Biggest Beer News stories of 2015

Accolades, expansion, and cold hard cash

Ballast Point Brewing Co.
  • Ballast Point Brewing Co.

Ballast Point sold for $1B The B in billion makes anything world news, and Ballast Point's billion-dollar sale to big beer in November didn't just get its name in financial papers — TV networks even took notice. Yes, Saint Archer struck first, making news for the same thing two months prior. But the undisclosed amount they sold out for definitely didn't begin with a b, and I've got to think somebody over there wishes they'd held out a little longer.

Mikkeller San Diego When world-renowned gypsy brewer Mikkel Borg Bjergsø decided to settle his vaunted Mikkeller brand in Miramar, it, too, got global coverage. At least it did in his native Denmark, where a local outlet reported, *”Det danske bryghus øjner chancen for at øge salget i Amerika.”*

Google translates that as, "Danish brewery see the opportunity to increase sales in America." If Bjergsø starts brewing Mikkeller favorites locally — say, It's Alive wild ale or Beer Geek Breakfast stout — those increased sales are a certainty.

Rip Current made certified Great American Beer San Diego outgunned all big beer cities and earned more medals than most states at the nation's biggest beer contest, the Great American Beer Festival. Thirteen breweries combined for 19 medals, perhaps the biggest being the gold BNS Brewing won with its Revolver IPA.

But the greatest takeaway was San Marcos' Rip Current Brewing being named Best Very Small Brewery in the nation for 2015. This wasn't just a big win for Rip Current, but a moral victory for the many very small breweries in town. Speaking of which…

San Diego breweries surpassed the 100 mark Depending on who starts serving by New Year's Eve, as many as 22 new San Diego breweries opened in 2015, catapulting the number of local craft-beer concerns well into triple digits. Naturally, this gave rise to chatter about a beer bubble surely to soon burst. Just like it did in 2014.

While we did lose one brewery this year, Indian Joe's is reportedly coming back in Vista, and two others came back from fire. Clearly, these guys are betting against any bubble bursting. Same can be said about this list of new breweries, class of 2015:

Kilowatt Brewing Co, Half Door Brewing, South Park Brewing, Abnormal Beer Co, Prodigy Brewing Company, Novo Brazil Brewing Co, Division 23 Brewing, Duck Foot Brewing, Home Brew Co, Reckless Brewing, Pacific Islander Brewing, Guadalupe Brewery, Barn Brewing, Bay City Brewing Co, Helix Brewing Co, Magnetic Brewing, Second Chance Beer Co, Bear Roots Brewing Co, Kensington Brewing Company, Mason Ale Works, Thr3e Punk Ales, Ocean Beach Brewing.

Modern Times' rapid ascension Modern Times had a great first year, but its rate of growth in 2015 was pretty wild. In recent blog posts, the company reported a nearly 250% increase in sales from 2014 and announced an increase of distribution throughout California and into Nevada. The small brewery has managed to do this while constantly adding capacity and continually releasing new, adventurous, usually well-received suds.

Its scope and reach has a long way to go to match some of the older, larger breweries in town, but what I find remarkable is how the brand has risen above the craft-beer noise so adeptly in less than three years. When I ask people in other cities, other states and other countries about their interest in San Diego beer, Modern Times comes up again and again as the new generation San Diego brewery they want to drink.

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