Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Decade Under the Influence, 10 years of GABF in Review

In 2007, I had the great fortune of attending the Great American Beer Festival (GABF).  It was a fun trip to Denver with several brewery visits and a trip to Falling Rock thrown in as well.  If you've been, you know its the big show.  The crowd is energetic and rowdy.  And the brewery employees  and volunteers are tremendous.  Brewers can pretend that winning hardware at GABF doesn't matter, but that's simply not true.  Winning medals tends to be followed by a decent bump in sales or at least increased visibility and recognition in the industry.  I'd go every year if money and vacation time were no object.  If you haven't been, you need to go.

With the release of this year's medal winners a few weeks ago, I took it upon myself to download the last ten years of medal winners for some quick analysis.

Top US-States

The brewing industry might be 99% free of jerks, but that doesn't mean that bragging rights don't exist.  Over the last ten years, three brewing communities stand out as exceptional based upon total medals (gold, silver and bronze) won.  Of the time-trends shown below only three are statistically different: California, Colorado, and Oregon.

I doubt these results are surprising to anyone attuned to the craft brew industry.

Top Breweries

I think the list of the top twenty breweries winning medals below is a bit more surprising than the top states list above.  Several of the breweries on the list below are, in fact, brewpubs with multiple locations, so I'm not sure this is a fair comparison.  Surprisingly, Pabst, Miller, and Anheuser-Busch are high on this list.  However, these macros typically win medals in the less exciting categories, such as american light style lager.  The first brewery on the list that is not a macro or a brewpub chain is Firestone Walker.

Brewery Medal Count
Pizza Port 68
Rock Bottom Brewery 60
Pabst Brewing Co. 39
Miller Brewing Co. 38
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. 37
Pelican Brewing Co. 28
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant 26
SandLot (The) 23
Devils Backbone Brewing Co. 23
Deschutes Brewery Bend Public House 23
Anheuser-Busch 22
Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant 19
Barley Brown's Brew Pub 19
Dry Dock Brewing Co. 18
BJ's Restaurant & Brewery 18
Russian River Brewing Co. 17
New Glarus Brewing Co. 17
Boston Beer Co. 17
Alaskan Brewing Co. 17
Snake River Brewing 16

Fest Love,


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