The whole world knows San Diego is home to some of the best professional brewers on the planet. Before they took charge over big ol' brewhouses, those sudsy studs manned stovetop stock pots in their humble kitchens. This base level brand of brewing was celebrated with the grandeur it deserves at the American Homebrewers Association's 33rd annual National Homebrewers Conference, which was held right here in America's Finest City this week and culminated last night with a banquet at which winners of the most coveted homebrewing awards in the country were announced.
Call it a homefield advantage or the fact that beer is the nourishing life-giving fluid used to water that field, but once again, SD proved its supremacy as a region behind talented homebrewers who know their stuff. Local brewers took home gold, silver or bronze (mostly the former and most precious of those metals/medals) in seven out of 28 total beer style categories. That's a staggering 25% for those of you who aren't big fans of math or simply can't do it after an ale or two, and even more impressive when one considers there were THOUSANDS of total entries from all 50 states.
Here's a breakdown of all the individual style category winners from SD (plus an adopted winner from the nearby Temecula area):
Bock Category Gold - Paul Sangster (Carlsbad), Eisbock
Amber Hybrid Beer Category Gold - Kent Shultz (San Diego), Dusseldorf Altbier
English Pale Ale Category Silver - Paul Sangster (Carlsbad), Special/Best/Premium Bitter
American Ale Category Bronze - Richard Solis (Sun City), American Pale Ale
Stout Category Bronze - Paul Gagnon (Santee), American Stout
Strong Ale Category - Michael Habrat, Chris Bartik, Brett Goldstock & Suzy Pessutti (San Diego), American Barleywine
Smoke-Flavored & Wood-Aged Beer Category Silver - Kelsey McNair (San Diego), Wood-Aged Beer Bronze - Sean Gardinier (San Diego), Wood-Aged Beer
With the exception of the lone Riversidian, all of the winners noted above are members of QUAFF, the San Diego-based Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity. This group was named best homebrewing club in the nation four years in a row over the past decade. While they didn't nab that prestigious title this year, their winningest member, Paul Sangster, took home the Ninkasi Award which is awarded to the homebrewer who scores the most total points in the second judging round of the NHC.
Just like the sunny days attendees of the sold-out NHC got to enjoy during the conference, the beers submited by our amateur brewers made for an awesome showing on behalf of San Diego. Prost!