DENVER — Change is upon the brewing industry, as evidenced by the goings-on at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival, organized by Boulder, Colorado-based Brewers Association. And the changes in the L.A. beer community, from notable newcomers to shifting ownership, were a hot topic on Thursday night, during the first session of the festival.
This year, the 750 breweries at GABF are serving more than 3,750 beers, making it the biggest American beer festival — a place for industry professionals and beer aficionados to sample the best of what the country has to offer, and for beers to compete against one another for numerous national awards.
The L.A. presence at GABF has shifted this year. A few familiar faces are missing — including previous medal winners Smog City and Eagle Rock. GABF also opened the day after news broke that Golden Road Brewing had been acquired by beer goliath Anheuser-Busch Inbev. Golden Road co-founder Meg Gill manned the brewery's booth during the first session, discussing the deal and what it means for the Los Angeles brewery.
"My day-to-day won't change," she said. "This is an opportunity to grow our presence in existing distribution networks."
GABF runs the largest and most respected beer competition in the country. L.A. has more than a few chances to win some of the coveted medals, which are awarded for excellence in nearly 100 beer styles. Beachwood BBQ and Brewing has won an unprecedented nine medals since opening in 2011 and for the last two years has been named one of the best brewpubs in the country. It will be defending those titles alongside other previous local winners, including brewmaster Alexandra Nowell, now of Three Weavers Brewing, who won two medals in 2013 while at Kinetic Brewing. Three Weavers was not brewing in time to submit beers for judging last year (it opened in October 2014), but made it to the festival as a sponsor to pour some of its early batches.
Golden Road Brewing also might have a chance at a medal this year. The L.A. brewery hired Orange County's most tenured and decorated brewer, Victor Novak, last July, and he is brewing batches in preparation for the opening of his own Golden Road brewery in Anaheim.
The following 10 breweries made the trek across the Rockies to represent L.A. in Denver. Winners of the GABF competition will be announced Saturday, Sept. 26.
Returning L.A. breweries and their competing beers (in alphabetical order):
Beachwood BBQ & Brewing (Long Beach)
- Mocha Machine
- Foam Top
- Udder Love
- Rye Like an Eagle
- Un Atout
King Harbor Brewing Co. (Redondo Beach)
- South Bayern
- Storm's a Brewin'
- 70 & Sunny
- The Quest — Rakau
Golden Road Brewing (Los Angeles)
- What She's Having Red
- Point the Way IPA
- Wolf Among Weeds IPA
- 329 Days of Sun Lager
Ladyface Ale Companie (Agoura Hills)
- Verrückt Weizen
LAB Brewing Co. (Agoura Hills)
- After Midnight Moo
- Imperial Stout
- Take Her Home
- Hop Solution
Three Weavers Brewing Co. (Inglewood)
- Return of Sassy
- Midnight Flight
- Deep Roots
Debuting L.A. breweries:
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MacLeod’s Ale Brewing Co. (Van Nuys)
- The Session Gap
- The King's Taxes
- The Groat
- The Little Spree
- Jackie Tar
Ohana Brewing Co. (Los Angeles)
- Ohana Saison Noir
- Spa Water Saison
Phantom Carriage Brewery (Gardena)
- Broadacres With Dragonfruit
Reel Brew Co. (Sherman Oaks)
- Hollywood Pils
- Reel Brew