Minnesota breweries brought home a record 12 medals at the Great American Beer Festival

Summit, Bent Paddle, and more locals than ever before took home top honors this weekend.

Summit, Bent Paddle, and more locals than ever before took home top honors this weekend. Left: Brendan Kennealy; Right: Bent Paddle Brewing

On Thursday night, representatives from dozens of Minnesota breweries flew out to Denver for the annual Great American Beer Festival.

On Sunday, 11 of them flew back with 10 pounds of gold in their carry-on.

The Great American Beer Festival, which has been hosted by the Brewers Association since 1982, is essentially the Academy Awards for America’s beermakers. While Minnesota has always fared well (taking home an average of 3.68 GABF medals each year since 2000), never have local beers been nationally recognized like in 2018.

This year, Minnesota brewers collected four bronze medals, four silvers, and four golds. In all that's 12 medals in 12 different categories from 11 separate breweries. The total nearly doubles the highest mark of 7 set back in 2015. Below are the winning beers by medal; the complete list of GABF winners is available here.

Gold medals:
Classic Saison: Bent Paddle Saison
Field Beer: Lakes & Legends Cool for the Summer
Export Stout: Steel Toe Dissent
Kellerbier or Zwickelbier: Summit Keller Pils

Silver medals:
Fruited American-Style Sour Ale: Eastlake Kirby Pucker No. 21
Specialty Saison: Insight Sunken City
Other Strong Beer: Spilled Grain False Hope
English-Style Summer Ale: Steel Toe Provider

Bronze medals:
English-Style Brown Ale: The Freehouse No. 3 Brown
Coffee Beer: Modist First Call
Herb and Spice Beer: Tin Whiskers Wheatstone Bridge
German-Style Altbier: Utepils Alt 1848

“Minnesota craft beer fans know that our breweries are making some of the best beers in the country,” Lauren Bennett McGinty, executive director of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild, said in a press release. “[W]e are excited to see that the judges for the prestigious GABF awards agree.”

The big showing comes after Minnesota beers made a triumphant return to the Zymurgy “50 Best Beers in America” list earlier this summer.

While the majority of the 2018 GABF winners (six; Lakes & Legends, Eastlake, Insight, the Freehouse, Modist, and Utepils) are located in Minneapolis, the geographical spread of those taking home honors (two from St. Paul, one from Duluth, one from St. Louis Park, and one from Annandale) portends a brewing scene that is healthily growing on both local and national scales.