Northern California Beers at World Beer Cup

On Thursday, May 5 in Minneapolis, 18 Northern California breweries took home prizes in the largest international commercial beer competition, the 2022 World Beer Cup. Of the 307 winning beers, 252 were from the US, 14 from Canada, and 11 from Germany. Other winners came from Mexico, Japan, Argentina… 57 countries in all.

This year’s competition was the biggest so far. Overall, 2,493 breweries shipped over 10 thousand beers to be tasted and evaluated by 226 beer judges. The judges are becoming increasingly international as well, traveling to the US from 27 countries to take part in nine days of judging to determine the best expressions of 103 different beer styles. The number of categories is growing to reflect the new beers that brewers are making in their marketplaces.  

Among the Northern California beers that were honored were 14 medals for beers brewed near – or not very far from – SF Bay. Note that to get to 14, tying Canada in the medal count, we are temporarily annexing Tracy, because Morgan Territory Brewing Co., just over the hilly coast range on the edge of the valley, has long-time Bay Area ties. Morgan Territory deftly captured awards for three beers! The Gold went to Dark Reckoning in the International Dark Lager category, along with a Silver for Big Bock Energy, entered in the Bock or Maibock category and a Bronze for The Cushman, their acclaimed Dortmunder lager.  Way to go, Morgan Territory!

This means the Greater Bay Area (using the Bay Area Brewers Guild boundaries and excluding Morgan Territory) brought home 11 World Beer Cup awards home to 11 breweries. Many, though probably not all, of these beers should be available now. It’s a great time to visit and say congrats! 

[The hall, photo courtesy the Brewers Association]

Applause for Beautiful Brews

The Gold for Fruit Beer went to Yuzu KSA, made by Fort Point, out of SF. While the brewing facility at the Presidio can’t accommodate visitors, Fort Point has a taproom restaurant on Valencia Street and a Kiosk at the Ferry Building to visit. 

The Gold for Experimental Beer went to Divine Origins Carignan, in a series of wine-beer hybrids created by Woods Beer and Wine Co.  Find Woods at the original Cerveceria location by Dolores Park, several other locations in SF proper and a new taproom on Treasure Island by the new ferry dock.

The Gold for American Belgo-Style Ale was awarded to Brother Harker Patersbier by Barrel Head Brewhouse of SF, which has recently opened a second location out in the Richmond District called Lost Marbles.  

The Gold for American Style Lager went to Tremor California Light Lager, created by Seismic Brewing Co. out of Santa Rosa.

The Gold for Irish-Style Dry Stout went to Blarney Sisters Dry Irish Stout, a perennial award-winner from Third Street Aleworks of Santa Rosa.

[Stack of awards, under intense purple and gold lights, photo courtesy the Brewers Association]

The Silver for Munich Style Helles, surprisingly one of the six most-entered styles for 2022, went to Humble Sea Helles, a delicate lager brewed by Humble Sea Brewing Co. of Santa Cruz.

The Silver for Barley Wine Style Ale was awarded to Granny’s Tipple from Danville Brewing Co., located in Danville, near Mount Diablo in the East Bay.

The Silver for Classic Saison was bestowed on Jannemie, from Russian River Brewing Co. of Santa Rosa. Founders Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo were there to accept the award in person because Natalie had given the Keynote address for the conference, a moving account of finding purpose in their community after fires ravaged their town with a call to action for other brewers to find their purpose as well. Vinnie also presented, in a session dealing with the technical challenges of hop creep. Their participation provided a welcome triumph after the couple had been stuck in quarantine in Belgium with Covid, and subsequently with a broken ankle for Natalie. 

[Photo of Natalie Cilurzo, Bob Pease of the BA and Vinnie Cilurzo on stage with their Silver. Photo by Steve Shapiro]

The Silver for Robust Porter went to Ossuary, made by Ghost Town Brewing, out of Oakland. 

The Bronze for the brand new and already large category of Hoppy Lager was awarded to 49 Mile West Coast Pilsner, brewed by Temescal Brewing of Oakland. 

The Bronze in another increasingly popular category, Juicy or Hazy Imperial IPA, went to Citra Powered Jetpack, from Barebottle Brewing Co. of SF. The production team was at the event and able to take the stage this time. These folks also took gold in this category at the 2021 GABF competition, though that time they all celebrated at home in the brewery.

A Few More Northern California Victories

Two of the classic older craft breweries of California were honored this year. Anderson Valley Brewing Co. from up the coast in the remote town of Boonevillle, and the pioneering Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. out of Chico, California, (with an asterisk since Sunny Little Thing was brewed at their North Carolina facility), both weighed in. In the case of Anderson Valley, the Gold was for a Gose, and fittingly, brewer Fal Allen, author of the definitive text about the style, created the winner in the German Sour Ale category. Sierra won Bronze in the Fruit Wheat Beer category.

Slice Brewing Co. brought a shining Gold plaque home to the Sacramento area, topping the Juicy Or Hazy Strong Pale Ale category, while Ronin Fermentation Project (Silver in Experimental Beer) from the tiny mountain town of Graeagle, north of Truckee, and Crooked Lane Brewing Co., out of Auburn, also did Northern California brewing proud. Teresa Psuty, co-founder and brewmaster at Crooked Lane, was there to claim her Gold for her Belgian Blonde Ale in person, after she had presented a session about taprooms and community building at the conference.  

[Teresa Psuty accepting for Crooked Lane. iPhone photo by Gail Ann Williams]

All the winners from around the world can be found here:

And you can watch the whole ceremony on video here:

Big Changes Coming to World Cup

It was the last year for Chris Swersey as the director of the competition. He was treated to a fond film montage and some hugs onstage as old friends picked up their awards. Swersey is following his fiance and moving to Australia. When no gold or silver was awarded in the Belgian Wit category, Swersey joked that it was the last time he’d ever be booed for announcing that there was no gold. Sometimes the judges are just not impressed. (Allagash, a much-respected version of the style, took the bronze).

The World Beer Cup has traditionally been held every other year at the time of the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo. But at the start of the awards ceremony, the Brewer’s Association, the trade group for smaller and independent craft breweries, announced that the World Beer Cup will now become an annual exercise. The announcement was met with sounds of approval and some surprise in the large auditorium where the prizes were to be bestowed. Yes, it’s happening all over again next year in Nashville, and there’s no doubt that Bay Area beers will be there.

Explore Beer By BART: Use our acclaimed destination list of some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s best beer places and their related transit info, so you can get out there to enjoy without driving.

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