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16 Medals and a Top Honor for San Diego Craft Beer

Local brewers take an impressive haul from the 2018 Great American Beer Festival


More than 62,000 people attended this year's Great American Beer Festival in Denver. | Photo © Brewers Association

Every year, America’s largest and most prestigious beer competition takes over the city of Denver for a weekend. This September 20–22, the 37th Great American Beer Festival hosted many of our local brewers and brewery owners, who made a pilgrimage to the Mile High City to take part in the festivities.

The 2018 GABF was nothing short of massive: It hosted over 62,000 attendees who had access to more than 4,000 beers in the festival hall and special exhibit/event areas (officials say it’s the nation’s largest quantity of beer served from a single location).  More than 8,800 beers from 2,400 breweries were entered for judging, which made 2018 the largest competition in GABF history.

Run by the Brewers Association, the festival has always been a favorite of San Diego brewers, partly because they have collectively won over 230 medals since the competition began. This year, local brewers claimed 16 medals—five gold, six silver, and five bronze—in addition to Ocean Beach Brewery winning Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year, which is one of the event’s top honors. Considering that San Diego’s medal count last year was 15, when the competition was smaller, this year’s results are plenty to smile about.

Judges evaluated more than 8,800 beers in 102 categories at this year's festival. | Photo © Brewers Association

Particularly notable about our medal winners this year is how many of them are small or medium-small breweries. Of the 16, only Karl Strauss qualifies as a large enterprise; silver winners Pizza Port and Port Brewing are on the larger side of medium, but the remaining winners operate in remarkably modest facilities.  It’s great to see our small breweries making a big name for themselves outside the San Diego orbit.

Here’s the breakdown by medal category of which breweries won 2018 medals. Special kudos go to Karl Strauss for scoring medals in each of the last three consecutive GABFs (not to mention many medals before that).


San Diego Winners and Categories



Breakwater Brewery: Rye Dawn (Rye Beer)
Eppig Brewing: Natural Bridge Vienna Lager (Session Beer)
Karl Strauss Brewing Company: Liquid A/C (English-Style Summer Ale)
Ocean Beach Brewery: B.Right On Pale Ale (American-Style Pale Ale)
Societe Brewing: The Coachman (Session IPA)



Burgeon Beer: Noble Miner (Session Beer)
Duck Foot Brewing: Redrum (Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer)
Groundswell Brewing: Piloncillo Brown Ale (American-Style Brown Ale)
Pizza Port Solana Beach Brewpub: Oats (Oatmeal Stout)
Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey: Duck Duck Gooze (Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer)
Rip Current Brewing: Delaminator Doppelbock (German-Style Doppelbock or Eisbock)



BNS Brewing & Distilling Co.: Rail Gun Wee Heavy (Old Ale or Strong Ale)
Groundswell Brewing Company: Know Ego (Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout)
Home Brewing Co.: Zungen Brecher (Historical Beer)
Kilowatt Brewing: Chocolate Macadamia Nut Stout (Chocolate Beer)
North Park Beer Co.: Bird Park (Bohemian-Style Pilsner)


All in all, the GABF awarded 306 medals to 280 different breweries for beers judged in 102 categories. The newest category—added this year—also had the most entries: Juicy or Hazy IPA, with a whopping 391 contestants. American-style IPA (traditionally the largest category) was a close second with 311.

If you’d like more reasons to cheer your team(s), San Diegans can also be proud of California’s overall showing in the competition. The total medal count for California was 71 (14 more than last year), which was also more than Colorado (29) and Oregon (22) combined. The sleeper surprise this year was Ohio, which claimed 14 medals overall; so put Cleveland and Cincinnati on your next non-Cali beer itinerary!

More than 4,000 different beers were served in the exhibit hall, making the GABF our nation's largest single venue for beer service. | Photo © Brewers Association

Like in all years past, the 2018 Great American Beer Festival gave San Diego brewers another chance to prove that our brewing community is not only super talented and super dedicated, they’re also super consistent in their ability to stand out among their peers. As locals, we’re already proud of our brewers for the work they do, the beer they make, and the ways they enrich our city, but it’s also nice—once a year—to have an impressive bunch of medals to add to the walls of our tasting rooms. Cheers to our brewers!

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