Beachwood BBQ and Brewing Wins 5 Medals at GABF, Named Best Mid-Size Brewpub in the Country

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Team Beachwood celebrates at GABF (l to r): Adam Springer, Jarred Ekstrom, Lena Perelman, Gabe Gordon, Fauna Tomich, Julian Shrago and Dave Watrous. Photo by Sarah Bennett.

Getting a seat at the bar at Beachwood BBQ and Brewing in Downtown Long Beach may be a little bit harder after the two-year-old brewpub’s impressive performance at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver this weekend.

Out of 745 breweries from around the country that submitted 4,809 beers for judging at the largest commercial beer competition and festival in the world, Beachwood brought home five medals, including two golds, and earned the coveted title of Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year. With a limit of only 10 entries per brewery, that means that Beachwood won medals for half of the beers they submitted for judging, a hard-won accomplishment at a festival where the competition pool is growing by at least 10% every year.

The accolades heaped upon Beachwood and its Brewmaster/co-owner Julian Shrago are no easy feat for a young brewpub, much less one from a region many in America still consider to be a craft beer desert. But with the reputation of the Beachwood brand behind him (the original restaurant in Seal Beach is consistently named among the best beer bars in the country), Shrago has been churning out a wide range of stellar beers from the unsuspecting Promenade outpost since day one.

As one of only two breweries in L.A. County and four in the entire region to come home with a medal at all from the prestigious annual event, the large number of awards given to Beachwood now puts Long Beach on the map for craft beer fans around the country.

Beachwoodmedals“You always go into GABF hoping you’ll win something, even knowing that the odds are tough, especially this year with a record amount of entrants,” said owner and Executive Chef of Beachwood BBQ Gabe Gordon. “This is our third year entering and each year we get better and better at brewing, so we were hoping that we’d be awarded something. But five medals? The compliment is really quite overwhelming.”

Out of the five medals Beachwood won, two were gold medals (for Foam Top in the Golden/Blonde Ale category and Kilgore in the American-Style Stout category), one was a silver medal (for Udder Love in the Sweet Stout category) and two were bronze medals (one for Barrel-Aged Full Malted Jacket in the Wood and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer category and another for System of a Stout in the Coffee Beer category).

Last year, Beachwood won two medals at GABF, a bronze in the French and Belgian-Style Saison category for El Verano and a gold in the Sweet Stout category for Udder Love. They were the only brewery in L.A. County that year to bring home any medals.

Shrago, who is also a co-owner of the brewpub, began earning a name for himself years ago as one of Southern California’s top homebrewers. Known for his hop-forward creations, he often collaborated with some of San Diego’s best professional brewers before moving to Orange County and joining the Long Beach Homebrewers club. Along with Gabe Gordon and Gordon’s wife Lena Perelman, Shrago opened Beachwood BBQ and Brewing in 2011 and last year, he finally quit his day job (as an aerospace engineer at Raytheon) to brew at Beachwood full time.

“What’s been awesome is the response from all the folks who have supported us from day one. It feels like we won this one for all the people that have stood behind us and rooted us on,” said Gordon. “We feel like this honor is as much for our own ego as it is for our customers and friends. We all have something to be proud of.”

In addition to Beachwood, Rock Bottom Brewery–a Colorado-based chain which has a location in Downtown Long Beach–also won a national title. Based off scores from beers submitted by its La Jolla, Calif. and Broomfield, Colo. locations, the company earned the title of Brewpub Group of the Year. Rock Bottom Long Beach did not submit any beers for judging this year. 

To view all of the winners from the Great American Beer Festival, click here. Beachwood is located at 210 E. 3rd St. 

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Sarah Bennett is a contributor to the Hi-lo and the editor-at-large at the Long Beach Post. She is also a professor at Santa Ana College where she was once a student before transferring to USC to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Sarah has written about music, art, food and beer in local, national and international publications for over a decade. An L.A. native and longtime resident of Long Beach, she is the co-founder of Long Beach Zine Fest and managing editor at theLAnd magazine. She never sleeps.
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