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Judging begins in Sacramento for annual Brewers Cup of California competition

Brewers Cup of California judging begins in Sacramento
Brewers Cup of California judging begins in Sacramento 01:49

SACRAMENTO — Across California, more than 1,200 craft brewers pump about $10 billion into the economy each year. On Thursday, judging began in Sacramento for a coveted prize in the craft beer industry.

The battle for beer bragging rights is underway. In Sacramento this week are 65 top beer experts judging for the annual Brewers Cup of California competition.

"This is the largest beer competition in California and one of the largest in the nation," said Ryan Compagna, brewmaster at Touchstone Brewery Co. in Sacramento.

Kristen Madigan is one of those judges and will help decide who walks away with the top prizes for Brewery of the Year and Best in Show.

"There is definitely pressure on us to make sure that we're judging them properly," she said.

"When they're excellent beers, it's hard to differentiate which is the best of them," Brewers Cup judge David Teckem said.

Compagna said winning the gold medal can really boost beer sales.

"Retailers out there are saying, 'I want the best IPA, I want the best pilsner,' " he said.

It comes at a time when craft brewers face increasing competition in the alcoholic beverage marketplace.

Sacramento has a long history of brewing beer, dating back to before the gold rush days.

Much of the hops, malt, and barley is still grown here in the Central Valley — local ingredients that Sacramento craft brewers hope will give them an edge in the competition.

"Maybe it's not farm-to-fork. It's more farm to glass, but it's the same concept," Compagna said.

Winners of the Brewers Cup awards will be presented in a ceremony at Sacramento's Crest Theater on March 13.

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