What Should We Expect from Virginia at the GABF?

Posted by  Hamilton Riley   in  Opinion     3 years ago     1223 Views     Comments Off on What Should We Expect from Virginia at the GABF?  


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I’m a huge nerd. I don’t try and hide it. While most people compare me to Landfill from Beerfest and Barney Gumble from The Simpsons, I’m more like Fink and Frink, respectively, just trapped in those other bodies. I cram my head with useless knowledge and trivia to the point where my friends ask me random questions all the time. It came in handy at school on Wednesday Trivia Nights at Mellow Mushroom, but not much else.

One thing I do love is stats. I was mercilessly ragged on by my Government-major roommate as they hit The Corner while I was writing up my weekly Fluid Dynamics lab. It also continued to fuel my love of sports and helped me analyze stats for my previous website. To be able to predict and back up information with tangible numbers has always peaked my interest.

Any who, if you don’t know by now, today starts the Great American Beer Festival, GABF, out in Denver. Every year 60,000 people try hundreds and hundreds of beers all weekend, along with special events and demonstrations. The culmination for the breweries and brewers is the award ceremony where both their individual beers and breweries as a whole are judged. You can win a medal in any of 92 categories this year, with some of the categories having sub-categories, bringing the total hardware to just over 300* (some medals may not be awarded if there is not beer that lives up to the category itself). There are also 7 special awards for best breweries & brewpubs based on size.

So how has Virginia fared at this competition? Short answer is better through the years on average, but slightly up and down. The chart below shows how the Commonwealth has done by total medals and their color.


We must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.

As you can see, Virginia has (on average) been winning more awards at the GABF. Some would argue that we are winning more awards because there are more categories than past years and that the number of breweries in the state have exploded recently. Well both are true, but their are also a TON of new breweries popping up all over the country and who are participating in this event. I will say that I think that the quality and quantity of Virginia Breweries is increasing at a faster rate than most and closing the gap quicker to the ‘mainstays’ (California, Colorado, Oregon, etc.).

It’s great to dwell on the past, so how is Virginia going to do this year? Well if the numbers from the past few years indicate, who knows. 2014 was sort of a ‘down’ year in the overall medal count compared to the two previous years, but there has been a consistent quality to Virginia beer placement at the GABF since about 2009. So I worked my nerd magic and came up with this handy chart.


So if you plug in the total medals into the database and extrapolate the results, Virginia should take in somewhere between 7 and 17 medals (although I think that realistically you will see results between the lower bound and the forecast). Therefore, the Virginia Brew Review prediction will be 12 medals. We’ll wrap it up next week after the awards ceremony.