This past weekend -- as brewers and beer lovers got sauced during their yearly visit to Denver and the beer Mecca that is the Great American Beer Festival -- four Arizona breweries took home medals.
For those who don't know, the Great American Beer Festival is one of the largest celebrations of suds in America (it actually holds a Guinness World Record for the prodigious number of beers on tap). Put on by the Brewers Association every year since 1982, the festival is the American brewing industry's top public tasting opportunity and competition. During four days of tasting sessions and events, attendees get to tour America's brewing landscape, tasting (if they can) more than 2,200 different beers from more than 450 of the nation's finest breweries, one ounce at a time.
The main draw for breweries, aside from allowing the public to sample their wares, is the beer competition. Breweries enter their beers to be judged by a panel of professional judges -- invited industry pros from around the world -- who blind-taste beers in specified style categories and award medals for the best three. The judges sometimes make dubious decisions (see 2010's gold medal awards to Blue Moon Summer Honey Wheat and Michelob AmberBock), but they're usually trustworthy.
These are the Arizona beers that medaled during this year's competition:
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- BJ's Restaurant and Brewery - Pumpkin Ale
- Silver, Pumpkin Beer
- Barley Brothers Brewery & Grill - Chocolate Beer
- Gold, Chocolate Beer
- Four Peaks Brewing Co. - Hop Knot
- Bronze, American-style Strong Pale Ale
- SanTan Brewing Co. - Mr. Pineapple Wheat
- Silver, Fruit wheat beer
Though we're surprised by the snubbing of some greats (Lumberyard, which won two medals last year, was a no-show on this year's winners list), Arizona made a strong showing. Congratulations to all the breweries that won.