The GABF 2021 Midwestern Medal Roundup

In Beer News by Karl

Our view in 2019. Hoping to get back in 2022 for a true GABF.

I don’t know what’s more impressive – the number of GABF medals won by Illinois breweries, or the breadth of beer styles that won. Even though this year’s GABF wasn’t really a GABF – the Brewers Association moved the annual Craft Brewers Conference to late September and held an awards ceremony for GABF medals – it’s all still absolutely worth celebrating, as we’ve now done for the last decade.

Yes, Illinois is once again happily at the top of the heap this year when it comes to hazy IPAs with Destihl taking not one but two for their Deadhead series. They won Bronze in the Juicy/Hazy Imperial category and took Gold for their DeadHead IPA Series: TourBus in the heavily-competitive Juicy/Hazy IPA category. All that and Triptych won Bronze for their “Dank Meme” Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale as well.

Breweries elsewhere in Illinois won for their Vienna-style lager and Other Strong Beer (Pollyanna), Rye Beer (Mickey Finn’s)(!), and if you want a great Kolsch beer, Chicagoland is the place to be: Old Irving and Crystal Lake took Silver and Bronze in that category. Hell, we also took two of three in Fruited Wheat Beer and Goose Island even won a Brett Beer medal for Matilda, which, yeah, that makes sense.

And there’s more!

Perhaps the biggest victor of 2021 was Schiller Park’s Short Fuse: They not only took home a couple silvers for Experimental Beer and Fruited American Sour but also the “2,001–5,000 Barrels Brewery and Brewer of the Year.” Pretty good haul, and if they weren’t on your radar before, they probably should be. 

The 16 medals is the biggest haul in years – and as Mike at PorchDrinking points out, the last time Illinois had a haul this big it was thanks to the Pabst offices set up in Woodridge taking four medals for macro lagers. That means they won for some beers brewed elsewhere, making it a technicality based on their Illinois mailing address … so that’s enough of an asterisk for me to call this the Greatest GABF Ever for Illinois Brewers. 

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Other GABF 2021 Midwestern Takeaways:

I need to get to Minnesota sometime soon for a schwarzbier; two of the three medal winners for German Dark Lager hail from the Land of 10k Lakes.

Once again, Wisconsin proves that they really don’t care about GABF medals; I’m pretty sure Stevens Point just sends Whole Hog for its annual medal and then maybe a handful of others send a submission just for funsies.

And when are we heading to Moontown Brewing? Their four awards made up over half of the overall take for Indiana. (Though it’s worth noting that Metazoa has been doing really amazing work for years now, and their only annual appreciation seems to be via GABF hardware.)

Nice work, everyone. Medals aren’t everything, but seeing your beer (or beers!) appreciated and recognized on a national stage is always a really nice thing to see.

All of this year’s winners are here. Here’s a look at how the Midwestern medals from GABF 2021 were distributed.

Illinois: 16 Medals

  • Gold: DESTIHL “DeadHead IPA Series: TourBus” (Juicy or Hazy IPA); Will County Brewing Co. “Bamm Bamm Loves Pebbles” (Fruit Wheat Beer); Pollyanna “Roselle Red” (Vienna-style Lager)
  • Silver: Tribes Beer Co. “Low Country Belgo-American Pale Ale” (American-Belgo-Style Ale); Short Fuse “Vocal Jam” (Experimental Beer); Short Fuse “Tropical Hurt Locker” (Fruited American Sour Ale); Sew Hop’d “ALT 140” (Altbier); Old Irving Brewing Co. “Della” (Koelsch); Mickey Finn’s “Dark and Down” (Rye Beer)
  • Bronze: Alarmist “Midwest Royalty” (American Light Lager); Goose Island – Fulton “Matilda” (Brett Beer); Tangled Roots “Sunkissed Blonde” (Fruit Wheat); Crystal Lake Brewing Co. “Too Much Cologne” (Koelsch); DESTIHL “DeadHead IPA Series: Haze of the Dead” (Juicy or Hazy Imperial IPA); Triptych “Dank Meme” (Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale); Pollyanna Brewing “Party Penguin” (Other Strong Beer)
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Brian Lagro & Craig Kofod of Short Fuse also won “2,001–5,000 Barrels Brewery and Brewer of the Year.”

Indiana: 7 Medals

  • Gold: Metazoa Brewing Co. – Stringtown Production Facility “Trash Panda” (Coffee Beer); Metazoa Brewing Co. – Stringtown Production Facility “Rosie the River Otter” (Herb and Spice Beer)
  • Silver: Moontown Brewing Co. “Moonlight” (American Cream Ale);
  • Bronze: Moontown Brewing Co. “Skool House Bock” (Bock); Moontown Brewing Co. “40th Parallel” (Bohemian Style Pilsener); Blind Owl Brewery “Tomamos” (International Lager); Metazoa Brewing Co. – Taproom “Go Ape-Ricot” (Specialty Saison)

Cody Peczkowski of Moontown Brewing Co. won “501–1,000 Barrels Brewery and Brewer of the Year” while the Metazoa Production Team took “Brewery Group Brewery and Brewer of the Year.”

Michigan: 7 Medals

  • Gold: Waypost Brewing Co. “Saison” (Classic Saison)
  • Silver: Albion Malleable Brewing Co. “Iron Lion Blonde” (Belgian-Style Ale or French-Style Ale); Cedar Springs Brewing Co. “Küsterer Original Weissbier” (German Wheat Ale); Territorial Brewing Co. “Penetrator” (German-Style Doppelbock or Eisbock); Bell’s Brewery “No, Yeah” (Golden or Blonde Ale), Transient Brewing Co. “Cask Aged Rye Lagger” (Wood or Barrel Aged Beer)
  • Bronze: Kalamazoo Valley Community College “Sour Flower” (Contemporary Gose)

Minnesota: 6 Medals

  • Gold: Forgotten Star Brewing Co. “Schwarzbier” (German Dark Lager)
  • Silver: Warrior Brewing Co. “Barbarian” (Imperial Stout)
  • Bronze: Lift Bridge Brewing Co. “Farm Girl” (Belgian-Style Ale or French-Style Ale); Little Thistle Brewing Co. “Schwarzenlager” (German Dark Lager); Fair State Brewing Cooperative – Minneapolis “Stranger in the Alps” (Herb and Spice Beer); Thousand Lakes Brewing Co. “Breakfast for Supper” (Oatmeal Stout)
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Ohio: 13 Medals

  • Gold: Hoppin’ Frog Brewery “Pentuple” (Belgian Strong); JAFB Wooster Brewery “Hefeweizen” (German Wheat Ale); Brink Brewing Co. “Father G’s Bees” (Honey Beer); Third Eye Brewing Co. “Higher Purpose” (Sweet Stout or Cream Stout)
  • Silver: JAFB Wooster Brewery “JAF IPA” (American-Style IPA); Wolf’s Ridge Brewing – Production Operations “Daybreak” (Coffee Beer); Eighty-Three Brewery “Berliner Nice!” (Specialty Berliner-Style Weisse); Masthead Brewing Co. “Midwest Red IPA” (Strong Red Ale); Twin Oast Brewing “Oast House Reserve: Meet Your Maker” (Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout)
  • Bronze: The Brew Brothers – Eldorado Scioto Downs Racino “Toasty” (English Mild); Hoppin’ Frog “Frogichlaus Swiss-style Celebration Lager” (German-Style Doppelbock or Eisbock); Gemüt Biergarten “Golem Czech Pils” (German-Style Pilsener); Sonder Brewing “French 75” (Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer)

Wisconsin: 2 Medals

  • Gold: Stubborn Brothers Brewery “Sweet Peel” (American Wheat Beer)
  • Silver: n/a
  • Bronze: Stevens Point Brewery “Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale” (Pumpkin Beer)

All of the GABF 2021 medal winners are here. You can find our previous recaps below:

GABF 2021 Medal Image
Image via the GABF Website.

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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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