2017 Great American Beer Festival Medals: Winners and a Wedding Proposal

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2017 Great American Beer Festival Medals
Robin and Ryan from Wibby Brewing got engaged on stage during the 2017 Great American Beer Festival medal ceremony. (Credit: Brewers Association)

More than 260 U.S. breweries — and one new bride-to-be — are going home with some heavy medal after the 2017 Great American Beer Festival® (GABF) awards Saturday.

In what we suspect is the first on-stage GABF award ceremony proposal, Wibby Brewing‘s Ryan Wibby dropped to one knee while on stage accepting a silver medal. His girlfriend Robin said yes. The rest of the Wibby team surrounded them on stage as it happened.

GABF ceremony proposal
A proposal happened on stage at Saturday’s GABF awards ceremony. (Credit: Brewers Association)

Now, let’s talk about the beers.

Winning a GABF medal is no small feat. There are six rounds of judging. This year, 276 judges were involved in judging 7923 entries from 2217 U.S. breweries. Those judges come from 13 countries, including Germany, Spain and the Czech Republic.

Saint Arnold Brewing Co. out of Houston, Texas, and Figueroa Mountain Brewing from Buellton, California, both had three medal-winning beers. Saint Arnold was also named Mid-Size Brewing Company and Brewmaster of the Year.

great american beer festival awards
Credit: Brewers Association

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Several breweries won two medals, including Odd Side Ales from Grand Haven, Michigan, which took both the gold and the silver in the Specialty Beers category for its Barrel Aged Sweet Potato SouthNorte Rye (gold) and the Rye Hipster Brunch Stout (silver).

Judges had their work cut out for them in the American-Style India Pale Ale category. It was the most-entered category with 408 beers. Hailstorm Brewing from Tinley Park, Illinois, took gold for its Prairie Madness IPA; Auburn Alehouse took silver and Breakside Brewery & Taproom earned the bronze. Imperial India Pale Ale (221 entries) and American-Style Pale Ale (199 entries) were the other most-entered categories.

(VISIT: Find a U.S. Brewery)

And as it turns out, Austin Beerworks’ aptly-named Super Awesome Lager is indeed awesome — it earned gold in the Light Lager category. If there was a sub-competition for most-creatively named medal-winning beers, these earned medals in our book:

  • Razz Against the Machine | Little Machine, Denver (American-Style Fruit Beer, Gold)
  • Rock Out with Maibock Out | Hailstorm Brewing, Tinley Park, IL (Bock Beer, Silver)
  • Cherry Busey, Sun King Brewing Co. | Indianapolis (Belgian-Style Fruit Beer, Bronze)
  • So long and thanks for all the (smoked) fish! | The Sandlot Brewery at Coors Field, Denver (Smoke Beer, Gold)
  • Bad Hombre, Eight & Sand Beer Co. | Woodbury, NJ (Chili Beer, Silver)
  • Aphrodisiac Chocolate Pomegranate Imperial Stout | Cranker’s Brewery, Big Rapids, MI (Chocolate Beer, Silver)
  • Tears of My Enemies | Monday Night Brewing, Atlanta (Chocolate Beer, Bronze)
  • Smoke on the Lager | Chilly Water Brewing Co., Indianapolis (Smoke Beer, Silver)
  • #QuadGoals, 515 Brewing Co. | Clive, IA (Belgian-Style Dubbel or Quadruple, Gold)

You can see all the winners at the Great American Beer Festival website.

Jess Baker walked into a beer fest in 2010 and realized beer had come a long way from what her dad had been drinking since the 70s. She served as editor-in-chief of CraftBeer.com from spring 2016 to spring 2020, bringing you stories about the people who are the heartbeat behind U.S. craft brewing. She's a runner, a die-hard Springsteen fan, a mom who is always scouting family-friendly breweries, and always in search of a darn good porter.

CraftBeer.com is fully dedicated to small and independent U.S. breweries. We are published by the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers. Stories and opinions shared on CraftBeer.com do not imply endorsement by or positions taken by the Brewers Association or its members.