July 19, 2015

Written by: Matt Braun

If you needed more confirmation that the beers made by those in the Sacramento craft beer community are some of the best in the state, then look no further than the results from this year’s California State Fair Commercial Craft Brewer Competition. Sacramento area breweries (~50 miles of Sac) grabbed 22 different winning entries, with American River Brewing Company coming in 3rd in the Best of Show category with their Coloma Brown, and Sudwerk and Ol’ Republic cleaning up with 3 awards each.

Photo by oscar chavez

Photo by oscar chavez

This year saw the most ever entries for the Competition, 1,086 (including 125 kegs), up from 858 entries last year, and 5 new categories, Chili Beer, Session Beer, Speciality IPA, Wood Aged in barrels previously containing wine or alcohol of 20% ABV or less, and Wood Aged in barrels previously containing wine or alcohol of 20% or more. Judging for the State Fair competition is taken very seriously by Darrell Amerine and the Northern California Brewer’s Guild. Judges taste the beers blind, i.e., the beers are given to the judges in groups of 10, with beers assigned a random number so the judges have no idea from which brewery the beer comes. Each beer is tasted by 3 different judges, and all 91 judges are certified by the Beer Judge Certification Program.


Each brewery can nominate 6 of their entries to be considered for the Brewery of the Year. Won this year by Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse in Rancho Mirage, the BOY is determined based on a point system calculated by how the nominated beers finish in the category submitted, 3 for 1st place, 2 for 2nd place, and 1 for third. This year there was a 3-way tie for BOY with an honorable mention serving as the tie-breaker.

This year’s Best of Show winner was Fat Hog, a not-too-sweet barleywine with rich dark fruit flavors and a mild finish from Ritual Brewing in Redlands. The BOS is determined by a process in which the judges select one beer out of each 10 they judge to put forward, which then become part of a mini BOS from which the winner is selected by 3 BJCP judges and 2 professional brewers.


The Competition awards ceremony was followed by a Brewer’s Festival, where many of the award-winning beers were poured. Some personal standouts from the breweries that were pouring at the festival included: St. Florian’s California Common, a very nicely balanced amber, and their 48/96, a mildly hopped cream ale; as well a couple offerings from Alvarado Street Brewery, an India Pale Lager, and Duane’s World IPA, hopped with Nelson and Citra.



Sacramento breweries that won awards include:

  • New Helvetia for their Buffalo Craft Lager in the Light Lager category (1st place)

  • Sudwerk Brewery for their Marzen Amber Lager in the European Amber Lager category (1st place), Ultimator Dopplebock in the Bock category (3rd place), and Oso Furioso in the Chili Beer category (1st place)

  • Ol’ Republic Brewery for their Knight’s Cross in the European Amber Lager category (3rd place), Frontier Amber in the California Common category (3rd place), and Conn of the Hundred Battles in the Scottish and Irish Ales category (3rd place)

  • Yolo Brewery for their Munich Dunkel in the Dark Lager category (2nd place), and Petite Saison in the Barrel Aged in less 20% ABV barrels category (3rd place)

  • American River Brewing Company for their Coloma Brown Ale in the American Ale category (1st place)

  • New Glory for their Heavy Cruiser in the Porter category (1st place)

  • Mraz Brewing for their Lemon Drop, a saison in the Belgian and French Ale category (2nd place)

  • Track 7 for their Nukin’ Futz in the Speciality Beer category (honorable mention), and Left Eye Right Eye in the Imperial IPA category (3rd place)

  • Berryessa Brewing for their Session Saison in the Session category (1st place)

  • Rubicon Brewing for their Grapefruit Hopsauce in the Specialty IPA category (1st place)

  • Dust Bowl Brewing for their Therapist in the Imperial IPA category (1st place)

  • Lodi Beer Company for their Orange Blossom Wheat in the Fruit Beer category (3rd place), Kreik in the Sour Ales category (3rd place), and School Street Brown in the English Brown Ale category (3rd place)

  • Highwater Brewing for their Blueberry-Strawberry-Rhubarb Sour in the Sour Ales category (1st place)

We are lucky to have access to so much great beer in Sacramento and in California in general. So get out there and drink it up!