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Buzzin on San Diego Craft Breweries

Within the past couple decades a delicious trend has taken form and exponentially exploded into a mouthwatering bender. This is the froth of San Diego Craft Breweries and the passionate, die-hard beer nerds that will follow them to the ends of the universe in the constant search for that perfect, malty sip.

You might be wondering to yourself, “What exactly is a craft brewery?” Is there a difference between that and say Budweiser? Well, yes there is. First of all the American Brewers Association defines a craft brewery as being “small, independent and traditional,” with the following characteristics:

  • Small: Must produce less than 6 million barrels per year (186 million gallons - still a lot of beer)
  • Independent: Must be less that 24% owned by another alcoholic beverage company
  • Traditional: At least 50% of its volume are malt beers

There are also subdivisions of craft breweries such as microbreweries, brewpubs and regional craft breweries.

As of 2011, there were just under 2,000 craft breweries in the United States, and in San Diego alone there are more than 30 craft breweries with more opening every year. San Diego is quickly become the Mecca for craft beer. As a result, San Diego hosted the 2012 Craft Brewers Conference and World Beer Cup. If you aren’t from San Diego, but enjoy good beer, you may have heard of a few names or even tried a few of San Diego’s best beers. Stone Brewing Co., Karl Strauss and Ballast Point are just few of the larger breweries in this brew haven, but there are many smaller breweries that can really tingle the taste buds.

Since I grew up in Alpine (a small community in the foothills of San Diego), I may be a little biased. With that being said, my favorite San Diego Brewery is Alpine Beer Company. The Duet (West Coast IPA), Bourbon Barrel-Aged Odin’s Raven (named after Will Ferrell’s line in Anchorman) and Exponential Hoppiness (West Coast Triple IPA) are my top three. Stone Brewing Co. is a close second and not only because I work part-time at Stone Catering, but by virtue of Stone Ruination IPA (an Imperial IPA). This beer is insanely crisp, piney and refreshing making it my all-time favorite from Stone. They just released their Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA, which I am assuming will be a liquid hop symphony. Check out the viedo below for more info.

San Diego Mission Brewery comes in right after Stone Brewing. Their IPA and Double IPA (Shipwrecked) tickle my tongue just the right way, and I often find myself washing ashore at Mission, which is just a five minute walk from my work. Their close proximity to where I spend my days working hard to bring you all the best of San Diego might be the reason I have come to like Mission so much.

I could rattle on for days about other San Diego breweries and their beers that I love. Instead, I will share with you a few of my favorite bars to hunt down some frothy elegance.

  1. Hamilton's Tavern: By far, my favorite spot to grab a couple brews and play a game of pool or shuffleboard. Located on 30th Street in South Park this is one of San Diego’s oldest bars and holds true to the tradition of amazing beer at affordable prices. Expect around 30 awesome local and other craft beers on tap as well as an insane bottle list with lots of Belgian style beers. They even let you bring your dog in the bar until a certain time when the bar begins to become packed with thirsty beer lovers. Be sure to try their outrageous grilled cheese sandwiches with the beer cheese soup to dip in.
  2. Neighborhood: This tiny bar is in downtown San Diego on the corner of 8th and G. They have friendly service, great local and craft beers on tap and in bottles as well as amazing food.
  3. Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens: This is the highly rated restaurant and bar attached to the Stone Brewing Co. As the leading craft brewery in San Diego, Stone has created a gem with its gorgeous restaurant, brewing facilities and one acre garden. Grab a beer (they have a rotating draft list of 37 craft beers - not all Stone) and cruise through the garden. Take a tour of the brewery and enjoy some of the famous dishes put together with local and sustainable ingredients.

To be honest, with the boom in popularity and high demand for delicious craft beer in San Diego, you will find that most bars and restaurants in the area will at least have a few local brews on tap.

Upcoming Craft Beer Events in San Diego

Friday June 15th - There are two awesome events that are can’t miss for beer lovers. First, the one year anniversary celebration for Stone Brewing’s satellite store in South Park will be tapping some great beers for growler fills and tasters including a special surprise. Then, head over to Hamilton’s where you can enjoy “Frickin Fridays” with two special local beers on cask battling for eternal glory.

Monday June 18th - Head to the Stone Brewing Co. for their Beer U event. It is essentially a class where you get to taste and learn about a variety of beer styles. The focus of this one will be Sour Ales.

Friday June 29th through Sunday July 1st - Local Habit will be celebrating their one year anniversary in their style of great food and good local brews. Get the first taste of Loci Habitus, a Rye IPA brewed by Hess Brewing for this exciting moment. Local Habit is located in uptown San Diego in Hillcrest.

Friday August 24th & Saturday August 25th - Beer-Con 2012 will be held in the Gaslamp District of downtown San Diego. This two-day event is the perfect place for beer lovers to come talk about their passion for the world’s greatest beverage. Enjoy some local tasters and be sure to check out the upgraded ticket, which includes a full day of brewery tours!

More information about San Diego Craft Breweries can be found at:

www.sandiegoisbrewing.com/san-diego-breweries.html
www.sandiegobrewersguild.org

*Photos courtesy of www.StudioSchulz.com