Ever hear of GABF? The Great American Beer Festival? Yeah, the big festival where Holy City Brewing won that gold medal last year? The one in Denver that sells out in less than 10 minutes every year? That’s the one. It’s a big deal. And South Carolina beer has a history there that you might not know about.

The GABF is a three-day annual beer festival hosted by the national Brewers Association in Denver, Colorado that is held usually in early to mid October. It is considered the largest ticketed beer festival in the United States where patrons can sample about 2,000 different American beers. Besides the tastings, the big part of GABF is the beer judging. A medal at the festival carries a lot of weight, where breweries compete in 83 different beer-style categories, submitting in upwards of 3,300 beers to be judged by over a hundred judges. Started in 1983 when only 3 medals were awarded, the festival has exponentially grown from 22 participating breweries to this year where there will be over 600. A medal at GABF can catapult a brewery and lead to explosive growth.


(Photo Credit: Charleston City Paper)

And while the recent gold medal won last year by Holy City Brewing for its fantastic Pluff Mud Porter is a major win for South Carolina beer, it isn’t the first gold, or medal at all that a South Carolina brewery has brought home from the Denver festival. Here is a list of South Carolina beers that have brought home hardware over the years:


GOLD: Holy City Brewing Pluff Mud Porter (Brown Porter)


SILVER: Thomas Creek River Falls Red Ale (Irish-Style Red Ale)


GOLD: RJ Rockers Light Rock Ale (English-Style Summer Ale)


SILVER: Thomas Creek Deep Water Dopplebock (German-Style Strong Bock)


SILVER: Aiken Brewing Randy’s Grand Cru (Experimental Beer)


GOLD: New South Lager (American-Style Specialty Lager)

SILVER: Aiken Brewing Thoroughbred Red (Irish-Style Red Ale)


BRONZE: New South Pale Ale (Classic English Style Pale Ale)


GOLD: New South Oktoberfest (American-Style Amber Lager)

BRONZE: T-Bonz Homegrown Ales Oktoberfest (American-Style Amber Lager)


BRONZE: Liberty Steakhouse & Brewery Miss Liberty Lager (American Style Premium Lager)

SILVER: Southend Brewery Uncle Dunkel Lager (German Style Schwarzbier)

blue bear

The festival begins today at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. If you’ve never been to Denver or the Convention Center, you’ll know you’re there as you’re welcomed by a 40-foot high blue bear. You really can’t miss it.  And while the sampling portion gets under way tonight, judging is already under way to hand out this year’s medals. Judges are not necessarily looking for the beer that tastes the best. Beer judging is actually about whether the particular beer is representative of the particular style it purports to be. If you’re wondering how judging works, the Brewers Association has a great video about it that can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqN6Tav1F5k

So, does Holy City have a chance to repeat as a gold medal winner? Definitely. In fact, Holy City is bringing quite a few beers to enter this year. But, they aren’t alone. Joining them will be Spartanburg’s RJ Rockers and Charleston’s Palmetto Brewing. Here is what each will bring:


Pluff Mud Porter

Holy City Pilsner

Pecan Dream

Smoked Marzen

Old Man Helles

Washout Wheat

Barrel-Aged Collision Stout



Bald Eagle Brown

Bell Ringer Ale

Son of a Peach Wheat

Oso Blanco Belgian Wit

RJ Rockers Stout



Amber Ale

Espresso Porter

Ginger Slap

Pale Ale



All the breweries should fair well, with Holy City certainly in the running to bring home another medal for Pluff Mud Porter and possibly, Old Man Helles. RJ Rockers is also looking to bring home another medal, with Palmetto looking to secure its first from GABF.

If you’d like to know more about the festival, then head here: http://www.greatamericanbeerfestival.com/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s