For the second year in a row, the exhibit part of the Great American Beer Festival was, if not out-right canceled, muted due to COVID concerns. Running simultaneous to what would have been the normal GABF, though, was the 2021 Craft Brewers Conference in Denver, which still brought a large contingent of brewers, owners and employees to the Mile-High City.
The 35th edition of the GABF competition still took place. This year, 9,680 beers were judged from 2,192 breweries from all 50 state plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. In all, 290 of the 291 possible medals were awarded to 265 different breweries.
Here’s how our local states faired:
A couple of Indiana breweries did extremely well this year. Moontown Brewing Company of Whitestown won 3 medals, the only brewery in the nation to win so many. It won a silver medal for Moonlite in Category #40: American-style Cream Ale (147 entries), a bronze medal for Skool House Bock in Category #51: Bock Beer (88 entries) and a bronze medal for 40th Parallel in Category #44: Bohemian-style Pilsner (161 entries). Moontown also won Brewery and Brewer of the Year in the 501-1,000 Barrel Production division.
Metazoa Brewing of Indianapolis also had an amazing showing at this year’s competition. Its Stringtown Production Facility won two gold medals for Trash Panda in Category #9: Coffee Beer (75 entries) and Rosie the River Otter in Category #7: Herb and Spice Beer (115 entries), as well as a bronze medal for its Taproom for Go Ape-ricot in Category #85: Specialty Saison (71 entries). Metazoa Brewing was also awarded the Brewery Group Brewery and Brewer of the Year for 2021.
Rounding out Indiana’s 7 medals was Blind Owl Brewery of Indianapolis, which won a bronze medal for Tomamos in Category #39: International Lager (175 entries).
Although the medal count and number of awarded breweries in Indiana were down from previous years (five Indiana breweries won a total of 10 medals in 2020), to have two breweries named the top of their division is quite an accomplishment in 2021.
Michigan breweries saw a slight upward tick in their honors in 2021.
The state’s breweries garnered 7 total medals, one of which was gold for Waypost Brewing in Fennville. Its Saison won in Category #84: Classic Saison (99 entries).
Bells Brewing won a Silver Medal for No, Yeah in Category #53: Golden or Blonde Ale (152 entries).
Ohio breweries won 13 total medals (up from 9 in 2020), including four gold medals.
Third Eye Brewing of Sharonville won gold for Higher Purpose in Category #93: Sweet Stout or Cream Stout (55 entries).
Brink Brewing of Cincinnati won gold for Father G’s Bees in Category #13: Honey Beer (70 entries).
JAFB Wooster Brewery of Wooster won two medals: gold for its Hefeweizen in Category #80: German-style Wheat Ale (226 entries) and silver for JAF IPA in Category #63: American-style India Pale Ale (404 entries), the second most competitive category.
Plans are already underway for the 2022 Great American Beer Festival. Next year’s event is scheduled from Thursday, Oct. 6 through Saturday, Oct. 8 in Denver, Colorado.
The plan is to have a full, in-person festival again for the first time since 2019. Tickets will be announced in the spring of 2022 by the Brewers Association at greatamericanbeerfestival.com.