If a beer lover can make it to Denver, Colorado, the annual Great American Beer Festival tops the beer festival bucket list. For breweries across the country, it’s a chance to show their craft beer chops by racking up gold, silver or bronze medals from the country’s best beer judges. Recently, 72 California beers took the prize, including a number of notable and not-too-far-away Northern California breweries that felt the malted glory.

The festival invites brewers and industry professionals to judge beer in blind taste tests for each style and category over a three-day period. Awards acknowledge brewing excellence in each specified style. These medals are a badge of craft beer honor for brewers near and far. Thank Samuel Adams Brewing to for GABF’s anonymous judging panel, after the brewery famously won “Best Beer in America” in the consumer choice awards at the 1985 event, and then subsequently won America’s vote with sales reps providing free Samuel Adams merchandise and tickets to curry favor among beer fest tasters.

We always try to track down local brewers who have made it to the tops in certain categories, whether we can visit the brewery or find them in local bottle shops. Last year’s gold winner, Dustbowl’s (Turlock) Public Enemy Baltic Porter still ranks as one of our favorite winter finds (though sadly we didn’t see it on the 2018 awards list).

While Petaluma didn’t have any big winners, Northern California is the proud home to many festival winners, including Russian River Brewing (Santa Rosa) which took silver for its STS Pils lager. Most of these beers are seasonal, so look for these winners at the brewery or in the bottle in the coming months:

Gold medalists

Alaro Craft Brewery (Sacramento): Castillo IPA, English-style IPA

FiftyFifty Brewing (Truckee): Bananenhängematte, German-style Wheat ale

Alvarado Street Brewery & Grill (Monterey): Mai Tai P.A., international-style pale ale

Drake’s Brewing (San Leandro): Santa’s Brass, wood-and-barrel-aged strong beer

Silver medalists

Sudwerk Brewing (Davis): Märzen, American-style amber lager

New Helvetia Brewing (Sacramento): Mystery Airship 4.0 Temple Cascara Golden Ale, coffee beer

Hermitage Brewing (San Jose): Sour Cherry Sour, fruited wood-and-barrel-aged sour beer

Santa Clara Valley Brewing (San Jose): Alviso Mills Hefeweizen, German-style wheat ale

Moonraker Brewing (Auburn): Northern Lights, imperial India pale ale

Russian River Brewing (Santa Rosa): STS Pils, kellerbier

State Room Brewery (San Rafael): Awesome Beer Rice Lager, light lager

Original Pattern Brewing (Oakland): Call of the Void, other Belgian-style ale

Three Mile Brewing (Davis): Little Downtown Tom, session India pale ale

Bronze medalists

21st Amendment Brewery (San Leandro): El Sully, American-style cream ale

Peter B’s Brewpub (Monterey): Tropic Maelstrom, American-style fruit beer

Morgan Territory Brewing (Tracy): Shut Up & Adore Me, export stout

Corralitos Brewing (Watsonville): Zone AG Golden Raspberry, fruit wood-or-barrel-aged sour beer

Crooked Lane Brewing (Auburn): Veedels Bräu, German-style kolsch

Faction Brewing (Alameda): The Penske File, International-style pale ale

Alvarado Street Brewery (Salinas): Contains No Juice, juicy or hazy imperial or double IPA

Standard Deviant Brewing (San Francisco): Hefeweizen, South German-style hefeweizen

FiftyFifty Brewing (Truckee): I Did It All for the Cookie, specialty beer

FiftyFifty Brewing (Truckee): Eclipse, wood-and-barrel-aged strong stout