DENVER — The 30th Great American Beer Fest competition featured more than 7,000 beers from 1,752 breweries from across the U.S. By the time the lights went up at the end of Saturday’s ceremony, San Diego area brewers had collected more than their share of hardware.
Karl Strauss Brewing Company was the big winner. The 27-year-old brewery won four medals, including gold in the American-Style Sour Ale category with Queen of Tarts, besting the field of 142 entries. It also won gold in the South German-Style Hefeweizen for Windandsea Wheat. Karl Straus was named Mid-Size Brewpub and Mid-Size Brewpub Brewer of the Year.
Matt Johnson, brewmaster of brewery operations, was thrilled as the crew celebrated on the festival floor after the ceremony.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Johnson said. “I did not expect to do better than one [medal]. Next thing you know we won four.”
Johnson said they had been coming to GABF since 2010.
“This is absolutely the best year we’ve had here,” he said.
The award came with a little drama. At the ceremony, Karl Strauss was originally awarded mid-size Brewpub of the Year and Ohio’s Fat Head’s Brewery won for mid-size brewery. Hours later, the Brewer’s Association issued a correction awarding Mid-Size Brewery of the Year to Karl Strauss and Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year to Albuquerque’s Boxing Bear Brewing Co.
“During competition registration, Karl Strauss Brewing Co. self-identified their San Diego location as a Mid-Size Brewpub,” the Brewer’s Association said in a press release. “After the award ceremony, GABF competition staff realized that this was inaccurate: this location is, in fact, a Mid-Size Brewing Company. Karl Strauss, while it operates brewpubs, is classified as a production facility by GABF competition guidelines…All of us with the Great American Beer Festival and the Brewers Association deeply regret this error.”
Second Chance Beer Co., in its first GABF, won a gold medal in the Robust Porter category for Tabula Rasa Toasted Porter.
“We’re just kind of pinching ourselves,” co-founder/owner Virginia Morrison said just after the win. “It’s the first year we’ve been in business, so to come away with a gold at our first Great American Beer Festival is really exciting.”
One notable winner was Santee’s BNS Brewing & Distilling Company, which won gold for Ole Prospector Red Ale and silver for Gatling Gun Imperial Stout. Last year the East County brewery brought home gold in the highly competitive American IPA category with Revolver IPA.
Rip Current Brewing won another gold medal in the Bock category for Breakline Bock. This was the second consecutive year the North County brewery won a gold medal for Breakline. It was also 2015’s Very Small Brewery and Small Brewer of the Year.
Here is a complete San Diego area medal and winner’s list:
Mid-Size Brewpub and Mid-Size Brewpub Brewer of the Year
Karl Strauss Brewing Co.
Category: Chili Beer (112 entries)
Silver: Duck Foot Brewing- The Contender IPA w/fresh chilis
Category: Coffee Beer (168 entries)
Bronze: New English Brewing Co.- Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout
Category: Session Beer (52 entries)
Silver: Benchmark Brewing- Oatmeal Stout
Category: Session IPA (118 entries)
Bronze: Karl Strauss Brewing Co.- Mosaic Session IPA
Category: American-Style Sour Ale (142 entries)
Gold: Karl Strauss Brewing Co.- Queen of Tarts
Category: Bohemian-Style Pilsner (62 entries)
Gold: Bagby Beer Co.- Sweet Ride
Category: Bock (36 entries)
Gold: Rip Current Brewery- Breakline Bock
Category: English-Style Summer Ale (68 entries)
Bronze: Karl Strauss Brewing Co.- Liquid AC
Category: American-Style Strong Pale Ale (169 entries)
Bronze: Alpine Beer Co.- HFS
Category: American-Style Amber/Red Ale (114 entries)
Gold: BNS Brewing & Distilling Co.- Ole Prospector Red Ale
Category: Extra Special Bitter (71 entries)
Bronze: Mother Earth Brew Co.- Mother Earth ESB
Category: American-Style Brown Ale (84 entries)
Gold: Culture Brewing Co.- Brown
Category: South German-Style Hefeweizen (111 entries)
Gold: Karl Strauss Brewing Co.- Windandsea Wheat
Category: Belgian-Style Lambic or Sour Ale (74 entries)
Bronze: Pure Project- Roes Red
Category: Robust Porter (94 entries)
Gold: Second Chance Beer Co.- Tabula Rasa
Categrory: American-Style Stout (55 entries)
Bronze: Societe Brewing Co.- The Volcanist
Category: Imperial Stout (91 entries)
Silver: BNS Brewing & Distilling Co.- Gatling Gun Imperial Stout
Category: Barley Wine-Style Ale (60 entries)
Gold: AleSmith Brewing Co.- Old Numbskull