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Suds Surfin' In San Diego
By Rich Link

This past April, many of San Diego’s brewers attended the Craft Brewers Conference and World Beer Cup festivities in Seattle. I hope they packed light, because they brought home some extra hardware in the form of World Beer Cup medals. Officially, eight awards were won by six different San Diego County breweries. Both counts increase by one if we include Pizza Port San Clemente’s silver medal in the English-Style Mild Ale category.

The Pizza Port breweries led the way, with a total of four medals. Dawn Patrol Dark took a silver medal for the aforementioned San Clemente location. Port Solana Beach struck gold with Shark Attack in the Imperial or Double Red Ale category. And Port Carlsbad took two medals: silver for Night Rider Imperial Stout and gold for Sharkbite Red Ale. Port brewers Tomme Arthur, Jeff Bagby and Josh Miner continue to produce some of the best beers in the world, and these awards are testament to that statement.

Green Flash Brewing Company of Vista took home two medals. In the English-Style Summer Ale category (is there really a summer in England?), Green Flash Extra Pale Ale won a silver medal. Green Flash Nut Brown Ale won a silver medal in the English-Style Brown Ale category. Brewer Chuck Silva has been garnering a number of awards since he took over the brewer’s paddle nearly two years ago.

Stone Brewing Company’s Ruination IPA (my favorite of the Stone brews) took the bronze medal in the American-Style IPA category. Alpine Beer Company took the silver medal in the Imperial or Double IPA category with Pure Hoppiness — in my opinion, one of the best beers ever made in San Diego County. Dorado Double IPA took bronze in the same category for Ballast Point Brewing Company. Three out of six medals in the two American IPA categories is pretty impressive. Yet, the lupulin king has been crowned, and he is former San Diego County resident Vinnie Cilurzo. Vinnie’s Russian River Brewing Company took the gold medal in the Imperial or Double IPA category with Pliny the Elder, and another gold medal in the American-Style IPA category with the very triumphant return of Blind Pig IPA.

Back Street Brewery in Vista celebrated its second anniversary with a big bash on April 22. There were free raffles, 14 beers on tap and two casks, and all Back Street brewers from four locations were in attendance. Vista’s brewer, David Lusk, was a great host, as was Back Street’s corporate brewmaster Ryan Aikens. I endeavored to “sample” all 14 beers. The good news is that there were no clinkers in the bunch. The great news is that there were some fantastic beers being served. The regular Back Street beers were there: Heritage Hefeweizen, Pacific Pale Ale, Jagged Little Pilsner and Rita Red. There were also some wonderful beers such as AnniversaRyeIPA, Arnold Stoutzenegger on Nitro, and Hopfather Double IPA (my favorite). Other beers included a very nice ESB that would be fantastic on cask, Maddix Brown, which was a perfect English Brown Ale, and a cask barley wine brewed by guest brewer Kirk McHale, former brewer at Pizza Port Carlsbad.

Back Street Brewery is part of the Lamppost Pizza chain established in 1976 by brothers Dan and Tom Barrow. There are now 40 Lamppost locations, mostly in Southern California. Eight locations are in the Sacramento Valley, and there’s one in Texas that is run by Dan and Tom’s younger brother. In addition to the Vista location, there are three other Back Street Breweries in Southern California. Jeff Williams is the brewer at Ladera Ranch, Dave Moody brews in Irvine, and Ron Gordon is the brewer at the La Quinta location.

Belgian beer fans got more than their fill at the 12-hour Belgian Beer Party at Pizza Port Carlsbad on March 25. More than 90 different beers from Belgium, the United States, Canada and The Netherlands were offered in four-ounce samples. Organizers Tomme Arthur, Jeff Bagby and Tom Nickel really went all out and put together a great party. The list of bottled beers included eight Trappist brews, six from Cantillon, four from Drie Fonteinen and four from St. Bernardus. The draft list was equally impressive, with 19 beers, including Chimay Cinq Cents, Ballast Point Hout, Maredsous 10 and De Koninck. A couple of Dutch beers that made the list were IJ Columbus and Jopen Koyt Gruit Beer.

Speaking of festivals, if you plan now, you can make it to the ninth annual San Diego Real Ale Festival on June 9–10 at Pizza Port Carlsbad. Expect more than 50 firkins of real ale served via hand-pump or gravity — no CO2 required or wanted. Cost is $25, which includes a commemorative logo glass and eight taster tickets. Additional tickets for the five-ounce samples will be sold for $1 each.

Longtime Stone Brewing Company brewer Lee Chase has left the company and now is working with yeast provider White Labs. We wish Lee all the best in his new position.

Rich Link is an associate editor of the Celebrator Beer News. He lives in Santee, Calif., and has been brewing beer at home since 1980. He can be reached via e-mail at linkbrew2@cs.com.


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