Winners of the San Diego International Beer Festival’s professional brewing competition were released today. A component of the San Diego County Fair’s annual festivities, the competition included entries from across the globe judged by professional beer judges and Southern California brewing professionals in late-April. A total of 68 medals were awarded to San Diego-based breweries. Of that number, 23 were gold, 21 were silver and 24 were bronze.
San Diego breweries won all three medals in eight categories: American-style Red/Amber Ale, Bitter, Bold Stout, Brett and Other Sour Beer, German-style Ale, German-style Weiss, Imperial Stout and Pilsener. Miramar-based AleSmith Brewing Company once again took home Champion Brewery honors behind three medals—a gold and silver in the same category (one of which was awarded to a Scotch ale) and a gold in the Barley Wine category.
The most local medals went to Pizza Port. That brewpub’s Carlsbad brewpub also won a gold and two silvers. Its Ocean Beach arm won two (one gold, one bronze) and Bressi Ranch production brewery earned a silver. The most medals awarded to a single brewery went to San Marcos’ Rip Current Brewing Company and less-than-a-year-old North Park interest Eppig Brewing. Both of those companies earned a gold, silver and two bronzes. San Marcos’ The Lost Abbey and South Park Brewing Company earned three medals apiece, as well. Also impressive was Rip Current winning two of three medals in the German-style Bock category.
The following is a complete list of the winners from this years SDIBF…
The three-day public beer-fest portion of the SDIBF will take place at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Friday, June 16 through Sunday, June 18. Tickets and information can be found online.
Many local breweries lend their skill and effort to charities, but it takes an nth-level degree of devotion to make a cause the crux of a brewing company’s entire identity. But that’s how deeply engrained Greg Littrell’s and Katie Earle’s shared love of rescuing dogs is. In fact, it’s how they met ten years ago when Littrell adopted dachshunds from Earle’s rescue. During that transaction, they discovered that they had more in common than canines, namely a love of beer and brewing. Fast-forward and the duo is in the process of opening a boutique operation called Barrel Rescue Brewing Company (8125 Ronson Road, Suite F, Kearny Mesa).
Last week, Littrell and Earle signed the lease on a 2,000-square-foot space in which to install a projected seven-barrel brewhouse which they intend to acquire from an existing local brewery looking to up its capacity, 300 oak barrels and a tasting room. Like the output of most of its beers, the tasting room will be very tiny—likely a mere 500 square feet (though an outdoor patio is planned to provide patrons extra space). If all goes as planned, the interior will feature canvas-wrap wall art of dogs available for adoption from various San Diego rescue groups.
Additionally, Barrel Rescue’s brews will be named after some of their four-legged friends. A Belgian golden ale built for barrel-aging will bear the name of Nellie, a dachshund Katie rescued from a puppy mill, and a blueberry sour will be called Rainbow Blueberry Frost after the first deaf dog she rescued. Additionally, there will be a line of Brettanomyces-fermented beers will be called the Goldilocks Series: Papa Brett, Mama Brett and Baby Brett (though they’ve never had pups named Goldilocks or Brett).
In reading that last paragraph, astute imbibers will notice that every beer mentioned falls in the sour or wild category. As the business’ name implies, this will be Barrel Rescue’s bailiwick. There will be year-round beers, but Littrell and Earle are all about crafting “true” barrel-aged sour beers aged at least a year before blending or fruiting. They aim to produce lambics, gueuzes and fruited sour ales. The latter will incorporate more typical fruits such as cherries, raspberries and apricots, as well as lesser utilized edibles such as apples and Meyer lemons.
Littrell and Earle will both handle brewing, extending on four years spent brewing sour beers as a tandem. They started with two used barrels from San Marcos’ The Lost Abbey, followed by a quartet of oak receptacles from a local winery. From there, they entered some of their ales into local competitions, garnering awards and positive feedback. Earle also won an internal homebrewing contest while working at Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits (she now works at The Lost Abbey Confessional in Cardiff), which led to the commercial brewing of Home Brew Mart Homework Series #5, a hoppy Belgian-style pale ale. That beer recently took silver at last weekend’s San Diego International Beer Festival. Still, one of the most rewarding moments of their time on the tart side was when a friend of theirs took a bottle of their framboise to Belgium’s lambic mecca, Cantillon, and were told the brewer they shared it with refused to believe it was a homebrew creation.
A number of Barrel Rescue beers are already resting in oak. Littrell and Earle used homebrewer Jeff Swem‘s home brew system (which readers may have seen on the cover of the June issue of West Coaster) to brew the base beers. As soon as their brewhouse is installed, the duo plan to get to work immediately brewing up beers and transferring them to barrels to begin the aging process. Still, they report it will be at least a year before the business opens. Even when that happens, beer will be rather scarce. They liken it to a boutique winery producing very minute vintages. Once a year, they will offer up limited-release bottles of their barrel-aged stock and when they’re gone, they’re gone.
In selecting Kearny Mesa, not only did Littrell and Earle pick a community with a burgeoning beer scene and breweries they share the sour bug with, they also inherited built-in comrades who have already been exceptionally helpful to them, lending advice throughout the early stages of Barrel Rescue’s life. Among them are Douglas Constantiner and Travis Smith of Societe Brewing Company, Liz and Curtis Chism of Council Brewing Company, and Tom and Lindsey Nickel of O’Brien’s Pub. But who wouldn’t want to help an operation that will not only rescue dogs in need, but as Earle puts it, “rescue barrels from the horrible fate of becoming planters sold at Dixieline.”
The 6th Annual San Diego International Beer Festival starts this weekend Friday, June 22nd and ends Sunday June 24th. A festival within the San Diego County Fair (aka Del Mar Fair), the general admission has two sessions Friday 6/22 at 12-4PM & 5-9PM, and Saturday 6/23 at 11A-3PM & 4-8PM. There is also one session on Sunday from 1-5PM. The general admission ticket is $48 with Fair entrance included. Inspired by the Great American Beer Festival and organized by Tom Nickel (of O’Brien’s, Julian Brewing Co., and West Coast BBQ & Brew), the festival will serve unlimited 1oz tasters of over 300 beers from nearly 140 breweries from around the world.
At the VIP Brewers Lounge, beer drinkers can taste unlimited, larger 6-oz pours not only from the 300+ beers being tapped, but also from extra brews located only in the Lounge area. VIP ticket-holders also enjoy half-hour early admission to the Festival, food stations with unlimited grazing for the first two hours of the session, and a special souvenir tasting glass. VIP admission is $90 with Fair admission, and has sessions on Friday 6/22 from 4:30-9PM, Saturday 6/23 from 10:30AM-3:00PM & 3:30-8PM, and Sunday 12:30-5:30PM
Click here for tickets! (Enter passcode BARLEY on Ticketmaster and save $10 for the Friday 4:30-9PM session or for the Saturday 10:30AM-3PM session. Use passcode MALT for $10 off the Sunday VIP session)
This post sponsored by the San Diego International Beer Festival
Post updated 4:37PM on 6/19 with corrected passcode info & extra Sunday VIP session
Many beer festivals preach to the choir, but one that attracts suds novices, macro drinkers and full-fledged beer geeks alike is the San Diego International Beer Festival. The Festival took place over four sessions June 24 to 26. Held in the Chevrolet Del Mar Arena during the San Diego County Fair, the event is now in its fifth year. This year, the Festival attracted big crowds comprised of just about every demographic imaginable (much to the lament of Interstate 5 commuters).
The 2011 festival featured a special “Brewer’s Lounge” element during Saturday’s afternoon session where eventgoers had the opportunity to bump elbows with brewers from some of the 150-plus brewing companies that showed up to the festival. Even if imbibers didn’t have the chance to meet industry artisans, they had the chance to get familiar with their wares. Over 350 beers were available and, in Great American Beer Festival style, there was no limit to the amount of one ounce sampling a session ticket entitled attendees to.
In addition to unlimited tastes of hundreds of beers, present were brewers such as AleSmith’s Peter Zien and non-brewer beer industry entrepreneurs like Misty Birchall from PubCakes. Vendors treated crowds to free seminars on a number of topics from beer tasting to their product lines.
In the end, it was all about the beer. Specifically, who had the best beer. In the Festival’s official competition, a number of local breweries medaled. The following is a full list of those that came in within the top three spots in individual categories:
Unique Ingredient Beer: Stone/Dogfish Head/Victory Saison du BUFF (1st Place), Ballast Point Victory at Sea (3rd Place)
Specialty Beer: The Lost Abbey Veritas 008 (1st Place)
Rye Beer: Alpine Nelson IPA (2nd Place)
European Lager: Pizza Port Carlsbad Murphy’s Lawger (2nd Place)
Golden or Blonde Beer: TailGate Beer Blacktop Blonde (1st Place)
English Style Pale Ale: Ballast Point Yellowtail Pale Ale (3rd Place)
American Style India Pale Ale: Pizza Port Carlsbad Welcome Back Wipeout (2nd Place), Alpine Duet (3rd Place)
Imperial India Pale Ale: Pizza Port Carlsbad Poor Man’s IPA (1st Place)
American Style Amber/Red Ale: Green Flash Hop Head Red (1st Place), Ballast Point Calico Amber Ale (3rd Place)
Imperial Red Ale: Port Brewing Shark Attack (1st Place)
Scottish Style Ale: Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing McGarvey’s Scottish Ale (3rd Place)
Irish Style Red Ale: Karl Strauss Red Trolley Ale (1st Place)
English Style Brown Ale: Pizza Port Ocean Beach Skidmark Brown Ale (1st Place), Rock Bottom San Diego Brown Ale (2nd Place), Pizza Port Carlsbad Good Grief Brown (3rd Place)
American Style Brown Ale: Port Brewing Hot Rocks Lager (2nd Place)
German Style Ale: Mission Blonde (2nd Place)
German Style Weiss: Pizza Port Solana Beach Hot Spots Hefeweizen (2nd Place)
French & Belgian Style Ale: Green Flash Summer Saison (2nd Place)
Sour Ale: The Lost Abbey Red Poppy (1st Place), The Lost Abbey Amazing Grace (3rd Place)
Belgian Style Pale Strong Ale: The Lost Abbey Inferno Ale (3rd Place)
Porter: Rock Bottom La Jolla Moonlight Porter (2nd Place)
Bold Stout: Pizza Port Ocean Beach A.B.L.E. American Stout (1st Place)
British Style Strong Ale: AleSmith Decadence 2010 English Old Ale (1st Place)
Barley Wine: AleSmith Old Numbskull (2nd Place)