Winning Beers of Northern California

These Bay Area and nearby brewers are having one damned fine day today. They just won a medal at the prestigious blind-judged Great American Beer Festival.

The big local winner for 2022 was Ghost Town Brewing Company of Oakland, California. Members of the team were on site at the awards ceremony in Denver where they picked up two gold medals, both in categories with over 100 entries, plus a silver medal. Ultimately were honored as the 2022 Brewery of the Year in the 5,001-15,000 barrels (annual production totals) category. Big congrats to the hoppy artists at Ghost Town!

[One of multiple trips to the stage for Ghost Town, Photo © Brewers Association]

Here’s the list for Northern California. When one of these breweries garnered more than one medal, they are *starred. Bolded breweries are relatively close to BART stations in around the Bay. There are some delightful surprises and some notable repeats on this roster. Visit away!

Chocolate Beer – 48 Entries
Bronze: Thiccccest Nibs, Moksa Brewing Co., Rocklin, CA

Rye Beers – 48 Entries
Bronze: The Old Man and Death, Mad Fritz, Saint Helena, CA

Session India Pale Ale – 89 Entries
Gold: The Next Chapter, Original Pattern Brewing Co., Oakland, CA

Historical Beer – 59 Entries
Silver: Vitkus #3, Donner Creek Brewing Co., Truckee, CA

Gluten-Free Beer – 49 Entries
Gold: Alpenglow Hazy IPA, Buck Wild Brewing, Oakland, CA

Mixed-Culture Brett Beer – 61 Entries
Gold: Farmer’s Reserve Plum, Almanac Beer Co., Alameda, CA

Fruited Barrel-Aged Sour Beer – 93 Entries
Silver: Intinction – Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, CA

International-Style Pilsener – 123 Entries
Bronze: Holy Ghost, Laughing Monk Brewing, San Francisco, CA

American Cream Ale – 115 Entries
Gold: 1970s Lager, Faction Brewing, Alameda, CA *

[Accepting Gold, one of 2 for Faction, Photo © Brewers Association]

India Pale Lager – 52 Entries
Silver: Cave Dweller, Ghost Town Brewing, Oakland, CA *

Bohemian-Style Pilsener – 186 Entries
Gold: The People’s Pilsner, Sudwerk Brewing Co., Davis, CA

Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest – 154 Entries
Bronze: Metalmark Marzen, Morgan Territory Brewing, Tracy, CA *

German Dark Lager – 146 Entries
Silver: East Bay Nights Black Lager, Oakland United Beerworks,
Oakland, CA

Bock – 55 Entries
Bronze: Big Bock Energy, Morgan Territory Brewing, Tracy, CA *

International-Style Pale Ale – 136 Entries
Bronze: Pale 586, Faction Brewing, Alameda, CA *

American-Style Strong Pale Ale – 145 Entries
Gold: Mordant, Ghost Town Brewing, Oakland, CA *

Juicy or Hazy Strong Pale Ale – 153 Entries
Gold: Neon Lites, Slice Beer Co., Lincoln, CA
Bronze: Green New Zeal, Armistice Brewing Co., Richmond, CA

Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale – 375 Entries
Gold: Anhyzer Kush, Flatland Brewing Co., Elk Grove, CA

Imperial India Pale Ale – 156 Entries
Gold: Nose Goblin, Ghost Town Brewing, Oakland, CA *

Strong Red Ale – 54 Entries
Silver: Local Shred Red, Alvarado Street Brewery & Grill, Monterey, CA

Classic Saison – 81 Entries
Gold: Wee Nibble, Moonlight Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, CA

Robust Porter – 73 Entries
Gold: Powell Street Porter, Bartlett Hall, San Francisco, CA

Stout – 69 Entries
Gold: Blarney Sisters Dry Irish Stout, Third Street Aleworks,
Santa Rosa, CA

[Third Street Aleworks picks up a gold, Photo © Brewers Association]

Sweet Stout or Cream Stout – 44 Entries
Bronze: Volcano Mudslide, Feather Falls Brewing Co., Oroville, CA

Old Ale or Strong Ale or Barley Wine – 70 Entries
Silver: Granny’s Tipple, Danville Brewing Co., Danville, CA

[Danville brewers accepting Silver, Photo © Brewers Association]

A casual glance at the list reveals some beers that have won before at either this competition or at the World Beer Cup. Repeating is an ever tougher feat. Blarney Sisters Dry Irish Stout from Third Street Aleworks, Big Bock Energy from Morgan Territory, Powell Street Porter from Bartlett Hall, and Ghost Town’s Nose Goblin Double IPA are a few examples of multiyear winners we know and love.

And since we included breweries in the High Sierra and the Central Valley above, what about the Central Coast? Sure, it’s a little farther afield, and you see more Dodger hats in the San Luis Obispo region, but several beers from great breweries in the area were honored and it’s another good weekend beercation destination. One exciting small brewery of note from that stretch of California is Wild Fields Brewhouse, of Atascadero, awarded 501–1,000 Barrels Brewery and Brewer of the Year after collecting three golds for Scottish style ale, American style Brown ale and English style Brown ale.

If you’re heading to another state, or down to Southern California, looking up winners on the GABF site is an fun way to find promising new breweries and to be reminded of the classic winning brewers from other regions.

Congrats to everybody who commits the time, cost and care to get fresh beer to the festival in top shape for tasting. The competition is famously tough, and in some of those categories, where judge teams tasted and evaluated hundreds of good examples, many dozens of worthy beers are set aside while searching for just three to honor with awards.

[A tense crowd… This year’s big audience laugh for a beer name, as heard on the streaming feed, was for Anhyzer Kush – which also turned out to be a Northern California winner, made at Flatland in Elk Grove. Photo © Brewers Association]

Explore Beer By BART: Use our acclaimed destination list of some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s best beer places and their related transit info, so you can get out there to enjoy without driving.

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