San Diego Festival of Beer: Drink for a Cause
Proceeds from fundraiser go towards cancer research and patient services
On September 9, more than 6,000 beer lovers will raise their mugs and cheers to charity. Sponsored by Sophie 103.7, the 17th Annual San Diego Festival of Beer will be taking over Columbia and B Streets from 6 to 11 p.m. San Diego Professionals Against Cancer is bringing 150 types of craft beers from more than 70 breweries for guests to sample. out of all the beer festivals in San Diego, what makes this one stand out? “We are 100 percent volunteer produced and 100 percent of the profits go to cancer charities in San Diego,” executive director and co-founder Candace Brown said. “Every dollar we earn after event expenses goes right to an excellent cause.”
Through this annual celebration, SDPAC has earned and donated more than $530,000 to local hospitals, research centers and patient services such as Cancer Angels San Diego and Rady Children’s Hospital. But why a beer festival? “The team of founders had done some events through another reputable charitable organization and they were all black tie,” Brown said. “We thought there were so many people missing out on doing something fun for a good cause because they didn’t like that type of formal event.”
Although beer seemed like an odd product to use for helping charity at the time, the idea turned out to be a huge success. “When we started, San Diego wasn’t the beer mecca it is today, but it’s really been amazing to see how the whole beer culture here as grown,” executive director and co-founder Rachel Cano said. “To have a charity event that draws 5,000 people is pretty amazing. That’s something you can’t do with a traditional fundraising event like a gala or dinner. It just gets better and better every year.” Tickets are now on sale for $35 and the price will increase to $40 by September. Each ticket covers 10 four-ounce beer tastings and extra tastings can be purchased at the event as well. The first 6,000 guests will also receive a free souvenir beer mug. Those trying to avoid a beer belly can opt for wine instead. Live music and entertainment will be available to all guests at two different stages and a variety of popular food vendors will be spread throughout the event. Whether you’re looking for a complete meal or a snack to complement your beer, everything from pizza, hot dogs, sandwiches, kabobs and Mexican food will be readily available. “We have a variety of food available with ample space for guests to sit and eat or walk around with something that is portable,” Cano said. “This year we have two food trucks, which is new for us. Overall, a lot of different choices; certainly something for every taste.” This beer festival has always been a nonsmoking event because of its concern and support for cancer patients, but smokers are still welcome to exhibit their free will in the, “cancer lounge.”
“Although we prefer no one smokes as we would like to see them live a long life, the cancer lounge provides a place where smokers are not discriminated against and can enjoy their freedom to smoke,” Brown said. “I guess we could not resist a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor by calling it the cancer lounge.” With all the beer drinking going on, patrons are always advised to bring a designated driver or arrange a safe ride. Tickets to the festival are available at a reduced price for designated drivers and Yellow Cab provides taxis at the event entrance all night long. The W Hotel, only steps away from the event, is also offering a package deal for $219 which includes a one-night stay and two festival tickets. “We encourage responsible beer tasting since this is a tasting event and not a drink fest,” Cano said. “All of our volunteers who pour beer are also trained to look for anyone who is intoxicated and call security so they are no longer served. We want everyone to enjoy themselves but also be safe.” Tickets can be purchased at sdbeerfest.org. Follow Brown and Cano’s top 5 tips to ensure a safe and fun way to drink for a cause. Top 5 Tips for a Good Time:1. Get there early2. Canvas the entire festival before stopping anywhere3. Don’t drink something you don’t like—give it to your friends to taste4. Eat something5. Take your time, have fun and don’t forget to dance!
Not an avid beer drinker? Check out the co-founders’ recommendations. Candace Brown's Top 3 Favorite Beers:1. Alaska White Pale Ale2. Josef Bierbitzch Golden Pilsner3. Maui Brewing Co. Biking Blonde
Rachel Cano's Top 3 Favorite Beers:1. Stone IPA2. Green Flash IPA3. A tie between many other IPAs made at San Diego breweries.