Sonoma County breweries won gold, silver and bronze at this year’s Great American Beer Festival. Local craft brews rank No.2 and No.3 in the U.S. and continue to get nation-wide attention.
The big winners include; Third Street AleWorks, with two awards, including Gold for Blarney Sisters’ Dry Irish Stout in the Classic Irish-style Stout category and Bronze for Bombay Rouge in the Imperial Red category. Russian River Brewing Company took Silver for Sanctification in the American Brett Beers category and it was Bronze for Bear Republic for Heritage in the Scotch Ale category. The winners were chosen from more than 4,800 beers entered at the festival’s competition and only 252 medals were awarded in total, these stand-outs blew away the competition. The ever growing craft-brewing community in Sonoma County is keeping right-up with the much-loved wine industry, according to
Santa Rosa’s Russian River Brewing Company is known by industry aficionados as one of the best breweries in the United States with a large selection of beer from big hops to Belgium ales. Their brews including Pliny the Elder is considered to be one of the best in Northern California and their beers are currently ranked No.1 and No. 2 in the US by Beer Advocate, with the Elder outranked only by Westvleteren 12, made by Trappist monks in Belgium. Third Street Aleworks and Bear Republic’s offerings also scored high on the list which is graded from beer industry experts and members of the community using data from millions of user reviews. Russian River’s coveted craft, Pliny the Younger, is made in small batches and available for only two weeks each February drawing crowds from California to across the U.S. to taste the ultra-hoppy triple-IPA. In fact, beer enthusiasts from as far as Japan and Denmark make the yearly pilgrimage for the release. Sonoma County's Economic Development Board has just presented the first ever Sonoma County Beer, Cider and Spirits Conference in Santa Rosa to explore and support the local beer culture.
At the Brewers Association World Beer Cup 799 breweries from 54 countries entered 3,921 beers in 95 style categories. The international judging panel from 27 countries conducted blind tasting evaluations and Santa Rosa brewers were big winners. Third Street Ale Works took home two awards including the gold medal (top award) in the categories of Classic English-Style Pale Ale and Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout. The Annadel Pale Ale was the top rated beer in the English-Style Pale Ale and Blarney Sisters Dry Irish Stout was the top rated beer in the Irish-Style Dry Stout. The Russian River Brewery medaled for their Supplication in the American-Style Sour Ale category. Bear Republic Brewing Company won the top award for their Black Racer; an aggressively hopped Black India Pale Ale brewed with crystal and roasted malts to achieve layered flavors with very little roast character relative to its dark color, in the American-Style Black Ale category
Editor's note: If you're planning a trip to Santa Rosa—or anywhere in Sonoma County or the North Coast—you ay want to check out the Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. In it you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to wineries and craft beer specialists.