Is the world still coming to the San Diego International Beer Festival?

The San Diego International Beer Festival won’t begin its three-day run until June 15, but results of the fest’s annual competition have been announced.

Congratulations to Long Beach’s Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, the 2018 champion brewery. You’ll find many terrific beers among the winners, who competed in 51 beer categories (the complete list is available here).

What you won’t find in this “international” competition: many foreign winners. Americans took all but two medals, the exceptions being a silver for a Scottish-style ale from Drive Beer S.R.L., a division of Italy’s Birra Morena; and a gold bestowed on an American-style pale ale from Tijuana’s Insurgente.

Two factors contributed to the world’s poor showing, said Tom Nickel, one of the festival’s organizers.

1. An importer that had supplied many of the Belgian beers seen at previous festivals suffered key defections among its clientele.

“Gouden Carolus, Oud Beersel, Straffe Hendrik, Lucifer, Delirium Tremens, Kwak — none of those beers were entered this year,” Nickel said.

2. This year the lager categories, where German and Czech Republic breweries traditionally shine, were flooded with polished entries from California.

“We saw a massive shift in the number of lagers entered,” Nickel said, noting that this was the second most-popular category, exceeded only by IPAs. “I think the quality and freshness of local lagers just really took over that category.”

Still, people attending the festival will see plenty of imports. The roughly 300 beers that will be poured those three days will represent breweries from more than two dozen states and a dozen nations, including South Korea, New Zealand, England, France and Germany. Taste being subjective, some of these non-winners may win your affections.

Read more from Peter Rowe's weekly column here.

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