California brewers shine in WBC

Miller stands out, but so does Oregon brewpub with five medals

Apr 19, 2004 - Three California breweries took advantage of a little homecourt advantage to win top honors in World Beer Cup judging last week in San Diego, Calif. The two biggest winners, though, were from Wisconsin and Oregon.


Overall, 19 California brewers earned 30 WBC medals. And they didn't really have a homecourt advantage. All brewers had to ship their beers to San Diego including San Diegans, who had to ship them first to Colorado. Thus, they didn't enjoy a freshness advantage.

The World Beer Cup, organized by the Association of Brewers, is the largest and most diverse competition among brewers worldwide, with 1,566 beers entered from 393 breweries representing 40 countries. The competition is judged "blind" by elite brewers and other industry experts from around the world. On this year's judge panel, more than half the judges came from outside the United States.

"Great brewers consistently make great beer," said John Keeling, head brewer of Fuller's Brewery in London and one of this year's World Beer Cup judges. "While these brewers have been recognized in the past for their brewing skill, these awards show that their skills stand up to the challenges of international competition."

Miller Brewing in Milwaukee captured seven medals, including two garnered by subsidiary Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co., and won the award for top large brewing company. At the opposite end, sizewise, Laurelwood Pub & Brewery in Portland, Ore., was the small brewpub champion. Brewer Christian Ettinger won two gold medals, two silver and a bronze.

The title of small brewing company was won by Oggi's Pizza and Brewing of San Clemente, Calif., and brewer Tom Nickel; the award for mid-sized brewing company went to Firestone Walker Brewing of Paso Robles, Calif., and brewer Matthew Brynildson; and the title of top large brewpub was won by Russian River Brewing of Santa Rosa, Calif., and brewmaster Vinnie Cilurzo.

Russian River won small brewing company of the year at the 1999 Great American Beer Festival.

- All the results.

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