Competition Information

medals with beer

Brewery of the Year Eligibility

In order to be eligible for a Brewery of the Year award, a brewery must

  • Enter two (2) or more beers for individual location Brewery of the Year awards, or six (6) or more beers for Brewery Group of the Year. Breweries that enter fewer entries may compete for individual medals, but are not eligible to win a Brewery of the Year award.
  • Verify and or provide their 2023 production information during registration. Entering brewers will be assigned to the correct Brewery of the Year category based on 2023 barrelage. Size is defined by the production volume of the individual operation that holds the brewing license. Breweries who decline to provide production information are still eligible to win medals, but will not be eligible to win a Brewery of the Year award.

Does your brewery produce more than 100,000 barrels annually?

OR is your brewery more than 50% owned by a “controlled group” of brewers with a combined global production of more than 100,000 barrels annually?

Your brewery will compete in the “>100,000bbl Brewery or Brewery Group of Year” category

Is your brewery or brewpub part of a group that has multiple brewing locations?

You have two registration options.
You can register the locations together or separate.

Option 1:

Together: Register two or more locations collectively in the “>100,000bbl Brewery or Brewery Group” category

(i.e. submit a registration for each location and be sure to select “Competing as a Brewery Group” option during registration)

Your brewery locations will participate in the “>100,000bbl Brewery or Brewery Group of the Year” category

  • Enter up to a max of 8 beers per location (subject to change, based on demand)
  • Minimum of 6 beers for the group
  • No maximum per group
  • All beers compete for individual beer category medals, and all count toward Brewery Group of the Year

Option 2:

Separate: Enter each location separately and choose ONE location to compete in the appropriate size Brewery of the Year category

Enter up to the maximum number of entries for each location

  • Choose ONE location that will compete for Brewery of the Year in the appropriate size category for that location. Beers from other locations will not count toward Brewery of the Year points, but will compete for individuals medals

Compete in the appropriate Brewery of the Year category for your brewery (based on annual production volume)

Point Tabulation: winner is determined by TOTAL POINTS awarded. See below for point value per medal type

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 (6 points), silver (5 points) and bronze (4 points) medals won in the competition;
  • Most Total Entries in all Medaled Categories;
  • Most Total Entries in Gold Medaled Categories;

Brewery of the Year awards for single-location breweries (or brewery groups who produce less than 100,000 bbls annually and elect to only have one location/facility compete for Brewery of the Year) will be awarded in the following size categories.

See following section for “>100,000bbl Brewery or Brewery Group” awards (multi-location breweries or breweries producing more than 100,000 bbls)

Brewery of the Year Category (by 2023 production volume)

0-250 barrels
>250-500 barrels
>500-1000 barrels
>1000-2000 barrels
>2000-5000 barrels
>5000-15,000 barrels
>15,000-100,000 barrels

“>100,000bbl Brewery or Brewery Group 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.

Point Tabulation: winner is determined by TOTAL POINTS awarded divided by TOTAL number of entries from that Brewery Group (in other words, a winning percentage or “batting average”). See below for point value per medal type

Criteria used for awarding points, and the tie-breaking system used to rank breweries:

  • Most Total Points Divided By Total Entries: breweries are awarded points based on the number of gold (6 points), silver (5 points) and bronze (4 points) medals won in the competition;
  • Most Total Entries in all Medaled Categories;
  • Most Total Entries in Gold Medaled Categories;

The second and third criteria recognize overall competitiveness by achieving medals in categories with more entries than others.

Winners of the GABF medals will be announced during the GABF Awards Ceremony. 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

We allow a team concept for the Brewer of the Year award. There are two choices for this recognition: individual names (up to two people) or “Brewery Team Name”. One trophy is presented in either case.

During first-round beer tastings, each table of judges will complete a beer tasting form for each entry, which will include comments from all judges who assess the entry. Judge feedback will be sent within 30 days or less of the end of the competition.

Judge feedback is provided as a courtesy to entering brewers. Judge feedback content does not represent official results of the Great American Beer Festival competition. Information provided in judge feedback may not be used in statements of quality or advertising in conjunction with the Great American Beer Festival trademark, name or logo. The ONLY official GABF results that are allowed to be promoted in conjunction with the GABF mark are Gold, Silver, Bronze medals.

Bottle of beer being poured into taster glass for competition 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 at the category level; awards are not given at the subcategory level. 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. By rule, GABF and Brewers Association employees cannot aid breweries in this decision. Information regarding the number of entrants in each category are publicized during the Awards ceremony, and on the winners list pdf available for download. If twelve or more beers are entered into any one category, these beers are judged and are eligible to win an award. The GABF reserves the right to combine categories with fewer than 12 entries with similar categories prior to and during any given competition, and, reserves the right to discontinue categories and subcategories in future years to reflect changing market conditions and brewing interest.

The Great American Beer Festival Competition Director 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 roughly 10% rookie 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 Director Chris Williams for more information. The current backlog of new judges is roughly 2-3 years.

Great American Beer Awards Philosophy

The GABF awards medals for excellence in numerous 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:

Gold, silver, and bronze Great American Beer Festival medals

Award Criteria

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.
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.