One more quick look into the Great American Beer Festival judging records. I could waste a lot of time in the archives. For instance, I’ve pointed out before that Blind Pig Double IPA and Goose Island Bourbon Barrel Stout both made their first GABF appearance in 1995, laying the groundwork for what are now stand-alone categories.
But at the time it seemed at least as bold that Kinney Baughman from Cottonwood Grill & Brewery in North Carolina brought his “Belgian Amber Framboise.” The beer took a bronze in Belgian-style Specialty behind Celis White and Thomas Kemper White. Oh, the memories.
Back to what I was looking for. When I posted the 1987 results Rick Sellers commented on Twitter that Rubicon in Sacramento won the first gold in India Pale Ale, which did not become a category until 1989. When I looked I noticed Rubicon won the first two. So I wanted to see if that ever happened again.
IPA has become the most hotly contested category, with more than 100 entries every year — even with the addition of Double (or Imperial) IPA and American Strong Pale Ale (Avery IPA won that one year, just so you know what ends up competing) categories.
These days it’s rare for breweries from the same state to win back-to-back, but in the 1990s Hubcap Brewery & Kitchen in Dallas, Texas, won three years out of four. Hubcap was a spinoff of a brewpub in Vail, Colorado (as you might tell from the beers names). Both are long gone. My notes indicate we had the IPA in 1993 and liked it, although I honestly don’t remember it at all. Anyway, I’m a bit confused because in 1992 brewpubs weren’t yet legal in Texas. This is a bit of beer history that needs to be tracked down before it’s completely lost.
Meanwhile, here’s the list of IPA gold medalists:
1989 – Rubicon IPA, Rubicon Brewing, California
1990 – Rubicon IPA, Rubicon Brewing, California
1991 – Banty Rooster, Seabright Brewing, California
1992 – Solstice Ale, Hubcap Brewery & Kitchen, Texas
1993 – Renegade Red, Estes Park Brewing, Colorado
1994 – Vail Pale Ale, Hubcap, Texas
1995 – Dig D’s Vail Pale Ale, Hubcap, Texas
1996 – Ponderosa IPA, Prescott Brewing, Arizona
1997 – India Pale Ale, Marin Brewing, California
1998 – Pike IPA, 5280 Roadhouse & Brewery, Colorado
1999 – Racer 5 IPA, Bear Republic, California
2000 – Telemark IPA, Backcountry Brewery & Restaurant, Colorado
2001 – Tumblewood IPA, Sleeping Giant, Montana
2002 – Drake’s IPA, Drake’s Brewing, California
2003 – Hoptown IPA, Hoptown Brewing, California
2004 – India Pelican Ale, Pelican Pub & Brewery, Oregon
2005 – Castle Rock IPA, Santa Barbara Brewing, California
2006 – Hophead Imperial IPA, Bend Brewing, Oregon
2007 – IPA, Odell Brewing, Colorado
2008 – Union Jack IPA, Firestone Walker, California