Whenever you hear breweries saying they have the number-one IPA in the country or referring to themselves as the Small U.S. Brewing Company of the Year, they’re referring to awards won at the Great American Beer Festival.
Celebrating its 30th year, the GABF is held each year in Denver and includes the largest, most definitive beer competition in America. This year’s hop and malt showdown featured 3930 beers from 526 breweries in over 83 categories (including new additions such as Fruit Wheat Beer, Chocolate Beer, and American-style Ales brewed with Brettanomyces). It took 167 judges from nine countries to judge all that fine handcrafted beer.
San Diego breweries have always fared well at this competition. In the past five years, AleSmith and Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey have been named Best Small Brewing Company, while Pizza Port Carlsbad has taken similar honors in the Brewpub category. On the individual beer front, San Diego brewers have collected more than most individual states.
With the number of entries going up in tandem with the number of craft breweries in the U.S. (currently, there are 1740 American craft breweries in operation with an astounding 700-plus in development), the competition gets stiffer each GABF, but once again, S.D.’s innovative suds craftsmen (and women) made their mark on the industry, bringing home 20 total awards.
No one cleaned up the way local chain Pizza Port did, with their Carlsbad, Ocean Beach, and Solana Beach brewpubs all medaling for a total of 12 medals (plus one from their San Clemente store, one from their Port Brewing commercial brewery arm, and another from the continental venture, The Lost Abbey). Pizza Port Carlsbad repeated as Large Brewpub of the Year and Pizza Port Ocean beach won as Small Brewpub of the Year.
The following is a breakdown collected straight from the awards ceremony. Get out to visit your favorite of the local champions to congratulate them over a pint of award-winning beer!
Large Brewpub of the Year: Pizza Port, Carlsbad
Small Brewpub of the Year: Pizza Port, Ocean Beach
American-Style Brown Ale: Great American Brown, Pizza Port, Carlsbad (Gold)
American-Style Stout: Jules Winnfield, Pizza Port, Solana Beach (Gold) Achievement Beyond Life’s Experiences American Stout, Pizza Port, Ocean Beach (Silver)
English-Style Mild Ale: Skidmark Brown Ale, Pizza Port, Ocean Beach (Gold) Dawn Patrol Dark, Pizza Port, Solana Beach (Silver)
English-Style Brown Ale: Good Grief Brown, Pizza Port, Carlsbad (Gold) Rock Bottom Brown Ale, Rock Bottom, San Diego (Silver)
Imperial Red Ale: 547 Haight, the Toronado San Francisco 20th Anniversary Imperial Red Ale, Pizza Port, Carlsbad (Gold) Rhino Chaser Imperial Re Ale, Pizza Port, Ocean Beach (Silver)
Robust Porter: Moonlight Porter, Rock Bottom, La Jolla (Gold) Pier Rat Porter, Pizza Port, San Clemente (Bronze)
American-Style Sour Ale: Framboise de Amorosa, The Lost Abbey, San Marcos (Silver)
American-Style Strong Pale Ale (103 total entries): AleSmith IPA, AleSmith, San Diego, CA (Silver)
Barley Wine-Style Ale: AleSmith Old Numbskull, AleSmith, San Diego (Silver)
Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale: Revelations, Pizza Port, Carlsbad (Silver)
Coffee Beer: Coffee Monster, Pizza Port, Carlsbad (Silver)
Old Ale or Stronge Ale: AleSmith Decadence ’10 Old Ale, AleSmith, San Diego (Silver)
Session Beer: Twerp, Pizza Port, Carlsbad (Silver)
Belgian-Style Abbey Ale: Two Tortugas, Karl Strauss Brewing Company, San Diego (Bronze)
Foreign-Style Stout: Z-Man Stout, Pizza Port, Ocean Beach (Bronze)
Indigenous Beer: Hot Rocks Lager, Port Brewing Company, San Marcos (Bronze)