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Three "Cheers" for Beer Week

The top 5 reasons why every San Diegan should take part in the celebration (going on now!)


San Diego Beer Week 2015 | Photo by Bruce Glassman

It’s the best 10-day week around. Once a year—usually the first full week of November—the entire San Diego craft beer community organizes around a celebration of our local brewing scene. In recent years, Beer Week has included two major kickoff events at Broadway Pier (The VIP Brewer Takeover and the Guild Fest organized by the San Diego Brewers Guild) and more than 500 other events that range from tap takeovers and special-release nights at pubs and bars, to beer breakfasts, beer brunches, beer lunches, beer dinners, chocolate and beer pairings, cheese and beer pairings, and all kinds of cask-and-rare-beer releases.

Sound like fun? Well, it is. Ask any of the more than 3,000 people who attended the Guild Fest this year, or the 20,000+ people who traveled to San Diego to be here for Beer Week.  Some of those folks came from places like Brazil, England, Alaska, Amsterdam, Norway, Spain, and Canada.

Whether you’re a local craft beer fan, a novice who has never tried craft beer, or a San Diego resident who—up until now—has not been aware of what’s going on in our town beer-wise, there are a ton of compelling reasons why you should make it a point to celebrate Beer Week with your fellow San Diegans. Here are my top 5 reasons for your consideration:

1. Some of the world’s best beer is made right here in your backyard. Don’t take my word for it, ask the judges at The Great American Beer Festival or the World Beer Cup, or any number of other major beer competitions, where San Diego beers consistently win top honors in highly competitive and very crowded fields. [Our brewers came back from the Great American Beer Festival this year with 20 medals, which was one-third of California’s total and more medals than the entire state of Oregon!]

2. Lots of our best beer is only available locally. Dozens of San Diego’s best small breweries only make enough beer to sell in their tasting rooms, or perhaps to very limited accounts within the county limits. And even some of our bigger breweries do R&D beers, seasonal beers, experimental brews, and collaborations that are so limited they never make it out of the breweries at all. As a local resident, you have access to special beers that no one else does; you should feel special!

3. Your town is recognized worldwide as a craft beer capital. Think of Munich and Oktoberfest. Or Napa Valley and wine. San Diego’s “brand” has become associated in a similar way with great craft beer—especially “West Coast style” and “San Diego style” IPAs, which now have cachet all over the world. Most of our larger breweries have eager customers in Europe, Australia, and Asia—especially Japan—who will take as much beer as our breweries can spare for international distribution. [Stone Brewing Co. is set to expand into Europe by opening a brewery in Berlin, Germany, which will deliver “San Diego style” beers to a thirsty young European market that craves the bold and exciting flavors only our beers can deliver.]

4. Beer Week puts it all together for you. There are great beers available year-round at local brewery tasting rooms, and there are always beer events happening in San Diego, but the beauty of Beer Week is that nearly everyone in the beer community plans events for this one 10-day period. If you’ve never been to a beer-and-food pairing, there are a few dozen to choose from during Beer Week. It’s a great way to explore the many flavor and styles of beer, and a great way to expand your knowledge of (and love for) the many varieties of craft beer that are out there. Local chefs have also organized special events around Beer Week. Few other cities in America have a beer-centric food scene as robust and exciting as the one we have here. The quality and variety of brews available to local chefs has inspired them to create new and exciting ways to incorporate beer into their food and to pair it with everything from appetizers to main courses to desserts. In the hands of these talented chefs, “foodies” have come to appreciate that beer can provide a culinary experience that is equal to wine in every way.

5. Your neighbors have built something worthy of serious hometown pride. Sure, our weather is nearly perfect all the time. And our beaches are beautiful and world-class. But, these are not things that San Diegans have actually built from scratch—not like our breweries. The beer scene in San Diego is dynamic; it’s exciting and creative and cutting-edge. There are things happening here that are the envy of beer communities all over the country (and also the world). So, take some pride in your hometown, and be a part of the celebration!

Beer Week officially began last Friday, but it is currently in full swing. Organized events are planned through Sunday, November 15, so there’s still plenty of time to take part in the festivities. Here are just a few highlights:

• 4-course Beer Dinner at the Hilton Del Mar (11/12)

• Donut-and-Beer Pairing at The Local (11/12)

• AleSmith Rare Beer prix fixe dinner at Sublime Ale House (11/12)

• Beer Brunch featuring Fall Brewing at Crushed (11/13)

• Barrel-Aged Beer Night at O’Brien’s (11/13)

• Ballast Point Beer Pairing at The Blind Burro (11/13)

• Chocolate and Beer Pairing with Lost Abbey and Tap That Tap Room (11/13)

• Salami and Beer Pairing at Thorne St. Brewery (11/14)

• San Diego Beer and Cheese Festival at Stone Liberty Station (11/14)

• Beer Pairing Dinner at Tidal (11/14)

• Donuts, Coffee, and Stout at Benchmark (11/15)

• Beer Brunch at Karl Strauss Brewing Company (11/15)

• The Beer Garden at the Lodge at Torrey Pines (11/15)

You can find details on all these events, plus dozens more, at www.sdbw.org/schedule

Make sure to raise a glass and say “Cheers” to San Diego beer!

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