This past weekend marked the 2009 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver, Co. In case you’re unfamiliar, the GABF is the largest — and arguably most prestigious — commercial beer competition in the world. The number of entries in this year’s competition crushed the previous record (held by the 2008 GABF) with 3,308 entries from 495 breweries.

Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded in 78 beer categories. The most competitive of which “was American Style India Pale Ale” with 134 entries. The gold medal went to Firestone Walker Brewing Co. (Paso Robles, CA), for their Union Jack India Pale Ale. This was the second straight year the beer won this award.

The second most hotly contested category was “Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer” with 110 entries (up from 79 in 2008). The gold medal went to Arcadia Brewing Co. (Battle Creek, MI), for their Cereal Killer Barleywine.

As they do every year, Colorado and California dominated the competition for the most medals won by each state. Colorado came out on top this year with 45 medals and the top five medal winning states were: CO (45), CA (39), OR (22), WA (13), PA (12).

You can view the entire 2009 medal list here (or click here for the PDF version) but the winners of the 2009 Brewery and Brewer of the Year Awards were:

Large Brewing Company and Large Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Coors Brewing Company, Golden, CO; Dr. David Ryder

Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD; Robert Malone

Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Dry Dock Brewing Company, Aurora, CO; Dry Dock Brewing Team

Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year
Pizza Port Carlsbad, Carlsbad, CA; Pizza Port Brew Guys

Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year
Chuckanut Brewery, Bellingham, WA; Will Kemper

Great American Beer Festival 2009 Statistics

  • 457 breweries in the festival hall
  • 2,100 beers served at the festival
  • 49,000 attendees (includes brewers, volunteers and ticket holders)
  • 3,000 volunteers
  • 495 breweries in the competition
  • 3,308 beers judged in the competition
  • 78 categories judged + Pro-Am category
  • 132 judges from ten countries
  • Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 42
  • Category with highest number of entries: 134, American Style India Pale Ale

And lastly, I must give a shout-out to the ONLY 2009 GABF winner from Maine – congratulations are in order for Allagash Brewing Co. who took home the silver in the “Belgian-Style Abbey Ale” category (58 entries) for their Tripel. Cheers!


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