Great Beers Awarded Top Honors at 2016 Great American Beer Festival

With 286 medals awarded to 254 brewers, the 30th annual Great American Beer Festival recognized the United States’ greatest brewers for 2016.  The GABF is widely recognized as the largest commercial beer competition in the world.

2016 GABF Awards - Photo by Charles Watkins

2016 GABF Awards Ceremody Winners – Photo by Charles Watkins

Overview of the Great American Beer Festival Competition

In a ceremony at Denver, Colorado’s Convention Center, gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to 96 beer categories covering 161 different beer styles (including all subcategories), establishing the best examples of each style in the country.

Winners were chosen from 7,227 competition entries (nearly 9 percent more than the 6,647 entries in 2015 and surpassing all previous participation records) from 1,752 breweries hailing from 50 states and Washington, D.C.

The competition also saw its biggest-ever panel of judges, with 264 beer experts from 12 countries, including the U.S., and 170 competition volunteers. The panel also evaluated 88 Pro-Am entries, which were judged in three rounds over four days.

Highlights of the Competition

2016 Brewery and Brewer of the Year Awards

Very Small Brewing Company and Very Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year

Sponsored by Brewers Supply Group (BSG)

  • Brown Truck Brewery, High Point, N.C.
  • Team Brown Truck

Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year

Sponsored by O-I

  • Überbrew, Billings, Mont.
  • Über Cru

Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year

Sponsored by MicroStar Logistics

  • Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon, North Olmsted, Ohio
  • Matt Cole and Mike Zoscak

Large Brewing Company and Large Brewing Company Brewer of the Year

Sponsored by Beer Institute

  • Pabst Brewing Co., Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Gregory Deuhs

Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year

Sponsored by Briess Malt & Ingredients Co.

  • ZwanzigZ Brewing, Columbus, Ind.
  • Mike Rybinski and Trent Fleener

Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year

Sponsored by Brewers Supply Group (BSG)

  • Karl Strauss Brewing Co. – San Diego, San Diego, Calif.
  • Team Karl

Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year

Sponsored by Country Malt Group

  • The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Austin, Texas
  • Amos Swifty Kim

View the 2016 winners or download a PDF list of the winners

Style Categories

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:

  • American-Style India Pale Ale (312 entries)
  • Imperial India Pale Ale (211 entries)
  • American-Style Strong Pale Ale (169 entries)
  • Coffee Beer (168 entries)
  • Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer (159 entries)

In 2015, the top-five entered style categories included Session India Pale Ale and American-Style Pale Ale, which did not make the top five this year. New in the top five in 2016 compared to last year are American-Style Strong Pale Ale and Coffee Beer.

The average number of competition beers entered in each category was 75—up from 72 in 2015— making the 2016 Great American Beer Festival competition the most competitive ever.

Summary: 2016 Great American Beer Festival Statistics

  • 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 nine 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