And the award goes to…

A complete list of winners from the second annual San Diego Beer News Awards

Last night, beer fans mingled with pro brewers, brewery owners and staffers, and members of the local media at a ceremony announcing the winners of the second annual San Diego Beer News (SDBN) Awards. The event took place at North Park Beer Co. (NPBC), and was hosted by SDBN founder and Executive Editor Brandon Hernández, who opened the evening exclaiming how special it felt to be able to not only honor excellence within the San Diego brewing industry but have members of the local beer community be able to assemble for a fun, positive and truly special evening. 

Comprising 26 brewery, brewer and beer-style categories, the SDBN Awards are all about recognizing standout companies, beers and staffers. Throughout the night, presenters took to the podium on NPBC’s mezzanine to read third-, second- and first-place winners in each of those categories. Representatives from the first-place honorees were then presented with medals, with plaques going to best-brewery recipients, and trophies going to the venue voted tops in customer service as well as the winner of the inaugural Vanguard Brewer Award. The latter was voted on solely by members of the brewing industry and went to Tomme Arthur for his work to help advance the San Diego brewing scene and make a positive impact within it over his decades of work in the industry.

Tomme Arthur from Port Brewing / The Lost Abbey accepts the inaugural San Diego Vanguard Brewer Award from Eric Drost representing SDBN Awards sponsor BSG CraftBrewing

Prior to receiving the award, Arthur was introduced by Pizza Port co-owner Gina Marsaglia, who he worked for as a brewer at the brewpub chain’s original Solana Beach location before partnering with her and others to open multi-brand interest Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey in 2006. That company has gone on to become one of San Diego County’s most award-winning brewing operations and a national pacesetter for producers of barrel-aged, Belgian-inspired, sour, wild and hoppy ales. During his acceptance speech, Arthur reflected on his 1997 interview with Marsaglia. He openly pondered what his life might have been like had he not got the job, the beers that wouldn’t have been brewed and, more importantly, the many friendships he may have missed out on. He also lauded praise on the event’s attendees. “It’s because of each of us that this city lives and breathes the way it does,” Arthur said. His speech closed with words of gratitude, “Cheers to everyone and the list of winners tonight. Thank you for making my city–and yours–the place to drink and brew world-class beers.”

This year, the Larry Smith Award recognizing excellence in customer service went to Kearny Mesa’s Hopnonymous Brewing. Second and third place in that category went to the two venues that ranked tops in the fan vote (Vista’s Five Suits Brewing) and industry vote (Burgeon Beer Co.’s Carlsbad mothership) in last year’s competition. Named for an argent supporter of local breweries who sadly passed away in 2020, the physical embodiment of this award is a large cup-style perpetual trophy bearing the names of all of its winners through the years. Moving forward, that award will be handed over from one year’s winner to the next to be put on display at the current recipient’s taproom.

The team from Kearny Mesa’s Hopnonymous Brewing accepts the Larry Smith Award recognizing excellence n the field of customer service

Because of the abundance of breweries in San Diego County, Best Brewery awards were once again split into five succinct regions. Hailing from the western region, which included 27 breweries and spanned the coast from Oceanside to Bay Park, Burgeon was the leading vote-getter of all Best Brewery nominees. In order of next-most votes received, Pure Project Brewing was tops in the north region (29 breweries, Vista to San Marcos), Stone Brewing won the east (27 breweries, Escondido to Alpine), NPBC took the south (29 breweries, North Park to Chula Vista), and Societe Brewing led in the central region (27 breweries, Mission Valley to Miramar).

In other brewery-related categories, Alpine’s Mcilhenney Brewing was named Best New Brewery, Pure Project took Best Expansion Project for its work revamping Vista’s former Iron Fist Brewing facility into its new taproom-equipped headquarters, and Stone got the nod for Best Interior/Exterior Design for Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Escondido for the second straight year. A new category recognizing Best Packaging Design for bottles and cans went to Burgeon for the black-gold aesthetic of its Dutchman’s Pipe imperial stout.

Winners in some of the more hotly contested and high-profile beer-style categories included Burgeon’s Treevana for West Coast IPA, NPBC’s Art is Hard for Hazy IPA, AleSmith Brewing’s .394 Pale Ale for Hoppy Beer (non-IPA), Pure Project’s Rain for Best Pilsner, Eppig Brewing’s Festbier for German Beer (non-Pilsner), The Lost Abbey’s Cable Car Kriek for Barrel-aged Sour/Wild Ale, Modern Times Beer’s Modem Tones for Best Barrel-aged Beer, and Pizza Port’s Bacon & Eggs, which took first place in the Coffee Beer category for the second straight year.

As was the case last year, Eppig brought home the most total placements (combining first, second and third rankings) with nine (one of which was for a collaboration beer), while two breweries tied for second-most awards with eight: Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey and Pure Project (with one collaborative award). Societe notched seven total awards (two for collaborative efforts) and the most first-place wins with four, while Burgeon and Harland Brewing earned six awards apiece.

Pure Project Brewing’s Chris Leguizamon (left) and Bottlecraft’s Gene Fielden announcing the winners of the Best Packaging Art category

The following is a list of first-, second- and third-place winners in every category…


Best Brewery – North Region

  • First Place: Pure Project Brewing (Vista)
  • Second Place: Eppig Brewing (Vista)
  • Third Place: Port Brewing / The Lost Abbey (San Marcos)

Best Brewery – South Region

  • First Place: North Park Beer Co. (North Park)
  • Second Place: Modern Times Beer (Point Loma)
  • Third Place: Fall Brewing (North Park)

Best Brewery – West Region

  • First Place: Burgeon Beer Co. (Carlsbad)
  • Second Place: Pizza Port Brewing (Carlsbad)
  • Third Place: Belching Beaver Brewery (Oceanside)

Best Brewery – East Region

  • First Place: Stone Brewing (Escondido)
  • Second Place: Mcilhenney Brewing (Alpine)
  • Third Place: Abnormal Beer Co. (Rancho Bernardo)

Best Brewery – Central

  • First Place: Societe Brewing (Kearny Mesa)
  • Second Place: AleSmith Brewing (Miramar)
  • Third Place: Harland Brewing (Scripps Ranch)

NOTE: Only three votes separated Societe Brewing and AleSmith Brewing in the top two spots.

Best New Brewery

  • First Place: Mcilhenney Brewing (Alpine)
  • Second Place: Mujeres Brew House (Barrio Logan)
  • Third Place: Blue Fire Brewing (San Marcos)

Expansion Project

  • First Place: Pure Project Brewing HQ (Vista)
  • Second Place: The Lost Abbey “The Church” (East Village)
  • Third Place: Harland Brewing Tasting Room (Bay Park)

NOTE: Burgeon Beer Co.’s Little Italy tasting room, “The Arbor”, came just a vote shy of the top three.

Interior / Exterior Design

  • First Place: Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens (Escondido)
  • Second Place: Eppig Brewing Waterfront Biergarten (Point Loma)
  • Third Place: The Lost Abbey “The Church” (East Village)

Packaging Design

  • First Place: Dutchman’s Pipe, Burgeon Beer Co. (Carlsbad)
  • Second Place: India Pale Whale, Harland Brewing (Scripps Ranch)
  • Third Place: Electric Dragon, Pure Project Brewing (Vista)

Customer Service

  • First Place: Hopnonymous Brewing (Kearny Mesa)
  • Second Place: Five Suits Brewing (Vista)
  • Third Place: Burgeon Beer Co. (Carlsbad)

NOTE: Five Suits Brewing (fan vote) and Burgeon Beer Co.’s Carlsbad tasting room (industry vote) both took first place in this category last year.

Vanguard Brewer Award

  • Honoree: Tomme Arthur, Port Brewing / The Lost Abbey

NOTE: This category was voted on solely by members of the San Diego brewing industry.

Stone Brewing’s Cecil Menasco and Laura Ulrich show off some of their SDBN Awards hardware


West Coast IPA

  • First Place: Treevana, Burgeon Beer Co. (Carlsbad)
  • Second Place: The Pupil, Societe Brewing (Kearny Mesa)
  • Third Place: 10:45 to Denver, Eppig Brewing (Vista)

Hazy IPA

  • First Place: Art is Hard, North Park Beer Co. (North Park)
  • Second Place (tie): Planet Nectaron, Five Suits Brewing (Vista)
  • Second Place (tie): Harland Hazy IPA, Harland Brewing (Scripps Ranch)

Imperial IPA

  • First Place: Mongo, Port Brewing (San Marcos)
  • Second Place: Stone Ruination Double IPA 2.0, Stone Brewing (Escondido)
  • Third Place: Duckzilla, Duck Foot Brewing (Miramar)

NOTE: There was a three-way tie for fourth place in this category between Burgeon Beer Co.’s Mixed Greens, Embolden Beer Co.’s Brave the Haze and Hopnonymous Brewing’s Let the Haze Flow Through You.

Niche IPA

  • First Place: The Coachman Session IPA, Societe Brewing (Kearny Mesa)
  • Second Place: White Sage IPA, Blue Fire Brewing (San Marcos)
  • Third Place: Nelson! Nelson! IPA, Harland Brewing (Scripps Ranch)

NOTE: White Sage IPA was in first place until the very last day of the voting period.

Hoppy Beer (Non-IPA)

  • First Place: .394 Pale Ale, AleSmith Brewing (Miramar)
  • Second Place: Carlsbad Crush Mosaic Pale Ale, Burgeon Beer Co. (Carlsbad)
  • Third Place: Party Cup Mosaic Lager, North Park Beer Co. (North Park)

NOTE: .394 Pale Ale received more votes than any individual beer in any category this year.


  • First Place: Rain, Pure Project Brewing (Vista)
  • Second Place: Special Lager, Eppig Brewing (Vista)
  • Third Place: Plenty for All, Fall Brewing (North Park)

German Beer (Non-Pilsner)

  • First Place: Festbier, Eppig Brewing (Vista)
  • Second Place: Agua Baja Mexican Lager, Craft Coast Beer & Tacos (Oceanside)
  • Third Place: 5th Anniversary Zwickelbier, Eppig Brewing (Vista)

NOTE: AleSmith Brewing’s Sublime Mexican Lager and Five Suits Brewing’s Pit BOS Hefeweizen tied for a close fourth place in this category.

Belgian Ale

  • First Place: Devotion Belgian Blonde Ale, The Lost Abbey (San Marcos)
  • Second Place: The Harlot Belgian Blonde Ale, Societe Brewing (Kearny Mesa)
  • Third Place: The Dorsty Lion Belgian Golden Strong Ale, Hopnonymous Brewing (Kearny Mesa)

U.K. / Irish Ale

  • First Place: Red Trolley Ale, Karl Strauss Brewing (Pacific Beach)
  • Second Place: Tabular Rasa Porter, Second Chance Beer Co. (Carmel Mountain Ranch)
  • Third Place (tie): Beería Brown Ale, Craft Coast Beer & Tacos (Oceanside)
  • Third Place (tie): Comfy Chair Oatmeal Stout, Eppig Brewing (Vista)
  • Third Place (tie): Leaving Without Saying Goodbye Irish-style Red Ale, Hopnonymous Brewing (Kearny Mesa)

Sour Ale (Non-Barrel-Aged)

  • First Place: Jazz Hands Berliner Weisse, Fall Brewing (North Park)
  • Second Place: Hydra Fluff Fruited Smoothie Sour, Harland Brewing (Scripps Ranch)
  • Third Place: Fistful of Gummies Fruited Kettle Sour Ale, Second Chance Beer Co. (Carmel Mountain Ranch)

NOTE: Only two votes separated the first and second place beers in this category.

Barrel-Aged Sour/Wild Ale

  • First Place: Cable Car Kriek, The Lost Abbey (San Marcos)
  • Second Place: Everything Gold May Stay Golden Flanders Ale, Pure Project Brewing (Vista)
  • Third Place: Framboise de Amarosa, The Lost Abbey (San Marcos)

Strong Ale

  • First Place: The Butcher Imperial Stout, Societe Brewing (Kearny Mesa)
  • Second Place: Natural Bridge: Baltic Porter, Eppig Brewing (Vista)
  • Third Place: Midnight in London Imperial Porter, Pure Project Brewing (Vista)

Barrel-Aged Beer

  • First Place: Modem Tones, Modern Times Beer (Point Loma)
  • Second Place: Rum Forest Rum Barrel-Aged Coffee Porter, Pizza Port Brewing (Carlsbad)
  • Third Place (tie): Barrel-aged Molotov Special Imperial Stout, Mcilhenney Brewing (Alpine)
  • Third Place (tie): Circular Paradigm Barrel-aged Imperial Stout, Pure Project Brewing (Vista)

Coffee Beer

  • First Place: Bacon & Eggs Imperial Coffee Porter, Pizza Port Brewing (Carlsbad)
  • Second Place: Barrel-aged Vietnamese Coffee Speedway Stout, AleSmith Brewing (Miramar)
  • Third Place: 2AM Bike Ride, Fall Brewing (North Park)

NOTE: Stone Xocoveza Trés Leches was one vote shy of the top three in this category.

Collaboration Beer

  • First Place: Capital of Craft IPA, Societe Brewing / Ballast Point Brewing / Booze Brothers Brewing / Craft Coast Beer & Tacos / Eppig Brewing / Latchkey Brewing / Puesto Cervercia / Rouleur Brewing
  • Second Place: Home for the Holihaze, Pure Project Brewing / Burgeon Beer Co.
  • Third Place: Ride Share IPA, Societe Brewing / Pizza Port Brewing
The packed house offers a collective cheers to San Diego craft beer

SDBN would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to the banner sponsor of the San Diego Beer News Awards, Yakima Chief Hops, host venue North Park Beer Co., and individual awards sponsors Arryved (Larry Smith Award for Customer Service), Bottlecraft (Packging Design), BSG CraftBrewing (Vanguard Brewer), CLTVT (Expansion Project), GoTab (Collaboration Beer), Hoppy Beer Gear (Interior/Exterior Design), Hopsbauer (Hoppy Beer, non-IPA) and White Labs (Best New Brewery).

Sincere appreciation is also extended to our magnificent cast of presenters, whose personality and love of local craft beer made all the difference. Thank you to Tomme Arthur (Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey), Kelsi Baggarley (Yakima Chief Hops), Bill Batten (Fall Brewing), Brian Beagle (San Diego Craft Beer Plexus), Magie Brennan (Lost Cause Meadery/Pink Boots Society), Bethany Bruner (Belching Beaver Brewery), Colby Chandler (San Diego Beer News), Rick Chapman (Coronado Brewing/San Diego Brewers Guild), Kandy Corona (Five Suits Brewing), Nick Corona (Five Suits Brewing), Esthela Davila (Mujeres Brew House), Jarred Doss (Black Plague Brewing), Judith Downie (CSU San Marcos), Eric Drost (BSG CraftBrewing), Luke Edward (Yakima Chief Hops), Gene Fielden (Bottlecraft), Rolf Gehrung (GoTab), Teddy Gowan (Societe Brewing), Joey Hanna (Hoppy Beer Gear/Pink Boots Society), James Hodges (Chula Vista Brewery), Jordan Hoffart (Black Plague Brewing), Neda Iranpour (CBS News 8/The CW San Diego), Jay Jones, Tom Kiely (Thorn Brewing), Steve Kozyk (Kilowatt Brewing), Heather Lake (FOX 5 San Diego), Chris Leguizamon (Pure Project Brewing/San Diego Beer News), Jeff Lozano (Ballast Point Brewing), Austin Maass (Helia Brewing), Rawley Macias (Rouleur Brewing), Jenny Mann (Jenny Mann Photography), Gina Marsaglia (Pizza Port), Blake Masoner (Craft Coast Beer & Tacos), Jamie, Patrick, Shawn & Val Mcilhenney (Mcilhenney Brewing), Kelsey McNair (North Park Beer Co.), Paige McWey Acers (San Diego Brewers Guild), Cecil Menasco (Stone Brewing), Lu Moceri (Bear Roots Brewing), Samantha Olson (Mujeres Brew House), Dan Ouellette (Fall Brewing), Neva Parker (White Labs), Dan Romeo (One Season Brewing/TRVLR Coffee Roasters), Lexi Russell Martin (JuneShine), Paul Segura (Karl Strauss Brewing), Nathan Sharpe (CLTVT), Nathan Stephens (Eppig Brewing), Austin Stiver (Arryved), Danielle Stuht (91X FM), Anthony Tallman (Burgeon Beer Co.), Jon Thompson (Country Malt Group/Culture Brewing), Laura Ulrich (Stone Brewing), Skip Virgilio (Gravity Heights), Brendan Watters (Kings & Convicts Brewing) and Trevor Whitehead (South O Brewing).

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