Indiana Becomes Belgium West+ in Best Of Craft Beer Awards

Indiana Becomes Belgium West+ in Best Of Craft Beer Awards

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

(update 02/12/20: Indiana did even better when considering how many breweries entered. Of the dozen Indiana breweries that submitted beers for judging, 11 won medals, an astonishing 92%!)

Over the weekend of Feb. 7-9, beer judges convened in Oregon to do the business of the Best of Craft Beer Awards, 2020. From the results, it seems they like Indiana beer quite a bit, especially certain styles of beer from Indiana. Over 2237 entries from 375 breweries were assessed by judges’ consensus for the awarding of 285 medals. Yes – it’s a big competition.

We could talk again about how Indiana does well in competitions – all competitions, but you’ve heard that from us enough times to know it’s true. Or maybe you don’t believe us. I could wax philosophic about how there are different ways to assess a state’s performance, or how we consistently out kick our coverage because we have so many fewer breweries than other states.

image credit: Best of Craft Beer Awards

I could analogize that Indiana basketball is so much better than other places because we have the best coaches. They train the next generation of coaches, just like we have some of the best brewer trees that bring up the best new brewers. No wonder we beat the tar out of Kentucky every year in the high school All Star game, just like how we torch other states in craft beer competitions……. But I don’t need to go there. Let’s just show the numbers and let you decide.

Indiana took home 19 medals for 11 breweries at the 2020 Best of Craft beer Awards:


Sun King Brewing from Indianapolis:

Bronze medal for The Flannel Mist in Belgian Dark Strong Ale or Quad

Silver medal for Manhattan Fog in Experimmental Beer

Silver medal for The Great Rhubarbarian! In Field Beer

Gold medal for Panchanga in International Pilsener


The Tap Brewery from Bloomington:

Bronze medal for Hearth & Home in Strong Ale/Old Ale

Silver medal for Kill The Lights in British-Style Imperial Stout

Bronze medal for Nefarious Nectar in Belgian Style Pale Strong


image credit: Flix Brewhouse

Flix Brewhouse from Carmel:

Bronze medal for Belgian Style Witbier in Belgian style Witbier

Bronze medal for Skrull Crusher in Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy


Four Day Ray Brewing from Fishers:

Silver medal for My Pleasure in Southern German Style Hefeweizen

Silver medal for Monk’s Tears in Belgian Style Dark Strong Ale or Quad


Metazoa Brewing from Indianapolis:

Bronze medal for Dalmatian in Belgian Style Dubbel

Silver medal for Speedy, the Three Legged Cat in Belgian Style Tripel


Upland Brewing in Bloomington:

Bronze medal for Raspberry in American Style Fruited Sour


image credit: Bier Brewery

Bier Brewery in Indianapolis:

Gold medal for Pumpkin Ale in Pumpkin Spice or Pumpkin/Squash Beer


Taxman Brewing from Bargersville:

Gold medal for Deduction in Belgian Style Dubbel


Backstep Brewing in Crawfordsville:

Silver medal for Prickly Pear Gose in Contemporary Style Gose


Evil Czech Brewery & Public House in Mishawaka:

Silver medal for White Reaper in American-Belgo-Style Ale or Table Beer


Grand Junction Brewing in Westfield:

Gold medal for Squirrel Stampede in English Style Dark Mild or Brown


That’s 19 medals for Indiana – 4 Gold, 8 Silver, and 7 Bronze. Only Oregon (70), California (40), and Washington (40) won more medals. This is a bit misleading because the competition is in Oregon, and they contest is promoted heavily in that part of the country. It happens with other competitions too; Montana and Idaho do amazingly well in the North American Brewers Association competition in Idaho, and Colorado does better at GABF than at other national contests.

There are many ways to parse out what things mean using math. I have to keep it simple. image credit:

The key, not surprisingly, is how many beers get entered. Closer contest? You’re likely to send more beer. Therefore, we look at the number of medals won as compared to the number of beers entered.

Indiana breweries entered 88 beers, whereas California (227), Washington (307), and Oregon (486) entered many, many more. By medals:entries ratio, Indiana won a beer for every 4.6 beers entered. Next best was California at 1 medal for every 5.7 beers entered, followed by Oregon at a medal for every 6.9 entries, and then Washington with one medal for every 7.7 beers entered. In short, nearly 25% of Indiana entries won a medal (CA managed only 17%). Thanks to Ryan Sharp of Original Gravity Events for helping me get the entry, medal, and total brewery numbers.

True, other states might have had a comparable ratio to Indiana, but only one other state even hit double figures in medals, so I saved myself the math and just did the top five states. New Mexico did a great job, winning a dozen medals on 56 entries (one medal for every 4.7 entries, just behind Indiana at 4.6). But keep in mind, a quarter of those were won by Will Moorman at Flix Brewhouse- Albuquerque, a Hoosier brewer trained by other Indiana brewers. I really think we should be able to count those medals in both New Mexico’s and Indiana’s columns.

OK, we’ve proven it again – Indiana makes great beer, and some of those beers are recognized in competition after competition. But now for the second trend in Indiana craft beer domination – Belgian beers. From the World Beer Competition a while back where Blind Owl Brewery in Indianapolis beat out the Belgians for medals, to Taxman Brewing that wins medals for Belgians all the time – there is something about making Belgian beers in Indiana that just works – Belgium West.

For the Best of Craft Beer Awards, Indiana won eight medals in the Belgian categories, taking both silver and bronze for the Belgian Quad category and gold and bronze in the Belgian Dubbel group. That’s domination. Is it the water? Probably not. Is it the yeast? Nope, pretty much everyone can get the same yeasts. It’s evidently training, talent, hard work, and amazing attention to detail. But it does make me think; perhaps Indiana brewers have better palates and can therefore hone their beers in better? That would be hard to prove – unless maybe more Indiana brewers have passed standardized tests for such things (BJCP or Cicerone, etc). I’ll have to investigate that in more depth.

The + in the title of this piece is indicative that Indiana doesn’t win just for Belgian beers, medals from across all style of beer find their way to Indiana. Nevertheless, congratulations to all the entered beers and breweries from across the country; it takes guts to put your beer out their to be judged. And congratulations to all the beers and breweries that won medals. Show your support for all Indiana breweries, they’re one unified community that discusses and works together. A win by one Indiana beer is a win for all Indiana craft beer.

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