Santa Barbara County vintners better watch out because the region’s brewers are rising to the top of the global ale-crafting crop. Every two years, the Brewers Association hosts the World Beer Cup to recognize the planet’s best beer-makers, and this year’s showdown on May 5 in San Diego featured nearly 4,000 beers in 95 categories from 799 brewers.
When the suds settled, Carpinteria’s Island Brewing Company, Santa Barbara’s Telegraph Brewing Company, and Paso Robles’ Firestone Walker Brewing Company (which was founded in Buellton) emerged with an impressive list of gold medals and other awards. Firestone Walker, in fact, won the title of best midsize brewery for an unprecedented fourth time in a row. Said Brewers Association president Charlie Papazian, who founded the event in 1996, “A brewer who wins a World Beer Cup gold award knows that their winning beer represents the best of that beer style in the world.”
Here’s the rundown:
Island: Gold Medal for Starry Night Stout in Foreign-Style Stout category. Said owner Paul Wright, ”Our goal has always been to brew the best beers we can for our community, and to have this kind of international recognition for what we do everyday in our little beach town is humbling.” (5049 6th St., Carpinteria;  745-8272; islandbrewingcompany.com)
Telegraph: Gold Medal for Petit Obscura in Experimental Beer category. Bronze Medal for Rhinoceros rye wine ale in Other Belgian-Style Ale Category. Said head brewer Scott Baer, “It’s daunting to put our beers up against the best in the world, but then to walk away with both a gold medal and a bronze medal is validation that we’re doing a lot of things right.” (416 N. Salsipuedes St., S.B.;  963-5018; telegraphbrewing.com)
Firestone Walker: Champion Brewery and Brewmaster (Matt Brynildson) for Mid-Size Brewing Company; Gold Medal for Pale 31 and Silver Medal for Mission Street Pale in American-Style Pale Ale category; Gold Medal for 805 IPA in International-Style Pale Ale category. Said co-owner David Walker, “We are proud to be a part of the American craft beer revolution.” (620 McMurray Road, Buellton;  225-5911; firestonebeer.com)