The (winning) state of San Diego beer

An astonishing take away from the Great American Beer Festival: if San Diego County was a state, its 18 medals would rank second in the nation.


#sdbeer Über Alles

Here’s an astonishing takeaway from last weekend’s Great American Beer Festival in Denver: if San Diego County was a state, its 18 medals would rank second in the nation.

Golden State breweries took 68 medals. The next most successful state, Texas, finished with 16 medals — two fewer than the home team.

“It just shows how San Diego keeps progressing,” said Kris Anacleto, vice president of the San Diego Brewers Guild and CEO of Vista’s Booze Brothers.

The nation’s largest beer competition, the GABF drew almost 9,500 entries from about 2,400 U.S. breweries. “The rest of the nation is advancing,” Anacleto said, “but San Diego continues to stay up there with good quality beer.”

Local gold medalists:

  • AleSmith Brewing: Private Stock Ale (Old Ale or Strong Ale category)
  • Breakwater Brewing: Rye Dawn (Rye Beer)
  • Pizza Port – Bressi Ranch: Chronic Amber Ale (Ordinary or Special Bitter)
  • Pizza Port – Solana Beach: SeaSide Stout (Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout)
  • Second Chance Beer: Tabula Rasa (Robust Porter)
  • SouthNorte Beer: Sea Señor! Mex Lager (American-Style Cream Ale)
  • The Lost Abbey: A Creator’s Calling (Aged Beer)
  • Two Roots Brewing Co.: Enough Said N/A (Non-Alcoholic or Alcohol Free Beer)

Silver medalists:

  • Coronado Brewing: Freebooter Barleywine (Barley Wine-Style Ale)
  • Saint Archer: Citra Pils (Contemporary American-Style Pilsener)
  • SouthNorte Beer: Agavemente (Specialty Beer)
  • Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station: Stone Liberty Station Cimmerian Portal (American-Style Stout)
  • Thunderhawk Alements: Bowie Knife (American-Style Black Ale)

Bronze medalists:

  • Chula Vista Brewery: Browner Than Ivan (American-Style Brown Ale)
  • Coronado Brewing – Production Facility: Weekend Vibes IPA (American-Style India Pale Ale)
  • Kilowatt Brewing: OB Bubble Dubbel (Belgian-Style Dubbel)
  • Resident Brewing: Industrial Gris (Belgian- and French-Style Ale)
  • Rip Current Brewing: Rescue Buoy Imperial Stout (Imperial Stout)

For more details, check out this nifty graphic from the Union-Tribune’s Daniel Wheaton:

Kings of Beer

With some beers, it’s love at first sip. For me, Maui Brewing’s Coconut Hiwa Porter (6 percent alcohol by volume) was one such instant infatuation.

Maui’s Imperial Coconut Porter (9.4 percent) has a family resemblance to Hiwa, but it turns out that I’m not in love with the entire family. The new beer still has the toasted coconut-meets-cocoa notes, but the extra alcohol seems to make this imperial ale sluggish and its flavors muted. There’s more coffee than coconut in this beer, which makes this a more generic high-octane porter.

Bigger, alas, isn’t always better.

Beer and Deer

Although it sold its Berlin brewery to Scotland’s BrewDog in April, Escondido’s Stone Brewing still maintains a foothold in Germany. Not only does it operate a tasting room in that nation’s capital, it still uses its former brewery to produce specialty beers.

The latest: Jägermeister & Arrogant Bastard, blending the ale’s chewy malts and aggressive hops with the German digestif’s herbal, woody and spiced fruit character. The 750-ml. corked bottle, its label showing the Bastard wearing Jägermeister’s trademark deer antlers, is sold for $20 at https://shopNice!

100 Bottles of Solis on the Wall...

On Friday, Mike Hess Brewing will hit a milestone: the 100th version of its West Coast IPA, Solis.

“‘Solis’ means sunset,” said Greg Hess, the brewery’s sales director. “When we originated this thing back in 2010, we thought that just like every sunset is different, we’d tie that idea into the beer.”

While every Solis is a 7.5 percent hop-forward IPA with a dry finish, no two batches are identical, as brewers experiment with different hops and malts. Solis 100 was brewed with five Cs — Centennial, Cascade, Citra, Columbus, and Chinook hops — and a Scottish malt, Golden Promise.The recipe was a collaboration with Scot Blair, owner of South Park Brewing and Hamilton’s Tavern.

Pints and Pros

An occasional peek inside the refrigerators of local brewing professionals.

The pro: Ryan Brooks, brewmaster, SouthNorte.

The pints: “Nelson & Nelson (a double IPA from San Marcos’s Port Brewing) is awesome. A really good, balanced beer and given how big it is (8 percent alcohol by volume), it’s really easy to drink.

“Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is always a regular in the house. There’s just enough hop character, it’s balanced and drinkable, showcases both malts and hops.

“Coors Banquet Beer is not craft, but it’s light enough to drink during the day and it’s got some flavor. Just an old traditional American corn beer.”