There were no long beer lines snaking through the Colorado Convention Center this year, no pretzel necklaces nor silent discos, but even though the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) was canceled for in-person attendees, the awards did go on. The winners were livestreamed on Friday, October 16, and 23 Colorado breweries took home 26 medals—including eight gold ones—across multiple categories.

“I’m always proud of how Colorado breweries do at GABF,” says Shawnee Adelson, executive director of the Colorado Brewers Guild. “We were awarded the second-most awards of any state, only behind California, which has more than double the number of breweries.”

More than 8,800 beers from 1,720 breweries across America joined the annual competition, considered to be the top awards in the beer industry. If the numbers sound a little bleaker than those in 2019 (when 35 local breweries took home 40 awards), that could be because fewer categories were awarded this year, and, with the pandemic, fewer breweries may have entered. “Although we have seen breweries successfully modify their business models, 2020 has seen the highest number of breweries close,” Adelson says.

While many of Colorado’s familiar breweries medaled—New Belgium collected its 34th award—lesser-known makers got props, too, with Littleton’s Living the Dream Brewing and Denver’s Seedstock Brewery each winning their first awards.

Given the virtual ceremony, brewers received the good news of their awards very differently than in years past. “As I was driving home from work, I was streaming the awards ceremony in my car,” says Ryan Wibby, president and brewmaster of Longmont’s Wibby Brewing, which took gold for its Volksbier Vienna. “I live in the mountains, so I lost connection a mile away from my house. When I arrived home, my phone reconnected to WiFi and started blowing up. My wife ran to me screaming. I had realized that we won an award, but I was overjoyed when I found out it was a gold medal.”

Wibby says that while he appreciated being able to win from the comfort of his couch—or car—he looks forward to the next in-person GABF. “The in-person festival is much more enjoyable,” he says. “One of the best parts of working at a Colorado brewery is that the entire industry comes to visit once a year and we all get to share our tasty beers with each other. GABF is a brewer camaraderie accelerator.”

Below, find a complete list of Colorado’s medaling breweries and beers from the 2020 GABF:

Allyson Reedy
Allyson Reedy
Allyson Reedy is a freelance writer and ice cream fanatic living in Broomfield.