GABF Medal Categories Streamlined for 2020

Anticipating fewer entries this year, the Great American Beer Festival competition has combined some style categories, reducing them from 107 to 90.

Brewing Industry Guide Staff May 8, 2020 - 3 min read

GABF Medal Categories Streamlined for 2020 Primary Image

Photo: Brewers Association

With the coronavirus pandemic likely to continue through the year, nobody can be sure that there will be a Great American Beer Festival competition in 2020—though it’s officially scheduled for September 24 to 26 in Denver, Colorado.

If the competition happens, the Brewers Association is expecting fewer entries than last year, when 2,450 brewers entered about 8,600 beers in 107 categories. This year there will be just 90 categories.

“We anticipate total entries will decrease this year,” says Chris Swersey, competition manager for the Brewers Association. “Accordingly, we have decreased the total number of categories by grouping smaller categories from previous years, which will now appear as subcategories of larger category groups.”

For example, Baltic Porter (which last year received 51 entries) is now a subcategory of International Dark Lager (which received 31). Belgian Dubbel (26 entries last year) has been combined with Tripel (83 entries) for a new category called Belgian-Style Abbey Ale, which also includes a new subcategory called Other Belgian-Style Abbey Ale.


Another notable change: Fresh Hop Beer is now a subcategory of Experimental Beer. Swersey says that change is because GABF is relatively earlier this year, compared to recent years, so they expect fewer harvest-hopped entries.

“No previously listed beer styles were removed, although many were realigned,” Swersey says. “A few new beer styles were added. The category list reflects several exciting additions and updates to the Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines and also shifting entry numbers over time to keep categories relevant and competitive.”

Some other changes:
- Emerging IPA is now known as Experimental IPA.
- American Lager has a new subcategory, Contemporary American-Style Lager, while Light Lager has a subcategory for Contemporary American-Style Light Lager.
- English Mild (40 entries last year) has been combined with Ordinary or Special Bitter (41 entries) to form a single category called English Mild or Bitter.
- Australian-style pale ales now fall under International Pale Ale.

The full category list is available on the GABF website.

Brewery registration for both the festival and the competition opens June 9, with competition beers due in Denver by August 21—except for Fresh Hop beers, which are due September 14.