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Roll Out The Barrels For San Diego Beer Week

Each year, the San Diego Brewers Guild Festival provides an extensive and genuine snapshot of America’s finest beer-centric community. Representatives from the county’s 20-plus brewing operations—many, the head brewers themselves—took over Balboa Park’s World Beat Center this weekend, turning it into a sprawling wonderland of wall-to-wall beer.

The San Diego Chicken helps tap

the first Beer Week keg.

Photo byHeather Hernandez

This tribute to local brewing ingenuity has historically been packed into one enchanted evening. But for its sixth installment, the SDBG Festival was split into three sessions over two days, beginning with Friday night’s VIP session. While innovative beers, helpful and chatty brewing professionals, live music and beer-friendly food were all on-hand, the celebratory air of the event has been upped significantly by the instatement of the first-ever San Diego Beer Week, which runs through November 15.

Commemorating this occasion was the focal point for the VIP session. The Guild went at it whole-heartedly with a Scottish-style salute from Ballast Point Brewing Company’s bagpipe band, orations from incoming SDBG president Adam Carbonell, city councilmember Todd Gloria (who feels lucky to have 30th Street and all of its exceptional craft brew spots in his district) and 91X DJ and Beer For Breakfast innovator Matt Diablo. There was even an appearance by the San Diego Chicken, who joined Gloria and Diablo in a simultaneous tapping of kegs from three local breweries to mark the official start of Beer Week.

It was a fitting start to what will be ten days of non-stop events at San Diego’s breweries, brewpubs, restaurants and a number of other various venues focusing on everything from beer education to beer-and-food symbiosis to celebrating the history and evolution of the county’s brewing industry.

City councilmember

Todd Gloria.

Photo byHeather Hernandez

Naturally, the common thread for Beer Week is the beer itself and such was and always will be the case with the SDBG Festival; particularly the VIP session, which featured a number of specialty brews that aren’t available at other times.

Some of the crowd’s Friday night favorites included the tart and exotic Gueze from Ballast Point’s barrel-aged Hout Series; the rich woodsy Red Devil Anniversary Smoked Brown from Coronado Brewing Company; a cask-conditioned Moonshine Imperial Porter from Rock Bottom (La Jolla) that tasted like a roasty shot straight from an espresso machine; and in keeping with the season, a casked Pumpkin Spice Ale from Karl Strauss Brewing Company.

Other notables were Hamilton’s Lil Big Beer, a honeyed session beer packed with potent hop flavor that defies its low alcohol level (3.4 percent); and the SDBG Collaboration California Uncommon, which was produced especially for the Guild by Alpine Beer Company.

The SDBG Festival’s first session was full of both mainstays and surprises. And this is merely the tip of the 10-day iceberg. Go forth and soak up the suds, San Diego. It’s beer-o-clock somewhere.