As a testament to the monumental growth of craft beer across the globe, the Great American Beer Festival continues to grow and invite more breweries from across the United States. That means more amazing beers submitted for the judging at the festival competition, one of the most prestigious and competitive in the world. That also means that Florida’s craft breweries are facing stiffer competition from breweries both new and old. This is not a knock against Florida’s breweries, as some of the best beer in the world is crafted in the Sunshine State, just an acknowledgement of the level of competition that everyone is working with.
Florida’s craft breweries brought home two medals this year:
Silver: Slam Piece, Coppertail Brewing, Tampa, FL
Silver: Deep Roots, Red Cypress Brewery, Winter Springs, FL
Congratulations to these two outstanding breweries for their medals and for all their hard work going in to the competition.
In 2016, Florida has more breweries attending the festival than ever before, a total of 21 Florida breweries represented the state in this year’s festival and more entered the competition but did not pour in the festival. There was a great deal to learn about craft beer from this year’s festival, more on that in upcoming posts.How tough was the competition? The Brewers Association, the trade group that puts on the Great American Beer Festival, says that:
…gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to winning breweries in 96 beer categories covering 161 different beer styles (including all subcategories), establishing the best examples of each style in the country. Neither a gold nor a silver medal were awarded in the Pumpkin/Squash Beer category.
Winners were chosen from 7,227 competition entries (nearly 9 percent more than the 6,647 entries in 2015 and surpassing all previous participation records) from 1,752 breweries hailing from 50 states plus Washington, D.C.
The competition also saw its biggest-ever panel of judges, with 264 beer experts from 12 countries, including the U.S., and 170 competition volunteers.
About the Great American Beer Festival Competition:
The Great American Beer Festival invites industry professionals from around the world to sit together in small groups and, without knowing the brand name, taste beers in each specified style category. The ultimate goal of the Great American Beer Festival Judge Panel is to identify the three beers that best represent each beer-style category as described and adopted by the Great American Beer Festival.
The Professional Judge Panel awards gold, silver or bronze medals that are recognized around the world as symbols of brewing excellence. These awards are among the most coveted in the industry and heralded by the winning brewers in their national advertising.
Five different three-hour judging sessions take place over the three-day period during the week of the festival. Judges are assigned beers to evaluate in their specific area of expertise and never judge their own product or any product in which they have a concern.
Editor’s note: please note that while High Heel Brewing Company, which brews at Lakeland’s Brew Hub, did win a medal, the brewery did not identify itself as a Florida brewery, noting that they were based out of Missouri, so they were not mentioned in this article.