The Great American Beer Festival is one of the most important craft beer events in the United States and possibly the world! In 2015, the festival took only 1 hour and 17 minutes to sell out all their tickets, and there were nearly 60,000 people that attended! Over 750 breweries poured out 3,500+ beers over the weekend and the event contributed millions of dollars to the local economy in Denver, CO. It is the largest beer festival in the USA.
The festival continues to be a fantastic opportunity for breweries from all over the country to showcase their beers on the big stage. Making an impact at the GABF can be a major game changer for a small brewery, especially if they are able to win a medal. There are nearly 100 different beer styles that judges will taste and select the top 3 breweries as gold, silver, and bronze medalists. In the 2015 Great American Beer Festival, there were 7 breweries who qualified for gold medals from the state of Colorado. Here’s all the information you need to try the Colorado gold medal winners yourself!
Located in Denver, Colorado Prost Brewing focuses on traditional German styles of beer. Their priority is to create beers that are both refreshing and easy to drink. While many breweries are going for the more experimental approach to brewing, Prost tries to keep things in line with an authentic German style.
2015 GABF Gold Medal Winning Beer: Weißbier
Beer Style: South German-Style Hefeweizen
A classic German hefeweizen style, the Weißbier from Prost has an ABV of 4.2%. This beer has already won 3 GABF medals over the past 5 years. It is said to have a nice aroma of banana and clove, with an authentic Bavarian taste. While this beer can be found at a variety of liquor stores in the Denver area, the best place to try this beer is on tap at the Prost Brewing Tap Room.
This is a new brewery located in the Five Points neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. This neighborhood was once known as the ‘Harlem of the West’ and one of the centers of jazz music for the whole country. A Spangalang is one of the classic jazz cymbal rhythms.
2015 GABF Gold Medal Winning Beer: Spangalang Table Beer
Beer Style: Other Belgian-Style Ale
The Spangalang Table beer comes it at a 4.5% ABV and is of the Belgian Golden/Blond variety. The beer is very sessionable and pairs well with sunshine. The ONLY place to get this beer is at the Spangalang Brewery Tap Room. In fact, that’s the only place to try any of this new brewery’s beers. They are dedicated to the freshness and quality of their beer and prefer craft beer drinkers to get their product directly from the source!
Situated in Longmont, Colorado Lefthand Brewing has been in the craft beer scene for quite awhile, opening their doors back in 1994. Over the years the brewery has racked up an impressive 24 medals at the GABF and from their Sawtooth Ale to their Nitro Milk Stout, their beers are well known in Colorado. The name comes after Chief Niwot whose native tribes lived around the Longmont area, and the Southern Arapahoe word ‘Niwot’ means ‘left hand.’
2015 GABF Gold Medal Winning Beer: Fade to Black, Volume 1
Beer Style: Export Stout
This will be the third GABF gold medal that this fantastic foreign style stout has accumulated over the years. Lefthand’s description of this 8.5% ABV beast of a beer is second to none and says: “Pours black with licorice, espresso bean, molasses, and black cardamom notes that give way to a feeling of self-loathing, burnt opportunities, and smoked relationships.” This is not too difficult a beer to find in fact, Left Hand distributes all over the state of Colorado and to a large portion of the country. This beer can be found on tap at a variety of liquor stores, beer bars, and restaurants in Denver, however we always recommend the most authentic and fresh way to try the beer, which is to visit the Lefthand Brewery Tap Room.
This brewery is one of the oldest in the city of Fort Collins. It originally began under the name of H.C. Berger Brewery and its original location is now inhabited by Funkwerks Brewery. In 2003, they rebranded to Fort Collins Brewery and their current location includes a full restaurant tavern.
2015 GABF Gold Medal Winning Beer: Oktoberfest
Beer Style: Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest
The Oktoberfest beer from Fort Collins Brewery is a fall seasonal beer with a 6% ABV. This malty lager uses a variety of malts and noble German hops for a delicious and complex flavor. This beer can be found in liquor stores during the fall season from Denver to Fort Collins. There are also a few places that have this and other FCB beers on draft in Denver and Fort Collins, but as always we recommend trying it fresh from the source at the Fort Collins Brewery Tavern.
Residing in Greeley, Colorado the Wiley Roots Brewing Company is proud of their agricultural roots and strong connection with the local farmers of Northern Colorado. They brew a variety of styles and are dedicated to the craft of unique local beer. Many of their beers use local ingredients from the Greeley area.
2015 GABF Gold Medal Winning Beer: Super 77 Wheat
Beer Style: American-Style Wheat Beer
In 2013, the Super 77 Wheat beer won a Bronze medal at the GABF, and just two years later it has claimed the gold! With a 4.7% ABV, this beer is a slightly fruity wheat beer is sessionable and clean. The Super 77 Wheat is one of the brewery’s flagship beers and can be found at liquor stores all over North Colorado and Denver. This beer can also be found on tap at bars in Fort Collins, Loveland, and Greeley as well as the Wiley Roots Brewing Taproom.
Located in Golden, Colorado AC Golden Brewing Co. is actually a subsidiary brand of the nearby MillerCoors macro-brewery. This spin-off brand is used to brew small-batch, specialty beers. While some craft beer advocates don’t particularly like the idea of the big, mainstream breweries creating craft brands to enter the market, their gold medal at the GABF this year proves they can brew a great beer!
2015 GABF Gold Medal Winning Beer: Ctyat
Beer Style: Wood and Barrel Aged Strong Stout
The Ctyat is often described as a Russian Imperial Stout. It has a whopping 13% ABV and is aged for 11 months in whiskey barrels. Unfortunately, there are not currently any bars who serve this wonderful stout on tap, however you can find this bomber at liquor stores in both Denver and Golden, CO. We suggest calling the liquor store prior as it is often in limited supply!
If you are from virtually anywhere in the United States you’ve probably heard of Coors. This brewery was first started back in 1873, and it’s facility in Golden, Colorado is the largest single-site brewery in the world! Awhile back they merged with another macro brewery to become MillerCoors. While they aren’t typically a brewery you would find on a list of GABF winners, we trust the judges.
2015 Gold Medal Winning Beer: Coors Banquet
Beer Style: American-Style Lager or Light Lager
Golden’s location in Colorado is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The mountain water literally runs directly to the Coors Brewery and its freshness has been one of the main selling points of the Coors Banquet beer for generations. The beer has been brewed for 140 years, so even if an American-style lager is not typically your forte, there’s definitely an appeal to this classic beer. It’s safe to say that in Colorado if they sell beer, they sell Coors Banquet beer and you can find this beer at liquor stores all across the country. A huge number of bars also carry this American classic, but we recommend taking the very interesting Coors Brewery Tour for a sample and to get clued in on the rich history of the brewery.