While the emergence of an identifiable Los Angeles beer culture in the past several years has certainly been a welcome addition, there are more than a few folks a bit further south who have been doing this stuff for years. San Diego County has long been home to great breweries and even better spots to drink them. Stone Brewing, in the northern reaches of San Diego County, has even gone so far as to merge the "brew" and "enjoy" processes together with a stunning steel and glass building in Escondido. It's no surprise, then, to see the likes of Stone, Karl Strauss, Ballast Point, Green Flash and Lost Abbey acting as tentpoles on the currently-running San Diego Beer Week.
The sudsy week in San Diego works much the same way as L.A.'s own recent Beer Week. Brewers, retailers, distributors and restaurants all work together around town to create the best beer-centric events for thirsty patrons to enjoy. And, with multiple outlets all working loosely in conjunction with one another, you can hop from great event to great event, all in the same night.
Thursday alone is filled with an array of events, from a 4pm home brewing class at Ballast Point Brewing to an English cheese pairing at New English Brewing. If that weren't enough, Cismontane and Kern River Brewing are both taking over taps and pouring their limited crafts to waiting customers. Add about fifteen more individual events between 3pm and closing on Thursday night, and you start to get an idea of how seriously San Diego takes its craft beer.
If you're desperate for a sip and you can only make it down to San Diego for the weekend, you're in luck. Beer Week runs through Sunday night and most of the biggest and best events have been reserved for the closing weekend. The award-winning Green Flash crew is tapping some of their reserve casks on Friday night, while up-and-comer Monkey Paw celebrates one year in the craft beer business. On Saturday you can join the Bike For Beer caravan pedaling around the city, take a tour of the Ballast Point brewing operation or let some barrel-aged beers wash over you at Encinitas Ale House. Come Sunday you may suddenly find yourself at Karl Strauss' closing weekend beer brunch, or reaching for something a little different at the Julian Hard Cider dinner from Sea Rocket Bistro. Either way, you won't want to miss the closing Beer Garden at the famed Torrey Pines, where breweries and chefs are pairing off for an unbelievable night of food and drink.
There are dozens more fantastic events than could possibly be presented to you here, each with their own unique spin on San Diego's longstanding craft beer culture. From the land of extreme hops and eternal sunshine, it's no surprise that all of San Diego would rally for such a wonderfully expansive week of local beer support. Los Angeles has already begun carving a legacy for itself as a craft beer destination, but all it takes is a quick glance south to really show us how it's done.