There are now more than 4,000 craft breweries in the U.S., per the Brewers Association. Great American Beer Festival, the largest single-event pouring of craft beer in America, rounded up 60,000 beer fans over three days this year at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. Craft beer accounts for 1 in 5 U.S. dollars spent on beer.
Given those numbers, it’s difficult to distill the enormity of GABF. Ever facet of American beer was on display: the big, the little, the bold, the subtle, the weird and wacky. To wit: We took note of a few gin and tonic beers (the silver-medal winning Melt My Brain from Shorts Brewing as well as a beautiful, layered gin-barrel aged kolsch brewed with juniper berries from MadTree Brewing). We delighted in citrusy, juice-packed IPAs including medal-winning Old Town Brewing’s Shanghai’d IPA; the American IPA category this year tallied 336 entries, making it GABF’s largest category ever. Kolsches, cream ales and steam beers are the subject of renewed love from craft breweries, and we were glad to see continued interest in goses, contributing to 111 German sour entries in that judging categories. Both O.G. and new-school breweries won big at the awards ceremony: Firestone Walker, Fat Heads, Sun King and Port City cleaned up, each racking up multiple medals.
4 take-away trends from Great American Beer Festival 2015