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San Diego Beer Week 2015: Publisher’s Picks

Nov 6


Each year, San Diego Beer Week arrives and rains down a myriad of events. Like a Vegas buffet, planning and strategy are key. Otherwise, you’ll end up asleep somewhere and missing out on the fun.

This list is subjective. I focused on events that have uncommon beers and especially beers from out of San Diego. I also really want to check out some of the newest beers/breweries/spots in town. In other words, I’m fixing to learn what’s up on the cutting edge of San Diego beer and tasting the best that America’s Finest Beer City/County can produce. I’m also trying to not die in the process, so this list is biased towards central-San Diego as that’s where my bed is. My sources: our WC online beer event calendar at, Beer Week’s official website and our generous advertisers (make sure to check out the ads in this issue, for there are plenty of amazing happenings in there).

San Diego’s finest are also avid local beer fans and well aware of San Diego Beer Week. Don’t be a drunk driving dickhead, use your phone to talk to space and summon a Lyft or Uber. Uber lets you split fares now so you can break up the fare with the squad.

I only regret that I have but one liver to lose for my county
-Jerry Sanders

Friday, November 6th
VIP Guildfest
Verily, this event’s grown a bit since it’s cozy inception in 2013. That said, I’m expecting a state-of-the-union for how SD beer is tasting while enjoying a sunset on the water. Details are slim as to who is pouring what exactly, but there will be unlimited food, beer and access to local brewing community folks.

If you’re attending both days, I recommend hunting the whales during the VIP. See below for my tip on the 2nd day.

Amplified Ale Works 3-Year Anniversary
There’s a growing number of adults in Pacific Beach who choose local beer over vodka slushies and our resident brewery is Amplified. Cy Henley makes amazing beers out of his seaside brewhouse, the biergarten patio overlooks the ocean and the food is amazing. When people ask me why I moved from North/South Park to PB, I take them here (then Crushed, TapRoom and Iron Pig afterwards if it’s one of those nights).

Saturday, November 7th
San Diego Brewers Guild Festival
I will most likely be slightly woozy from the previous evening, but nothing will keep me from this festival. This is because this festival is awesome. While there won’t be unlimited food, there will be even more beer and friends present, and I can get a better view of the boats floating around the bay during the day. 

The general Saturday Guildfest session is a great time to check out just-opened breweries, as this is their first ever Guild Fest and they’re going to want to impress. As of late October, brand new breweries that opened this year are: Abnormal, Bay Bridge, Bay City, Division 23, Duck Foot, Guadalupe, Half Door, Helix, Home, Kilowatt, Magnetic, Novo Brazil, Pacific Islander, Prodigy, Second Chance and South Park. Be gentle with your Untappd ratings; remember all breweries were once baby breweries :)

Sunday, November 8th
Baja Beers @ Bottlecraft Little Italy
I was going to type some remark bemoaning the old Bottlecraft, but then I remembered the old location sucked compared to the new one. This will be the first Beer Week for Bottlecraft Little Italy 2.0, and Baja breweries are ON FIRE right now. While I couldn’t get a hold of the tap list for this event, based on the above facts I know Bottlecraft will put on a good event. Ballast Point Little Italy is a catty-corner away, and they have beer, too.

Epicurean Beer Geek Tours @ White Labs, Brothers Provisions, Stone Farms and Societe
A new face launching for SDBW, Epicurean San Diego is an outfit that promises beer, food and education while ferrying you to White Labs, Brothers Provisions, Stone Farms and Societe. I don’t get to visit White Labs, Brothers and Societe enough, and I’ve never actually had a beer at Stone Farms. The cost is $115, and if there’s food and beer involved that’s a pretty good price especially since it includes transportation and a meal. Great event for out-of-towners and if Sunday doesn’t work the same tour runs daily November 5th-8th & 12th-15th from 10:30AM-3:45PM

Monday, November 9th
Brews, Views & Chews @ Tom Ham’s Lighthouse
It’s not just about beer, folks. Beer Week brings a lot of stellar foodie events, and this is one of them. Tom Ham’s Lighthouse is an iconic San Diego landmark that underwent a significant remodel and has stepped up their beer program in 2015. This event features six breweries such as Ballast Point, New English and Belching Beaver paired with six plates from the chefs of Soda & Swine, Carnitas Snack Shack and The Little Lion Cafe. Live music and a killer view of my lovely hometown’s downtown seal the deal for me.

Abnormal Beer Co. / Cork & Craft Beer Pairing Dinner featuring Modern Times & Almanac
Another equally killer option is up north at Abnormal Beer Company / Cork & Craft. A proper sit-down beer dinner, this multi-course meal will have beers paired from Modern Times, Almanac and Abnormal paired with the skilled Cork & Craft Kitchen. While I don’t know the particulars of this event, I was lucky enough to attend an outstanding AleSmith beer dinner early in 2015. It’s a safe bet that with months worth of practice this will be worth every penny.

Tuesday, November 10th
The Full Table @ Benchmark Beer
Like any San Diegan, I dig my badass hoppy Single/Double/Triple/Quadruple IPAs. That said, as my palate evolves (and my liver ages), I find myself appreciating gentler, more subtle beers. Benchmark Brewing Company’s Table Beer is a fine example of what I’m talking about, and this night will feature 12 different variations of the slightly roasty belgian style ale. This event is a great way to tune your tastebuds. Grab a pint of regular Table for a control beer, and then taste the versions that have been barrel-aged and brettanomyces-brewed. Check out how slight changes in ingredients can create such dramatic differences. Within walking distance is the rest of the developing Grantville neighborhood beer cluster which includes Groundswell and San Diego Brewing Co.

Wednesday, November 11th
Sour Tap Takeover @ Rip Current North Park
Unlike most non-brewing satellite tasting rooms, 2015 Great American Beer Festival Very Small Brewery of the Year Rip Current’s North Park location serves guest taps in addition to the beer brewed in the San Marcos production facility. Rip Current has deep connections with local homebrewing club QUAFF (Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity). Thus, the staff is pretty enthusiastic about quality brews – even if they don’t brew it themselves. Guest taps will be pouring a tart selection from Almanac, Toolbox, Council, DogFish Head & more starting at 3PM.

Thursday, November 12th
7th Fling w/ Green Flash @ Hamilton’s
Like the Hajj, all San Diego beer faithful should attend this event once in their lifetime. The morning starts at Morley Field with a brunch. While you munch, Hamilton’s proprietor Scot Blair and his staff are busy matching up players to create even teams of four. After a brief talk regarding rules, the shotgun disk golf tournament starts. Disk golf is the de-facto sport of San Diego Beer, and expect several brewers to be in attendance. While all skill levels are welcome and the fun level is high, there is stiff competition. Comradery and silliness are expected by all attending. Winners get to tap the cask at the afterparty which takes place at Hamilton’s. The afterparty is closed to non-Flingers, boasts lunch and a hosted bar until 3PM (when Hamilton’s normally opens).

Craft Beer + Bites @ SILO
Maker’s Quarter is a slick venue located right off where the 94 freeway ends. $35-$40 ticket gets you unlimited tastings of beer from 15 breweries, with food, craft cocktails and wine available for purchase. Proceeds benefit the San Diego Brewers Guild, and this event is also a graduation celebration for the recent batch of students from the San Diego State Business of Craft Beer Program. Across the street is Monkey Paw and both Half Door and Mission are within walking distance (along with the rest of downtown).

Friday, November 13th
Beer Without Borders @ Machete Beer House
As I mentioned, the Mexican craft brewers are doing some great stuff. It’s much easier to get to National City than Tijuana, and Machete is one of the bright stars of the growing South Bay beer scene. All 30 taps will be taken over by breweries such as Insurgente, Agua Mala, Border Psycho and Wendlandt. For those lucky enough to have a designated driver, don’t forget to check out La Bella Pizza, Manhattan Bar and Third Street Ale House while you’re in the area to understand #SouthBayUprising.

Battle of the Guilds @ Toronado
This event ruled last year. Try beer from the greater Los Angeles and San Francisco first. Breweries that will be included from LA: Three Weavers, Beachwood, Ladyface, Monkish, Phantom Carriage + more. From the Bay Area: Magnolia, Cellarmaker, Thirsty Bear + more. Last year had lots of brewers in attendance from San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco; this is a good event to mingle! Stop in early if you’re looking for the rarer beers, or pop in while roaming 30th. Don’t forget to cast your vote for San Diego!

Saturday, November 14th
Three Amigos @ O’Brien’s Pub
Former Pizza Port brewers Tom Nickel, Jeff Bagby and Tomme Arthur have each staked their own claims at Nickel Brewing Co., Bagby Beer Co., and Lost Abbey, respectively. An event with these three dudes present is a treat. If you wanted a chance to hang out with the best of the business while tasting some insane beer, this is it. Early afternoon is probably the best time to hit this event up. O’Brien’s is within the Kearny Mesa brewery cluster, which means Societe, Council, Kilowatt and Helm’s are all within striking distance. For food, across the street are two cool new beer pubs Common Theory and Dumpling Inn.

Sunday, November 15th
The Beer Garden at the Lodge at Torrey Pines
Located on the grounds of the 5-star Lodge at Torrey Pines, the endpiece event of San Diego Beer Week is not to be missed. Gaze upon the majesty of the Torrey Pines golf course and the Pacific Ocean while stuffing your unmajestic, Beer-Week weary maw with unlimited, expertly matched food & beer pairings. This last official San Diego Brewers Guild event of the year explains to all senses why San Diego is awesome.

As this article was written late October for our November 2015 issue, numerous events have surfaced. West Coaster Editor Ryan Lamb has worked very hard to compile the best list of events in existence, so check that out along with and choose your own adventure!

San Diego Beer Week 2010 was when our first edition of West Coaster was published. It’s our fifth anniversary month this November. From all of us at WC: Thank you for reading!



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Weekend Beer Forecast 8/3 – 8/5

Aug 2

Although this weekend is a relatively quiet one in the beer world, I submit this handful of events for your consideration.

Friday 8/3
Urge 2nd Anniversary
Rancho Bernardo’s beer powerhouse is celebrating their 2nd year in business. For the occasion, Urge has commissioned Mother Earth Brew Co. to create two beers: an Imperial Saison brewed with agave nectar, orange blossom honey, and coriander; and a Pale Ale brewed with orange blossom honey, coriander, and lemon grass. First 100 guests get an anniversary pint glass. There’s also an anniversary burger being crafted, and a free t-shirt to the first 50 people who order it. In Urge’s words, “This. Is. Going. To. Be. Awesome.” I agree. More info on their website.

Coronado Jasmine Ginger Orange Avenue Wit cask  @ The Coaster Saloon
The Coaster is located right by the beach. Orange Avenue Wit is a perfect beach day beer. ‘Nuff said. Down a few beers and watch Zonies try to surf at Wavehouse.

Saturday 8/4
BrewFest Encinitas
A fun beerfest last year, you can read our recap in the archives.  The first incarnation of this festival served great beer and food with minimal lines and drama – we expect the 2nd BrewFest Encinitas to be excellent. New for this year: VIP area featuring special guest Jeff Bagby along with some crazy beers (try Karl’s Tart of Darkness). Tickets are $40 and VIP is $65. Click for tickets, participating breweries, VIP beer list.

2nd Annual SD Craft Beer & Cocktail Showcase @ El Dorado
This is going to be cool. $25 scores you 10 craft beer/cocktail tasters from San Diego’s finest brewers and bartenders. In addition, there’s live music, art, and more. Info and tickets, here.

Urge 2nd Anniversary
Day two. This session probably won’t be as rowdy as Friday, but it will still be packed. More info on their website.

Sunday 8/5
Urge 2nd Anniversary
Day three. This will probably be the most low-key session. More info.

Photo: Ryan Lamb

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May 2012

May 1

View May online! (PDF (33.2 MB) / E-Reader)

A big welcome to May from us at West Coaster. Right along with the entire San Diego beer industry, we’ve been working hard to put our best foot forward for the Craft Brewers Conference / World Beer Cup. This month, we printed 13,000 issues and distributed them to nearly 200 locations across the county – please pick up an issue if you’re heading to grab a beer after work!

As for our role during this exciting week, we’re going to attend the conference and try and talk to as many out-of-town industry folk to see where they’re from and what they think about our beer. From there, we’ll of course also cover anything cool or newsworthy we encounter during the conference.

Unfortunately, the conference is closed to the public and that’s why we put tons of effort into finding events for our Event Calendar. There’s plenty to do for the craft beer drinker this week.

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Event Preview: Beer & Food Fest @ Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens — Sunday 5/6

Apr 30

The Craft Brewers Conference is in town this week, and even though it’s not open to the public, there are plenty of events going on as industry professionals from near and far celebrate the world’s best beverage in San Diego. The conference culminates with the announcement of the World Beer Cup winners on Saturday night, and the following day the number of local events drops to just one — but it’s a sure-fire winner.

Part of the garden area at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens

The Artisan Food & Craft Beer Festival from 12-3pm at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens promises to be one of the best food & beer events of the year, for a variety of reasons. First, you’ll get to try the creations of ten local chefs who’ve each been expertly paired with beers from two different breweries by “Dr.” Bill Sysak, Stone Beverage Coordinator and Certified Cicerone. Also, the event is a fundraiser for Chefs Celebration and twelve local students planning to attend courses at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley; it is fitting then that two previous scholarship recipients are current Stone employees. And the venue itself, the scenic garden area of Stone’s property in Escondido, is ideal.

Sea Rocket Bistro Chef Tommy Fraioli (background) with Chef Chad White (now of Gabardine) during a SDBW2011 event

Here’s the list of chefs and breweries set to feature on Sunday: Sea Rocket Bistro’s Tommy Fraioli is making a peach bread pudding with lemon chantilly cream and blueberry sauce, paired with Beachwood Brewing 3rd Dimension Tripel & Iron Fist Golden Age. Leah Delyte Di Bernardo of E.A.T. Marketplace is making a quesadilla with wild mushroom, caramelized sweet Temecula onion, smoked gruyere cheese and crème fraîche alongside shredded heirloom beets and micro cilantro salad, hand-scored tortilla chips, hot zucchini relish and pickled smokin’ jalapeños. These are paired with Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale & Green Flash Barleywine Style Ale. Greg Frey Jr. of BlueFire Grill will make a Mesquite-Smoked Shelton Farms Chicken with ruby crescent potato salad, lovage, and spicy Persian lime, paired with The Lost Abbey Avant Garde Ale and Black Market Rye IPA. Dawn Parks of The Wild Thyme Company will contribute a dulce de leche Tiramisu with banana mascarpone and caramel corn, paired with AleSmith Wee Heavy and North Coast Brother TheloniusBelgian Style Abbey Ale. Ricardo Heredia of Alchemy is making braised Paso Prime beef tongue, achiote, house made tortillas, red onion and micro cilantro, paired with Port Brewing Wipeout IPA and Green Flash Hop Head Red Ale. Kyle Bergman of The Lodge at Torrey Pines will prepare head cheese with pickled spring vegetables, paired with Ballast Point Wahoo Wheat Ale and Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale. Scot Blair of Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery is making an open-faced steak and garlic Baguette with pesto and Manchego cheese, a skewer of mozzarella, olives, and marinated peppers and a balsamic and basil drizzle, paired with Stone Smoked Porter and Lightning Fulminator Lager. Alex Carballo of Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens is making Espresso and Cocoa-Dusted Venison Carpaccio with herb salad and shaved Manchego cheese, paired with Ballast Point Abandon Ship Smoked Lager and Monkey Paw Mighty Joe Young. Lance Repp of La Valencia Hotel will serve Moroccan Spiced Lamb Sliders with citrus olive tapenade and pickled slaw, paired with AleSmith Nautical Nut Brown Ale and Iron Fist Dubbel Fisted. Daniel Barron of Evolve Cuisine Forward is making Stone IPA deconstructed s’mores, paired with The Lost Abbey 10 Commandments and Stone Imperial Russian Stout. Also, The Aniata Cheese Company and Debra Katz and Naomi Couse of Sadie Rose Baking Co. will be on hand providing treats.

Tickets are $65, and are available here.

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BeerNerdz Beer & Cheese Pairing @ Cueva Bar

Apr 27

Last Wednesday Eric Barajas from tasting event planning company BeerNerdz met with Cueva Bar‘s Oz Blackaller to finalize the cheese selections for this Sunday’s Artisan Cheese and Craft Beer Pairing, featuring cheese from local shop Venissimo and beers procured only from San Diego breweries. The first seating is sold out, but there’s another from 6:00 – 7:30pm.

Barajas (left) and Blackaller talk beer and cheese pairings

Barajas (left) and Blackaller talk beer and cheese pairings

Barajas, who’s put on several blind beer tasting challenges at The Beer Co. downtown, as well as a beer and truffle pairing at Eclipse Chocolat, had always thought it’d be fun to bring local beer and unique cheeses together but lacked a proper venue to host the event. That was, until he visited the Adams Avenue restaurant a few months back. “I came in with my wife and really enjoyed the atmosphere. We met Oz and his wife, and they were really nice. I thought, for beer and cheese, the setting just felt right.”

Barajas isn’t alone: Blackaller says that three couples have recently gotten engaged after becoming regulars at his bar. One proposal happened right after a Valentine’s Day dinner, while another couple who’d just been friends finally had their first date there. They, along with a restaurant staffer who was brought in by her boyfriend while Blackaller was looking to fill positions, will all tie the knot in the near future. “It’s amazing to be connected with these couples in that way,” Blackaller said.

Green Flash Saison Diego with Humboldt Fog

Who knows exactly what magic lies in store for Sunday, but it will center around some great beer and cheese pairings. First up is Humboldt Fog, a soft and creamy cave-aged goat cheese that’s a little tangy, just right for the lively carbonation and earthy flavors of Green Flash‘s Saison Diego, brewed with Seville orange peels, Chinese ginger and grains of paradise.

The second beer on the list is Gouden Vallei, a collaboration beer by Alpine Beer Co. and Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing Company. Its pairing with a house-made cheese promises to be the night’s highlight; Alpine’s Pat McIlhenney recently claimed that “this could be one of the best beers ever created.” Blackaller agreed: “I’d never tasted anything like it,” and in order to complement the ample use of pink peppercorns in the beer, which give it sweet and herbal flavors, he infused lavender and coriander in his queso fresco, so it’s hard to tell where the beer ends and the cheese begins.

Beer and cheese

Gouden Vallei and queso fresco

If the last pairing was a lesson in complementary flavors, then the third highlights contrast. Barbers Cheddar isn’t too sharp to overpower Ballast Point‘s Sculpin IPA, but it gets close, before bringing the mango and citrusy notes in the beer back to the fore. The Hooks 10-year aged cheddar Barajas also brought to try with the beer was too sharp and creamy, essentially masking Sculpin’s lighter body. “I’ve learned more about beer and cheese than I ever thought possible,” said Barajas, who’d been back and forth to Venissimo for weeks discussing flavor profiles and filling his home fridge with samples.

The pairing of Bruder Basil, a soft and smoky cheese originally created by Trappist monks — not the beer-producing ones though — with The Beer Co.‘s Scotch Ale is fourth on the list. The sweet, malty and smoky aspects of the beer match up well with the cheese, leaving no room for debate over other choices.

AleSmith Old Numbskull

The last beer, AleSmith Old Numbskull Barleywine, is strong and complex, so Barajas brought four different types of blue and stilton cheeses to see which paired best with it. Rochefort, a sheep milk blue cheese, was the winner, with its gritty texture providing an interesting cap to proceedings.

Speaking of which, Barajas is offering a $5 discount for one ticket (regular $40), or $10 off for two, for West Coaster readers; apply WestCoaster or WestCoaster1 respectively at checkout. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Both Cueva Bar and BeerNerdz are advertisers in April’s West Coaster.

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