19 Great American Beer Festival Winners You Can Get in Arizona

Denver is a sadder, quieter place this week. The vendors have broken down their booths; the brewers have packed up their jockey boxes; the drinkers have sobered up. The 2013 Great American Beer Festival is over and done.

But all is not lost. Held every year since 1982 in the Mile High City, the GABF is not just a huge festival wherein revelers can sample the best beers from the best brewers across the country -- it's also the country's largest beer competition. This year, 160 invited judges blind-tasted 4,875 beers from 714 breweries, awarding bronze, silver and gold medals to the brews they felt were the best in 84 categories. Many of the medal-winners are brewed on a regular basis, and some are even available on shelves and on tap right now. Here, we list the best locally available award-winning brews -- find them and do a GABF tasting of your own.

See also: 8 Beer Cocktails in Metro Phoenix

Gold Medal Winners
Alesmith Old Numbskull - Barleywine-style Ale
San Diego-based Alesmith is a GABF vet, having won 16 total medals since 1998, including two silvers for this very beer. This doesn't surprise -- Old Numbskull blends caramel, raisin and orange oil flavors and a skull-numbing 11 percent ABV with such finesse it's dangerous.

Firestone Walker Wookey Jack -- American-style Black Ale
Firestone Walker cleaned up this year, winning a silver medal for the citrusy Union Jack IPA, a gold for Pivo Pils and a gold for this American black ale, which is a confusing way of saying black IPA. Dark, hoppy and alcoholic (8.3 percent ABV), Wookey Jack tastes and smells like a pine tree that grows oranges downwind from a campfire.

Great Divide Chocolate Oak-Aged Yeti -- Chocolate Beer
Take Yeti, Great Divide's imperial stout that won GABF medals in 2005, 2008 and 2009, then age it with oak chips, cocoa nibs and cayenne. BOOM. Chocolate Yeti.

Left Hand Milk Stout -- Sweet Stout or Cream Stout
Another big winner at GABF, Left Hand earned golds for this stout as well as for its foreign-style stout, Fade to Black Vol. 1, and its English bitter, Sawtooth. Whereas most beers get their fizziness from carbon dioxide, Milk Stout uses nitrogen, which gives the beer a smooth, creamy body to play with flavors of charred bread, peanuts, dark roast coffee and sweet cream.

Lumberyard American Pale Ale -- American-Style Pale Ale
Lumberyard was the only Arizona brewery to take home gold this year, and they did it in the hotly contested American pale ale category.

Odell 5 Barrel -- Classic English-style Pale Ale
Odell infuses 5 Barrel with whole hop cones at eight different stages throughout its brewing process. The result is a brew that exudes the malty balance of an English-style pale while still showing off bright hop flavors.

Ska True Blonde -- English-style Summer Ale
English summer ales and American blonde ales have a lot in common: golden color, light body, low bitterness, sparkling carbonation. Brewed with a bit of honey, True Blonde exhibits all these characteristics as well as a refreshing, thirst-quenching quality that allows it to transcend stylistic labels.

Speakeasy Prohibition Ale -- American-style Amber/Red Ale
Once upon a time, San Francisco-made Speakeasy Ales were available on Arizona shelves. Then, suddenly, they were pulled from the shelves as if we were back in the Prohibition era to which the brewery's labels refer. Thanks to a new agreement with Arizona distributors, however, Speakeasy is back, meaning you can once again grab bottles of this flagship red ale and enjoy its bright, citrusy hops balanced with toffee-like malt.

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You cannot get the Fate Candy Bar Stout here. It was a one time beer that they made and it is long gone.  Also how did Hop Knot win as an American Strong Pale Ale when they sell it as an IPA?


You missed Left Hand Sawtooth, available in package and draft, including Nitro. Additionally, Left Hand launched Sawtooth Nitro bottles (along with Wake Up Dead Nitro bottles) to complement the Milk Stout Nitro bottles.


@Ianbrettanomyces Miller Lite has " a fine pilsner beer" on it's label. Wookie Jack has Rye which is not defined in the American Style Black Ale category, in fact it also has Black IPA on the label which is not the recognized style. You can win the fruit beer category with actually adding any fruit. You could enter a gruit in the IPA category.

It's a blind competition and so the labeling and marketing doesn't factor. 
 A brewery can enter any beer in any category.

Quit being so pedantic.


@Ianbrettanomyces Fate has made the Candy Bar Milk Stout twice, and after winning this medal, they'll likely brew it more often. 

valleynative topcommenter


The judging categories are rigidly defined, and may not come close to matching what the beer is marketed as.



@olllllo @Ianbrettanomyces So either the marketing people are running the breweries like Four Peaks and Miller or beer judges don't know diddly dungpoop squat.

Unless Fate has that held behind keg on tap (which they don't)-then it is not available.

Quit being so punctilious and go with the flowmeter of banal capacious existence. Next thing you know someone will leave the milk out of milk stout or the wine out of barleywine then oh what a pickle vat shall we be in.

Quaintest thoughts, queerest fancies come to life and fade away. What care I how time advances; I am drinking ale today. Are you? Somewhat attributed to by Edgar Allan Poe

Party on Garth Brooks.


@ZachFowle @Ianbrettanomyces Your article was titled 19 beers you can get in Arizona. You cannot get the candy bar stout in Arizona or anywhere as it doesn't exist at the moment.  You might as well substitute natty light or budweiser premium in there as the 19th beer since they won medals and are available here.

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