The San Diego International Beer Festival (SIBF) is the highlight of any beer connoisseur’s San Diego summer rounds. This year’s 2015 beer fest held at the Del Mar fairgrounds was hosted June 19-21 and included free admission to the fair. This prime location allowed thirsty patrons the opportunity to not only sample some of the year’s best brews, but also nosh on fare food, get their thrills in on rollercoasters and games, and of course, impart some love onto some farm animals at the petting zoo.
This yearly festival showcases nearly 200 separate breweries from near and far. With over 960 entries, this round’s participants represented 11 nations and 23 states. Those lucky enough to snatch a VIP Brewers lounge ticket could cash in on a 6-ounce souvenir glass, a free t-shirt, and food paired with complementary beer stations.
In San Diego, we take our beer seriously, and the judging at the San Diego International Beer Festival is no exception. From stouts to meads and everything in between, the SIBF breaks down the list and teases out the best of the best from the in-betweens. Each beer is allowed one entry, and all decisions are final.
Beers are judged by style guidelines from the Brewers Association and their Beer Judge Certification Program. To remove any doubt, judging is a closed event. Industry professionals and certified judges evaluate beers in each of 48 style categories, including separate divisions for beer, mead, and cider. A few of these categories included Barley Wine, American-Style Stout, German-Style Bock, Smoked Beer, and Unique Ingredient Beer. The judging process ensures that the judges are unaware of the brand or brewery, and to make it a fair fight, categories can only be judged if they contain at least six entries.
The 2015 San Diego International Beer Festival Winner
San Diego fared especially well in this year’s SIBF lineup. In fact, the elected 2015 champion brewery comes straight out of Miramar, and won a whopping four gold medals. The Alesmith Brewing Company, established in 1995, made an impressive showing by receiving the most total combined points. Winning beers included:
- Barrel-Aged Olde Ale – a wood and barrel aged strong beer
- Nut Brown Ale – an American-style brown ale
- Olde Ale 2015 – a British-Style strong ale
- Old Numbskull – a barley wine
San Diego’s Impressive Results
Sliding in under Alesmith, many other California breweries threw their hats into the ring and came out high in the rankings:
- The California Cider Company won two gold medals for their Ace Apple and Ace Blackjack 21 entries.
- Alvarado Street Brewery held strong with a gold and a silver for their Smokestack Lightning and their Alta California Pale Ale.
- Tustin won golds with a Blimp Hangar Porter and a Bogey’s Dry Stout.
- Garage picked up a silver and a bronze for their Apricot Wit and Black IPA, respectively.
- Acoustic Ales won a silver for their Back N The Gssr.
- Pizza Port creamed the competition with three golds and two silvers, including their Shark Bite Red, Shagadellic Brown, Party Pat Stout, Backside Brown, and Poormans brews.
- Ballast Point also made a great stand with two golds and two silvers for Coral, Ballast Point Pale Ale, Calico, and Homework Series #5.
- Coronado found their way to a silver medal with their Barrel Aged Stupid Stout.
- El Segundo picked up a shiny gold with their Black IPA.
Those that also placed in the winnings include, but are not limited to: Oggi’s Pizza, Smog City, Knee Deep, North Coast, Council, Eel River, Sudwerk, O’ Sullivan Brothers, Legacy, Ironfire, Left Coast, Mammoth, Drake’s, Rip Current, Benchmark, Drake’s, Beachwood, Mother Earth, Dos Desperados, Green Flash, Bagby , Bruery Terreux, The Lost Abbey, Eagle Rock, The Bruery, Mission, Track 7, South Gate, Firestone Walker, Moylan’s, Artifex , Rough Draft, Ladyface Ale, Breakwater, Bottle Logic, La Quinta, Alosta, San Pedro, and Arcana.
This extensive bushel of California breweries hailing from the north all the way down to the local neighborhoods made this year’s festival hit close to home, and showed patrons that there was just about nothing California couldn’t perfect.