California, the birthplace of the American craft brewing movement…
California was the top medal winner with 65 medals by craft brewers out of 275 medals awarded, followed by Colorado with 36. California craft brewers won 21 gold medals, almost a quarter of all gold medals awarded!
The history of craft beer in California, and indeed the entire nation, began in 1965, when on a warm day in late summer, recent Stanford graduate Fritz Maytag was enjoying his favorite beer in a local pub. The bartender casually mentioned, “Fritz, you better enjoy that Anchor. It may be your last.” Discovering that the Anchor Brewery was on the verge of going out of business, Maytag visited the brewery the next day and for a modest investment, bought a controlling interest in the ailing business.
Maytag was soon brewing authentic, artful beers and reintroducing lost styles. He proved that Americans were ready for a different kind of beer; beer with flavor, diversity and history. His Anchor Brewery became the first “craft” brewery since prohibition and was the inspiration that sparked a revolution in brewing.
Anchor was a lone pioneer until Jack McAuliffe, who had developed a taste for British ales while stationed in Scotland visited the Anchor brewery and decided to build his New Albion Brewery from scratch, using discarded dairy tanks and other scrapped industrial equipment. New Albion began brewing in 1977 in Sonoma, California, making it the first modern microbrewery in America.
A little farther north, Chico “Home Brew Shop” owner Ken Grossman also dreamed of opening his own small brewery. Inspired by both Anchor and New Albion, Grossman took welding lessons at the local community college so he could build his own brewery. He opened Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in 1980, and their Sierra Nevada Pale Ale created a brand new beer style, American-style Pale Ale, breaking from the English pale ale it was based on.
In September 1983, Mendocino Brewing opened in Hopland, the first brewpub in the state and only the second in America.
From those humble beginnings, small California breweries continued to open, first concentrated in the north and then spreading throughout the state. Today there are over 400 breweries in the state.
…and today, the epicenter of quality.
In 2012, 54 countries entered almost 4,000 beers in 95 separate categories at the biennial World Beer Cup Competition. California’s craft brewers took home 55 medals…not just more than any other state, but any other nation, as well.
California is redefining the meaning of The Golden State. Today it’s liquid gold. We gave birth to American craft beer, and as a result, an entire new industry has been born, making America quite literally the envy of the entire brewing world.
JUST ANNOUNCED! 2016 CALIFORNIA CRAFT BEER SUMMIT