Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jola Szubielski 518-457-0752
Dave Bullard 315-487-7711 x 1377

September 29, 2015

State Agriculture Commissioner Congratulates New York Brewers Who Won Honors at The Great American Beer Festival

Long Island Craft Brewer Takes Two Gold Medals Among Awards Won by New York Firms

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today congratulated the New York State craft brewers and a homebrewer for the medals they earned at one of the nation's top beer competitions, the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado.  Awards were announced Saturday during the final day of the annual event.

One brewery earned a gold medal, the highest honor in the competition:  Great South Bay Brewery of Bay Shore for its maple bacon porter specialty beer, called “Hog Cabin.”

Great South Bay also earned a gold medal in the pro-am competition for its beer brewed from the recipe of American Homebrewing Association member Brian Giebel. Prison City Pub and Brewery of Auburn, Newburgh Brewing Co. of Newburgh, and Crossroads Brewing Co. of Athens each earned silver medals for their entries. 

Commissioner Ball said, “New York's craft brewers make some of the best tasting beers in the country and I congratulate our producers for their dedication to quality.  Our beer industry is growing rapidly as a result of Governor Cuomo’s commitment to cutting red tape and costs for these agri-businesses.  Now, people everywhere are learning what we already know—that the best beer comes from New York.”

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “New York State’s craft brewery industry continues to work hard, develop and expand, and it’s paying off. From positive economic impact, to a strong and growing workforce, the medals awarded to New York craft breweries are a true testament of the growing industry and its accomplishments. Congratulations to all those recognized.”

State Liquor Authority Chairman Vincent Bradley said, “By working hand in hand with the industry, Governor Cuomo has created a climate where New York’s beer producers have grown not only in numbers, but also in stature, creativity and excellence, as evidenced by medals brought home from the Great American Beer Festival.” 

According to festival officials, 1,552 breweries entered 6,647 beers in 92 categories. The number of entries was up 20 percent from 2014, with entries coming from every state and the District of Columbia. A total of 242 breweries earned either gold, silver, or bronze medals, and 750 breweries offered samples of their products in the festival's great hall. 

The gold medal was the third medal earned by Great South Bay Brewery, which won a bronze medal two years earlier for its pumpkin beer, named “Splashing Pumpkin.” “We're very excited and honored to be awarded these medals on a national level.  The changes the state has made in relation to craft brewing has helped us expand our business, create more jobs, and get our beers into the hands of more New Yorkers,” said Phil Ebel, Chief Operations Officer for Great South Bay Brewery.

Auburn's Prison City Pub and Brewery earned a silver medal, its first, for its Belgian-Style pale ale, named “Bleek Warden.”  It also garnered national attention in a report from Fortune Magazine, which noted that Prison City was frequently mentioned by festival attendees for its sour beers, a fast-growing category of craft beer.  “We’re in shock, overwhelmed, excited, and very proud to represent the state and upstate brewers with this award,” said Dawn Schulz, owner of Prison City.

This was also the first medal for Newburgh Brewing Co. for its “Cream Ale,” an English-style summer ale, but it's the beer maker’s second significant victory of the year.  The label for Cream Ale won a national beer label design competition run by the cable business news channel CNBC in April. Newburgh's beer pays homage to the cream ale, a style of beer first made in New York. "We were absolutely thrilled to be recognized on a national level by our peers in the craft beer industry for our Cream Ale. At a time when so many breweries throughout the country are making such fantastic beer, it's a truly special recognition. There has never been a better time to be a brewery in New York State. Through the efforts of Governor Cuomo, the legislature, and Cornell University, just to name a few, they are working tirelessly to ensure that breweries are able to open with as little red tape as possible, and also that the raw ingredients we need are produced within the state. Cheers to New York craft beer and all those behind the scenes who are helping to ensure its success,” said Paul Halayko of Newburgh Brewery.

The silver medal won by Crossroads Brewing Co. for its foreign-style “Black Road Stout” is the second for the brewery.  It earned a bronze medal in 2013 for its “Maggie's Farmhouse Ale.”  “Black Road Stout” also won a gold medal at the 2014 World Beer Cup.  Crossroads’ brew pub sources the majority of its food locally.  “Local beer and local food should go hand in hand and people are noticing our efforts,” said Janine Bennett of Crossroads Brewing Co.

Amateur brewer Brian Giebel holds a PhD in Chemistry and now a gold medal from the festival in the pro-am event, which pairs homebrewers with professional brewers who create commercial versions of the amateur’s recipe.  Giebel created a grape Tripel beer called “Muscat Love,” which Great South Bay Brewery produced for the festival entry.  His was the only entry from New York State in the pro-am category, and beat 90 other entries.

“The Great American Beer Festival is one of the most highly regarded competitions in the world when it comes to craft beer. Every year New York State has a very strong presence, and each year we seem to gain more ground when it comes to awards and recognition. We are so proud of this year’s winners, and of all of those breweries in New York State who work so hard every day to make great beer,” said Paul Leone, Executive Director, New York State Brewers Association.

“Hog Cabin,” “Muscat Love,” and  “Cream Ale” are all sold at the Taste NY store at Grand Central Station in New York.  New York beers have won 145 medals since the festival competition began in 1982.  

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s regulatory reforms created rapid growth in the state’s craft beverage industry by removing antiquated rules, cutting costs, and investing in significant promotional efforts through the Taste NY program, helping producers develop innovative new products, grow their businesses and create jobs.

As a result of changes that began with the Governor’s 2012 Wine and Beer Summit, the number of microbrewery licenses has tripled since the start of the Governor’s administration and the number of restaurant brewery licenses has quadrupled.  Governor Cuomo’s Farm Brewery legislation created an entirely new segment of the industry, resulting in more than 100 licenses for farm breweries and farm brewery branches.

2015 Press Releases