Colorado likes well-crafted beer. After a long hike, around the campfire, before a Broncos game — after a Broncos game, lately.
And that love for a good cold one shows year after year — not just by how many new breweries open, but by how well the state’s brewers do at the Great American Beer Festival.
The annual beer competition was held in Denver last weekend. This year, 25 beers from Colorado won awards in the main competition — given across nearly 100 categories and among thousands of entrants.
But sorting through how to find that beer, and what’s worth seeking out, is a little trickier. Here’s a short guide to what won from the Centennial State.
Comrade Brewing’s More Dodge Less RAM won in the vaunted American-style IPA category.
The American-style IPA category had the most entrants and is often the most competitive category of prize. Nearly every brewery brews a flagship IPA, and 423 entrants this year made it the most-entered beer in the competition. Comrade’s won. More Dodge Less RAM is not Comrade’s only IPA, however. Most days you can find at least one or two IPAs on its tap list at its spacious east Iliff location in Denver. And Comrade’s been at it for a while — since 2014, in fact. And in 2019, it was named Small Brewing Company of the Year at the GABF.
Some Colorado beers that have been around a long time won too.
There are some beers that people just associate with Colorado: Coors Original, New Belgium’s Fat Tire Amber Ale. But some others that have been making the rounds for years — or in some cases, decades. Breckenridge Brewery’s Agave Wheat won bronze in the American Wheat category. Left Hand’s Milk Stout won silver in the Oatmeal Wheat category. And Bristol Brewing’s Laughing Lab Scottish Ale won silver in the Scottish-style Ale category.
With the steady flow and fun of new releases around the state, it’s easy to forget that there are some really solid beers that brewers have been making for a long time.
That’s great. But how about something … weirder?
Coloradans love chile. (Don’t forget to get your annual bushel of Hatch or Pueblo anaheims, BTW.) We also like it in our beer, and Denver’s Cerebral Brewing made a combo of our two favorites that won bronze in the Chili Beer category. Fuego Reserva is an imperial stout – big and boozy – aged in bourbon barrels and “conditioned on wood-fired guajillo and chipotle peppers, Filipino cacao nibs, and Mayan vanilla beans.”
That’s a mouthful.
Joyride Brewing in Edgewater also took home a silver in the American Fruit Beer category for its Black Razz Blonde, and Cannonball Creek Brewing in Golden won bronze in the Specialty Saison category for its Rosemary Sourdough Saison.
It wasn’t just Denver, breweries all over Colorado won too
Yes, lots of beer is made in Denver. But there’s a lot of good beer being made all over the state.
Some winners from this year’s GABF that are in Colorado, but not the Denver metro area include a silver for Idaho Springs’ Westbound & Down Brewing’s Spirit of the West, a West Coast IPA; Longmont’s Left Hand Brewing — two, for its Milk Stout that won silver in the Oatmeal Wheat category and a bronze for St. Vrain in the Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale; and The Post Brewing in Lafayette won a gold medal for El Corn in the International Dark Lager category.
Other outstate winners were Rockin’ Roggen, a rye beer that won a silver for Twisted Pine Brewing in Boulder; Colorado Springs’ Bristol Brewing’s Laughing Lab Scottish Ale, that won silver in the Scottish-style Ale category; Barrel-Aged Soft Skills from Jessup Farm Barrel House in Fort Collins that won a gold in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer category; and Wooden Mayhem from Rock Cut Brewing in Estes Park, which won a bronze in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout category.
Left Hand also won Brewery and Brewer of the Year in the 15,001-100,000 barrels produced per year category.
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