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18 Medals for San Diego Breweries at GABF

Karl Strauss shines among 13 others


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More than 800 breweries served their beers at GABF this year.

Time for some major horn tootin’! This year’s Great American Beer Festival (GABF) concluded last weekend in Denver, Colorado and—as we’ve come to expect—San Diego breweries did us proud.

GABF is the country’s largest and most prestigious national beer competition (rivaled only by World Beer Cup, which is international in scope) and—if you’re a brewer—medals from GABF are a big deal.

Here’s a quick rundown of the competition and the results:

  • This year’s competition awarded a total of 286 medals across 96 beer categories that covered 161 different beer styles.
  • There were a total of 7,227 individual entries for the 161 different beer styles, which is the largest number of entries in the history of GABF and which represents 9% growth over last year.
  • Entries were submitted from a total of 1,752 breweries representing all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. A total of 254 brewers won medals.

Now, to put San Diego’s wins in perspective:

  • San Diego brewers took home a total of 18 medals, including 8 gold, 3 silver, and 7 bronze.
  • Karl Strauss Brewing Company won 4 medals total; 2 golds and 2 bronzes, plus it was crowned 2016 Mid-Size Brewpub and Mid-Size Brewpub Brewer of the Year.
  • Even though this year’s haul was 1 medal shy of last year’s total, overall San Diego brewing made a better showing this year. That’s because the total number of entries grew by 9% and the San Diego medal count only dropped by about 5%.
More than 60,000 people attended the GABF this year.

Here’s the detailed breakdown of who won what:

Gold Medals:

Queen of Tarts American-Style Sour Ale (Karl Strauss Brewing Company)
Sweet Ride Pilsner (Bagby Beer)
Breakline Bock (Rip Current Brewing Co.)
Prospector Red Ale (BNS Brewing & Distilling Co.)
American-Style Brown Ale (Culture Brewing Co.)
Windandsea Wheat (Karl Strauss Brewing Company)
Tabula Rasa Toasted Porter (Second Chance Beer Co.)
Old Numbskull Barley Wine (AleSmith Brewing Company)

 

Silver Medals:

The Contender Chili Beer (Duck Foot Brewing Co.)
Oatmeal Stout (Benchmark Brewing Company)
Gatling Gun Imperial Stout (BNS Brewing & Distilling Co.)

 

Bronze Medals:

Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout (New English Brewing Co.)
Mosaic Session IPA (Karl Strauss Brewing Company)
Liquid AC English-Style Summer Ale: (Karl Strauss Brewing Company)
HFS American-Style Strong Ale (Alpine Beer Co.)
ESB (Mother Earth Brew Co.)
Roses Red Belgian-Style Lambic (Pure Project)
The Volcanist American-Style Stout (Societe Brewing Co.)

 

A couple of final things to note: This is the second year in a row that New English’s Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Stout won a medal, and also the second year in a row for Karl Strauss’s Windandsea Wheat and Rip Current’s Breakline Bock. Gold-medal-winner Old Numbskull Barley Wine has won numerous medals of all colors for AleSmith over the years; in fact, too many to count. Suffice to say that this amazing beer remains a true benchmark for all brewers everywhere who aspire to this style.

Team Karl (Strauss) takes the stage at the GABF awards ceremony. Left to right: Event founder Charlie Papazian, Brewmaster Matt Johnson, Brewmaster Paul Segura, CEO & Co-founder Chris Cramer, Brewer Chris Sullivan, Brewer David Champion. | Photo by Jason E. Kaplan

This is the second year in a row that medals have gone to BNS Brewing & Distilling and Societe. BNS won a gold in both years and added a silver this year.

There were also a few notably big wins from notably little breweries, including Culture, Duck Foot, and Pure Project. Duck Foot and Pure Project are also notable for their relative youth; Pure Project only opened at the beginning of this year and Duck Foot has only been around for less than two years.

If you want to get a taste of some of this year’s medal-winning brews, I suggest you venture out to the tasting rooms of these respective breweries as soon as possible. Not all breweries will have their entries on tap right away, but many will likely have them soon. There’s a good chance you can find Volcanist at Societe, Breakline Bock at Rip Current, Tabula Rasa at Second Chance, ESB at Mother Earth, and Oatmeal Stout at Benchmark. Some, like Zumbar, Windandsea, Mosaic IPA, and Old Numbskull are fairly well distributed and can be found at many retail outlets.

I also encourage you to go and taste numerous beers from all these breweries, plus dozens more, during the upcoming San Diego Beer Week, which will be held this year from November 4—13. The Guild Fest main event, held on Saturday the 5th at Broadway Pier downtown, is the gala kick-off event of Beer Week. It usually features upwards of 60 San Diego breweries all in one place, pouring a selection of their most interesting beers. Information at https://www.sdbw.org/guild-festival.

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