by Brian Stechschulte... Oct 5, 2011

The Great American Beer Festival (GABF) is one of the biggest beer parties you can imagine. Thousands of different beers get served, attendees parade in costumes across the gigantic convention center floor, and the crowd roars in delight for nearly five hours each session. But before it even begins, judges huddle in the basement of a downtown Denver hotel sipping samples of beer that vie for GABF gold.

The festival is a big party, but it’s also one of the most important competitions in the world. This year 167 judges from 9 countries worked their way through 3,930 different samples to determine awards in 83 style categories. The process takes three days, starting before the festival even begins. On Saturday, October 1, the awards were announced to a nervous crowd and two of your guild breweries won awards.

21st Amendment Brewery struck gold twice. First in the Indigenous Beer category for their beer Hqt, and also for Amber Waves in the American Style Amber/Red Ale category. Only three other breweries won more gold medals at this year’s event, so congrats to the gang at the 21st Amendment Brewery!

The 21st Amendment gang. All photos © Brian Stechschulte

Not to be outdone, Magnolia Pub & Brewery also collected some hardware by nearly sweeping the Ordinary or Special Bitters category. New Speedway Bitter won silver and Bonnie Lee’s Best Bitter took bronze. It’s too bad they couldn’t complete the trifecta, but it’s a momentous achievement nonetheless. Nice work!

Magnolia owner Dave Mclean (left) with head brewer Ben Spencer.

While a few brewers were collecting medals, all of the Guild breweries were receiving accolades for their beer at the SF Brewers Guild booth on the convention center floor. During each of the four festival sessions we served two different beers and overall, one from each brewery. We turned some heads and cultivated a lot of enthusiastic fans. We also enjoyed meeting a few Bay Area ex-pats that miss their hometown beer.

The Speakeasy & ThirstyBear crew at the SF Brewers Guild booth.

Until next year we’ll be toiling away in the breweries, working on recipes and planning SF Beer Week, which is right around the corner!