As soon as I can decompress and go through my notes and interviews, I promise a more thorough piece on what, exactly, the point of the Great American Beer Festival is. For now, let's congratulate the 4 Wisconsin crafts that managed to score a medal.
Stevens Point Brewing Company took Gold for their Horizon Wheat (unfiltered)
Titletown Brewing Company took Gold for their Boathouse Pilsner (Bohemian)
New Glarus Brewing Company took Bronze for Raspberry Tart
Capital Brewing Company took Bronze for Weizen Dopplebock
Oh. And Miller won a few as well, but I can't really, in good conscience, consider them a Wisconsin brewery since their headquarters is now in Chicago and they are owned by a South African conglomerate.
Also, thank you for representing to the Wisconsin crafts that did actually attend the event this year:
Capital Brewing Company
Grumpy Troll Brewery, Restaurant, and Pizzaria
Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company
New Glarus Brewing Company
Pearl Street Brewing Company
Red Eye Brewing Company
Sprecher Brewing Company
St. Francis Brewery
Titletown Brewing Company
11 of the 66 breweries in the state; 5 of which are brewpubs. (Stevens Point Brewing Company was not actually at the festival, but only entered beer in the competition)
I do have to take a brief aside and vent for a minute though.
These 11 breweries represent less than 17% of the breweries in the state. That more than 1/3 of the breweries participating managed to score a medal is phenomenal. Colorado had more than 66% of their 100+ breweries participating; of course the event is held there. California, with 220 freaking breweries, had better than 30% there. Even looking at the Midwest: Minnesota, Michigan and Ohio had over 25%; Indiana had 32%; Illinois had 36% of their breweries participating. Wisconsin's Brewers Guild did not have a booth at the GABF.
No wonder the rest of the country doesn't respect us. And, yeah, I understand not needing external confirmation or validation of quality. We make damned good beer, who cares what the rest of the country thinks? Well, pretty soon this state will be saturated with breweries (from inside and outside of our state) and our breweries will competing on the shelves with the Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana breweries. Not to mention California and Colorado and Oregon. And breweries that have some flashy bling to hang on their sixers and 22s to show off a bit. Just looking at the numbers, there is a considerably better chance that consumers will have never heard of the Wisconsin brewery.
I understand it's a short-term expense, but it's long-term marketing that will pay off. Sure, it'd be nice if the Brewers Guild was able to hold a festival to raise money, like other states' brewers guilds do, to subsidize brewery entries. But even in the best circumstances you can't rely on that; breweries need to get out and market and sell some beer - because sooner rather than later our breweries will need to rely on someone other than the Wisconsin beer drinker to make some cash and stay in business.