Beer-review website RateBeer.com released its annual accounting of the world's top brewers and beers, and San Diego breweries figured prominently. AleSmith was named number 2 on the list of Top Brewers in the World, Alpine Beer Company number 6. Ballast Point, Green Flash, Modern Times, and Port Brewing/Lost Abbey were counted among the top 100.
Based on "nearly a million" reviews from beer enthusiasts around the world, RateBeer calls its compilation of 2015 scores "the largest beer competition in the world ever." Breweries don't submit beers for review. Rather, RateBeer users rate and review individual beers throughout the year as they drink them, writing tasting notes and contributing to an aggregate score the site uses to rank them. While users range from amateurs to accredited beer judges, RateBeer points out that more than 50 times as many beers were scored in this de facto contest than professionally judged at this year's Great American Beer Festival.
The site claims more than 300,000 beers were assessed in 2015, produced by approximately 18,500 brewers worldwide. This means a preponderance of internet-savvy beer drinkers worldwide consider AleSmith the second-best beer producer on the planet, behind only Hill Farmstead Brewery, out of Vermont.
AleSmith was also credited with making the top beer in California — a bourbon-barrel-aged version of its acclaimed Speedway Stout made with Vietnamese coffee. Three of its beers made a list of the 100 Top Beers in the World, while Hill Farmstead had a whopping seven!
However, overall, San Diego dominated the top 100, placing 11 beers total. Port Brewing & The Lost Abbey combined for four, while Stone Brewing tallied two. Ballast Point and Alpine added one apiece. California breweries took 27 of the hundred top spots.
RateBeer also recognized the top performers in 20 beer styles, ranging from lagers to double IPAs. Fifteen beers were ranked best in each style: five gold, five silver, and five bronze.
AleSmith claimed three golds and seven medals overall, including a virtual sweep of the Strong Stout category with four variations of Speedway Stout. Port & The Lost Abbey earned two golds and five overall. Ballast Point claimed a gold and bronze, Green Flash one gold, and Alpine two silvers. Also recognized was Council Brewing, with two silvers for different fruited versions of its Beatitude tart saison.
Fifty Top New Beer Releases were also named, four of them local, including AleSmith's Velvet Speedway barrel-aged stout and Lost Abbey's Veritas 015 wild ale. Oceanside Ale Works was also recognized for its Funk-n-Delicious Bleuet wild ale, and so was Modern Times' City of the Dead, a stout that wasn't barrel-aged itself but made using barrel-aged coffee beans.
Beer drinking locations highlighted included Churchill’s Pub and Grille in San Marcos, named a top beer bar in California. Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens was named among the five top brewpubs in the U.S., and Port & Lost Abbey one of the best tasting rooms.
The full list of San Diego breweries, beers and bars recognized by RateBeer.com as having the highest overall ratings by its worldwide network of users in 2015.
Top 100 Brewers
AleSmith Brewing Company — Ranked #2
Alpine Beer Company — Ranked #6
Ballast Point Brewing Company
Green Flash Brewing Company
Modern Times Beer
Port Brewing/Lost Abbey
Top Brewer in California
AleSmith Brewing Company
Best Beers in the World (regardless of style)
AleSmith, AleSmith IPA
AleSmith, Old Numbskull - Bourbon Barrel Aged
AleSmith, Speedway Stout
Alpine Beer Company, Exponential Hoppiness
Ballast Point Brewing Company, Victory at Sea
Lost Abbey, Box Set: Track 6 (Highway to Hell)
Lost Abbey, Deliverance
Lost Abbey, Red Poppy
Port Brewing, Hop 15
Stone Brewing Co., Imperial Russian Stout
Stone Brewing Co., Imperial Russian Stout – Bourbon Barrel Aged
Top Beer in California
AleSmith, Speedway Stout - Bourbon Barrel Aged with Vietnamese Coffee
World's Top New Beer Releases 2015
AleSmith, Speedway Stout - Velvet Speedway
Modern Times, City of the Dead
Lost Abbey, Veritas 015
Oceanside Ale Works, Funk-n-Delicious Bleuet
Best Beers by Style Category
Baltic, Imperial Porter
Gold — Ballast Point Brewing Company, Victory at Sea
Belgian Session (under 4.7% ABV)
Silver — Council Brewing Company, Beatitude: Passion Fruit Tart Saison
Silver — Council Brewing Company, Beatitude: Raspberry Tart Saison
Gold — Green Flash Brewing Company, Cosmic Ristretto (Green Flash lists
this as a coffee porter)
English Style Ale and Bitter
Gold — AleSmith, Anvil ESB
India Pale Ale
Gold — AleSmith, AleSmith IPA
Silver — Alpine Beer Company, Nelson IPA
Bronze — Ballast Point Brewing Company, Sculpin
Gold — Port Brewing, Hop 15
Silver — Alpine Beer Company, Exponential Hoppiness
Gold — Port Brewing, Older Viscosity
Silver — Lost Abbey, Box Set: Track 6 (Highway to Hell)
Silver — Lost Abbey, Deliverance
Bronze — Lost Abbey, Angel's Share
Bronze — AleSmith, Old Numbskull - Bourbon Barrel Aged
Gold — AleSmith, Speedway Stout - Bourbon Barrel Aged with Vietnamese
Silver — AleSmith, Speedway Stout - Bourbon Barrel Aged
Bronze — AleSmith, Speedway Stout
Bronze — AleSmith, Speedway Stout - Bourbon Barrel Aged with Kopi Luwak
Top Places to Have a Beer in the World
Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Escondido
Port Brewing Company / The Lost Abbey tasting room
World's Best Places for Beer by Subregion
Churchill’s Pub and Grille — Best Bar, California
For a complete list of winners, tap THIS.
(revised 2/1, 10:10 a.m.)