San Diego breweries took 13 awards and two Honorable Mentions in this month's California State Fair Commercial Craft Brew Competition. 1086 Beers were judged in 34 Categories overall, with locals recognized in 10 of them.
Ballast Point narrowly missed being named Brewery of the Year, placing in four categories along with an Honorable Mention. Particularly impressive was placing first in a highly competitive IPA category with its Sculpin IPA. The Miramar brewery also picked up first with Wahoo Witbier, in the Belgian and French Ale group.
The company's original Linda Vista brewing location nabbed two second-place finishes: Navigator Dopplebock (Bock), and Three Sheets English Barley Wine (Strong Ale). Three Sheets was only beaten by the competition's Best in Show winner: Fat Hog Barelywine by Ritual Brewing Co., out of Redlands. Ballast Point's Honorable Mention came in the Specialty IPA group, with its Grapefruit Sculpin.
Four first place awards came home to San Diego in all. Santee's BNS Brewing and Distilling Co. took on 77 entrants to see its Gatling Gun named top Imperial Stout. And Mission Hill's Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment bested 31 other breweries for the designation best Fruit Beer with its Strawberry Blondie.
Two brand new SD breweries entered beers that took second in their categories. Division 23 Brewing, which launched this spring in Miramar, placed number two in Sours with its Sour Superintendent Berliner Weisse. Guadalupe Brewery is still waiting for the city of Carlsbad to okay public service in its new brewery's tasting room, yet its Wild Reserve managed to claim the number two Barrel Aged beer under 20 percent ABV. One of SD's oldest breweries also placed second — Coronado Brewing Co. did so in the Amber Hybrids category with its Coronado Common.
The top category for our city was IPA, where in addition to the Sculpin win, Mike Hess Brewing's Solis IPA earned Honorable Mention — which carries a lot of weight considering 114 beers were competing. Hess also got a third-place award for Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer with its Jucundus orange honey wheat.
San Diego also made a strong showing with Belgian Dark Strong Ales. Rip Current got third with the Take Off Tripel, while Karl Strauss placed second with Two Tortugas (Strauss also got second with its Joltin’ Joe Specialty Beer).
Taking first in Belgian Dark Strong's was the Belgian Vanilla Blonde Ale by Babe's Bar-Be-Que & Brewhouse. That win helped the Rancho Mirage brewpub come away with the distinction California's 2015 Brewery of the Year.