San Diego, greatest American beer city

Rip Current leads pack of winners at Great American Beer Fest

San Diego beers fared well, once again, at GABF.
  • San Diego beers fared well, once again, at GABF.

San Marcos Brewery Rip Current was named Very Small Brewing Company of the year at the Great American Beer Festival last week.

The 33rd annual competition took place in Denver, and when winners were announced Saturday, San Diego County breweries took 19 medals total. To put this in perspective, 19 is the same number of medals won by the entire state of Oregon. San Diego's 19 medals is up from 13 won last year and included 6 gold, 2 silver, and 11 bronze.

Along with best-brewery honors, Rip Current brewers Paul Sangster & Guy Shobe earned the Brewer of the Year distinction for a brewing company producing under 1000 barrels in a year. Rip Current also won a silver medal, and gold for its Break Line Bock.

Another beer company that fared well was Pizza Port, which won five bronze medals between its breweries in Bressi Ranch, Carlsbad, Solana Beach, and Ocean Beach. The Ocean Beach brewery bronzed twice — the third year in a row it's won multiple medals.

One of those was in the Coffee Beer category, which saw New English Brewing Co. earn gold with its Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout, named for its Sorrento Valley neighbor and roaster, Zumbar Coffee.

Local breweries also won gold in two of the all-important IPA categories. BNS Brewing & Distilling Co. took top American-Style India Pale Ale with its Revolution IPA. This is a crazy competitive category among San Diego brewers alone, so to win among hundreds of entries representing 50 states should give the Santee beer company plenty of swagger going into this year's Beer Week. Societe Brewing Co. also gets bragging rights for its Coachman, winning gold in the Session India Pale Ale category.

Also winning gold was Green Flash's American-Belgo-Style Ale, Le Freak; and Veritas 015 by the Lost Abbey, dubbed the best Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour.

Though exact figures haven't been released at this writing, in 2014 over a thousand breweries submitted more than 5500 beers in the competition. Forty states split the 275 medals awarded among 92 categories in the all American contest. California took the most at 67, with the next closest being the festival's home state of Colorado, with 35. See below for San Diego's medalists. For a complete list of winners click here.


BNS Brewing & Distilling Co., Revolver IPA — American-Style India Pale Ale

Green Flash Brewing Co., Le Freak — American-Belgo-Style Ale

New English Brewing Co., Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout — Coffee Beer

Rip Current Brewery, Break Line Bock — Bock

Societe Brewing Co., The Coachman — Session India Pale Ale

The Lost Abbey, Veritas 015 — Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer


Rip Current Brewery, Black Lagoon Scottish Strong — Scotch Ale

South Park Brewing, Scripps Pier Stout — Oatmeal Stout


Ballast Point, Scripps Ranch Ballast Point Pale Ale with Serrano — Chili Beer

Breakwater Brewing Co., Teahupo'o — Imperial India Pale Ale

Karl Strauss Brewing Co., Windansea Wheat — South German-Style Hefeweizen

Karl Strauss Brewing Co.–La Jolla, San Diego-Style IPA — International-Style Pale Ale

Pizza Port Bressi Ranch, Sharkbite Red — American-Style Amber/Red Ale

Pizza Port Carlsbad, Z-man Stout — Export Stout

Pizza Port Ocean Beach, Bacon and Eggs — Coffee Beer

Pizza Port Ocean Beach, Guillaume — Session Beer

Pizza Port Solana Beach, GRAMBO — Double Red Ale

Stone Brewing–Liberty Station, Witty Moron — Other Belgian-Style Ale

URBN St. Brewing Co., Saison — French- and Belgian-Style Saison

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