Food & Drink

Who makes the best beer on Central Coast? Mid-State Fair names Brewmaster of the Year

The California Mid-State Fair and Central Coast Brewers Guild have named the 2019 Brewmaster of the Year — and he helped bring his brewery from 2,000 barrels a year to more than 20,000.

Kevin Ashford, creative director and head brewer of Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. will be honored Wednesday during a craft beer tasting at the Paso Robles fairgrounds.

“Kevin has distinguished himself as a world-class brewer and has a cohesive spirit amongst the brewing community,” Chuck Silva, chapter head of the Central Coast Brewers Guild and owner of Silva Brewing in Paso Robles, said in a news release.

Ashford joined Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. in 2013 and was promoted to head brewer in 2015.

The Buellton-based brewery has won multiple awards under Ashford’s leadership.

In October 2018, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. won big at the Great American Beer Festival, a highly competitive national brewing contest held each year in Denver. Its Davy Brown Ale earned a gold medal in the American-style brown ale category that year, and its Hoppy Poppy IPA won bronze in the English-style IPA category.

Ashford and his team have won 20 Great American Beer Festival awards in total and eight California State Fair medals, among other honors, the release said.

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. has six taprooms and multiple brewing locations, incs. The 9-year-old brewery opened a taproom in Arroyo Grande in 2015, and plans to open another spot at San Luis Obispo Public Market.

Other candidates for Brewmaster of the Year included Matt Brynildson of Firestone Walker and Brendan Gough of Central Coast Brewing. Both Ashford and Brynildson were in the running in 2018, when Brendan Gough, head brewer of Central Coast Brewing in San Luis Obispo, took the title.

“This award not only belongs to me, but to my incredible team of brewers, QC personnel, and packaging staff,” Ashford said in the release. “We work tirelessly to uphold the time-honored tradition of crafting beer. I am thankful and proud to be recognized by my peers here on the Central Coast.”

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