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The Del Mar Fair (that's right...I said it...this native doesn't have to get on the San Diego County Fair bus) features a number of competitions where blue ribbons and their lesser hued cousins are pinned to the chests of worthy recipients. Of them all, of course, my favorite is the brewing competition that accompanies the San Diego International Beer Festival, a fermentable free-for-all featuring 350-plus beers from 150 breweries located all over the world.

For the past five years, the SDIBF has provided a good and affordable ($32 for unlimited tasting over four hours) opportunity to sample a wide array of brews, from hopped up Cali IPAs and Belgian tripels to German dopplebocks and English-style bitters on to ales and lagers from lesser represented countries like big up-and-comer New Zealand.

Even with numerous literally world class contendors vying for top dog in nearly 50 style categories, SD suds rose to the top in nearly half of them, capturing azure in 11 of them. The following is the total list of ribbon-worthy brews.

American Style Amber/Red Ale 1. Green Flash Hop Head Red 3. Ballast Point Calico Amber Ale

Bold Stout 1. Pizza Port Ocean Beach A.B.L.E. American Stout

British Style Strong Ale 1. AleSmith Decadence 2010 English Old Ale

English Style Brown Ale 1. Pizza Port Ocean Beach Skidmark Brown Ale 2. Rock Bottom San Diego Brown Ale 3. Pizza Port Carlsbad Good Grief Brown

Golden or Blonde Beer: 1. TailGate Beer Blacktop Blonde

Imperial India Pale Ale 1. Pizza Port Carlsbad Poor Man’s IPA

Imperial Red Ale 1. Port Brewing Shark Attack

Irish Style Red Ale 1. Karl Strauss Red Trolley Ale

Sour Ale 1. The Lost Abbey Red Poppy 3. The Lost Abbey Amazing Grace

Specialty Beer 1. The Lost Abbey Veritas 008

Unique Ingredient Beer 1. Stone/Dogfish Head/Victory Saison du BUFF 3. Ballast Point Victory at Sea (3rd Place)

American Style Brown Ale 2. Port Brewing Hot Rocks Lager

American Style India Pale Ale 2. Pizza Port Carlsbad Welcome Back Wipeout 3. Alpine Beer Duet

Barley Wine 2. AleSmith Old Numbskull

European Lager 2. Pizza Port Carlsbad Murphy’s Lawger

French & Belgian Style Ale 2. Green Flash Summer Saison

German Style Ale 2. Mission Blonde

German Style Weiss 2. Pizza Port Solana Beach Hot Spots Hefeweizen

Porter 2. Rock Bottom La Jolla Moonlight Porter

Rye Beer 2. Alpine Beer Nelson IPA

Belgian Style Pale Strong Ale 3. The Lost Abbey Inferno Ale

English Style Pale Ale 3. Ballast Point Yellowtail Pale Ale

Scottish Style Ale 3. Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing McGarvey’s Scottish Ale


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