Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, a panel of 293 judges from 13 countries bestowed 306 medals on a record-breaking field of roughly 8,496 entries from more than 2,404 breweries. In a ceremony at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, the Brewers Association awarded prestigious gold, silver and bronze medals in 102 beer categories covering 167 different beer styles (including all subcategories), establishing the best examples of each style in the country and earning a symbol of brewing excellence. Eighty-three beers was the average number of entries per category with Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale earning the highest number of entries (391 entries). Today, Peaks and Pints salutes five GABF winners in a beer flight we call Craft Beer Crosscut 9.25.18: A Flight of 2018 GABF Winners.
6.2% ABV, 12 IBU
GOLD MEDAL, BELGIAN-STYLE FRUIT BEER: Silver City Brewery’s Foxy Lady is a Flanders red, a style originating in the West Flanders region of Belgium, this red ale gains a raspberry-like tartness from fermentation on Lactobacillus. Foxy Lady — aged in oak barrels and featuring Pilsner, Vienna, Caramel and Wheat malts — is delightfully crisp, but also hearty, brew that will satisfy all your cravings on these final summer days.
6% ABV, 18 IBU
GOLD MEDAL, AMERICAN-STYLE WHEAT BEER: Peaks and Pints co-owner Robby Peterson prefers a crisp, cold pilsner. Then, he found GoodLife Brewing’s Sweet As Pacific pale wheat ale. The Bend brewery used three light malts and Pacifica hops from New Zealand for this popular ale. It has a lot of citrusy hops, but the best characteristic is a honeyed sweetness that sticks to your lips, or in Robby’s case, his magnificent beard.
4.8% ABV, 20 IBU
SILVER MEDAL, GERMAN-STYLE KOLSCH: 54°40′ Brewing uses a traditional imported Pilsner malt and a classic German yeast strain to create a true to style kölsch beer in the States. It pours pale yellow with high, frothy head atop a fine, lively carbonation. The nose is all grain and bread. Käscadia brings a hint of lemon zest with some minor sweetness, light maltiness and biscuit. Expect a small hops snap at the finish.
4.9% ABV, 30 IBU
BRONZE MEDAL, AMERICAN-STYLE WHEAT BEER WITH YEAST: It began on May 15, 1986, when Rob and Kurt Widmer dropped off the first keg of their cloudy, unfiltered wheat beer to the Dublin Pub, the small Southeast Portland bar that at the time served as the brothers’ entire distribution network. Widmer Hefeweizen became Portland’s first breakthrough beer. The unfiltered version of the Widmer’s Weizenbier was unlike anything most people had ever seen, or tasted. Brewed with Cascade this hefeweizen has a nice citrusy, lemony flavor and aroma, but it’s balanced and smooth.
6.5% ABV, 45 IBU
SILVER MEDAL, ROBUST PORTER: Founders Porter is a near-perfect example of American robust porter. The nose is sweet with strong chocolate and caramel malt presence. On the tongue, it’s smooth, roasty and balanced, but predominantly dry. Strong black coffee roast, bittersweet chocolate and hints of residual sweetness — it’s well balanced with hints of hoppiness. No absence of hops gives Founders’ robust porter full flavor; an example of how Founders brewers took the style of porter and made it their own.