Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

October 12, 2008

Beer Diary:

Midwest Winners at the 2008 GABF

A rundown of the Midwest’s best of the best at the 2008 Great American Beer Festival.
by Nigel Tanner

"It takes beer to make thirst worthwhile."
Contact Nigel»
This past weekend once again marked an annual rite of passage in the world of beer, the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Some would call the GABF the “Super Bowl” of beer festivals, but it’s more like an over-hyped event that is an excuse to drink heavily and … wait, it is the Super Bowl of beer. Organized by the Brewers Association, the GABF continues to grow with each passing year and is by far the most comprehensive gauge of the best brews and breweries in the country. Whether you agree with the selections or not, no one can deny that a medal at the GABF is a prize that any brewery, large or small, will cherish forever, regardless of the doping allegations that often plague the winners.

As in past years, many of the more specialized categories went to breweries outside of the Midwest. Unfortunately, many of our local winners fell under the auspices of MillerCoors and Pabst, the latter of which isn’t even a brewery, and in broad categories like “American Style Cream Lager” and “American Style Premium Lager.” These include fine, quality brews that us Midwesterners take great pride in, like OE 800, Hamm’s, and Blatz. Once again, there wasn’t a single mention of Bell’s, New Glarus, Founders, Great Lakes, or many other fine Midwestern craft brewers. But hey … who are we to complain?

Here’s a quick list of the best of the Midwest. A full list of winners in all 75 categories can be found at the Brewer’s Association’s website,

Category 1 American Style Cream Lager
Gold: Lone Star, Pabst Brewing Co., Woodridge, IL
Silver: Hamm’s, Miller Coors Brewing Co., Milwaukee, WI
Bronze: Henry Weinhard’s Blue Boar Pale Ale, MillerCoors Brewing Co.,Milwaukee, WI

Category 3 American Style Hefeweizen
Gold: Henry Weinhard’s Hefeweizen, MillerCoors Brewing Co., Milwaukee, WI

Category 5 Herb and Spice or Chocolate Beer
Gold: Russian Roulette, Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, Minneapolis, MN

Category 9: Specialty Honey Beer
Silver: Eye of the Storm, Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, Minneapolis, MN

Category 13 Gluten-Free Beer
Silver: New Grist, Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee, WI

Category 16 Wood and Barrel Aged Beer
Gold: Old Jack, Ram Restaurant & Brewery, Indianapolis, IN
Silver: Buffalo Bock, Ram Restaurant & Brewery, Indianapolis, IN
Bronze: Beastie Barrel Stout, Barley Island Brewing Co., Fishers, IN

Category 17 Wood and Barrel Aged Strong Beer
Gold: Bourbon Barrel Barleywine, Central Waters Brewing Co., Amherst, WI

Category 22 International Style Pilsener
Bronze: OE 800, MillerCoors Brewing Co., Milwaukee, WI

Category 27 American Style Light Lager
Gold: Coors Light, MillerCoors Brewing Co., Milwaukee, WI
Silver: Old Milwaukee Light, Pabst Brewing Co., Woodridge, IL
Bronze: Keystone Light, MillerCoors Brewing Co., Milwaukee, WI

Category 28 American Style Lager or Premium Lager
Gold: Olympia, Pabst Brewing Co., Woodridge, IL
Silver: Blatz, Pabst Brewing Co., Woodridge, IL
Bronze: Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve, Miller Coors Brewing Co., Milwaukee, WI

Category 31 German Style Marzen
Bronze: Munsterfest, Three Floyds Brewing Co., Munster, IN

Category 33 European Style Dunkel
Gold: Munich Dark, Redwood Brewing Co., Flint, MI
Silver: Bastone Munchner Dunkel, Bastone Brewery, Royal Oak, MI

Category 34 American Style Dark Lager
Silver: Leinenkugel’s Creamy Dark, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co., Chippewa Falls, WI
Bronze: Henry Weinhard’s Classic Dark, MillerCoors Brewing Co., Milwaukee, WI

Category 37 German Style Strong Bock
Gold: Capital Autumnal Fire, Capital Brewing Co., Middleton, WI

Category 38 Baltic Style Porter
Silver: Killer Kowalski, Flossmoor Station Brewing, Flossmoor, IL

Category 41 English Style Summer Ale
Bronze: 312 Urban Wheat Ale, Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, IL

Category 42 Classic English Style Pale Ale
Bronze: Summit Extra Pale Ale, Summit Brewing Co., St. Paul, MN

Category 52 Scottish Style Ale
Silver: Dells Chief Amber Ale, Dells Brewing Co., Wisconsin Dells, WI

Category 56 German Style Altbier
Gold: The Detroit Dwarf, The Detroit Brewing Co., Detroit, MI
Silver: Railyard Ale, Titletown Brewing Co., Green Bay, WI

Category 58 German Style Wheat Ale
Silver: Dark-n-Curvy Dunkelweizen, Piece Brewery, Chicago, IL

Category 60 French and Belgian Style Saison
Bronze: Luciernaga, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Dexter, MI

Category 70 Sweet Stout
Gold: Cream Stout, Redwood Brewing Co., Flint, MI

Category 72 Imperial Stout
Gold: BORIS the Crusher Oatmeal Imperial Stout, Hoppin’ Frog Brewing Co., Akron, OH

Category 74 Old Ale or Strong Ale
Bronze: Old Scratch Barley Wine ’99, Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co., Madison, WI

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

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