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Barebottle, Pond Farm Brewing among Big Local Winners at the Great American Beer Festival in 2019


On Saturday morning, Trevor Martens entered the live stream of the Great American Beer Festival competition. Co-founder of Pond Farm Brewing Co. and his wife, co-founder Stephanie Martens, had added three beers to the huge annual festival competition despite being only six months old. The hope, said Stephanie Martens, was to get some feedback from competition judges on their beer.

But what they got was a bronze medal in the festival's most influenced category: succulent or hazy India Pale Ale. That category got an incredible 348 entries – a handful more than the US India Pale Ale category.

Trevor Martens somehow missed the announcement. The two were in the San Rafael taproom, distracted as they prepared the space for an Oktoberfest event to take place later that day when they remembered that "our phones started to burst" with congratulatory messages.

"It's such a big category," Trevor Martens told SFGATE. "There are so many hazy IPAs out there – it was like, no, there's something wrong here. Did we get a medal for one of the others?"

Since Saturday, says Stephanie Martens, they have already received some inquiries from buyers hoping to order the beer at local bars. The two are excited about the interest, not to mention the unexpected win.

"When we saw it – what more could you ask for? We are a super-young brewery," she adds. "Validation feels good, but we've been assured of our beers. We're always focused on quality, but validation feels fine. We're guaranteed to speed up our plan to brew the next Devil's Gulch."

A total of eight Bay Area breweries are medaled at the annual festival. Among them were two bronze medals, at Pond Farm and Santa Clara Valley Brewing, who won for their Dry Creek Blonde Ale (in the German style Koelsch). Five Bay Bay breweries won silverware: Richmond's East Brother, for its Bo Pils (Bohemian-style pillar category) Santa Rosa's Third Street AleWorks, for its Annadel Pale Ale (English-style Pale Ale); Alameda & # 39; s Almanac Beer Co., for Farmer's Reserve # 5 (Mixed-Culture Brett Beer); San Francisco's Bartlett Hall, for its Powell Street Porter (Robust Porter); and San Leandro's 21st Amendment Brewery, for its Emperor Norton's Sweet Stout.

Only one brewery landed a gold medal: San Francisco's Barebottle Brewing Co.

The Bernal Heights brewery, which opened in mid-2016, is known for its IPAs and kettles. But winning a gold in the International-Style Pilsener category for his Torcido Helles Lager marks a special kind of achievement, not only because it is an exceptionally difficult style to master, but because it is the beer of choice for the brewers themselves.

"These are the things we like to drink: craft lagers," says Barebottle co-founder Lester Koga. "That's the old saying, that's right: (With bearings) you can't hide behind something. It must be well made. It's a badge for a brewer to make great craft games."

Koga, who brewed John Montes De Oca, did not go to Denver for GABF; the two learned about their achievements from a distance.

"I timed (livestream) exactly," says Montes De Oca. Bronze came up, silver came up, and then you think, ah, there's no way we have gold. I jokingly said to my boyfriend: "And Torcido wins gold." And then it said, & # 39; Barebottle wins gold. & # 39; "

Representative for Barebottle in Colorado was Barebottle Production Manager Kelsey Holstein.

" It was absolutely a shock, "she told SFGATE." We began to lose hope and (after announcing the victory) we looked at each other, took a double take, like: & # 39; Is it our beer? & # 39; To be able to walk on stage, pose in front of everyone – It was a little shock and awe. "

See all GABF winners here on the official website.

Alyssa Pereira is an SFGate digital editor. Email: | Twitter: @alyspereira

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