My Beer Pix

A visual tribute to beer and the people who love it.

San Diego County Fair Craft Brewer’s Festival wrap-up

0

First Annual San Diego Fair Craft Brew Festival
This past Saturday Molly and I joined hundreds of craft beer lovers at the San Diego County Fair First Annual San Diego Craft Brewer’s Festival. The venue and weather couldn’t have been better – the Paddock area of the Del Mar fairgrounds was transformed into a large circular beer garden and accompanied by sunshine, blue skies and temperatures in the mid-70’s, making the perfect setting for an afternoon of tasting outstanding beers.

While 60,000 people stuffed themselves on funnel cakes, spun in the tilt-a-whirl and wandered about the fairgrounds just beyond the garden walls, we mingled with other festival-goers (many of whom are now becoming familiar faces) and sampled hundreds of offerings of 50 or so craft breweries.

Many of the breweries (and brewpubs) were, of course from San Diego, Southern California and the Southwest. But a good number also came from places as far flung as Hawaii, New York and Maine, giving us the opportunity to taste an enormous variety of beers.

The Beers

These were among my favorite surprises:

  • Just Outstanding IPA from Kern River Brewing
    An amber colored beer with excellent malt and hop flavors. At 6.8% ABV it’s not a strong as strong as a lot of other “West Coast” IPAs, so it’s better for what Molly likes to term “Day Beer”. We go camping a lot in the Southern Sierras (especially in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks), so the next time we head up there, we’re definitely stopping in Kernville for a pint or two.
  • Skinny Dip from New Belgium Brewing
    I DO NOT Like “Lite” Beers as I find them tasteless and generally weak. (Even beers like Sam Adams Light aren’t very good in my opinion.) But this beer was genuinely good. Light, refreshing and full of flavor, it was easy to forget that this beer was both low in calories and in alcohol. Beers like this may force the Coors, Buds and Millers of the world to change their “Lite” ways.
  • Big Swell IPA from Maui Brewing Company
    Dang – who knew a canned IPA could taste so good? More of an English-style than an American IPA, it’s lighter and sweeter than the stuff I’m used to, but with a great flavor and finish. I’ll be looking for this stuff at my local supplier.
  • Wee Heavy Scotch Ale by AleSmith Brewing Co.
    Actually, this wasn’t that big of a surprise, since I already loved the stuff. I’m pretty sure they stick some crack cocaine-like substance in it (which is why it won the gold in its category).

And a few of Molly’s favorites:

  • Coconut Porter from Maui Brewing Company
    Normally Molly likes the smoky, black stuff and begs off on the sweet porters and stouts. But this one had her hooked. It’s a pretty classic porter but with the added punch of toasted coconut, which really gives the beer an interesting flavor (I don’t particularly like porters, but this one could make me a convert). Just another reason to look for Maui Brewing’s beers.
  • Choco Latte Porter by San Diego Brewing Company
    A nut brown ale with Chocolate. Way too “chocolatey” for me, but not for Molly. I’m just glad that they don’t bottle this because she said she’d give up sex for it.
  • Alaskan Smoked Porter by Alaskan Brewing Company
    While hit-or-miss availability down here, whenever we’re up at our hole in the ground in Idaho, Molly picks up as much of this stuff as she can. Smoky, and thick, I have to admit, she’s right, it’s delicious.
  • Judgment Day by Port Brewing/Lost Abbey
    Actually, no surprise here either. Since the day Tomme Arthur gave her a sip of this from a murky bottle, she’s craved its deep, rich flavor (more crack-infused beer?). Now she pretty much shows up at Lost Abbey and drinks it straight from the tap. The fact that she used one of her precious taster tickets to get some speaks volumes.

The Award for best in show - To Shipyard BrewingThe Award Winners

What’s a beer festival without a beer competition? The festival had 275 entries in 29 categories, running the gamut from light lagers to strong ales. This being San Diego (craft beer capital of the world in my opinion), a number of heavyweights and industry notables turned out including Boston Beer Company, New Belgium Brewing, Deschutes Brewery, Brewery Ommegang, and hometown favorite Stone Brewing Company.

The medal announcements weren’t supposed to start until 2:30, but I guess everyone got exited because they started the ceremony half an hour early. (Who ever hear of an awards ceremony start early?)

Best of show went to Shipyard Brewing Company and its Shipyard Export Ale. As the Best in Show winner they received the Festival Trophy – a real, working stainless fermenter (albeit only 3 feet tall). The plan is to have the winner keep the trophy for a year and then turn it over to the next year’s winner a la hockey’s Stanley Cup. With one caveat – the winner brews some beer in the fermenter and turns it over to the next year’s winner and everybody gets to try some. (Pretty good tradition in the making if you ask me.)

The other big winners of the night were Firestone Walker of Paso Robles, CA, and local brewery (and a personal favorite) Port Brewing / Lost Abbey. Each grabbed five medals apiece. This is impressive, but especially so for Port Brewing as the brewery just celebrated its first anniversary in May.

A full list of the entrants and winners follows.

Festival Entries and Winners
Brewery Place City State
001 Light Lager
Ballast Point Brewing Co. 1 San Diego CA
Firestone Walker Brewing Co 2 Paso Robles CA
Consorcio Cervecero De B.c. Tijuana MX
Full Sail Brewing Hood River OR
Lightning Brewery Poway CA
Maui Brewing Co Lahaina HI
Green Flash Brewing Co Fort Collins CO
Oggis Pizza And Brewing Co. San Clemente CA
Rock Bottom Brewery La Jolla CA
San Pedro Brewing Co San Pedro CA
002 Pilsner
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co 1 Chico CA
Lightning Brewery 2 Poway CA
Boston Beer Co 3 Boston MA
Butte Creek Brewing Co Chico CA
Consorcio Cervecero De B.c. Tijuana MX
La Jolla Brewhouse La Jolla CA
Trumer Brauerei-brewery Berkley CA
003 European Amber Lager
Huntington Beach Beer Co 1 Huntington Beach CA
Boston Beer Co 2 Boston MA
Coronado Brew Co. 3 Coronado CA
004 Dark Lager
Lakefront Brewery Inc. 1 Milwaukee WI
Consorcio Cervecero De B.c. 2 Tijuana MX
Karl Strauss Brewing Co 3 San Diego CA
Boston Beer Co Boston MA
Consorcio Cervecero De B.c. Tijuana MX
Oggis Pizza And Brewing Co. San Clemente CA
005 Bock
Boston Beer Co 1 Boston MA
Maui Brewing Co 2 Lahaina HI
Karl Strauss Brewing Co 3 San Diego CA
Full Sail Brewing HM Hood River OR
Consorcio Cervecero De B.c. Tijuana MX
Lightning Brewery Poway CA
Manneken-brussel Austin TX
Rock Bottom Brewery La Jolla CA
006 Light Hybrid Beer
Widmer Brothers Brewing 1 Portland OR
Pyramid Breweries 2 Seattle WA
San Diego Brewing Co. 3 San Diego CA
Alaskan Brewing Co Juneau AK
Alpine Brewing Co. Alpine CA
Ballast Point Brewing Co. San Diego CA
Bjs Restaurant And Brewery Oxnard CA
Boston Beer Co Boston MA
Deschutes Brewery Bend OR
Huntington Beach Beer Co Huntington Beach CA
Lakefront Brewery Inc. Milwaukee WI
Left Coast Brewing Co. San Clemente CA
Lightning Brewery Poway CA
Oggis Pizza And Brewing Co. San Clemente CA
Omaha Jacks Grillhouse And Brewery Rancho Cucamonga CA
Omaha Jacks Grillhouse And Brewery Rancho Cucamonga CA
Pizza Port Carlsbad CA
Pyramid Breweries Seattle WA
San Marcos Brewery And Grill San Marcos CA
Shipyard Brewing Portland ME
The Lagunitas Brewing Co. Petaluma CA
007 Amber Hybrid Beer
Lakefront Brewery Inc. 1 Milwaukee WI
Alaskan Brewing Co 2 Juneau AK
Skyscraper Brewing Co 3 El Monte CA
Boston Beer Co Boston MA
San Diego Brewing Co. San Diego CA
Tenaya Creek Las Vegas NV
008 English Pale Ale
Shipyard Brewing 1- Best of Show Portland ME
Shipyard Brewing 2 Portland ME
Firestone Walker Brewing Co 3 Paso Robles CA
Alaskan Brewing Co Juneau AK
Alesmith Brewing Co. San Diego CA
Ballast Point Brewing Co. San Diego CA
Boulder Beer Co Boulder CO
Butte Creek Brewing Co Chico CA
Deschutes Brewery Bend OR
Firestone Walker Brewing Co Paso Robles CA
Huntington Beach Beer Co Huntington Beach CA
Karl Strauss Brewing Co San Diego CA
San Diego Brewing Co. San Diego CA
Shipyard Brewing Portland ME
Stone Brewing Co Escondido CA
Widmer Brothers Brewing Portland OR
009 Scottish & Irish Ale
Alesmith Brewing Co. 1 San Diego CA
Left Coast Brewing Co. 2 San Clemente CA
Oggis Pizza And Brewing Co. 3 San Clemente CA
Alpine Brewing Co. Alpine CA
Huntington Beach Beer Co Huntington Beach CA
Pizza Port Carlsbad CA
Rock Bottom Brewery La Jolla CA
San Pedro Brewing Co San Pedro CA
010 American Ale
Maui Brewing Co 1 Lahaina HI
Firestone Walker Brewing Co 2 Paso Robles CA
Oggis Pizza And Brewing Co. 3 San Clemente CA
Alesmith Brewing Co. San Diego CA
Alpine Brewing Co. Alpine CA
Ballast Point Brewing Co. San Diego CA
Bjs Restaurant And Brewery Oxnard CA
Boulder Beer Co Boulder CO
Coronado Brew Co. Coronado CA
Deschutes Brewery Bend OR
Firestone Walker Brewing Co Paso Robles CA
Firestone Walker Brewing Co Paso Robles CA
Full Sail Brewing Hood River OR
Full Sail Brewing Hood River OR
Green Flash Brewing Co Vista CA
Karl Strauss Brewing Co San Diego CA
Kern River Brewing Co Kernville CA
La Jolla Brewhouse La Jolla CA
Lightning Brewery Poway CA
Lost Coast Brewery Eureka CA
Oggis Pizza And Brewing Co. San Clemente CA
Omaha Jacks Grillhouse And Brewery Rancho Cucamonga CA
Omaha Jacks Grillhouse And Brewery Rancho Cucamonga CA
Omaha Jacks Grillhouse And Brewery Rancho Cucamonga CA
Peak Organic Brewing Co Poway CA
Peak Organic Brewing Co Poway CA
Pizza Port Carlsbad CA
Pizza Port Carlsbad CA
Rock Bottom Brewery La Jolla CA
San Marcos Brewery And Grill San Marcos CA
San Marcos Brewery And Grill San Marcos CA
San Pedro Brewing Co San Pedro CA
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co Chico CA
Stone Brewing Co Escondido CA
Lagunitas Brewing Co. Petaluma CA
Widmer Brothers Brewing Portland OR
011 English Brown Ale
Pizza Port 1 Carlsbad CA
Green Flash Brewing Co 2 Vista CA
San Diego Brewing Co. 3 San Diego CA
Alesmith Brewing Co. San Diego CA
Deschutes Brewery Bend OR
Karl Strauss Brewing Co San Diego CA
Lost Coast Brewery Eureka CA
Pizza Port Carlsbad CA
Rock Bottom Brewery La Jolla CA
012 Porter
Lightning Brewery 1 Poway CA
Pugsley Brewing Llc 2 Portland ME
Firestone Walker Brewing Co 3 Paso Robles CA
Ballast Point Brewing Co. San Diego CA
Deschutes Brewery Bend OR
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co Chico CA
Stone Brewing Co Escondido CA
013 Stout
Deschutes Brewery 1 Bend OR
Left Coast Brewing Co. 2 San Clemente CA
Boston Beer Co 3 Boston MA
Deschutes Brewery HM Bend OR
Alesmith Brewing Co. San Diego CA
Alpine Brewing Co. Alpine CA
Huntington Beach Beer Co Huntington Beach CA
Kern River Brewing Co Kernville CA
Lost Coast Brewery Eureka CA
Maui Brewing Co Lahaina HI
Oggis Pizza And Brewing Co. San Clemente CA
Omaha Jacks Grillhouse And Brewery Rancho Cucamonga CA
Port Brewing Co San Marcos CA
San Diego Brewing Co. San Diego CA
San Marcos Brewery And Grill San Marcos CA
San Marcos Brewery And Grill San Marcos CA
San Pedro Brewing Co San Pedro CA
Stone Brewing Co Escondido CA
014 India Pale Ale
Pizza Port 1 Carlsbad CA
Green Flash Brewing Co 2 Vista CA
Firestone Walker Brewing Co 3 Paso Robles CA
Alaskan Brewing Co Juneau AK
Alesmith Brewing Co. San Diego CA
Alpine Brewing Co. Alpine CA
Alpine Brewing Co. Alpine CA
Ballast Point Brewing Co. San Diego CA
Ballast Point Brewing Co. San Diego CA
Boulder Beer Co Boulder CO
Butte Creek Brewing Co Chico CA
Butte Creek Brewing Co Chico CA
Coronado Brew Co. Coronado CA
Coronado Brew Co. Coronado CA
Deschutes Brewery Bend OR
Deschutes Brewery Bend OR
Full Sail Brewing Hood River OR
Green Flash Brewing Co Vista CA
Karl Strauss Brewing Co San Diego CA
Kern River Brewing Co Kernville CA
Left Coast Brewing Co. San Clemente CA
Lost Coast Brewery Eureka CA
Maui Brewing Co Lahaina HI
Maui Brewing Co Lahaina HI
Oggis Pizza And Brewing Co. San Clemente CA
Omaha Jacks Grillhouse And Brewery Rancho Cucamonga CA
Pizza Port Carlsbad CA
Pyramid Breweries Seattle WA
Rock Bottom Brewery La Jolla CA
San Diego Brewing Co. San Diego CA
Shipyard Brewing Portland ME
Stone Brewing Co Escondido CA
Stone Brewing Co Escondido CA
Tenaya Creek Las Vegas NV
Widmer Brothers Brewing Portland OR
015 German Wheat & Rye Beer
San Pedro Brewing Co 1 San Pedro CA
Pizza Port 2 Carlsbad CA
Pizza Port 3 Carlsbad CA
Bjs Restaurant And Brewery Oxnard CA
Boston Beer Co Boston MA
Butte Creek Brewing Co Chico CA
Karl Strauss Brewing Co San Diego CA
Lightning Brewery Poway CA
Manneken-brussel Austin TX
Manneken-brussel Austin TX
San Diego Brewing Co. San Diego CA
San Marcos Brewery And Grill San Marcos CA
San Marcos Brewery And Grill San Marcos CA
Skyscraper Brewing Co El Monte CA
016 Belgian & French Ale
Allagash Brewing 1 Portland ME
Green Flash Brewing Co 2 Fort Collins CO
Brewery Ommegang 3 Castro Valley CA
Alesmith Brewing Co. San Diego CA
Ballast Point Brewing Co. San Diego CA
Lost Coast Brewery Eureka CA
Green Flash Brewing Co Fort Collins CO
Port Brewing Co San Marcos CA
Rock Bottom Brewery La Jolla CA
017 Sour Ale
Green Flash Brewing Co 2 Fort Collins CO
Ballast Point Brewing Co. 3 San Diego CA
Green Flash Brewing Co Fort Collins CO
018 Belgian Strong Ale
Port Brewing Co 1 San Marcos CA
Alesmith Brewing Co. 2 San Diego CA
Green Flash Brewing Co 3 Fort Collins CO
Allagash Brewing HM Portland ME
Alesmith Brewing Co. San Diego CA
Bjs Restaurant And Brewery Oxnard CA
Green Flash Brewing Co Vista CA
Manneken-brussel Austin TX
Maui Brewing Co Lahaina HI
Green Flash Brewing Co Fort Collins CO
Port Brewing Co San Marcos CA
Port Brewing Co San Marcos CA
San Marcos Brewery And Grill San Marcos CA
019 Strong Ale
Alesmith Brewing Co. 1 San Diego CA
Stone Brewing Co 2 Escondido CA
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co 3 Chico CA
Bjs Restaurant And Brewery Oxnard CA
Bjs Restaurant And Brewery Oxnard CA
Coronado Brew Co. Coronado CA
Karl Strauss Brewing Co San Diego CA
Omaha Jacks Grillhouse And Brewery Rancho Cucamonga CA
020 Fruit Beer
Port Brewing Co 1 San Marcos CA
Pugsley Brewing Llc 2 Portland ME
Lost Coast Brewery 3 Eureka CA
Boston Beer Co Boston MA
Maui Brewing Co Lahaina HI
Omaha Jacks Grillhouse And Brewery Rancho Cucamonga CA
Pyramid Breweries Seattle WA
San Diego Brewing Co. San Diego CA
021 Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer
Maui Brewing Co 1 Lahaina HI
Port Brewing Co 2 San Marcos CA
San Diego Brewing Co. 3 San Diego CA
Alpine Brewing Co. HM Alpine CA
Green Flash Brewing Co Fort Collins CO
Port Brewing Co San Marcos CA
022 Smoke flavored & Wood-aged Beer
Alaskan Brewing Co 1 Juneau AK
Alpine Brewing Co. 2 Alpine CA
Port Brewing Co 3 San Marcos CA
Boston Beer Co Boston MA
Maui Brewing Co Lahaina HI
023 Specialty Beer
Manneken-brussel 1 Austin TX
Ballast Point Brewing Co. 2 San Diego CA
Port Brewing Co 3 San Marcos CA
Butte Creek Brewing Co Chico CA
Lakefront Brewery Inc. Milwaukee WI
Pyramid Breweries Seattle WA
San Diego Brewing Co. San Diego CA
Stone Brewing Co Escondido CA
024 Traditional Mead
Redstone Meadery 2 Boulder CO
025 Melomel Mead
Redstone Meadery 3 Boulder CO
026 Other Mead
Redstone Meadery 1 Boulder CO
026 Other Mead
Redstone Meadery Boulder CO
027 Standard Cider & Perry
Wyders Cider 2 Oakland CA
Fox Barrel Cider Co 3 Colfax CA
Strongbow Cider Middlebury VT
028 Specialty Cider & Perry
Fox Barrel Cider Co 1 Colfax CA
Fox Barrel Cider Co Colfax CA
Wyders Cider Oakland CA
Wyders Cider Oakland CA

You can also download the entire list of winners in both PDF and Excel format from the San Diego Fair website right here

Want to see a slideshow from the San Diego Craft Brewer’s Festival? Here you go (click on the image to be take to the photo gallery):

So, what do you think ?