Great American Beer Festival Fantasy Draft: The Wagon’s team


Logo:’s second annual Great American Beer Festival (GABF) Fantasy Draft occurred this past weekend and Denver off the Wagon was there to challenge other beer journalists of both local and national acclaim.  Here’s a breakdown of the competition.

The Participants & Draft Order

1. Mike Snider – USA Today

2. Mark Slattery – Denver Beer Guy

3. Chelsea Mitchell – Drink and Spoon

4. Erika Rietz – Draft Magazine

5. Chris Bruns – Denver off the Wagon

6. The Ladies – Bitch Beer

7. Tom Rotunno – CNBC

8. Eric Gorski – The Denver Post

9. Ed Sealover – The Denver Business Journal

10. Jonathan Shikes – Westword

11. Mark and Patti Robinson – Brewtally Insane

12. Tristan Chan –

The draft was conducted in a “snake-style” in which the last person to pick in Round 1 was the first to pick in Round 2, the last to pick in Round 2 was first in Round 3…etc.  That is to say, the order “snaked” back and forth.  There were a total of 10 rounds.


Gold: 5 points

Silver: 3 points

Bronze: 1 point

Additionally, 20 points are awarded for “Brewing Company and Brewing Company Brewer of the Year” regardless of which size category it’s filed under and 15 points for “Brewpub and Brewpub Brewer of the Year” where, again, size is irrelevant.

Photo: © Brewers Association

Photo: © Brewers Association

The Prize

Besides pride and trash-talking privileges, the winner receives a bomber bottle from all the losers.

Denver off the Wagon’s Team

1. Pizza Port Brewing Company

2. Chuckanut Brewery & Kitchen

3. Deschutes Brewery

4. Snake River Brewing

5. The Lost Abbey

6. Rogue Ales

7. SweetWater Brewing Company

8. The Fort Collins Brewery

9. Steamworks Brewing Co.

10. La Cumbre Brewing Company

Using a brewery ranking system of my own design, I managed to acquire two of my top 10 prospects and five of my top 20.  I ranked 68 breweries but only went as low as 43.  However, I have three of my players flagged as mild risks because, although they have long résumés of GABF wins, for whatever reason, they were completely shut-out last year—no medals whatsoever.  My fingers are crossed that they’ll get back on track in 2014.

In the end, it's people like this guy who'll ultimately decide the winner of the draft. Photo: © Brewers Association

In the end, it’s people like this guy who’ll ultimately decide the winner of the draft. Photo: © Brewers Association

Geography of the Team

California: 2 players

Colorado: 2 players

Oregon: 2 players

Georgia: 1 player

New Mexico: 1 player

Washington: 1 player

Wyoming: 1 player

I have an obvious affinity for western breweries; except for the outlying SweetWater, all my players are left of the Mississippi.  Then again, SweetWater was founded by a couple of CU-Boulder grads so even they possess a spark of the Wild West.  I’m happy to report the majority of my team hails from the three regions generally considered the epicenters of American craft beer: Colorado, Oregon, and Southern California.

It seems odd that, as a proud Colorado beer geek, my entire team isn’t comprised of Centennial State breweries.  If it were up to me—if I drafted nothing but my top 10—I’d have four Colorado breweries in my line-up.  But, that’s not how the draft works.  I had to wait my turn as other drafters snatched up my prime candidates.  When my turn came around, I chose from what was available and the best of what’s left isn’t always a local favorite.  In matters of competition, I listen to my head, not my heart; I drafted based on what the judges like, not what I like.

What do you think?  Does Denver off the Wagon have a chance at the championship?  Or are we playing with a bunch of Jacksonville Jaguars?  We’ll see how we stack up when the scores are tallied on October 4th.

The entire draft board. Chart:

The entire draft board. Click to enlarge. Chart:

About Chris Bruns

Chris Bruns is a self-professed beer geek living in Denver. Chris spends much of his time brewing beer at home with friends and family, attempting to visit every brewery in Colorado, attending special beer events and festivals, purchasing and assessing the latest releases from local breweries, and blogging about his adventures in the world of craft beer. He is also the Denver Craft Beer Examiner on Contact Chris by e-mail at or through his blog at