The Great American Beer Festival is like the Olympics and Academy Awards of brewing, wrapped up in one beer-fueled, costume-wearing weekend. Washington breweries brought home a none-too-shabby nine medals (of 268 awarded) from this year's summit, which happened this past weekend in Denver. Only Texas, California, Colorado, and Oregon saw more medal action.
According to the GABF folks, 5,507 beers from 1,309 U.S. breweries were submitted for judging. Here are the beers that brought home medals in their various highly technical brewing categories. My personal goal: Drink all of these before the GABF rolls around again in 2015.
Propolis Brewing, Beltane
Category: American-Style Brett Beer
This Port Townsend brewery is all about seasonal beers and local, often foraged herbs. This winning golden ale, for example. was made with elderflower blossoms. It all sounds a little crunchy, but these guys know what they're doing. Keep an eye out for Propolis's seasonal creations at bottle shops and beer bars around town, plus the Ballard Farmers Market.
Airways Brewing, Pre-Flight Pilsner
Category: American-Style or International-Style Pilsener
Being down in Kent, Airways doesn't always get the same buzz as Seattle breweries. But it should. This pilsner pours at the brewery's tap room and downtown bistro, plus it's available in stylish cans.
Chuckanut Brewery, Chuckanut Dunkel
Category: European-Style Dunkel
Most breweries around here traffic largely in ales, but Chuckanut is a master of the lager. This dark, malty German-style version is a medal-winning machine. Though Chuckanut's Bellingham tap room is absolutely worth a visit, you can find its lagers around Seattle without too much trouble.
Pyramid Breweries Apricot Ale
Category: Fruit Wheat Beer
Pyramid brews all over the country now, and this is one of the brewery's classics.
White Bluffs Brewing, Red Alt
Category: German-Style Altbier
Hailing from Richland, this brewery deals in bold and adventurous beers. They're nigh impossible to find outside the brewpub, but it's a worthy stop if you're in the Tri-Cities.
Fremont Brewing, Summer Ale
Category: International-Style Pale Ale
No surprise, this stuff is supremely easy drinking.
Silver City Brewery, Old Scrooge
Category: Old Ale or Strong Ale
This Kitsap County brewery's annual holiday release is one of the best barleywines out there. As evidenced by its Michael Phelpsian slew of medals.
Fremont Brewing, Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star
Category: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout
Fremont medaled at both ends of the beer spectrum this year; its Dark Star oatmeal stout only gets better after a sojourn in a bourbon barrel. This used to be known as Kentucky Dark Star; the wax-topped bottles are tough to find, but the tasting room often has both bottles and drafts. And hey, look—it expanded.
Sound Brewery, Dubbel Entendre
Category: Belgian-Style Abbey Ale
This Poulsbo brewery can do no wrong with me; te name alone makes this malty dubbel medalworthy, but the sweet-spicy profile probably had a little something to do with the win. Bonus: It's pretty easy to find in bottles and on draft around town.