An annual ranking by the website RateBeer.com puts two San Diego breweries in the top 10 list of best craft beer breweries. San Diego is already known as a national hub for excellent craft beer, but the awards from RateBeer put the city on the global map.
San Diego’s AleSmith Brewing Company ranked second in the world, while Alpine Beer Company scored sixth place. AleSmith Brewing Company was also ranked the best brewery in California, no small feat considering the state’s reputation for producing fine craft beer. In addition, AleSmith also took home the prize for best new beer release in the world for its Velvet Speedway Stout. AleSmith’s IPA, Speedway Stout and Bourbon Barrel-Ages Old Numbskull also topped the list of the best beers in the world.
Other San Diego breweries that made RateBeer’s top 100 list include Green Flash Brewing Co. in Vista, Ballast Point Brewing Company, recently sold for a cool $1 billion, Modern Times Beers and Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey.
RateBeer held its annual “Best Awards Ceremony and Beer Festival” in Santa Rosa between January 30 and 31. More than 22,500 breweries were considered based on all available reviews as well as a brewer’s performance across a range of styles.
Only one brewery outside the United States made the top 10 list: Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen, located in the aptly named town of Beersel, Belgium.
San Diego has long been famous as a mecca for craft beer, although the city is also making its mark as a capital for another beloved vice: craft coffee. San Diego is one of the fastest-growing coffee cities in the country, according to Daniel Green of InterContinental Coffee Trading, a coffee importer that supplies roasters with green beans.
Two of San Diego’s oldest roasters, Bird Rock Coffee Roasters and Café Virtuoso, recently hit CoffeeReview.com’s list of the top 30 best coffees of 2015.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to more craft coffee in San Diego is the state’s stringent air pollution laws. Roasting green beans requires an expensive piece of equipment called an afterburner, which is essentially a jet engine that can generate temperatures of about 1,250 degrees Fahrenheit. In order to burn off the smoke and aroma from coffee roasting, only an afterburner will do, but county health officials are sometimes reluctant to approve.
Sandra Scheller of the Bean Bar says that because craft coffee is still a relatively new industry in San Diego, getting health and building department officials to approve plans for a new coffee roasting business is a bit more difficult than starting a new brewery.
Amy Krone of Modern Times Coffee hopes for a beer to coffee geek crossover, where San Diegans apply some of the passion and enthusiasm for craft beer to its coffee counterpart. In the meantime, roasters will keep working to educate San Diegans about high-quality coffee brews.
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(all data current as of 11/20/2017)
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