Once again, Orange County breweries showed off their strength at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver this weekend! The show of force included repeat winners and some first-time winners. Over the period of three days, 322 judges from around the world tasted 9,497 beers grouped into 107 categories.
And while the total of medals OC brought home this year isn’t as great as last year, we still had some impressive wins when you consider the numbers. There were also some great breweries that were left out this year, such as The Bruery/Terreux and Noble Ale Works. Also hoping for some repeat wins was Stereo Brewing Co. with Robot and Wall of Sound, but it found no such luck this year.
Now, as mentioned last year (here), this is not to say a those beers or the beer you enjoy is not worthy of praise if it didn’t win. There are many factors on why a beer did not place in the top three. Only one of those reasons is the beer itself. And if the beer is bad, you probably won’t like it anyway.
But onto the winners. Congratulations to the following hardware recipients! (Official list can be found on this link)
GameCraft in Laguna Hills, ‘There is No Cow Level’ – Coffee Stout or Porter
Green Cheek in Orange, ‘Australian For Pale’ – Australian-Style Pale Ale
TAPS Brewery & Barrel Room in Tustin, ‘Krystal Clear’ – German-Style Wheat Ale
Bravus Brewing in Newport Beach, ‘Bravus Oatmeal Stout’ – Non-Alcoholic Beer or Alcohol-Free Beer
Green Cheek in Orange, ‘Radiant Beauty” – American-Style India Pale Ale
Phantom Ales in Anaheim, ‘Juice Jockey’ – Juicy or Hazy Imperial India Pale Ale
Tustin Brewing Co. in Tustin, ‘Portola Breakfast Stout’ – Coffee Stout or Porter
Beachwood BBQ and Brewing in Long Beach (grandfathered in because of Huntington Beach location), ‘Kilgore’ – American-Style Stout
Bravus Brewing in Newport Beach, ‘Bravus Barrel-Aged Bourbon Stout’ – Non-Alcoholic Beer or Alcohol-Free Beer
TAPS Brewery & Barrel Room in Tustin, ‘Don’t Drop That Dun Dun Dunkel’ – German-Style Dark Lager
Juice Jockey, an Imperial IPA from Phantom Ales, got it its first GABF medal in a heavily entered category (165 entries). That same beer was judged by yours truly and won second place (and People’s Choice!) during another competition earlier this year. You can read more about that here.
Our other first-time winners, GameCraft Brewing, placed right above Tustin Brewing Co.’s Portola Breakfast Stout, which has won Bronze and Gold in past World Beer Cups. Bravus took Bronze and Silver for N/A beer, a category that has been absent from GABF for over 10 years! I won’t lie when I say I was hoping they would sweep.
Green Cheek did not disappoint, showing its amazing skills at brewing hoppy beers. Radiant Beauty also took Silver at World Beer Cup last year. TAPS impressed me with their Kristal Clear, a Kristal Weizen, that I knew it had to bring home a medal upon tasting it the first time! (Although, I said that because I really liked it, not because I knew it would win. I’m not THAT good.)
Now we look forward April for the biennial competition, the Word Beer Cup, this time slated to be held in San Antonio. The anticipation is making me thirsty!
Editor’s note: Charlie Perez is an Advanced Cicerone® who covers the Orange County beer scene for the Booze Blog.