First, congrats to everyone who won a medal, any kind of medal, whether your brewery resides in Oregon or elsewhere. It's no small task. As Jeff Alworth says in his wrap-up, it's a challenge just getting into the GABF. There are something like 2,500 breweries competing for roughly 600 spots. Ye gods.
As I looked at the list of Oregon winners, the first thing I noticed is that Portland breweries are not well-represented. Of the 25 Oregon medals, Portland breweries picked up just six of them...roughly 25 percent. I was surprised by that, given we have more than 50 breweries in the city. It turns out I shouldn't have been.
data is out there all the way back to 1983.
Of the 95 GABF medals Oregon has brought home since 2009, 67 (70 percent, if you prefer) were won by breweries outside Portland. In actual fact, Portland breweries have done fairly well the last two years, winning six medals this year and eight in 2012. Before that, the best recent year was 2009...when Portland breweries won nine of Oregon's 22 medals. The bad years were 2011 (2) and 2010 (3).
It turns out five breweries have been fairly dominant over the course of the last five years: Barley Brown's (aka Baker City Brewing), Bend Brewing, Deschutes Brewing, Pelican Brewing and Rogue. Together, these five breweries have accounted for 56 (or 59 percent) of the 95 medals GABF medals won by Oregon breweries.
In case you're wondering, the top Portland brewery over the last five years, in terms of GABF medals, is Laurelwood with six. Widmer and Breakside both have four. Hopworks and The Commons, which added two this year, both have three.
What do these stats mean? Mostly they mean Oregon's rural brewers have dominated the GABF medal hunt in recent years. Why has this been the case? I have no idea. I was originally thinking about linking Portland's relative lack of success to the fact that style barriers have completely collapsed here. But that seems a bit of a stretch. There has to be more to it.
One final point with regard to Barley Brown's/Baker City Brewing. These guys won three golds, two silvers and a bronze this year. They were also named best Very Small Brewing Company and Very Small Brewing Company Brewer. Seeing them win medals in highly competitive categories (like American Style IPA) shouldn't really come as a surprise. Not if you look at their recent history. They're in a groove.