The Great American Beer Fest 2017 Midwestern Medal Roundup

In Beer News by Karl

This year’s awards saw Illinois and Indiana brewers atop the Midwestern heap.


If the line is a little longer at On Tour Brewing in the West Loop over the coming weeks and months, you can thank the little hunk of metal they brought back from Denver at this year’s Great American Beer Fest.

The ten-month-old brewery was named this year’s Very Small Brewing Company and Brewer of the Year, and also snagged medals for their Low Boy Bock and their Spectator Dopplebock.

Similarly, if there’s a big gap on bottle shop shelves where beers from Hailstorm Brewing used to be, it’s probably people snatching up anything and everything from the brewer that took top honors in what’s become the premiere beer category — American-Style IPA. Out of over 400 entries (!) their Prairie Madness took Gold.

When Half Acre’s Heyoka (now Goneaway) took 2nd in the American IPA category in 2014, it immediately pushed that beer into the stratosphere along with the brewery’s already strong reputation.  I can’t imagine that taking Gold in an even larger category won’t do the same for the Tinley Park brewery known largely for their high-abv offerings. (Heyoka took silver out of 279 entries — Prairie Madness topped a field of 408 entries.)

Overall it was another solid year for Chicago area and Illinois brewers, taking home ten medals and the aforementioned Very Small Brewer of the Year. If you want a bock beer, this is a good place to be — IL brewers earned three medals for two bocks and a dopplebock. Not quite as great as last year, where we brought home 17 medals, but still a solid showing, including a number of repeat winners (Smylie Brothers Purple Line) and previous winners adding metal for different beer (Maplewood has earned accolades for their Charlatan Pale in the past, while took home hardware for their oatmeal stout this year).

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Beyond the borders of IL, there was still reason to celebrate around the Midwest, specifically in Indiana which also brought home ten medals. Even further out, Michigan’s Odd Side dominated the Specialty Beers with two wins in that category and Ohio bringing home the most gold medals (four).

Argue about the value of medals if you will, but the GABF prizes still represent the largest stage where we celebrate American craft beer. It’s where we find out who’s sent the best in the country via some of the best judges in the nation. (More on the blind judging process, if you’re curious, can be found on a couple good pieces on All About Beer (GABF specific) and Draft Magazine (World Beer Cup but also a BA event).

Congrats to all the winners. Here’s our full roundup of GABF 2017 medals going to Great Lakes states:

Illinois: 10 Medals

Gold: On Tour’s Low Boy (Bock), Hailstorm’s Prairie Madness (American IPA)

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Silver: Smylie Brothers Purple Line (Fruit Wheat Beer), Hailstorm’s Rock Out with Maibock Out (Bock), On Tour’s Spectator (German-Style Dopplebock or Eisbock), Piece Brewery’s It’s Your Fault (German-Style Altbier), Horse Thief Hollow’s Biere do Voleur (Belgian and French Style Ale), Corridor Brewery’s Rapunzel (Belgian-Style Tripel)

Bronze: Maplewood’s Fat Pug (Oatmeal Stout), Emmett’s Munich Light (Munich-Style Helles)

Indiana: 10 Medals

Gold: ZwanziG Brewing’s Ghost Pepper Chili Stout (Chili Beer), Mad Anthony’s Auburn Lager (American-Style Amber)

Silver: Metazoa Brewing’s Klipspringer (American-Belgo-style Ale), Sun King’s Magpie Muckle (Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer), Smoke on the Lager, Chilly Water Brewing Co (Smoke Beer), Metazoa’s Breton Blonde (Belgian Style Blonde or Pale Ale), Taxman’s Deduction (Belgian-Style Dubbel or Quad)

Bronze: Fieldhouse Wheat, Triton Brewing Co. (American-Style Wheat Beer), Sun King’s Cherry Busey (Belgian-style Fruit Beer), Four Day Ray’s Hot Pink (Experimental Beer),

Michigan: 9 Medals

Gold: Odd Side’s Barrel Aged Sweet Potato SouthNorte Rye (Specialty Beer), Silver Harbor’s Shipfaced (Barleywine Style Ale)

Silver: Cranker’s Brewery’s Aphrodisiac Chocolate Pomegranate Imperial Stout (Chocolate Beer), Odd Side’s Rye Hipster Brunch Stout (Specialty Beer), Rockford Brewing’s Sheehans’s Stout (Classic Irish Style Dry Stout)

Bronze: Batch Brewing’s Antwerp’s Placebo (Other Strong Beer), Rogue River Brown, Rockford Brewing (English-Style Brown Ale), Perrin Brewing’s Passionfruit Gose (Leipzig Style Gose or Contemporary Gose), New Holland’s Pilgrim’s Dole (Old Ale or Strong Ale)

Minnesota: 6 Medals

Gold: Lupulin Brewing’s Dortmunder (Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest), Bent Paddle’s ESB (Extra Special Bitter),

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Silver: Summit’s Extra Pale Ale (Classic English-Style Pale Ale), The Freehouse’s No. 33 Gose (Leipzig Style Gose or Contemporary Gose), The Freehouse’s No. 20 Barleywine (Barleywine Style Ale)

Bronze: Beaver Island’s Oktoberfest (German Style Maerzen)

Ohio: 8 Medals

Gold: Taft’s Ale House’s Gustav (Vienna Style Lager), Brink Brewing’s Hold the Reins (English Style Mild), Fat Head’s AlpenGlow (German Style Wheat Ale), Fifty West’s 10&2 Barleywine (Old Ale or Strong Ale)


Bronze: The BottleHouse Brewery and Meadery’s Spring Gruit (Historical Beer), BottleHouse’s There is No Quad (Aged Beer), Masthead Brewing’s Midwest Red IPA (Double Red Ale), Fat Head’s Midnight Moonlight (American Style Black Ale)

Wisconsin: 2 Medals

Gold: Third Space Brewing’s Unite the Clans (Rye Beer)

Silver: None.

Bronze: One Barrel Brewing’s Behemoth (Barley Wine Style Ale)

For roundups of previous years, see the following:

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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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