Last week, the results for the Los Angeles International Beer Competition came in and San Diego represented its “Capital of Craft” nickname quite well. In fact, 25 San Diego breweries brought home 25% of all medals given out in the beer competition, taking home a total of 71 out of the 287 medals.

There were four breweries that reached six medals each and two of them were from San Diego (and three if you want to rope in Garage Brewing up in Temecula). Both Deft Brewing and Papa Marce’s Cerveceria attained six medals with Deft bringing home three golds medals, two silver, and one bronze. Papa Marce’s Cerveceria is in the brewery ignitor up in Carlsbad and took home two silver and four bronze medals. Also of note, San Diego swept two categories fully, American Style Stout (Stone, Smoking Cannon, and Papa Marces respectively taking medals) and Rye Beer (Pizza Port, Papa Marces, and Burning Beard).

Next up in total medals won is Thorn! We are super stoked to take home five medals for our beers. Here’s what we won for:

Silver – Bohemian-Style Pilsner for our Golden Hills Pils

Silver – Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale – Fornication

Bronze – American-Style Lager or Malt Lager – Barrio Lager

Bronze – American-Style Strong Pale Ale – Relay IPA

Bronze – German-Style Maerzen – Marty Zen Marzen

Relay IPA and Fornication were both on tap the day we opened our North Park location back in 2012. Not yet named, they sat up there as Thorn’s first IPA and Belgian Strong Ale and while over the years the recipes have certainly been tweaked, especially when moving to our much larger Barrio Logan brew system, the soul of each beer remains the same. Interestingly enough, while Relay is Thorn’s flagship IPA, it won in the Strong Pale Category. This was explained by Doug Pominville, Thorn Barrio Logan’s head brewer. “Relay is essentially the same beer. We never changed the malts or the amount of hops but we did rearrange them when they were added to the boil to give it a softer bitterness with a bigger aromatic and flavor punch.” While most people would tell you that Relay IPA is a west-coast IPA all day long, when it comes to the specifics of competition categories, with these adjustments, it can live in the area between American IPA and Strong Pale overlap.

thorn brewing

The beer board on Thorn Street Brewery’s opening day 2012
“Fornication was originally a homebrew recipe inspired by Delerium Tremen.” Thorn Brew Master, Eric O’Connor explained, “I actually won a silver in the National Homebrew Regional Competition for the recipe a year before North Park opened, so it was recognized as a high-quality Belgian Golden Strong in amateur and professional competitions. I used to bottle condition the bottles back in the day by placing them in a half-full aquarium with the heater set to 82 degrees and carb the bottles to around 4 volumes CO2 which is more than we do on draft now.”
He goes on to tell the story of our Pilsner. “Golden Hills Pils was brewed since day one in North Parl and predates Barrio Lager by at least 3 years. It was our first and only lager offering for a while, a true bohemian inspired Czech pilsner.” This beer was also decorated in the San Diego International Beer Competition with a bronze medal the first year we entered in 2013.

In 2016, Barrio Lager was released into the San Diego wild and started making waves as the first craft Baja-Style lager of its kind. Barrio Lager was born from a Baja surf trip that O’Connor took down to K38 in Ensenada where he came back ready to create a “crushable” craft Mexican-style lager that would allow people to enjoy craft beer and support the craft beer ethos even if they aren’t into hops and big IPAs.

Finally, we have the newest beer in this winning line up, Marty Zen, a Marzen brewed for Oktoberfest this past year. This was from the recipe box of Pominville who had brewed different versions of this beer for a few years to perfect it and it was his most winning home-brew recipe back when he had time for brewing for fun. They just got done brewing another batch of Marty Zen which will now be lagered until September waiting to pop out for Oktoberfest and there will be two versions, one aged in steel casks and one aged in pinot noir casks for an extra kick.

We are incredibly proud of our brewing team and all the hard work they put in day in and day out to make the high quality and delicious beers we have all come to know and love, so let’s raise a glass to our brewers and all the San Diego brewers who brought home medals this year!

For a full list of San Diego winners, put together ever so nicely, head on over to the Coast News.