Los Angeles County craft breweries proved that our growing beer scene is a force to be reckoned with at this weekend's Great American Beer Festival, with two local brands bringing home a combined seven medals and, for one, the honor of being named the best brewpub of its size in the country.
At Saturday's awards ceremony held at the Denver Convention Center, Kinetic Brewing in Lancaster won two bronze medals (one for Torque in the Session Beer category and one for Potential Blonde in the German-Style Kolsh category), a feat not only for a first-time entering brewery but also for the newly instated head brewer, Alexandra Nowell, who only left her job as Drake's lead brewer in April.
But with an impressive five medals and a coveted title of Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year all going to Beachwood BBQ and Brewing in Long Beach, it was the 2-year-old outpost at the end of the Blue Line that undoubtedly scored the most national attention for Los Angeles.
Brewmaster Julian Shrago and assistant brewer Ian McCall were awarded two gold medals -- for Foam Top in the Golden/Blonde Ale category and Kilgore in the American-Style Stout category -- one silver medal for Udder Love in the Sweet Stout category and two bronzes, one for Barrel-Aged Full Malted Jacket in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer category and another for System of a Stout in the Coffee Beer category. Though we named the brewpub the best in L.A. for local IPAs, the hop-forward beers they submitted didn't medal.
Beachwood, Shrago and McCall were named Mid-Size Brewpub and Brewpub Brewers of the Year, a combined award for both brewery and brewers determined by overall competition scores.
Only a few other metropolitan areas in the country managed to earn as many medals as L.A. did, but the wins for both Kinetic and Beachwood become even more impressive when confronted with the sheer number of entries they were up against.
With each brewery limited to entering 10 beers, 745 breweries submitted 4,809 beers for judging at GABF this year, a 12% increase from last year, when Beachwood brought home two medals -- a bronze in the French- and Belgian-Style Saison category for El Verano and a gold in the Sweet Stout category for Udder Love. And in each of the categories that the two breweries medaled in, there were at least 40 entries. The Coffee Beer category alone boasted 92 entries; the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer category had 119.
Other regional breweries that scored this weekend include Redlands' Hangar 24 -- which won a gold in the Specialty Beer category for Warmer, a spruce and cinnamon strong ale -- and TAPS Fish House in Corona and Brea, which won a bronze in the Munich-Style Helles category and a bronze in the German-Style Schwarzbier category.
In the 805, Figueroa Mountain in Buellton outdid last year's three medal wins with a whopping five, including two golds and three silvers, and Firestone Walker in Paso Robles -- which soon will be opening its first L.A. County outpost on the Westside -- took four medals and (for the fourth time since 2003) the title of Best Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year.
Overall, 35 medals were won by Southern California breweries this year and 52 were earned statewide, more than any other state in the country.
Below is a list of the medals won by L.A. County breweries:
Kinetic Brewing Company, Lancaster
-Session Beer (category 12): Bronze for Torque
-German-Style Kölsch (category 45): Bronze for Potential Blonde
Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, Long Beach
-Golden or Blonde Ale (category 44): Gold for Foam Top Cream Ale
-American-Style Stout (category 78): Gold for Kilgore Stout
-Sweet Stout (category 79): Silver for Udder Love
-Wood and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer (category 22): Bronze, Barrel-Aged Full Malted Jacket
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-Coffee Beer (category 8): Bronze, System of a Stout
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