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San Diego Brewers Shine in International Competitions

The spring awards season wraps up with big wins for local breweries


Brewmaster Travis Smith holds Societe's gold medal certificate for The Thief at the 2018 World Beer Cup awards ceremony in Nashville. | Photo: Brewers Association

Time for a major shot of local pride. Within the short span of just a few weeks, the results of three major beer competitions have been announced—and the announcements have brought a bounty of accolades for San Diego brewers.

First, it was the Los Angeles International Beer Competition, held April 21-22, at which San Diego brewers won a total of 50 medals and three Honorable Mentions. Then it was the San Diego International Beer Competition (the winners of which were announced at the end of April), where San Diego brewers took home a total of 61 medals. And finally, on May 3 at the World Beer Cup in Nashville, Tennessee (the “Olympics” of Beer), San Diego brewers claimed an impressive seven medals and local brewing icon, Tomme Arthur of Lost Abbey/Port/Hop Concept, was honored with a special award for innovation in craft brewing.


Los Angeles International Beer Competition

The Los Angeles International Beer Competition, which will feature many of the award winners at the L.A. County Fair, pitted San Diego’s formidable numbers against L.A.’s burgeoning craft beer scene. (Not that there’s any kind of a rivalry between Los Angeles and San Diego, but it’s worth noting that we won more medals!) The final count was 50 medals for San Diego in total, which broke down to 19 golds, 11 silvers, and 20 bronzes. Of particular note was the fact that North Park’s Eppig Brewing won three gold medals plus a bronze, and Chula Vista’s 3 Punk Ales won three golds. Carmel Mountain’s Second Chance Beer Co. claimed two golds and a silver, and downtown’s Resident Brewing snagged two golds as well.

Special shout-outs have to go to the small brewers who won big at the L.A. competition, including Deft Brewing (Linda Vista), which won a gold medal for their Dawn of the Deft Brown Porter, a silver medal for their DoubleDeft Historical Beer, and a bronze medal for their Austere Abbot Belgian-Style Ale. Other tiny-but-talented winners included Intergalactic, which won gold for Alpha Mensae Belgian-Style Ale; 2kids, which won a silver medal for Incredulous Ordinary Special Bitter; Home Brewing, which won a gold for their Marzen of Our Lives German-Style Marzen and a bronze for Dr. Wu American-Belgo-Style Ale; and South Park Brewing, which won two silvers for Baja 500 Chili Pepper Beer and Totally Bollocks English-Style Brown Ale.

View a complete list of all winners.


Deft Brewing is one of many small breweries that won numerous medals at the Los Angeles and San Diego international competitions. | Photo: Bruce Glassman


San Diego International Beer Competition

Next up after the L.A. International was the San Diego International Beer Competition. Judging for this event took place in mid-April, with winners announced at the end of the month. This has become a somewhat large and ever-growing competition that has gained a substantial amount of recognition around the world. Last year, the competition had more than 1,500 entries from nearly 300 breweries, and brewers from 23 states and a total of 20 countries participated (the 2018 statistics aren’t available yet, but the event grows every year).

This time around, San Diego brewers were awarded a total of 61 medals, which broke down into 18 golds, 22 silvers, and 21 bronzes. Belching Beaver and Pizza Port had most total medals won, each with four; Belching Beaver claimed three golds and a bronze and Pizza Port snagged one gold, one silver, and two bronzes.

Again, a number of notably small operations did remarkably well, including Home Brewing with three medals (a silver each for Monk’s Lunch Hybrid Belgian-Style Ale and Your Favorite Beer Blonde as well as a bronze for Sharks With Lasers International-Style Pale Ale); Knotty Brewing (silver for Super Fresh Bitter); Toolbox (silver for Rustique d-Abricot Brett Beer and bronze for Equilibrium Barrel-Aged Strong Stout); Deft Brewing (silver for Dawn of the Deft Porter); Rouleur Brewing Co. (silver for Puncheur Pale Ale); and OB Brewery (a bronze each for Elevator Red Imperial Red Ale and Rooftop Saison).

View a complete listing of all winners.


World Beer Cup

The final event of the spring awards season was also the largest and most prestigious. The World Beer Cup, which is only held every two years, is considered to be the most important beer competition in the world. Sponsored by the Brewers Association, it typically draws thousands of breweries and includes many thousands of entries. This year 2,515 breweries participated in the WBC, sending in 8,234 entries to be judged in more than 100 categories.

Seven San Diego craft breweries won medals at the 2018 WBC, and longtime local brewer Tomme Arthur of The Lost Abbey/Port Brewing/Hop Concept was honored with the prestigious Russell Scherer Award for Innovation in Craft Brewing. This puts Arthur is some pretty impressive company: Past recipients have included brewing legends Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada), Vinnie Cilurzo (Russian River), and Mitch Steele (New Realm, formerly from Stone), to name only a few.

Of the seven medals won by San Diego breweries, three were gold and four were bronze. In the gold category, Societe won for The Thief Mixed Culture Brett beer, BNS won for Ole Prospector American-Style Amber, and Monkey Paw won for MacGavins Plaid Monkey Scottish-Style Ale. The bronzes went to Rip Current for Breakline Bock, Karl Strauss for Farmhouse French & Belgian-Style Saison, Ballast Point for Black Marlin Porter, and Rouleur for Domestique Belgian Blonde Ale (a particularly impressive win for a one-year-old brewery!).

View a complete listing of all winners.

Follow Bruce on Instagram: @sdbrewdude

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