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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.)
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:
Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
Birra del Borgo
Boxing Cat Brewery
Cigar City Brewing
Jackie O’s Brewery
The Lost Abbey
Magic Rock Brewing Co
Prairie Artisan Ales
The Rare Barrel
Russian River Brewing
Sante Adairius Rustic Ales
Side Project Brewing
Siren Craft Brewing
Tired Hands Brewing Company
Toppling Goliath Brewing Co.
Trillium Brewing Company LLC
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.
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.
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….
D.J. is a Portland, Oregon based writer that spent his formative years in the Midwest. With over 25 years under his belt of drinking beer at festivals across America and the world, he has developed a strong appreciation and understanding of craft beer and the industry that surrounds it. He can be found in any of the great breweries or beer bars that make Portland the best beer city in the world. His writing can also be found in the archives of Northwest Brewing News and can be followed on Twitter and Instagram at @hopapalooza.