At the Great American Beer Festival, the country's largest and most prestigious beer competition, held last week in Denver, 8,000 beers across 161 categories were judged over three days by certified professionals from around the world.
Forty L.A. Brewers Guild members entered the competition, and seven Los Angeles County craft breweries took home medals, including one gold, for their beers. Two of the breweries are in the heavily decorated Beachwood family of beer projects and the other five are first-time winners. Last year, L.A. County craft breweries took home the same number of medals.
Beachwood’s 6-year-old Long Beach brewpub — which was twice named one of the best brewpubs in the country at GABF — earned a gold medal in the American Black Ale category for its hoppy and roasty Black IPA Hoppa Emeritus. Beachwood’s funky barrel house, the Blendery, won a bronze in the Chili Beer category for Dia de Los Mangos.
Because of newer limitations on the number of beers that breweries can enter — and the increasingly crowded craft beer landscape in general — sweeping wins such as those Beachwood saw in prior years have become far more rare. Fewer than 30 breweries out of about the 300 honored won multiple medals.
Three Weavers Brewing Co. in Inglewood netted a silver medal in one of the more competitive categories for its Seafarer, a German-style Kolsch. It’s the third recognition at GABF for brewmaster Alexandra Nowell, who won two bronze medals there in 2013 while working at Kinetic Brewing in Lancaster. One of those medals was for Potential Blonde, which also placed in the German-style Kolsch category.
This year also cast a much-deserved spotlight on L.A. beer-makers in the eastern end of the county. Sanctum Brewing Company in Pomona and Claremont Craft Ales each won a medal for a year-round beer: Sanctum’s Solar earned a silver in the Munich-style Helles category, while Claremont’s Jacaranda IPA took home a bronze in the English-style IPA category.
Under brewmaster Brian Brewer, newcomer HopSaint in Torrance won a silver in the Australian-style or International-style Pale Ale category with its Pure Intention Pale Ale. Ohana Brewing’s refreshing Spa Water Saison won a bronze in the Field Beer category.
In Orange County, stalwarts like TAPS Fish House & Brewery, Oggi's Pizza & Brewing Company and the Bruery brought home more hardware to add to their walls, while Artifex Brewing Company and Cismontane Brewing Company earned their first medals, in the cream ale and fruit beer categories, respectively.
Below is a complete list of local winners (including PBR, which always wins something but isn't craft beer):
Beachwood BBQ & Brewing
Category: American Black Ale
Beer: Hoppa Emeritus
Three Weavers Brewing Co.
Category: German-style Kolsch
HopSaint Brewing Co.
Category: Australian-style or International-style Pale Ale
Beer: Pure Intention Pale Ale
Sanctum Brewing Co.
Category: Munich-style Helles
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Ohana Brewing Company
Category: Field Beer
Beer: Spa Water Saison
Category: Chili beer
Beer: Dia de los Mangos
Claremont Craft Ales
Category: English-style IPA
Beer: Jacaranda Rye IPA
Pabst Brewing Company
Category: American-style lager
Beer: Pabst Blue Ribbon