The Coast News Group
Pizza Port
Pizza Port assistant brewer Jerome Sotelo and head brewer Mike Aubuchon show off their gold medal-winning Locals Only IPA. The brewery won gold at this year’s Great American Beer Festival. Photo by Steve Puterski
Carlsbad Carlsbad Featured Cities Food & Wine News

Carlsbad breweries shine at Great American Beer Festival

CARLSBAD — It is bottoms up for a pair of local breweries.

Pizza Port and Burgeon Brewery are in hops heaven after the two earned gold and silver medals, respectively, for their local crafts during the virtual Great American Beer Festival earlier this month.

Typically, the event sees tens of thousands of beer enthusiasts converge in Denver as hundreds of breweries submit thousands of beers for the competition, but the COVID-19 pandemic eliminated the in-person portion of the festival.

Both, though, entered the International Pale Ale division with Pizza Port claiming gold for its Locals Only brew, while Burgeon nabbed silver for its Carlsbad Crush pale ale.

This is Pizza Port’s first gold in many years, and the first for Burgeon since it opened nearly four years ago. Pizza Port’s Ocean Beach location also won silver for its Guillaume in the session or non-alcohol beer division.

Burgeon Brewery
Burgeon Brewery won a silver medal for its Carlsbad Crush pale ale at the Great American Beer Festival earlier this month. From left are assistant brewers Dustin Hendrick and Casey Wollbrinck and head brewery Anthony Tallman. Photo by Steve Puterski

“We were super stoked,” Pizza Port head brewer Mike Aubuchon said upon hearing the results. “Two breweries from Carlsbad, that’s pretty awesome.”

The IPA division required hops from the southern hemisphere (a requirement for the category), said Pizza Port head brewer Mike Aubuchon. Along with assistant brewer Jerome Sotelo, the duo used a number of hops from New Zealand in a citrus mosaic style, creating a West Coast IPA with bright and clear color with a citrus flavor, Aubuchon said.

He said winning gold is a highlight of his career and just adds to the reputation for Pizza Port on its quality of brews. Aubuchon said it was a tough category with 87 entries with mostly West Coast beers.

“It’s been a rough year and we were shut down for four months,” he added. “It’s good for morale and good for the crew.”

Anthony Tallman, Burgeon Brewery’s head brewer and co-founder, along with Casey Wollbrinck and Dustin Hendrick, also used the mosaic style with hops from Australia for Carlsbad Crush.

Tallman said he was floored when he heard the news, saying the excitement for him, Aubuchon and Pizza Port was overwhelming, as a gold medal at the GABF is the mountaintop for American brewers. Aubuchon also expressed appreciation and excitement for Tallman and the Burgeon team.

Likewise, Tallman said it made the silver medal even more amazing knowing his friend on the other side took home gold. Still, the teams’ brew is more IPA than a pale ale.

“Where’s your beer going to fit best? You got to take a systematic approach to it,” Tallman said. “It’s super light bodied, light in color. The big things were passion fruit, tropical fruit and stone fruit as kind of the main hop characteristics from a beer in that category. It’s a pretty crushable beer.”