The GABF 2023 Roundup of Great Lakes Medal Winners

In Beer News by Karl

This about sums up 2023’s medal haul. Image courtesy the GABF website.

Well, they can’t all be great years for Illinois, right? Or Michigan, or Wisconsin, or … well, anyone other than Ohio, honestly.

Every year we look at how well the Midwestern Great Lakes states fared at the Great American Beer Fest, and we’ve never had a disparity this large: Ohio took home more medals than Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin combined.

Heck, the medals for Fat Heads or Third Eye alone beat out Michigan and Wisconsin. All of this is to say that every year, we see how strong the brewing scene is in Ohio and how well organized the state’s Guild is in getting their beers in front of a national audience like this. The unity, as ever, is present in every medal win as each Ohio brewer in attendance takes the stage with an Ohio guild flag. Really strong stuff. Other guilds, as ever, should take note if these medals are a priority. Clearly, to a few states, they are “nice to have,” not “need to have.”

Other GABF 2023 Midwestern Takeaways:

Who expected back to back rauchbier medals for Double Clutch? Hot on the heels of being named last year’s Brewery of the Year (0-250bbl category), let it be known that this car-centric Evanston brewpub is putting out some really high-quality true-to-style German beers.

Sun King took their silver-medalist Soul Shakedown Party and turned it into a Gold Medal winner this year. Impressive to see how a brewer can take feedback and make the tweaks necessary to have a best-in-class beer.

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Back to back years in Michigan with just two medals awarded. Did GABF kick the Michigan Guild’s dog or something? The Mitten seems to have zero interest in this competition.

I find it fascinating — and maybe a bit frightening — that one of the top-entered categories was Light Lager. And not by much, either. Juicy IPA was of course the top-submitted with 365, but West Coast IPA had 301 and Light Lager had 284 entries. That’s pretty huge. Clearly breweries are not just making these more and more, but they want to be recognized for them.

Back to Ohio for a second — It’s not just the number of medals that’s genuinely impressive here, it’s the breadth of the categories. Look at the international styles represented in that lineup: Irish, Belgian, German, Bohemian and hell, even New Zealand! Also they must be putting something special in Buckeye State pumpkins — two of the three medalists in that category are Ohioans.

All of this year’s winners are here. Here’s a look at how the participating breweries from the Great Lakes states fared at the 2023 GABF:


Illinois: 7 Medals

  • Gold: Sew Hop’d “Alt 140” (Altbier); Horse Thief Hollow “Little Wing” (International-Style Pilsener)
  • Silver: Crystal Lake Brewing “Boathouse Reserve Imperial Stout” (Experimental Wood-Aged Beer); Double Clutch “Helles Rauchbier” (Smoke Beer)
  • Bronze: Sketchbook Brewing “Groziskie” (Historical Beer); MORE Brewing “Lil’ Space Booties” (Juicy/Hazy Pale Ale); Werk Force Brewing “Barrel Aged Count Chungus” (Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout)
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Indiana: 6 Medals

  • Gold: Sun King “Soul Shakedown Party” (Experimental Wood-Aged Beer); Metazoa Brewing “William Walrus” (Scottish-Style Ale)
  • Silver: Sun King “Sunlight Cream Ale” (Golden/Blonde Ale); Byway Brewing “Shinobi” (Stout)
  • Bronze: The Tap’s “Delta Quadrant” (Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale); Metazoa Brewing “Aint Afraid of No Goats” (Bock, duh)

Michigan: 2 Medals

  • Gold: na
  • Silver: Redwood Brewing’s “Thor’s Hammer” (Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale)
  • Bronze: Bell’s Brewery “Octoberfest” (American Amber Lager)

Minnesota: 2 Medals

  • Gold: The Freehouse “No. 68 Red Lager” (Rye Beer)
  • Silver: na
  • Bronze: Surly Brewing “Lemonade” (American Fruit Beer)

Ohio: 18 (!) Medals

  • Gold: Fat Head’s “Head Hunter” (American-Style India Pale Ale); Third Eye Brewing’s “Double Astral” (Chocolate Beer); Brink Brewing’s “Lil Zoomie” (Coffee Stout or Porter); Fat Head’s “Alpenglow” (German Wheat Ale); Third Eye Brewing’s “Chai Eye Captain” (Herb and Spice Beer); Hoppin Frog’s “Smashing Honey Blonde” (Honey Beer); Rhinegeist Innovation Brewery’s “Kiwi (The Bird)” (New Zealand IPA); Fat Head’s “Goggle Fogger” (South German-Style Hefeweizen)
  • Silver: Noble Creature Wild Ales & Lagers “Earth & Aether” (Belgian-Style Sour Ale); Eudora Brewing Co. “Daytonian Rhapsody” (Bohemian-Style Pilsener); The Brew Brothers “Toasty” (English Style Mild/Bitter); Seventh Son “Stone Fort” (English-Style Brown); Narrow Path “Restless Seas Gose” (German Sour Ale); Inside the Five “Megaphone” (Irish-Style Red); Third Eye Brewing “Gourd Darn-It” (Pumpkin Beer)
  • Bronze: MadTree Brewing “Legendary Lager” (Light Lager); Royal Docks Brewing “Pumpkinslayer” (Pumpkin Beer); Brink Brewing “Moozie” (Sweet Stout or Cream Stout)
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Third Eye Brewing also won a Collaboration Competition medal alongside Narrow Path Brewing Company for their “Mounds of Importance” and was named the 1001-2000 Barrels Brewery & Brewer of the Year.

Wisconsin: 1 Medal

  • Gold: 1840 Brewing’s “I Don’t Want to Wait” (Fruited Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer)
  • Silver: n/a
  • Bronze: n/a

All of the GABF 2022 medal winners are here. You can find our previous recaps below:

A scene from this year’s GABF. Provided by the festival.

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About the Author

Karl

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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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