San Diego breweries enjoyed another successful beer competition, this time at the 2016 World Beer Cup. Competing in 96 style categories, local beer companies brought home 5 golds and 14 medals overall — roughly 5 percent of the 287 awarded.
Brewing's most prestigious global contest takes place every two years and has only become more competitive since it began 20 years ago with 250 breweries. This year, 1907 vied for medals, representing 55 countries and fielding 6596 beers — a roughly 40 percent increase over the 2014 contest when San Diego won 11 medals and 4 golds.
"It's so competitive these days," said San Diego Brewers Guild president Mike Sardina, who attended the awards ceremony in Philadelphia Friday night (May 6) along with a large contingent of local brewers. “Fourteen medals is impressive."
San Diego contributed to 49 medals won by California breweries, followed by Colorado's 37 and Oregon's 19. By comparison, the entire nation of Germany won 17 medals, exclusively for traditional German styles.
Mike Hess Brewing actually took one of those German categories, winning gold for its Claritas koslch — adding to the gold it won in 2014. Oceanside's Breakwater Brewing also won its second gold, following a 2010 medal with rye beer winner Rye Dawn.
San Diego gold medalists winning for the first time at WBC were Hess's North Park neighbor Fall Brewing for its barrel-aged strong Jinx Remover, East Village's Monkey Paw for smoked beer Ashes From the Grave, and Pacific Beach brewery Amplified Ale Works with its Whammy Bar wheat.
Showing silver were AleSmith, Mother Earth Brew Co. and Thorn Street Brewery. Bronze medals went to Oceanside's Legacy Brewing, Sorrento Valley's New English, Chula Vista's Novo Brazil, and Vista sour and funk specialist Toolbox Brewing.
Yet, San Diego's awards haul did not include the beer style its best known for: it was shut out of Imperial and American IPA categories, the most competitive with 181 and 275 entries apiece. However, Anaheim's Noble Ale Works medaled in both on its way to winning three medals and being named champion small brewing company.
Orange County enjoyed a bit of a coming-out party, winning 10 medals overall. Anaheim's Bottle Logic and Brea's TAPS won two medals apiece. As competition manager Chris Swersey pointed out, "It was extraordinarily difficult to win more than one award this year. Only a small handful of brewers did it."
The only San Diego brewery to do so was Ballast Point, winning silver for Piper Down Irish red ale, and bronze for Pumpkin Down, a pumpkin beer version of the same.
Another success for Southern California was Beachwood BBQ & Brewing out of Long Beach, which earned 3 medals and the distinction champion large brewpub. Perhaps the event's most compelling story was the success of Japan, which tripled its 2014 haul by booking 9 medals, 5 of them gold.
"World-beer cup is certainly an international competition," Sardina said. "I think that we showed very strong and I'm looking forward to see San Diego brewers crush it at GABF this year."
San Diego winners below.
Full list of awards here.
Video of the ceremony here.
Amplified Ale Works – Whammy Bar Wheat (American-Style Wheat Beer)
Breakwater Brewing Co. – Rye Dawn (Rye Beer)
Fall Brewing Co. – Bourbon Barrel Aged Jinx Remover (Wood and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer)
Monkey Paw Brewing – Ashes from the Grave (Smoke Beer)
Mike Hess Brewing Co. – Claritas (German-Style Kolsch)
Mother Earth Brew Co. – End of Summer Beer (Extra Special Bitter)
AleSmith Brewing Co. – AleSmith Wee Heavy (Scotch Ale)
Thorn Street Brewery – December Nights (Imperial Red Ale)
Ballast Point – Piper Down (Irish Red Ale)
Legacy Brewing Co. – That Guava Beer (Fruit Beer)
Toolbox Brewing Co. – Bramble on Rose (Wood and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer)
New English Brewing Co. – Brewers Special Brown Ale (English-Style Brown Ale)
Novo Brazil Brewing Co. – Corvo Negro (British-Style Imperial Stout, 53 entries)
Ballast Point – Piper Down (Pumpkin Beer)