Competition Information


GABF Eligibility Rules

Who Is Eligible to Enter the GABF?

Only legally operating commercial breweries in the U.S. are allowed to enter the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), and they must sell beer to consumers in accordance with state and federal laws. In order to participate in the GABF, a brewery must be operational and have a federal TTB Basic Permit/Brewers Notice as of July 8, 2013 or have their beer brewed in a federally permitted facility. Breweries in planning and/or those not operational as of July 8, 2013 are not eligible to participate.

All beers entered must be brewed in a facility with a Brewers Notice on file with the TTB (U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau). Breweries located in U.S. Territories in which a TTB Brewers Notice is not required to produce beer commercially must conform to all local licensing and other regulations that pertain to the commercial production of beer, must establish that they are in compliance with all such licensing and other regulations and requirements pertaining to commercial production of beer, and must comply with any US Federal regulations required to produce beer commercially and/or to import beer into the United States for purposes of the Great American Beer Festival, including registering with the FDA.

 Is My Beer Eligible?

All beer brands (as defined in the GABF Style Guidelines) entered in the Great American Beer Festival must be brewed and fermented in the U.S. or at breweries located in the unincorporated, organized U.S. Territories of Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands, must meet the definition of beer as defined by the TTB, and must possess the characteristics generally attributed to and conforming to the trade understanding of “beer”. Meads, ciders, spirits, flavored malt beverages including most shandies and radlers are not eligible to be entered into the GABF competition or festival.

All beer brands entered in the Great American Beer Festival must be commercially available exactly as entered by brand name. “Commercially available” means the entered brand has been available for sale at retail under the exact brand name as entered on the GABF entry registration form on or before September 9, 2013. Breweries and beer brands registered for the GABF which do not fit these criteria are subject to disqualification without further notice or refund of registration fees.

 How Many Categories May I Enter?

Each beer brand may be entered only one time. A beer brand may not be entered in multiple categories. A beer brand may not be renamed and entered in multiple categories. Beer brands may not be entered by more than ONE brewery in a chain of stores, brewing company, by breweries with related names or aligned marketing strategies, or by multiple breweries that have collaborated on a brand. Beer brands must be entered according to current year Great American Beer Festival style descriptions as written. A maximum of 10 brands may be entered into the competition.

What if My Beers Are Contract Brewed By Another Brewery?

If you own the rights to a brand, but your beer is produced by another brewery, you are still eligible to enter the GABF. Enter the TTB Basic Permit/Brewers Notice number of the brewery producing the beer on your registration entry. Any award won by a contract brand is property of the winning contract brewery which owns the brand, not the brewery producing the beer.

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About the Festival

The Great American Beer Festival (GABF) is a production of the Brewers Association, and is America’s longest running and largest gathering of breweries in the US. The GABF continues to unite the brewing community with beer enthusiasts in a celebration of the quality and diversity of American-brewed beers. It provides an excellent opportunity to expose your beers to beer lovers who travel from around the country and world to experience the festival each year.

The primary purpose of the Great American Beer Festival is to educate the consumer about the quality and diversity in beer styles and breweries that exist across the United States. Part of that educational process lies in recognizing brewing excellence through the GABF competition. The GABF judge panel awards gold, silver and bronze medals in 84 different beer-style categories. GABF medals symbolize excellence in brewing throughout the world. During the three days of the GABF judging, an internationally renowned panel of qualified beer judges evaluates all beers entered in the competition

 

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How is it judged?

GABF Judging

The Great American Beer Festival held its first competitive judging in 1987. The GABF invites industry professionals to sit together in small groups and, without knowing the brand or brewery name, evaluate beers in defined style categories. The ultimate goal of the GABF Judge Panel is to identify up to three world class beers that best represent each beer style category as described and adopted by the GABF. Brewers entering beers into the GABF competition should carefully review the category and subcategory designations before registering their beer. Each brand may be entered only once. If a brand is entered more than once in the GABF, it will be disqualified from the competition. It is imperative that beers are entered into the proper category and subcategory since judges evaluate beers on the basis of these category and subcategory descriptions.

Brewery and beer brand information is publicized exactly as it is provided on the entry forms by the entering brewery. In an effort to eliminate the possibility of error, please review your confirmation letter carefully, and then sign and return it, indicating your final approval of your company name, all spelling and also categories and subcategories.

Awards are only given in categories and not in subcategories; however, judges do evaluate beers based on their adherence to the subcategory guidelines provided in this guide. It is the responsibility of each brewery to enter its beer in the appropriate category and subcategory. GABF and Brewers Association employees cannot aid breweries in this decision. Information regarding the number of entrants for a particular category of the 2013 GABF judging is made available at the Awards Session. In 2012, the average GABF category contained approximately 51 entries. In 2013, if six or more beers are entered into any one category, these beers are judged and are eligible to win an award. The GABF, however, reserves the right to discontinue categories in the following year to reflect changing market conditions and brewing interest.

 

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GABF Awards Philosophy

The GABF awards medals for excellence in 84 categories and does not necessarily award medals to the top three finishers in a particular category. When judges decide a category contains three excellent examples of the style, they award gold, silver and bronze medals for the first, second and third place beers, respectively. If judges believe that no beer in the category meets the quality and style-accuracy criteria, they may elect not to award a medal. Judges may award a silver or a bronze medal and yet not award a gold medal in a category. The award criteria are as follows:

Award Criteria
If judges believe that no beer in the category meets the quality and style-accuracy criteria, they may elect not to award a medal. Judges may award a beer with a silver or bronze medal and yet not award a gold medal.
Gold A world-class beer that accurately exemplifies the specified style, displaying the proper balance of taste, aroma and appearance.
Silver An excellent beer that may vary slightly from style parameters while maintaining close adherence to the style and displaying excellent taste, aroma and appearance.
Bronze A fine example of the style that may vary slightly from style parameters and/or have minor deviations in taste, aroma or appearance.

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Brewery of the Year Criteria

The Brewers Association recognizes excellence in achievement by packaging breweries, brewpubs and the brewmasters crafting their products. Awards are given in the following categories:

Brewery of the Year Awards
*Brewpub: A restaurant-brewery that sells 25% or more of its beer on site. The beer is brewed primarily for sale in the restaurant and bar. The beer is often dispensed directly from the brewery’s storage tanks. Where allowed by law, brewpubs often sell beer “to go” and/or distribute to off-site accounts. Note: BA re-categorizes a company as a microbrewery (packaging brewery) if its off-site (distributed) beer sales exceed 75 percent.
Great American Beer Festival Brewery and Brewmaster of the Year Very Small Brewing Company (New in 2013) Less than 1,000 barrels produced in 2012
Great American Beer Festival Brewery and Brewmaster of the Year Small Brewing Company 1,000–14,999 barrels produced in 2012
Great American Beer Festival Brewery and Brewmaster of the Year Mid-Size Brewing Company 15,000–6,000,000 barrels produced in 2012
Great American Beer Festival Brewery and Brewmaster of the Year Large Brewing Company Greater than 6,000,000 barrels produced in 2012
Great American Beer Festival Brewery and Brewmaster of the Year Small Brewpub* Less than 750 barrels produced in 2012
Great American Beer Festival Brewery and Brewmaster of the Year Mid-Size Brewpub* (New in 2013) 750-1,500 barrels produced in 2012
Great American Beer Festival Brewery and Brewmaster of the Year Large Brewpub* Greater than 1,500 barrels produced in 2012
Great American Beer Festival Brewery and Brewmaster of the Year Brewpub Group* For companies with two or more brewpub locations

Volunteer at the Great American Beer Festival

IMPORTANT: Please read the following information carefully in order to properly determine the correct size category you should select for your brewery. Breweries that select categories that are later found as incorrect will be disqualified from winning the Brewery of the Year award in that category.

NOTE on Multiple Packaging and Brewpub Location Entries: Brewing Companies entering separate packaging and brewpub locations are required to enter both locations under the same BOY category. For instance, a company may not enter a packaging facility as a “Small Brewing Co.” and a brewpub location as “Small Brewpub”, but instead must enter both facilities as “Small Brewing Co.”. The BA will recategorize incorrect entries as needed.

For Packaging Breweries – Size is defined by total U.S. volume of the company which has majority ownership of the brewery.

For Small and Large Brewpubs – Size of single store Small Brewpub and Large Brewpub entries is defined by production volume of the individual operation which holds the brewing license.

For Brewpub Groups – Any restaurant-brewing company with more than one store, regardless of the size of individual stores, may enter as a Brewpub Group.

Brewpub companies with more than one location that are eligible to enter as Brewpubs (rather than Brewing Companies) may enter all of their stores collectively as a Brewpub Group – all brands from that company are entered on one entry form under the group;

OR, brewpub companies with more than one location that are eligible to enter as Brewpubs (rather than Brewing Companies) may enter each individual store as a Small Brewpub, Mid-Size Brewpub or Large Brewpub on separate entry forms

For Brewpub Groups – Any company with more than one store, regardless of the size of individual stores, may enter as a Brewpub Group.

  1. Brewpub companies with more than one location that are eligible to enter as Brewpubs (rather than Brewing Companies) can enter all of their stores as a Brewpub Group – all brands from that company are entered on one entry form;
  2. OR, brewpub companies with more than one location that are eligible to enter as Brewpubs (rather than Brewing Companies) can enter each individual store as a Small Brewpub or as a LargeBrewpub on its own separate entry form;
  3. Brewpub companies with more than one location may not enter some of their brewpub locations on a combined Brewpub Group entry and others as individual brewpubs;
  4. Brewpub Groups may enter up to an average of 5 beers PER ENTERING LOCATION IN THEIR GROUP up to a maximum of 40 total entries (ie Brewery XYZ has 3 locations in their group – they can enter 15 beers).
  5. Only 10 designated entries will count toward the Brewpub Group of the Year award;
  6. Breweries entering in the Brewpub Group category may have one pouring table for every 5 beers entered with no more than 8 tables (40 beers) at the festival. The number of tables will be contingent on the number of beers overall entered into the competition. Brewery Tables will be placed geographically in the festival hall or grouped together if no more than 4 tables in a row.
  7. All locations within a Brewpub Group can promote a medal/award win, not just the winning location. In all instances, our current rules of Brand Name/Year/Color of medal/award still apply – the brand name cannot change based on a location or other identifier;
  8. A Brewpub Group may designate one person, or a singular named group of people (for example “XYZ Brewing Company Brewing Team”), towards Brewer of the Year.
  9. All brands entered by a Brewpub Group will be assigned to the City and State shown on the Group registration form. Brands entered by a Brewpub Group may be attributed to individual stores or locations.
  10. A Brewpub Group may designate one person, or a singular named group of people (for example “XYZ Brewing Company Brewing Team”), towards Brewer of the Year.

Brewery and Brewpub of the Year winners are determined based on the results of the competitive beer judging held at the Great American Beer Festival. All entries entered into the competition count toward Brewery of the Year points. Breweries are awarded points based on medals won, and these points are tabulated to arrive at the results. Here are the criteria used for awarding points, and the tie breaking system used to rank breweries.

  • Most Total Points – breweries are awarded points based on the number of gold (3 points), silver (2 points) and bronze (1 point) medals won in the competition;
  • Most Gold Medals;
  • Most Medals;
  • Most Total Entries in all Medaled Categories;
  • Number of Entries in Gold Medaled Categories;

The second and third criteria have the effect of making a gold and two bronzes worth more than a gold and silver, while two golds would be worth more than a gold, silver and a bronze. The fourth and fifth criteria recognize overall competitiveness by achieving medals in categories with more entries than others.

Winners of the 2013 GABF medals will be announced on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at the GABF Awards Ceremony at the Mile High Ballroom in the Colorado Convention Center. Winners of the Brewing Company of the Year and Brewmaster of the Year awards will also be announced at this time. Lists of medal winners and the number of entries in each category will be available after the winners have been announced.

Team Brewery Name

The GABF allows for either individual or team concepts for the Brewer of the Year award. There are 2 choices for this recognition—an individual name/s (up to 2 people) or “Brewery Team Name”. In any case, one trophy is presented.

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Great American Beer Festival Judges

Judge Selection and Procedures

The Great American Beer Festival Competition Manager selects judges from a list of internationally recognized brewers, sensory experts, suppliers, writers and consultants. These individuals have been selected on the basis of: (1)formal sensory training; (2) experience evaluating beers on flavor panels and/or at competitions; (3) judging demeanor; (4) knowledge of beer styles and the brewing process; and (5) industry and peer recognition.

Each year the GABF judge panel includes up to 20 new judges to keep the panel fresh with new ideas and palates. Prospective judges must communicate in fluent written and verbal English, must have formal sensory training, and must participate in regular flavor panels or competitions. Interested new judge candidates should contact Great American Beer Festival Competition Manager Chris Swersey by email: chris@brewersassociation.org for more information. The current backlog of new judges is roughly 2-3 years.

Judges’ Comments

During first-round beer tastings, each judge completes a beer tasting form for each beer judged. Brewers should each receive a minimum of three beer-tasting forms for each beer entered. Judging results will be sent within 30 days of the end of the Festival.

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Entering Beers Only for Competition Judging (Judge Only)

The option to only have your beers judged in the competition and not have a booth at the GABF festival is available, but does not include complimentary entrance to the festival. If you plan on only sending beers to the competition for judging, you may register on July 9. Once the competition has reached capacity, no additional beers are accepted. The fee structure for Judge-only beers is $175 for Brewers Association Brewery members and $390 for non-members per brand.

Complimentary festival entrance is limited to the breweries that have a festival booth. Brewery representative badges for festival entrance may be purchased for $175 per person for BA Brewery members and $290 per person for non-members until August 14 or until capacity is reached. Badges include entry to all four festival sessions. Badges are not available for purchase on site. back to top

 


GABF Waitlist (when applicable)

Brewery registration sold out in less than two days in 2012. Breweries placed on the waiting list for space on the festival hall and/or for the competition are added as cancellations are received. Additions are made based on the type of booth space available (for bottle/canned or draft product) and/or space available in the competition based on category sizes determined immediately after the close of registration. Please direct questions to Chris Williams at 720-473-7671 or email williams@brewersassociation.org.

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Only Having Beers Served at the GABF Festival (Not Judged)

While this rarely happens, the option of not having your festival beers judged is available. Please indicate on your registration form which beer entries that are not to be judged. Select category 00 – Festival Only – Do Not Judge. Please also confirm with BA Event Manager, Chris Williams which beers are “festival only” beers, not to be judged: 720-473-7671 or williams@brewersassociation.org.

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Refund Policy

Refunds are not issued until after the festival. A full refund is given only in the event that your brewery cancels before August 30, 2013. You may also request a credit for the 2014 GABF in place of a refund. Any brewery that ships their product and later wishes to have the beer dropped from the festival due to improper fermenting, off-flavors discovered after shipping, etc. is not refunded. Beer is a donation and is not purchased by the festival.

 

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Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am Competition

Pro-Am Competition

The Brewers Association and the American Homebrewers Association are proud to present the Eighth Annual GABF Pro-Am Competition of the Great American Beer Festival.

Commercial Brewery Rules:

  1. Breweries that have entered at least ONE brand in the GABF competition/festival and have a booth in the festival are eligible to enter a beer in the Pro-Am Competition. Breweries are not allowed to enter ONLY the Pro-Am Competition.
  2. Beers entered in the GABF Pro-Am competition must be commercially available. Commercially available means the entered brand has been available for sale at retail by September 2, 2013. All GABF eligibility rules apply to Pro-Am entries.
  3. Beer entered in the Pro-Am competition must be served at the festival and cannot be entered solely as a “judge only” entry. Pro-Am beer is served at a designated GABF Pro-Am booth on the festival floor, thus is not counted toward the maximum number of beers that can be served at the brewery’s booth. However, the brewery may choose to offer the Pro-Am beer as one of their five floor beers at their brewery’s booth as well. Each beer entered in the Pro-Am competition isserved during one of the four tasting sessions. Breweries may request an additional 1/6 bbl MicroStar keg for their Pro-Am beer to be served at the Pro-Am booth.
  4. Breweries may determine the homebrew recipes they scale up in one of three ways:
    1. Select an award-winning homebrew from an American Homebrewers Association (AHA)/Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) sanctioned homebrew competition held on or after January 1, 2012.
    2. Organize your own brewery-run and/or AHA/BJCP sanctioned competition.
    3. Partner with a local homebrew club to organize an AHA/BJCP sanctioned competition. See our Events Calendar (http://bit.ly/BJCPcal) for a calendar of upcoming AHA/BJCP sanctioned competitions or go to www.bjcp.org/apps/comp_reg/comp_reg.html to register a competition. Breweries may wish to partner with a local homebrew club or homebrew supply shop if they wish to organize their own competition. Contact Janis Gross, American Homebrewers Association Project Coordinator, at 720-473-7682 or janis@brewersassociation.org for information about local homebrew clubs and homebrew supply shops.
  5. Breweries may choose to restrict entries to categories they are reasonably able to brew. For example, breweries may choose not to accept recipes for fruit beers, sour beers, or beers requiring extended aging, etc.
  6. The homebrewer brewing their recipe with the professional brewery CANNOT be, or have ever been, an employee of that brewery or on the brewing staff at any brewery.
  7. Breweries brew the winning beer from the recipe submitted by the winning homebrewer. The winning homebrewer must be an AHA member at the time the brewery enters the GABF competition and must have a valid AHA membership at the time of the GABF. All brewery entrants must be members of the Brewers Association.
  8. Limited modifications of the recipe are allowed to accommodate the scale of commercial brewing and ingredients available to the brewery.
  9. All entrants, both professional and amateur brewers, must sign a Licensing Agreement prior to the submission of entries to the GABF. The Licensing Agreement limits and protects the way the GABF trademark is used.
  10. There is a $25 charge for GABF Pro-Am Competition entries, which covers the cost of awards and administrative time.
  11. No more than one entry per brewery is accepted in the GABF Pro-Am Competition.
  12. No more than 96 total entries are accepted for this competition. Entries are accepted on a first come, first served basis.
  13. GABF Pro-Am entries compete in a best-of-show style judging, during the regular GABF judging. The GABF Style Guidelines and GABF judge panel are used for the judging. Entering brewers must provide the appropriate GABF category name and number along with any requested supplemental information for the entry to be judged correctly. Entries that do not include this information will not be accepted.
  14. Judges will determine the top three entries in the GABF Pro-Am Competition, which are awarded Gold, Silver, and Bronze GABF Pro-Am Competition medals during the GABF awards ceremony, held October 12, 2013. Medals are issued to both the winning brewery and the winning homebrewer.
  15. The Pro-Am medals do not count towards “Brewery of the Year” awards, and therefore, are not counted among the eight entries allowable for Brewery of the Year points.

Homebrewer Rules:

  1. The homebrewer entrant or entrants must be members of the AHA by the time the brewery registers the entry in the GABF Pro-Am competition (July 2013), as well as when the Pro-Am entry is judged (October 2013). All brewery entrants must be members of the Brewers Association.
  2. Qualifying homebrew competitions may be, but are not required to be, AHA/BJCP sanctioned homebrew competitions. Competitions held on or after January 1, 2013 may use AHA/BJCP categories, as defined by the BJCP 2008 Style Guidelines for their entries, excluding those restricted by the competition. See our Events Calendar (http://bit.ly/BJCPcal) for a calendar of up-coming AHA/BJCP sanctioned competitions or go to www.bjcp.org/apps/comp_reg/comp_reg.html to register a competition.
  3. Competitions must be timed to give the brewery adequate time to brew the beer to be ready for entry to the GABF.
  4. The nature of the competition is entirely up to the brewery. They may choose to work with an existing competition or create their own. Breweries may restrict the styles of the competition to styles they can reasonably brew.
  5. AHA membership of all homebrewer entrants is verified by the AHA. AHA membership must be current at the time the brewery enters the GABF competition, and also at the time of the GABF judging.
  6. The homebrewer brewing their recipe with the professional brewery CANNOT be, or have ever been, an employee of that brewery or on the brewing staff at any brewery.
  7. All entrants, both professional and amateur brewers, must sign a Licensing Agreement prior to the submission of entries to the GABF. The Licensing Agreement limits and protects the way the GABF trademark is used.
  8. No more than one entry per brewery will be accepted in the GABF Pro-Am Competition. Individual AHA members may be associated with no more than one entry submitted into the GABF Pro-Am Competition judging at the GABF.

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