GABF 2016

GABF 2016: The Great Lakes/Midwestern Medal Roundup

In Beer News by Karl

Hell of a good year for Illinois in the medal counts.

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Another Great American Beer Festival has come and gone, and unlike previous years, we’re feeling pretty good about the number of medals taken away by folks around the Illinois state — from city, suburbs and way down South of 80. We killed it this year — 13 medals represents the largest number this millennium and the most since 2007, when craft brewers took home 12, mostly for Goose Island and Piece beers.

FWIW, in 2011 we also took home 12, but four were for Pabst which was technically an IL company but only their offices were here in Woodridge — so we’re not really counting that. If we did decide to count them, the 2007 medal count would be even more impressive — Pabst-brand beers helped round that count up to 17 medals.

We also just missed cracking the top five in terms of medal count — overall, California had the most medals by far (68) followed  predictably by Colorado (37) and Oregon (21), with North Carolina (17) and Washington (14) just beating us.

You can find all of this year’s winners here, and our medal roundups from previous years here: 2015  2014  2013

Other takeaways:

If you want a Belgian and French Style Ale, Illinoisans are in luck — we took two of the three medals in that category for Domaine Dupage and Swingin’ Single. We’re rich with German styles, too — four of our six bronze medals were for German styles and one silver was too.

Ohioans are pretty privileged to have the beers of the Fat Head’s breweries — between their two spots just outside Cleveland they pulled down five medals of their own, making up better than 70% of the state’s whole haul. (Fat Heads also has Pittsburgh and Portland locations.)

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FoBAB attendees should head straight for the Surly station next month — Darkness took the top spot in the Barrel Aged Strong Stout section, not that we didn’t know it was awesome already.

Wisconsin — what’s up, y’all? Did you just not send anything this year? Last year you pulled down eight medals, seven in 2014, five in 2013 and you killed it in 2012 with ten medals — this year just three awards went to Wisconsin breweries. With the big influx of new craft breweries around the Milwaukee area, I would expect to see this jump back up in 2017.

Finally, in past years, categories like American-Style Light Lager would be filled with the Miller Lights, Bud Lights and Coors Lights of the world. Nowadays craft brewers are stretching their legs into those styles to see what they can do, and the medals are starting to reflect it.

The light lager category had two craft brewers take gold and silver, leaving Bronze for the Silver Bullet, and while the American Style Cream Ale saw Old Style take silver (which, hey, awesome!) two craft breweries took gold and bronze around it. Surprising no one, PBR and Coors Banquet took tops for the American-Style Lager category, with CBA’s Omission rounding out the category.

Here’s the full roundup of medals going to Great Lakes states:

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Illinois: 13 Medals

Gold: RAM/Big Horn’s Chaos (Chocolate Beer), Temperance’s Gatecrasher (English-Style IPA), Two Brothers’ Domaine Dupage (Belgian- and French-Style Ale), Emmett’s Dortmunder Mifflin (Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest)

Silver: DESTIHL’s Saint Dekkera Reserve Sour Framboise (Fruited Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer), Piece’s Swingin’ Single (Belgian- and French-Style Ale)

Bronze: Excel’s Flash Bang (American Style Wheat Beer), Scratch’s Oyster Weiss (Experimental Beer), Pollyanna’s  Fruhauf Oktoberfest (German-Style Maerzen), Horse Thief Hollow’s Prunkle’s Dunkle (European-Style Dark Lager/Munich-Style Dunkel), Nevin’s Apocalyptinator (German-Style Doppelbock or Eisbock), Solemn Oath’s Lu (German-Style Kolsch), Maplewood’s The Charlatan (American-style Pale Ale)

Indiana: 5 Medals

Gold: None.

Silver: Sun King’s Cherry Busey (Belgian-Style Fruit Beer), ZwanzigZ’s The Ticket (Chocolate Beer) and their Frankenwald Eisbock (German-Style Doppelbock or Eisbock), Daredevil’s Vacation (German-Style Kolsch)

Bronze: Carson’s RIPA (Double Red Ale)

Michigan: 10 Medals

Gold: Wolverine State Brewing’s Raucher (Smoke Beer), River’s Edge’s Dirty Frank Stout (Export Stout)

Silver: Bell’s Expedition Stout (Aged Beer), Founder’s reDANKulous (Imperial Red Ale)

Bronze: Brewery Vivant’s Angelina ( Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer), Detroit Beer Co.’s Broadway Light (American-Style Cream Ale), Roak Brewing’s Live Wire (English-Style IPA), Cedar Springs Brewing Co.’s Küsterer Original Weissbier (German-Style Wheat Ale),  Latitude 42° Brewing Co.’s Bangin’ the Mash (Classic Irish Style Dry Stout), Railtown Brewing’s Good Mooed Milk Stout (Sweet Stout or Cream Stout)

Minnesota: 5 Medals

Gold: Surly’s Barrel-Aged Darkness (Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout), Summit’s Extra Pale Ale (Classic English-Style Pale Ale)

Silver: None.

Bronze: Jack Pine’s Vengeance! Jalapeno Cream Ale (Chili Beer), Roundhouse Brewery’s Runaround Rye (Rye Beer),  Bemidji Brewing Co.’s German Blonde Ale (Golden or Blonde Ale)

Ohio: 7 Medals

Gold: Millersburg Brewing’s Doc’s Scotch Ale (Aged Beer), Fat Head’s AlpenGlow (German-Style Wheat Ale)

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Silver: Fat Head’s Black Muddy River (Other Strong Beer), Fat Head’s Midnight Moonlight (American Style Black Ale), Maize Valley Craft Brewery’s Monk in Public (Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale)

Bronze: Fat Head’s IBUsive (Fresh or Wet Hop Ale), Fat Head’s Hop Juju (Imperial IPA), Fifty West’s Going Plaid (Scotch Ale)

Wisconsin: 3 Medals

Gold: Raised Grain’s Paradocs Red Imperial IPA (Imperial Red Ale)

Silver: Greenview’s Copperhead (Gluten-Free Beer), Vintage Brewing’s Better Off Red (American-Style Amber/Red Ale),

Bronze: None.

And the lone Brewery or Brewer of the Year Award from the Midwest went to: Columbus, Indiana’s ZwanzigZ Brewing winning the Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year. In case the brewmaster’s name rings a bell — Mike Rybinski — he used to be brewmaster at the Walter Payton’s Roundhouse brewery a zillion years ago.

Editor’s Note: This post was updated to reflect that Emmett’s won Gold for their dortmunder, not Silver as originally listed. GDB regrets the unintentional demotion.  

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About the Author



Karl has written about food, travel and beer for Chicago Magazine, Thrillist, Time Out Chicago, AskMen and more. His book, Beer Lovers Chicago, is now available via Amazon and other booksellers. If you're buying, he's likely having a porter or a pale ale.

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