With the festivities at the annual Great American Beer Festival wrapped up until next year, it’s time to take stock of what happened for the local brewing community in San Diego. While America’s Finest City generally makes a solid double-digit showing in the competition, the haul for the last three years had shown a downward trend with 14 medals in 2014 and 2013, and 15 in 2012. When the dust settled from the 2015 awards ceremony on Saturday, the county’s brewers bounced back in a big way with a prodigious 19 medals and a win in the brewery of the year category.
This year, the 242 judges had their work cut out for them as they evaluated 6.647 entries from 1,552 different breweries in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. California fared especially well, bringing in 67 total medals and four out of the seven winners for brewery of the year. The next closest state in the medal count was Colorado with 36 and Oregon with 19. Yes, if you’re keeping score at home, San Diego County scored just as many wins as an entire state that generally has a reputation for great beer. For a complete list of winners, you can click here.
The biggest winner of the weekend was unquestionably Rip Current Brewing Company out of San Marcos. Not only did the company founded by Paul Sangster and Guy Shobe score a gold medal for Break Line Bock and a silver for Black Lagoon Scottish Strong, but they also won Brewery and Brewer of the year in the “very small” category.
Of all of the wins in the individual style categories, none was more impressive than the gold medal won by Santee’s BNS Brewing & Spirits for Revolver India Pale Ale (IPA). The competition for American-Style IPA has been the fiercest at every festival since 2002, and 2015 featured 336 entries, which accounted for 5 percent of all entries. San Diego took home awards in a few other hotly-contested races including a bronze in Imperial IPA (208 entries) for Teahupo’o by Oceanside’s Breakwater Brewing Company, and a gold in Session IPA (161 submissions) for The Coachman by Societe Brewing Company.
Coffee beer was particularly friendly for San Diego’s breweries, as two out of the three medals went to local outfits. New English took top honors for Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout, and Pizza Port, Ocean Beach won a bronze for Bacon & Eggs Porter. Speaking of the chain of pizzeria brewpubs, the company as a whole won 5 bronzes with each county location notching at least one victory (Ocean Beach also won a bronze for Guillaume session beer, Bressi Ranch for Shark Bite Red, Carlsbad for Z-Man Stout and Solana Beach for GRAMBO Red Ale).
Additional gold medals for San Diego breweries went to Lost Abbey for Veritas 015 (Wood & Barrel-Aged Sour) and Green Flash for Le Freak (American Belgo-Style Ale). South Park Brewing Company took silver for Scripps Pier Stout (Oatmeal Stout), while Karl Strauss scored bronzes for San Diego-Style IPA (International-Style Pale Ale) and Windansea Wheat (South German-Style Hefeweizen). Single bronze medals went to URBN in the French and Belgian-Style Saison category, Ballast Point for Ballast Point Pale Ale with Serrano and Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station for Witty Moron (Other Belgian-Style Ale).