Colorado Breweries Win Big at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival

The 2019 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) has wrapped, and what a great festival it was! While all we have to show for the fest are great memories, 283 breweries took home much cooler souvenirs from GABF in the form of gold, silver, and bronze medals. Our local breweries made sure many of those medals stayed in Colorado, winning a total of 40 medals during this year’s competition.

The 2018 GABF Beer Competition

But before we break down our local medal count, let’s take a look at the competition numbers…

2019 Competition Facts & Stats

In this 33rd year of the GABF competition, 322 judges from 18 countries evaluated 9,497 entries from 2,295 breweries, plus 113 Pro-Am and 70 Collaboration Competition entries. Entries were received from all 50 states plus Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The Brewers Association (BA) awarded 318 medals in 174 beer categories/subcategories, plus three medals each in their ProAm and Collaboration Competition.

Beer Judging at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival | Photo © Brewers Association

“This year’s GABF competition was the largest and most competitive to date,” said Chris Swersey, competition manager, Great American Beer Festival. “The beers and talent were as impressive as ever, and we congratulate this year’s winners for their achievements in brewing.”

More GABF Competition Facts

  • The average number of beers entered in each category: 88
  • The category with the highest number of entries was the Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale, with 348 entries. The category debuted on top last year and continues to reign supreme in terms of entries.
  • There were 401 first-time GABF entrants and 37 first-time GABF winners.
  • Three medals were not awarded. There were no gold medal winners in the American-Style Wheat Beer or the Historical Beer categories, and no bronze medal was awarded in the Emerging India Pale Ale category. 
  • Charlie Papazian, the founder of GABF, retired from the Brewers Association in January 2019. However, you may notice that Charlie was back on stage this year. He returned for the award ceremony to help hand out medals and give winners a much-anticipated fist bump!

Colorado Breweries Win Big at GABF

Recovering from their 2018 slump where they only earned 30 medals, Colorado breweries were awarded 40 medals this year, their highest medal count since 2013. Overall, Colorado was 2nd only to California in total medals won. Most impressive, out of the 35 Colorado breweries that won medals this year, 15 of were first-time winners. With so many breweries (new & old) making award-winning beer, it’s no wonder Colorado is called The State of Craft Beer!

Mirror Image Brewing Company is one of the newest breweries to win a GABF medal | Photo © Brewers Association

One of Colorado’s biggest winners was Comrade Brewing Co. The Denver brewery was named the 2019 Small Brewing Company of the Year and received two gold medals, solidifying their status as an IPA powerhouse. Superpower IPA was awarded the gold in the American-Style Strong Pale Ale category, while it’s triple-dry hopped variation, More Dodge Less RAM, took gold in the American-Style India Pale Ale category.  Comrade Brewing Co has won a total of five GABF medals since 2014.

Comrade Brewing Co accept their Small Brewing Company of the Year Award | Photo © Brewers Association

Another big Colorado winner was Westbound & Down Brewing Co who was named the Midsize Brewpub of the Year. The Idaho Springs brewpub was awarded two silver medals: one for Double Barrel Louie in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer category, and one for Westbound Double IPA in the Imperial India Pale Ale categories. These were their first GABF medal wins, which makes the honor all the more impressive.

Westbound & Down Brewing Co accept their Midsize Brewpub of the Year Award | Photo © Brewers Association

Cannonball Creek Brewing Co kept their winning streak alive, winning two silver medals. This Golden brewery’s 7-year winning streak is currently the longest active winning streak for any Colorado brewery. They won silver for Trump Hands in the Session India Pale Ale category and for Vladimir Brutin in the Emerging India Pale Ale category.

Cannonball Creek Brewing Co continue their GABF winning streak | Photo © Brewers Association

Colorado’s 2019 GABF Medal Winners

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View the full list of all GABF medal winners for this year and prior at

Congratulations to all the GABF winners!