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San Diego County brewers are used to successful outings at the country's largest, most-respected brewing competition, the Great American Beer Festival. Held annually in Denver, the combination festival and competition draws thousands of beer fans as well as brewing company head honchos eager to ascend the stairs to the award stage to receive medals for best brews in 90-plus beer style categories.

Winners were announced earlier today and San Diego County interests brought home medals in the following categories.

  • American-Belgo-Style Ale - Green Flash Brewing Company, Le Freak (Bronze)
  • American-Style Pale Ale - Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, Grunion (Gold)
  • Barley Wine-Style Ale - AleSmith Brewing Company, Old Numbskull (Gold)
  • Belgian-Style Tripel - Pizza Port Ocean Beach, La Flama Dorada (Bronze)
  • Belgian-Style Witbier - Saint Archer Brewery, White Ale (Gold)
  • Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout - Bagby Beer Co., Asphalt Jungle (Bronze)
  • Imperial India Pale Ale - Port Brewing Company, Hop 15 (Silver)
  • Imperial Red Ale - Port Brewing Company, Shark Attack (Bronze)
  • International Style Pale Ale - Societe Brewing Company, The Pupil (Bronze)
  • Irish-Style Red Ale - Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, Piper Down (Silver)
  • Other Belgian-Style Ale - Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens - Liberty Station, Witty Moron (Gold)
  • Session Beers - Benchmark Brewing Company, Oatmeal Stout (Gold), Pizza Port Ocean Beach, Guillame (Silver), Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Mosaic Session Ale (Bronze)

This year, brewing companies were only allowed five entries total. In the past, the maximum number of entries per organization was 10, so competition was fiercer. Also, companies' approach to the competition was much more strategic.

Even before judging for the main competition had been completed, two local breweries won big awards in the largest side contests coinciding with GABF. Vista's Belching Beaver Brewery took first place in the prestigious Alpha King challenge, an IBU-focused event crowning the highest quality, mega-hopped India pale ale (IPA) in the country. That distinction goes to Belching Beaver Pound Town Triple IPA.

A prize even better than a GABF medal went to small but formidable ChuckAlek Independent Brewers, who applied for and were awarded a $10,000 small business loan as part of Boston Beer Co.'s Brewing the American Dream program. That money will be put toward expansion of their Ramona-based business. Now, that's some serious gold!

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