Del Mar Racing Hosts a Standout Beer Event
This year’s Burgers & Brews Invitational boasted 70 breweries and more than 100 beers (along with all-you-can-eat burgers!)
The Burgers & Brews Invitational at the Del Mar Racetrack featured more than 100 beers from nearly 70 breweries. | Photo: Bruce Glassman
I’m going out on a limb here, but I would guess there are few places in the world where you can enjoy sun, surf, palm trees, an iconic racetrack, the sleek beauty of thoroughbreds, and an immense variety of great craft beer accompanied by awesome burgers. The Burgers & Brews Invitational, hosted each year at the Del Mar Racetrack, offers just that experience.
This past Saturday, I was fortunate enough to attend the event, and it turned out to be one of the more satisfying beer festivals in recent memory. It had a number of things working in its favor, not the least of which was the fact that the setting is both beautiful and interesting. At most beer festivals, the activities are primarily limited to waiting in line for beer and then drinking said beer. At Burgers & Brews, the waiting and the drinking were enhanced by a killer lineup of great burgers to try, but also by an entertainment venue that provided hours of extra diversion. Having the beer to drink, the burgers to eat, and the races to watch, combined to make for a fully satisfying and unique experience that lasted all day long.
Burgers & Brews is an invitational event, which is another plus. It means the lineup of participating breweries tends to be better than your average festival (kudos to whoever curated the invites!) and the mix of styles tends to be a bit more interesting.
All in all, about 70 breweries were represented, with more than 100 beers on tap. Many of San Diego’s best were in attendance, including (but not limited to) Bagby, Ballast Point, Belching Beaver, Bitter Brothers, Burning Beard, Coronado, Eppig, Fall, Karl Strauss, Mother Earth, Nickel, Pizza Port, Rouleur, Second Chance, South Park, Thr3e Punk Ales, and Lost Abbey. In addition to the homegrown breweries, Del Mar also hosted an impressive lineup of quality guests from out of town: Arts District, Beachwood, Bruery Terreux, Claremont Craft Ales, Deschutes, Eagle Rock, Founders, Kern River, Maui, Silva, and The Bruery among them.
I should note, also, that many of the beers on tap went beyond the standard core production beers you often see at the big beer festivals. The mix at this event included an impressive number of sours, wheat beers, double IPAs, and offbeat and specialty brews.
The beer was clearly the star of the show, but there were great supporting roles (rolls?) played by the all-you-can-eat burgers from Slater’s 50/50, Stacked, SnackShack, Firehouse, and Primetime Grill, along with unlimited fries and bacon/cheese tots from the fry bar. Sure, it wasn’t exactly a “health food expo,” but who goes to a beer fest for health reasons?
I was happy spending the day going back and forth between the festival and the track, watching a few exciting races in between the burger grazing and the beer sipping. It was a thoroughly satisfying way to enjoy all the aspects of the Del Mar Racetrack without being restricted to just one activity or the other. Once the eating and drinking portion of the event concluded, attendees moved over to the outdoor stage for an evening concert (admission included in the ticket price), which this year featured the popular reggae band Iration. A perfect ending to a perfect day.