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Erik Fowler is the executive director of the San Diego Brewer's Guild. Courtesy photo
Erik Fowler is the executive director of the San Diego Brewer's Guild. Courtesy photo
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San Diego Brewers Guild’s Erik Fowler talks Great American Beer Fest

I’m headed to Denver for the Great American Beer Fest this week. It’s a long weekend celebrating great beer from around the country, but you never have to go far before you run into someone from the San Diego beer scene. So Cheers! North County contacted Ramona native Erik Fowler, executive director of the San Diego Brewers Guild, to find out how Great American Beer Fest and our local breweries intersect.

Cheers!: What impact does (or can) appearing and medaling at GABF have for a local brewery?

Erik: Receiving a medal at GABF, or World Beer Cup, can be some of the greatest validation a brewery can receive. The competition is highly entered, and it can be incredibly difficult to medal or even advance to the second and third rounds of judging.

Breweries can leverage the medal for marketing purposes, piggybacking on the media attention they’ll likely already receive from winning. Some breweries go as far as putting a graphic of the medal directly on the beer’s packaging!

Pizza Port Brewing Company, with North County locations in Carlsbad and Solana Beach, won bronze for a collaboration beer with Karl Strauss and Nickel Beer Company at the Great American Beer Festival. Photo courtesy of GABF
Pizza Port Brewing Company won bronze for a collaboration beer with fellow San Diego breweries Karl Strauss and Nickel Beer Company at last year’s Great American Beer Festival. Photo courtesy of GABF

Cheers!: What role do San Diego breweries play in representing the local craft beer community at larger, nationwide competitions like GABF?

Erik: San Diego and our concentration of world-class breweries often walk away from the GABF awards ceremony with as many, or more, medals than a lot of states. Our community of breweries is truly the best in the nation, and GABF is one of the few ways we can, to be frank, brag about it. They work very hard, brewing what we all love, and it’s great to be recognized nationally for it.

A lot of beers made in San Diego never leave the taprooms next to the brewery that made them, and it’s great to see them shared with the nation, even if just in the form of a medal.

Cheers!: Anything else you’d like to add about SD Beer in relation to the competition?

Erik: Beer is ever-changing, and GABF is one way to see it. Over the years, we see certain styles becoming more popularized, and the number of beers entered in each category is an interesting way to see the correlation between what breweries are brewing more of and focusing on.

It’s great to see smaller breweries bring home medals for more and more unique beers and styles and be celebrated within our local community for it. San Diego is a hoppy city, but our breweries are capable of much more, and GABF tends to spotlight it each year.

MORE: Results of this week’s patio challenge between Black Plague Brewing and Brewers Deck. 

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