Recapping the 2016 RateBeer Best Awards and RateBeer Best Festival

2016 RateBeer Best Festival glass pour and program.
2016 RateBeer Best Festival glass pour and program.

Landing above vineyards while approaching Charles M. Schulz Airport makes for a beautiful approach on this convenient daily flight from Portland on Alaska Airlines. Sonoma County is best known for its vast amount of vineyards. The county seat, Santa Rosa, is also the adult home of Charles M. Schulz. This city is full of Peanuts statues reminding visitors and residents alike the city’s most celebrated former resident. There’s even the Charles M. Schulz Museum and an ice arena bearing his name.

But in craft beer circles this city is also where Russian River Brewing Company is located. Santa Rosa is also the home base of RateBeer and this past weekend hosted its first RateBeer Best Awards and Festival in its hometown to a sold out awards presentation and a nearly capacity festival.

The inaugural RateBeer Best Awards and Festival took place on January 30 – 31. On Saturday evening 500 RateBeer aficionados and brewers attended the 2016 RateBeer Best Awards at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel and Spa in Santa Rosa. The evening kicked off with a pre-awards social hour that included beers and small plate food options. Then at 6:00pm RateBeer founder Joe Tucker took the stage to begin the ceremony that was scheduled to run 90 minutes. After Tucker finished his 5-minute introduction the evening’s host, Jay Brooks took the stage to present the long list of RateBeer Best award recipients.

Joe Tucker of RateBeer at 2016 RateBeer Best Awards.
Joe Tucker of RateBeer at 2016 RateBeer Best Awards.

Brooks a longtime Bay area beer writer read through a long list of RateBeer Best winners. The results for the 2015 RateBeer Best Awards were tallied by the scores that its users submitted to the RateBeer website nearly one million times this past year. This process took what seemed to be a very long time and ended up lasting 2 hours, 30 minutes longer than what was anticipated. The first sets of awards given were for Top Beer, Top Brewer, Best New Brewer, Brewpub, Restaurant, Brewer Tap Room, Bottle Shop, Grocery, and Bar.

Jay Brooks at 2016 RateBeer Best Awards.
Jay Brooks at 2016 RateBeer Best Awards.

Locally de Garde Brewing was ranked the 5th Top Brewer in the World by RateBeer users. Other local establishments receiving RateBeer honors included Hair of the Dog Brewing that was ranked as one of the top five US Brewer Tap Rooms and both Belmont Station and Brouwer’s Cafe were listed as one of top five best US Bars. Here’s a rundown of the other Oregon and Washington winners.

Oregon

  • Top Beer: Deschutes The Abyss
  • Top Brewer: de Garde Brewing
  • Best New Brewer: Wild Ride Brewing
  • Brewpub: Cascade Brewing Barrel House
  • Restaurant: Higgins Restaurant and Bar
  • Brewer Tap Room: Hair of the Dog Brewing Company
  • Bottle Shop: The Bier Stein
  • Grocery: Beaumont Market
  • Bar: Belmont Station

Washington

  • Top Beer: Fremont Abominable – Bourbon Barrel Coffee Cinnamon
  • Top Brewer: Elysian Brewing (AB InBev)
  • Best New Brewer: Holy Mountain Brewing Company
  • Brewpub: Walking Man Brewing & Public House
  • Restaurant: Yard House – Seattle
  • Brewer Tap Room: Reuben’s Brews
  • Bottle Shop: The Beer Junction
  • Grocery: Whole Foods Market – Roosevelt Square
  • Bar: Brouwer’s Cafe
2016 RateBeer Best medals. (image courtesy of Kerry Finsand)
2016 RateBeer Best medals. (image courtesy of Kerry Finsand)

The brewers, breweries, tap houses, bottle shops and others have all put in some hard work to be a recipient of these RateBeer Best Awards. We would like to congratulate our local award winners along with those from across the United States and beyond. (Here’s a link to view all of the RateBeer Best Award winners.)

To Øl at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
To Øl at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.

Over 2000 attendees traveled to the KaiserAir Jet Center next to the Charles M. Schulz Airport on Sunday for an afternoon of sampling beers from across the globe. The highlights of Sunday’s RateBeer Best Festival far exceeded the stumbling blocks of Saturday’s awards ceremony. The festival featured the who’s who in the world of craft beer. With over 40 of some of the most sought after breweries in the world there was no better place to be than in Santa Rosa on Saturday.

Attending breweries consisted of the following:

  • AleBrowar
  • AleSmith
  • Alpine Beer
  • Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
  • Beachwood Brewing
  • Beavertown Brewery
  • Bellwoods Brewery
  • Birra del Borgo
  • Boxing Cat Brewery
  • Brasserie Dunham
  • Buxton Brewery
  • Casey Brewing
  • Cervejaria Dogma
  • Cellar maker
  • Cigar City Brewing
  • Crooked Stave
  • de Garde
  • Evil Twin
  • Founders
  • Gaenstaller Bräu
  • Hill Farmstead
  • Hoppin’ Frog
  • Jackie O’s Brewery
  • J Wakefield
  • Lagunitas Brewing
  • The Lost Abbey
  • Magic Rock Brewing Co
  • Mikkeller
  • Modern Times
  • Nomada
  • Omnipollo
  • Pipework’s
  • Prairie Artisan Ales
  • The Rare Barrel
  • Russian River Brewing
  • Sante Adairius Rustic Ales
  • Side Project Brewing
  • Siren Craft Brewing
  • Stillwater Artisanal
  • de Struise
  • The Bruery
  • Three Floyds
  • Tired Hands Brewing Company
  • To Øl
  • Toppling Goliath Brewing Co.
  • Trillium Brewing Company LLC
  • Widawa

RateBeer did one fine job in securing these talented brewers to attend this inaugural fest as some traveled half way across the globe to be part of this event. Kudos to Tucker and his staff at RateBeer for pulling this off.

Former Portland brewer Michael Jordan was pouring beers from his Boxing Cat Brewery that is located in China. Jordan departed Portland in 2008 to help launch Boxing Cat Brewery.
Former Portland brewer Michael Jordan was pouring beers from his Boxing Cat Brewery that is located in China. Jordan departed Portland in 2008 to help launch Boxing Cat Brewery.

With unlimited pours this non-beer ticket event kept everyone in attendance wanting the try the next rare beer. Lines for the breweries varied throughout the afternoon as each brewery rotated through its exceptional lineup. Hill Farmstead Brewery and Three Floyds Brewing seemed to have the longest lines during the day but the lines kept moving so no one was out of a beer in their hand for very long.

One of the most unusual beers being served was from Sweden’s Omnipollo as it served its Abrahadabra Smoothie IPA in an unusual fashion. Omnipollo topped off the beer with frozen foam produced from the same beer. The frozen foam was achieved by using a slushy machine. This will be a perfect idea for any brewery in the warmer summer months.

Sweden's Omnipollo pouring its Abrahadabra Smoothie IPA at the 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Sweden’s Omnipollo pouring its Abrahadabra Smoothie IPA at the 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.

Hopefully the RateBeer Best Festival will become a permanent addition to the craft beer calendar in the normally deprived month of January. This is an event that is worthy of placing on you beercation to do list.

Here are more photos from the 2016 RateBeer Best Awards and RateBeer Best Festival….

2016 RateBeer Best Awards Stage.
2016 RateBeer Best Awards Stage.
Reception at the 2016 RateBeer Best Awards.
Reception at the 2016 RateBeer Best Awards.
Award announcements at 2016 RateBeer Best Awards.
Award announcements at 2016 RateBeer Best Awards.
2016 RateBeer Best Awards
2016 RateBeer Best Awards
Airport at RateBeer Best Festival.
Airport at RateBeer Best Festival.
Side Project at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Side Project at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Trillum at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Trillum at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
2016 RateBeer Best Festival attendees.
2016 RateBeer Best Festival attendees.
Prairie Artisan Ales at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Prairie Artisan Ales at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Modern Times at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival with Matt, aka @allheartnolove.
Modern Times at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival with Matt, aka @allheartnolove.
Matt Van Wyk of Alesong Brewing, D.J. Paul of Brewpublic and Logan Plant of Beavertown Brewery at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Matt Van Wyk of Alesong Brewing, D.J. Paul of Brewpublic and Logan Plant of Beavertown Brewery at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Karen King of Side Project, D.J. Paul of Brewpublic and Logan Plant of Beavertown Brewery at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Karen King of Side Project, D.J. Paul of Brewpublic and Logan Plant of Beavertown Brewery at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Matt Van Wyk of Alesong Brewing & Blending and John Holl & Jon Page of All About Beer Magazine at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Matt Van Wyk of Alesong Brewing & Blending and John Holl & Jon Page of All About Beer Magazine at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Hill Farmstead Anna at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Hill Farmstead Anna at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
China's Boxing Cat Brewery at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
China’s Boxing Cat Brewery at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Buxton Brewing at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Buxton Brewing at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Brazil's Dogma Brewery at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Brazil’s Dogma Brewery at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Beachwood Blendery at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Beachwood Blendery at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Bottles of Beachwood Blendery at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
Bottles of Beachwood Blendery at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
3 Floyds Brewing at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
3 Floyds Brewing at 2016 RateBeer Best Festival.
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