DENVER -- Nine Los Angeles County craft breweries are bringing their A-game this year to the country's largest and most important congress for the beer industry -- the Great American Beer Festival, which started Oct. 10, and runs through Saturday, Oct. 12.
Larger than ever for its 31st year, tabling spots for more than 600 breweries were claimed in less than an hour and a half -- leaving at least 350 breweries waitlisted -- while public tickets to attend were snatched in 20 minutes, less than half the time it took to sell out last year.
Over three sessions, 3,100 beers are poured for attendees in the festival hall and more than 6,000 beers will be judged for their worth in 84 professional competition categories, with winners announced Saturday night.
The number of local spots being represented at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver is just one more than last year, but only five of them have been to GABF before.
Beachwood, Golden Road, Haven, the Lab and Ladyface have all re-entered, though several of them now have different brewers at the helm. Bravery, Kinetic, El Segundo and Smog City are the county's newcomer entries. Eagle Rock Brewery and Ohana tried to attend but ended up on the wait list. Eagle Rock eventually sent in several beers for the competition only, but they are not presenting on the floor.
While Beachwood is the only L.A. County beer-maker here with medals to defend (last year it won bronze in the French and Belgian-Style Saison category for the El Verano Saison and a gold in the Sweet Stout category for Udder Love), there are more previous medal winners and veteran California brewers representing L.A. than ever before.
Three former top brewers from NorCal powerhouse Drake's in San Leandro have moved to L.A. in the last 10 months, bringing with them hop-forward beer recipes and production brewery knowledge unparalleled in the industry. Jesse Houck at Golden Road, Alexandra Nowell at Kinetic and Brian Thorson at Haven have all reinvigorated their respective breweries and many of the beers they developed since coming to town were entered in competition.
Jonathan Porter of Smog City also has been entering beers for years through his former workplace Tustin Brewing. Porter won a bronze for Blimp Hangar porter in 2010, and last year he won gold for the Groundworks Coffee Porter, the coffee-infused version of Blimp Hangar that is now a flagship brew for his new Torrance brand.
Here's a list of L.A. county beers on the floor of the GABF. Most beers available for tasting were submitted for judging, with the addition of numerous experimental and unreleased beers.
BEACHWOOD BBQ AND BREWING (Long Beach)
-Denver Jackhammer DIPA
-System of a Stout
-Foam Top (won gold at 2011 World Beer Cup)
BRAVERY BREWING (Lancaster)
-Korova Sweet Stour
EL SEGUNDO BREWING COMPANY (El Segundo)
-Blue House Citra Pale Ale
-White Dog IPA
-Casa Azul (Mexican lager--no lime needed)
-Blue House IPA
-Two 5 Left DIPA
GOLDEN ROAD BREWING (Los Angeles)
-Heal the Bay IPA
-Mildly Handsome (English mild with Handsome coffee)
HAVEN BREWING (Pasadena)
KINETIC BREWING (Lancaster)
-Coffee-infused Rusted Gear Amber
-Ignition (wet hop pale)
-Infared (imperial red)
THE LAB BREWING CO. (Agoura)
-Take Her Home Tripel
-After Midnight Moo
LADYFACE ALE COMPANIE (Agoura)
-Pro/Am entry: Dark Horse, a winning homebrew recipe for a Belgian-style quad from Kingsley Toby and Brian Holter of Culver City's Pipe Dream Brewery
SMOG CITY BREWING (Torrance)
-Little Bo Pils
-Groundwork Coffee Porter
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