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San Diego Wins Big at the World Beer Cup 2016

14 medals prove that San Diego's beer rep is alive and well
World Beer Cup 2016 | Photo courtesy of the Brewers Association

By Bruce Glassman

Some people call it the “Beer Olympics.” By all accounts, the World Beer Cup is—hands down— the most prestigious beer competition in the world.

Every two years, the Brewers Association hosts the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC), which culminates in the awards ceremony for the World Beer Cup competition. This year, the WBC was held in Philadelphia, where 55 countries competed in 96 categories for bragging rights as “best in the world.” A total of 1,907 breweries from all over the globe entered 6,596 beers to be judged. When the winners were announced, fewer than 300 medals were awarded.

The sheer size and scope of this competition is, in itself, highly impressive.  But equally amazing is the fact that brewers from all over the world compete head to head across all kinds of categories, including beer styles that are not indigenous to (or even common in) the countries in which they are brewed. The gold for Chocolate Stout this year? It went to Pasteur Street Brewing Co. from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The silver for American-style Amber Lager? It went to Boxing Cat Brewery from Shanghai, China. The silver for the American-Style Strong Pale Ale (typically dominated by Americans; the gold and bronze this year both went to California breweries)? Yo-Ho Brewing Co. from Saku, Japan.

If you’re a San Diego beer fan, the World Beer Cup is always a happy event. No matter how many countries or beers are entered, it’s a fairly safe bet that San Diego breweries will be well represented. This year, I’m happy to report, was no exception.

San Diego Wins Big at the World Beer Cup 2016

San Diego Wins Big at the World Beer Cup 2016

San Diego won 14 medals at the 2016 World Beer Cup | Photo courtesy of the Brewers Association

San Diego won 14 medals at the 2016 World Beer Cup | Photo courtesy of the Brewers Association

All told, San Diego breweries claimed 14 medals this year, which is an increase from our haul of 11 medals at the 2014 competition. By any account, 14 medals is a very impressive tally, but it’s even more impressive when you consider it in some context. For example, San Diego won more medals than the entire United Kingdom (7 medals total). And we won nearly as many medals as the entire country of Germany (total of 17). Best of all, San Diego did more than its fair share of representing for California, which won a total of 49 medals all together. That means San Diego accounted for nearly a third of all the California medals. Not a bad percentage in a state with more than 500 breweries…

This year’s lineup of medalists was particularly interesting for its mix of small, medium, and large breweries. I always expect to see our well-established veterans like AleSmith and Ballast Point on the list, but this year’s winners included a number of, not only small breweries, but also relatively new breweries. Most notable on the list: Fall Brewing from North Park, Legacy Brewing from Oceanside, Toolbox Brewing from Vista, and NOVO Brazil from Chula Vista. Other winners, though not especially new, are relatively tiny breweries that have managed to create world-class beer on impressively small systems: Monkey Paw Brewing from East Village, Breakwater Brewing Co. from Oceanside, Amplified Ale Works from Pacific Beach (and now Miramar), and Thorn Street Brewery from North Park. All that being said, let’s not take anything away from the great brewers at Mother Earth Brew Co. in Vista who won silver, New English Brewing in Sorrento Valley who won bronze, and Mike Hess Brewing in North Park, who won gold for their German-style Kölsch, a category—I might add—in which the actual Germans won nothing. Sorry, am I gloating?

Here’s the formal tally, organized by medal type. My suggestion: print out the list and make plans to go out and visit each and every one of these breweries in the next few weeks. Seek out their award-winning beers, taste their other brews, and raise a glass to thank them for keeping San Diego’s killer beer rep alive and well!

GOLD MEDALS (5 total)

Whammy Bar Wheat, Wheat Beer (Amplified Ale Works)

Rye Dawn, Rye Beer (Breakwater Brewing)

Bourbon Barrel Aged Jinx Remover, Wood-and-Barrel-Aged Strong Beer (Fall Brewing)

Ashes from the Grave, Smoked Beer (Monkey Paw Brewing)

Claritas, German-style Kölsch (Mike Hess Brewing)


End of Summer Beer, Extra Special Bitter (Mother Earth Brew Co.)

Wee Heavy, Scotch Ale (AleSmith Brewing)

Piper Down, Irish-Style Red (Ballast Point Brewing)

December Nights, Imperial Red Ale (Thorn Street Brewery)


That Guava Beer, Fruit Beer (Legacy Brewing)

Pumpkin Down, Pumpkin Beer (Ballast Point Brewing)

Bramble on Rose, Wood-and-Barrel-Aged Sour Beer (Toolbox Brewing Co.)

Brewers Special Brown Ale, English-Style Brown Ale (New English Brewing)

Corvo Negro, British-Style Imperial Stout (NOVO Brazil Brewing Co.)

San Diego Wins Big at the World Beer Cup 2016

World Beer Cup 2016 | Photo courtesy of the Brewers Association

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