David Walker’s Advice for New GABF Medalists

Credit to John Holzer of Four Brewers

With everyone beginning to recover from the Great American Beer Festival 2015 and all the medals handed out for first timers, we reached out to David Walker, co-founder of Firestone Walker Brewing Company, a company that knows quite a bit about winning GABF medals, for advice.

Firestone Walker’s first was its Pale 31 and they were caught completely off guard. “GABF was the national competition and our beers were just locally distributed,” said Walker.

A lot of younger breweries may be looking to get a lot more foot traffic with the honors, but Walker said it never really worked that way for them. “We picked up some local press, but the medal didn’t bring us any spike in sales, like one might expect with a high scored wine,” he said. “They became part of our story as a brewery and confirmed what we were doing was appreciated by our peers. This helped us resolve to keep doing what we were doing; making classic styles as best we could, and keeping them as fresh for the drinker as possible.”

Even a Firestone Walker received more and more medals and awards, eventually earning Four Time GABF and World Beer Cup Brewer Status. “…it evolved into one of our descriptors,” said Walker. “This helped when we met with wholesalers and retailers, but was ultimately of little benefit to our consumer pull; we had to earn that like everyone else.”

In the end it was all hard for Walker to measure in terms of consumerism, but it did have its place. “I do know that it has had a profound impact on our internal pride and morale, which is essential to a healthy brewery,” he said.

For all the new breweries with medals, “Put it on the wall and get back brewing beautiful beer, because you’ll want another one next year,” Walker put simply.


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