For the second year in a row, Boulevard won two coveted gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF). This year was all about summer seasonals, as ZŌN received top honors in the Belgian-Style Witbier category and Reverb Imperial Pilsner took gold in the Other Strong Beer category.
GABF remains the largest commercial beer competition in the world. Winners were chosen in 84 categories, consisting of 4,338 entries from 666 breweries. Matching its largest field to date, this year’s GABF saw its biggest panel of judges ever, with 185 beer experts—including our very own Neil Witte and Elizabeth Belden—who judged categories in which we didn’t have an entry. They spent three days determining winners, bestowing a total of 254 medals at an awards ceremony on Saturday in downtown Denver.
According to Neil, sampling more than 50 beers a day can be compared to a marathon. A typical judging day starts at 9a.m. and wraps around 5p.m. Judges taste three flights in the morning and another three afternoon, with each flight averaging nine beers (as few as six for a medal round or as many as 13 for early round judging). Each flight is a blind tasting, consisting of two-ounce pours of beers up for consideration. Witte says because the beer is consumed over an entire day, judges don’t get intoxicated, but rather very tired. He enjoys the process because he’s able to sit down with people with very trained palates, assessing beers with some of the most experienced people in the industry.
GABF, in its 31st year, welcomed more than 49,000 guests to four beer-drinking sessions over three days (Oct. 11-13). This year was the biggest sampling fest yet, with 578 breweries pouring more than 2,700 beers (or 36,500 gallons). The event sold out in 45 minutes during the public sale. Throughout our history, Boulevard has won 11 medals: six golds (’08: Unfiltered Wheat Beer, ’09: ZŌN, ’11: Pale Ale and Saison-Brett, ’12: ZŌN and Reverb Imperial Pilsner), one silver (’04: Dry Stout), and four bronze (’03: ZŌN, ’08: The Sixth Glass, ’11: ZŌN and Collaboration No. 2). Cheers to everyone at the brewery who works hard on a daily basis to make sure our beer is always of award-winning quality!