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Back from Chicago has anyone seen my liver

It’s Monday and I just returned from a week long visit to the Windy City. Stu asked me this morning how my “vacation” went. I suppose that’s what it looks like when the boss is gone for another week.

In Chicago I did two promotions, attended the Craft Brewer’s Conference and the World Beer Cup Awards Gala Dinner.

And today, I am ass dragging because of it.

All told it was a great week and there is much to be optimistic about in Craft Beer land. The 2009 production numbers show 7.3 growth for our industry and 10% growth for total sales. All of this in a very down economic climate. Craft Beer remains at an all time high, which is fantastic!

The conference was incredibly well attended at it appears that there is a tremendous amount of interest in Craft Brewing at this point. I was amazed by the number of people in the start up phase of their business. Clearly, we are going to see many new entrants into the category. It’s exciting and it also means that there will be more pressure to be amazing and imaginative with our beers. I look forward to continuing to be part of an amazing group of producers.

At the awards ceremony on Saturday evening, San Diego confirmed its status as a World Class Destination for beer. All told, 20 Medals were earned and extra special congratulations to our friends at Ballast Point for earning the Title of Small Brewing Company of the Year.

While we may have let the award slip through our fingers, clearly it is best when they stay in town with friends. For our efforts, Hot Rocks Lager earned a Silver Medal in the Out of Category and Red Poppy won a Silver Medal for Flanders Style Ales.

I was extremely pleased by both awards. The Hot Rocks is something we’re very proud of. First, it’s a collaborative recipe and that always makes things more fun since two breweries get to celebrate. Secondly, I don’t think there are too many breweries using the “Stein” Beer production method for brewing as we did on this beer. So, it’s great for us that a flavor driven (or is that process driven?) beer won an award.

And it was a lager to boot.

In fact, the Ballast Point IPL that won the gold medal in the category is a lager as well (India Pale Lager instead of Ale).

Red Poppy won another silver medal (repeating the same award from 2008). It pleases me that our barrel aged beers continue to find success and favor at both the competitive as well as consumption levels. We’re releasing two more of them at the brewery this weekend and I am very excited with the way these two turned out. Framboise de Amorosa is a Raspberry bomb and the Veritas beers continue to inspire me. But let’s get back to the World Beer Cup stuff.

The Pizza Port guys did their part in taking home 6 medals including many for dark beer (Porters and Stouts). Alpine Beer Company held San Diego roots strong in the Pale Ale and IPA Categories as well. Karl Strauss even hit the board for their Red Trolley Ale.

As I watched in amazement Saturday night, local producer after local producer kept winning. It was a great example of the depth of artistry in this town. Congratulations to all of the brewers and members of the San Diego Brewer’s Guild who did this town proud on Saturday night. It sure felt good.

Now let’s get out there, dust off the livers and get back to drinking…

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