San Luis Obispo County breweries returned from the annual Great American Beer Festival in Denver with three gold medals and some notable wins.
Local breweries dominated the German-Style Schwarzbier category, with San Luis Obispo’s Central Coast Brewing Co.’s General Schwarz taking gold and Once You Go Schwarz from Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. in Arroyo Grande taking bronze.
Unlike most wine competitions in which judges award several, sometimes dozens, of medals per category, the GABF — with 7,227 entries from 1,752 breweries across the country — awards only one gold, silver and bronze medal for each style category: 286 medals in all.
Central Coast Brewing, which is building a second location on South Higuera Street in San Luis Obispo, also won silver in the American-Style Pale Ale category for its Monterey Street Pale Ale, which earned gold last year in the brewery’s first-ever win in the prestigious competition.
“It’s been a good year for us,” said brewmaster Brendan Gough, noting the brewery’s World Beer Cup gold for its Lucky Day IPA earlier this year.
Paso Robles’ Firestone Walker Brewing Co.’s flagship DBA (Double Barrel Ale) — which they call the beer that started it all 20 years ago — took gold for the second year in a row and fourth time in five years in the Ordinary or Special Bitter category.
“It’s a beer that’s near and dear to our hearts, our very first formulation,” said brewmaster Matt Brynildson. “It’s great to see an old-school beer stilling pulling weight in these competitions.”
While the repeat was the brewery’s sole medal this year, compared with five in 2015 and almost 50 over the past dozen years, including four-time Mid-Size Brewery of the Year, Brynildson said he was proud to to see the Central Coast do so well among record-high entries.
“Collectively, we’re making better and better beer and getting more and more awards,” Brynildson said.
That includes two Firestone alums, Central Coast Brewing’s Gough and Steve Courier at SLO Brew, which marked its return to the competitive arena. It received a bronze medal for Feelin’ Your Oats, an oatmeal stout, in its first medal win since the early 2000s, including Brew Pub of the Year in 2001.
Figueroa Mountain’s other locations brought home gold in European-Style Dark Lager/Munich-Style Dunkel for I Dunkled in My Pants, as well as two bronzes in American-Style Amber Lager or Dark Lager for Lighter than I Look, and Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest for Figtoberfest. That brings the GABF medal count to 17 for the 6-year-old brewery, which now has six locations along the coast.
“Taking home four medals is beyond our wildest dreams,” Figueroa Mountain President Jaime Dietenhofer said. “To receive these high marks from some of the industry’s leading experts is truly humbling.”
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