to entries by state. Obviously, those two states submitted a lot of beer.


Since 2002, the most-entered category has been American-Style India Pale Ale (IPA), which saw 408 entries in 2017 compared to 312 entries in 2016. The top five entered categories and number of entries per category were:

  • Category 60 American-Style India Pale Ale (408 entries)
  • Category 61 Imperial India Pale Ale (221 entries)
  • Category 58 American-Style Pale Ale (199 entries)
  • Category 59 American-Style Strong Pale Ale (182 entries)
  • Category 29 Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer (175 entries)


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