Photos by David Mulvihill and Taylor Peck

Multiple awards winners:

 

Clockwise from front: Brandon Fender (The Good Beer Co), Kyle Giannuzzi (Brewery X), Brian Rauso (Green Cheek), Rick Smets (Stereo), Brian Hendon and Bryan Giesen (Docent).

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.

 

(l-r) Jerrod Larsen (Tustin Brewing), Ian McCall (RIIP Beer Co), Maxwell Jones and Tana (TAPS). 

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. 

 

(l-r) Brian Hendon (Docent), Evan Price (Green Cheek), and Bryan Giesen (Docent).

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. 

 

Stereo Brewing’s (front l-r) Dylan Macsata, Paulina Logan, Courtney Cross, Michelle Stauffer.- (top l-r) Marco Rios, Rick Smets, Amanda Pearce Smets, Tina Anderson, Nicole Coram. 

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)

Gold: 

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

Silver:

Piloncillo Brown, Groundswell Brewing, Santee

Oats, Pizza Port Solana Beach

Bronze:

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)

Gold: 

Happy Days, Claremont Craft Ales, Claremont

Get Up Offa That Brown, Golden Road Brewing-Los Angeles

Funk Yeah, Beachwood Blendery, Long Beach

Silver:

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

Bronze: 

Kumquat Saison, Smog City Brewing Wood Cellar, Torrance 

Figtoberfest, Figueroa Mountain Brewing - Westlake Village, Westlake Village 

Bear Temper, Trustworthy Brewing, Burbank

Central Coast &
Ventura County

(3 Gold, 2 Silver, 3 Bronze)

Gold: 

Feral Brute, Firestone Walker Barrelworks, Buellton 

Davy Brown Ale, Figueroa Mountain Brewing, Buellton 

MadeWest Standard, MadeWest Brewing, Ventura 

Silver: 

Neighborhood, Ventura Coast Brewing Co., Ventura 

Pixie Dusted, Firestone Walker Barrelworks, Buellton/Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles 

Bronze: 

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) 

Gold: 

Grandpa Tractor, Barley Forge Brewing, Costa Mesa 

Nobility, Noble Ale Works, Anaheim 

Silver: 

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

Bronze: 

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 

Inland Areas 

Gold: 

Raspberry Twist Lager, Garage Brewing, Temecula 

New England Style Double IPA, Black Market Brewing, Temecula

Belgian Honey Blonde, No Clue Craft Brewery, Rancho Cucamonga

Silver: 

Sippin on Dank 2.0, Kings Brewing Co., Rancho Cucamonga

Brown Claw, Kern River Brewing Co., Kernville

 

Brewer Mash

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.

 

Hoptoberfest 

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.