Los Angeles County breweries won two medals at this year's Great American Beer Festival over the weekend, far fewer than in the last few years, when Beachwood BBQ and Brewing in Long Beach won multiple awards, including Best Brewpub. Beachwood earned a silver medal for Mocha Machine, which makes this Beachwood's third year in a row medaling in the Coffee Beer category (it won gold with Mocha Machine last year and bronze for System of a Stout in 2013). Smog City grabbed a silver medal in the Belgian-Style Fruit Beer category for its Kumquat Saison, made with foraged kumquats.
Breweries just outside of the L.A. County fared better. Anaheim's Bottle Logic took home two gold medals – one in the American Dark Lager category for Lagerithm and one for Cobaltic Porter, in the Baltic Porter category – and Noble earned a bronze for Nose Candy, its session IPA.
Ritual Brewing in Redlands struck gold twice, once for its imperial stout Big Deluxe, which won in the Aged Beer category, and once for Fat Hog, its barleywine. Temecula’s Aftershock Brewing won bronze for its Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ale in the Herb and Spice Beer Category, and its Temecula neighbors Garage Brewing captured gold in the Munich-Style Helles category for its Bucket Seat Blonde. Dale Bros Brewing will be bringing a medal home to Upland, too, a bronze for Nuff, its cream ale. And a GABF silver medal was awarded to Riverside's Heroes Restaurant and Brewery’s Boxcar Blonde Ale. To the north, Institution Ales from Camarillo won a bronze for its brown ale, Restraint.
The biggest winner in the region was TAPS Fish House & Brewery, whose two locations took home two medals apiece. The Brea outpost won a silver for its Kellerbier and a bronze for its Amend This! Pilsner, and the Corona brewery took home two golds: one for Velvet Hog chocolate beer and one for TAPS Irish Red. Those two gold medals were enough to crown TAPS Corona the Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year. And this despite highly decorated former head brewer Victor Novak’s move to Golden Road a year ago.
And if you include Pabst Brewing as part of the L.A. beer scene – debatable, but they are officially based here – then there’s another success for the region. Pabst won both gold and silver in the Cream Ale category, for Rainier Lager and Olympia, respectively, and that gave them the Large Brewing Company of the Year trophy, another notch in the belt of Big Hipster.
All in all, it was another step forward for the region as a whole, if perhaps not the leap some had been expecting. L.A. breweries generated considerable buzz and long lines for samples. Beachwood was a popular stop, as always, and over the course of the festival’s four sessions the lines at Phantom Carriage noticeably grew, and several people mentioned Broadacres with Dragonfruit, a bright and tart Berliner Weiss, among their personal favorites. Three Weavers received a similar degree of respect from festival attendees, and Ladyface was a noted highlight in the Brewpub section of the festival floor.