GABF 2018 50 Great American Beer Festival 2018 Medals Were Awarded to SoCal Breweries this Year
Photos by David Mulvihill and Taylor Peck
Multiple awards winners:
Buellton’s Firestone Walker Barrelworks scored gold in the Experimental Beer category for its Feral Brute, a beer that began by being co-fermented with foot-crushed pinot noir grapes and aged in French oak barrels for a year prior to blending, bottle-conditioning and beginning the Champagne method of riddling for a three-year period. Barrelworks’ second medal came in the Collaboration Competition. Keeping it in the family, silver was shared with Firestone Walker Brewing Co (Paso Robles). The team from The Publican in Chicago was also part of the collaboratively-brewed Pixie Dusted, an American wild ale fermented with Pixie Tangerines (juice & zest) from Friend’s Ranches of Ojai.
Open for two years and 2 GABF competitions, Orange County’s Stereo Brewing Company (Placentia) also received two 2018 medals, adding confirmation for owner/brewer Rick Smets and his team that the painstaking time and effort they place on doing things right translates into some amazing and on-point beer. Having already received a gold medal in 2017 for his Wall of Sound oatmeal stout, this beer was again recognized, this time with a bronze medal. Robot Imperial Red was Stereo’s second medal winner this year, awarded a silver medal. Rick and Amanda pulled out all of the stops for Stereo Brewing’s Second Anniversary Celebration. Along with five bands and even a haircut station Stereo’s line-up of quality beer was supplemented with quite a few one-off variant beers and the release of its Year 2 beer, DO IT AGAIN!, a hazy IPA fermented with A38 Juice yeast and triple dry-hopped with Calypso, Mosaic & Citra. Orange and mango flavors emanate and the beer finishes with satisfying orange zest bitterness.
San Diego County’s Groundswell Brewing (Chula Vista) also received silver for Piloncillo Brown and bronze for Know Ego Irish-style dry stout. Groundswell owners Kevin Rhodes and Christianne Penunuri were likely ecstatic. From its humble beginnings in its Grantville location Groundswell grew to take over the former Twisted Manzanita facility in Santee and most recently open a tasting room in Chula Vista.
And, representing both ends of the spectrum, Orange County’s other double medal winner was Green Cheek Beer Co (Orange). With 311 entries in the highly contested American-Style IPA category (311 entries), Evan Price, Brian Rauso and team scored bronze for West Coast IPA is Dead!. Earlier this year the team was awarded a silver medal at the World Beer Cup for Radiant Beauty, also an American-style IPA. Green Cheek’s second bronze was for Fools & Babies, entered as a dark mild in the English-Style Mild Ale category.
Demonstrative in the awards received, Green Cheek, Stereo and many other breweries that received decorations this year show that Southern California beers are not only about hops. Many classic styles as well as Belgian inspired sours also received awards.
The SoCal list (by area):
San Diego County
(5 Gold, 6 silver, 5 bronze)
Rye Dawn, Breakwater Brewing, Oceanside
Natural Bridge: Vienna Lager, Eppig Brewing, San Diego
The Coachman, Societe Brewing, San Diego
Liquid AC, Karl Strauss Brewing - La Jolla
B.Right On Pale Ale, Ocean Beach Brewery, San Diego
Noble Miner, Burgeon Beer, Carlsbad
Redrum, Duck Foot Brewing, San Diego
Duck Duck Gooze, Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey, San Marcos
Delaminator Doppelbock, Rip Current, San Marcos
Piloncillo Brown, Groundswell Brewing, Santee
Oats, Pizza Port Solana Beach
Chocolate Macadamia Nut Stout, Kilowatt Brewing, San Diego
Zungen Brecher, Home Brewing Co, San Diego
Know Ego, Groundswell Brewing, Santee
Bird Park, North Park Beer Co, San Diego
Rail Gun Wee Heavy, BNS Brewing & Distilling Co. Santee
Los Angeles County
(3 golds, 4 Silver. 3 Bronze)
Happy Days, Claremont Craft Ales, Claremont
Get Up Offa That Brown, Golden Road Brewing-Los Angeles
Funk Yeah, Beachwood Blendery, Long Beach
It’s My Island, Pocock Brewing, Santa Clarita
The Shroud, Bravery Brewing, Lancaster
Skag, 6th and La Brea, Los Angeles
It’s My Island, Pocock Brewing Co, Santa Clarita
Kumquat Saison, Smog City Brewing Wood Cellar, Torrance
Figtoberfest, Figueroa Mountain Brewing - Westlake Village, Westlake Village
Bear Temper, Trustworthy Brewing, Burbank
Central Coast &
(3 Gold, 2 Silver, 3 Bronze)
Feral Brute, Firestone Walker Barrelworks, Buellton
Davy Brown Ale, Figueroa Mountain Brewing, Buellton
MadeWest Standard, MadeWest Brewing, Ventura
Neighborhood, Ventura Coast Brewing Co., Ventura
Pixie Dusted, Firestone Walker Barrelworks, Buellton/Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles
Hoppy Poppy IPA, Figueroa Mountain Brewing, Buellton
Lucky Day, Central Coast Brewing, San Luis Obispo
Nighthawk, Enegren Brewing Co, Moorpark
OC & Corona
(2 Gold, 4 Silver, 6 Bronze)
Grandpa Tractor, Barley Forge Brewing, Costa Mesa
Nobility, Noble Ale Works, Anaheim
Robot, Stereo Brewing, Placentia
TAPS Irish Red, TAPS Fish House and Brewery - Corona
Black the Riipper, Riip Beer Co, Huntington Beach
Udder Love, Beachwood Brewing, Huntington Beach
Mischief, The Bruery, Placentia
Lumino, Unsung Brewing Co., Tustin
West Coast IPA is Dead!, Green Cheek, Orange
Fools & Babies, Green Cheek, Orange
Hayshaker, Gunwhale Ales, Costa Mesa
Wall of Sound, Stereo Brewing, Placentia
Raspberry Twist Lager, Garage Brewing, Temecula
New England Style Double IPA, Black Market Brewing, Temecula
Belgian Honey Blonde, No Clue Craft Brewery, Rancho Cucamonga
Sippin on Dank 2.0, Kings Brewing Co., Rancho Cucamonga
Brown Claw, Kern River Brewing Co., Kernville
The annual OC Brewers Guild Brewers Mash took place on a beautiful Saturday evening in late October within the serene surroundings of the Fullerton Arboretum. The Guild encouraged host breweries and attending guests to dress in costume and decorate their serving booths in Halloween related themes.
Guild member brewers brought some of their best beers along with seasonal creations: few tricks but plenty of treats. Chapman Crafted’s “B” is for Brownie beer was served with TCHO chocolates. Unsung Brewing Co dispensed its Shiver & Shake S’mores Stout. All American Ale Works served a s’mores inspired porter. Oktoberfest beers were provided by Anaheim Brewery, Cismontane, Hoparazzi and Unsung Brewing. The hops-, IPA- and sour-inclined found numerous choices including those offered by Beachwood, Bruery Terreux, The Good Beer Co, Artifex, Bootleggers, Left Coast and Pizza Port. Food, music, costume contest and booth decor awards were also on the bill to fill out the evening. Stereo’s Fun House-inspired setup was awarded best booth.
The previous weekend, the aforementioned Pizza Port San Clemente held its 10th Annual Hoptoberfest. Ten years ago Pizza Port decided on a different form of Oktoberfest celebration. Instead of traditional German-style Oktoberfest it would pay tribute to hoppy beers.
In past years Hoptoberfest was held as a separately-ticketed rooftop parking lot event. This year, all of the fresh hop, hoppy ales and IPAs were available to all comers throughout the restaurant and lot, without the need for separate entry fee. Taste and full-pint options were available. As in past years, Pizza Port co-owner Vince Marsaglia was on hand to assist in preparing tasty non-pizza fare on the rooftop annex. Fresh hop ales included nine Pizza Port creations brewed at the various Pizza Port locations. Ten additional fresh hop beers came from Fall (San Diego), Hop Saint (Torrance), Artifex (San Clemente), Docent (San Juan Capistrano), Faction (Alameda), Three Weavers (Inglewood), Fieldwork (Northern CA), Beachwood (Huntington Beach) and Great Divide (Denver).
This reporter attended Friday night’s session that was also accompanied by a period of torrential rain and power outage. Attendees and staff dealt with these brief inconveniences without issue or much interruption.