Colorado's Great American Beer Festival is not an easy win. Let's do a little light math: More than 8,000 breweries attend each year, with more than 3,900 different beers served to about 60,000 attendees. How many breweries compete? About 2,217 (that's from all 50 states, mind you). When all is said and done, 266 breweries walk away with medals in 98 beer categories, which include 161 different beer styles. Whew! Finally, the contest is judged by 276 experts from 13 different countries.
So, who won?
The Central Coast sure did! The region returned home with 10 medals in all—not bad, right? Here's a breakdown of what you should be drinking in celebration:
Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., which boasts six taprooms, including one in Arroyo Grande, won silver in the English-style India pale ale category for its Hoppy Poppy IPA and bronze medals for Lighter Than I Look (a dark lager) and Wrangler Wheat (an American-style wheat beer with yeast). Note: Lighter Than I Look also won silver in 2015 and bronze in 2016.
Central Coast Brewing's Monterey Street took home the coveted gold medal again, winning best American-style pale ale in the nation (big thumbs up)! Monterey Street earned a silver medal in 2016, and gold in 2015.
A collaboration beer between two Paso Robles favorites: Newcomers Silva Brewing and longtime icons Firestone Walker earned silver in the mixed-culture brett beer category (Ten Buck Chuck is brewed at Firestone Walker's barrel-aging and wild ale facility in Buellton). Plus, Firestone Walker's popular Pivo Pils also won bronze in the German-style pilsner category (it's won gold multiple times in the past).
The biggest winners might just be local craft beer lovers, however. These are very big accolades for a small, active beer scene that continues to grow year after year. We are the champions, my friends!