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Get Ready For Beer Week!

10 days filled with hundreds of beer-centric events that celebrate the awesomeness of San Diego brewing
Get your glasses ready! San Diego Beer Week starts tomorrow! | Photo by Bruce Glassman

By Bruce Glassman

Tomorrow is the official kickoff for San Diego Beer Week, which means it’s time for my annual cheerleading piece about all the great beer-centric things you can do during the next 10 days. It really is a special time to be a San Diegan!

Of course, I talk about San Diego beer all year long—and there’s plenty to great stuff to do and taste on any given day—but San Diego Beer Week offers a unique opportunity to experience special events that aren’t duplicated at any other time.

I think the official tally of all SDBW events is somewhere around 500 at this point, so I can’t mention them all here. I can, however, make a few recommendations for events I believe you shouldn’t miss (and a few shout-outs for things that just sound cool). For the complete listing of all SDBW events, searchable by day, go to

Get Ready For Beer Week!

Get Ready For Beer Week!

Capital of Craft IPA, the collaboration brew from the San Diego Brewers Guild, makes its debut tomorrow | Photo courtesy of San Diego Brewers Guild

Friday, November 2:

This year, the 10th Annual San Diego Beer Week gets started with a Countywide Kickoff Toast at 7:30 p.m. As part of the official festivities, participating bars and tasting rooms (see the full list here) will each be coordinating SDBW toasts, and many will be debuting this year’s collaboration brew from the San Diego Brewers Guild: the Capital of Craft IPA. I managed to get a sneak taste, and it’s super tasty! It’s a mellow, mildly bitter, medium-bodied brew that’s perfectly balanced between slightly sweet malt and great hoppy aromas and flavors of citrus, tropical fruit, honey, and woodsy pine.

Saturday, November 3:

This is the big day for Guild Fest, which is traditionally the year’s largest single collection of independent San Diego brewers pouring their beers in one location. This year, more than 60 local breweries will be pouring, plus—for the first time ever—members from regional guilds outside of San Diego, such as the Mexicali Brewers Guild, Sacramento Brewers Guild, Orange County Brewers Guild, and Los Angeles Brewers Guild, will also be participating. All in all, more than 110 breweries will be represented.

Two other cool, additional elements will make this year’s Guild Fest different. First, the festival will be held at a new downtown location, Embarcadero South, which will provide more space and a more cohesive feeling to the event. Second, before the festival opens, a 60-minute Flagship harbor cruise will take VIP ticket holders around San Diego Bay as they sip Capital of Craft IPA and other beers provided exclusively from the eight collaborating breweries that made it. (Sorry, last day to buy these tix was Tuesday—that ship, as they say, has sailed.)

Guild Fest runs from 2 to 5 p.m. General admission passes are $50 (plus tax and service fees) and include unlimited beer samples in a commemorative tasting cup.

Get Ready For Beer Week!

Get Ready For Beer Week!

Guild Fest traditionally draws thousands of beer fans from all over the world | Photo by Bruce Glassman

Saturday, November 10:

Collabapalooza! This relatively new event, which debuted last year and is hosted by Karl Strauss, was easily one of SDBW’s best celebrations. This year, more than 30 San Diego breweries have created unique, one-off collaboration brews that they’ll be pouring, along with some rare releases and other special offerings. Located in the parking lot behind Observatory North Park, this event will run 2–5 p.m., with VIP admission starting at 1 p.m.

Get Ready For Beer Week!

Get Ready For Beer Week!

Collabapalooza offers brewers a unique chance to gather and taste one-offs and rare beers that may never appear anywhere again | Photo by Bruce Glassman

Sunday, November 11:

Every year, SDBW ends in grand style with the Beer Garden at The Lodge at Torrey Pines event. Fourteen of San Diego’s most beloved chefs present dishes that they’ve created specifically for pairing with a duo of beers from two partner breweries. The food is great, as is the beer, but pairing the two is always the most satisfying aspect of being there.

Participating chefs and breweries this year:

• Jason Knibb (Nine-Ten La Jolla) collaborating with Rip Current and Rouleur

• Phillip Esteban (Consortium Holdings) collaborating with Societe and The Lost Abbey

• Gunther Emmathinger and Corey Rapp (Karl Strauss) collaborating with Burgeon and Karl Strauss

• Ronnie Schwant (Leroy’s) collaborating with Belching Beaver and Pizza Port

• Antonio Votta (Locale at Viejas) collaborating with Half Door and San Diego Brewing Co.

• Jeffrey Strauss (Pamplemousse) collaborating with The Bell Marker and White Labs

• Danny Romero (Stone Liberty Station) collaborating with Nickel and Stone

• Greg Frey (Golden Door) collaborating with Mother Earth and Wild Barrel

• Ira Sylvester (The Lodge at Torrey Pines) collaborating with Benchmark and Latchkey

• Hanis Cavin (The Pioneer) collaborating with Second Chance and Thr3e Punk Ales

• Kyle Kovar (Tom Ham’s Lighthouse) collaborating with AleSmith and Groundswell

• Brad Wise (Trust) collaborating with Coronado Brewing and Fall

• Lance Rapp (University Club) collaborating with Abnormal and SouthNorte

The beer garden runs from noon to 3 p.m. Tickets are $85 per person and include unlimited tastes of both beer and food. Tickets may be purchased here.

Get Ready For Beer Week!

Get Ready For Beer Week!

The Beer Garden at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, which features food-beer pairings by 14 chefs, is the official closing event for Beer Week | Photo by Bruce Glassman

Oh, and here are a few quick mentions of other events that caught my eye and made it onto my definite SDBW to-do calendar:

Friday, November 2: The second annual BLVD Ale Trail begins at 3 p.m. Purchase a commemorative BLVD brewer glass ($15), which includes your first fill; refills are just $5 at participating breweries for the entirety of San Diego Beer Week 2018. Participating BLVD brewers: Automatic Brewing Co. (located in Tiger! Tiger!), Eppig Brewing North Park, Home Brewing Co., Pariah Brewing Co.

Get Ready For Beer Week!

Get Ready For Beer Week!

A special custom pint glass is part of the BLVD Ale Trail event that lasts for the duration of Beer Week | Photo courtesy of Eppig Brewing

You can also head over to 30th Street for the official draft release of Blend-O-Matic, a super-cool collaboration between Second Chance and AleSmith. They each brewed a beer—one a hazy IPA and the other a brut IPA—but designed each recipe to be blended with the other. The beer is also being released at Second Chance’s Carmel Mountain tasting room tomorrow. Be at either location by 7 P.M. for a special Beer Week toast!

Sunday, November 4: In honor of San Diego Beer Week, the very first limited advance sneak preview screening of the upcoming documentary film The Beer Jesus From America will be shown in the main theater at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido. The film presents the tumultuous journey of Stone Brewing as it builds a brewery in Berlin. Cofounder Greg Koch and documentary filmmaker Matt Sweetwood will be on hand for a Q&A session following the film. Tickets are $10–$15 and include a complimentary three-ounce pour of a rare Stone Berlin Groundbreaking Collaborations beer at the theater, a $10 credit toward food and beverages at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens Escondido any time on November 4, 5, or 6 (reservations for November 4 are encouraged), and a Mix & Mingle session at Stone Escondido following the screening. Doors open at 4 p.m. and the screening begins at 5 p.m.


Monday, November 5: Quaff Homebrewers Turned Pro Meet-Up + Tap Takeover at North Park Beer Co.

Decorated homebrewer, proprietor, and head brewer Kelsey McNair has picked a few of his favorite new breweries to take over the taps at NPBC. Support some of San Diego’s newest homebrewers-turned-pro with mix-and-match flights and throwback ’90s jams. RSVP to NPBC’s Facebook event for more details.

Wednesday, November 7: Imperfect Produce / Modern Times Special Beer Release. Imperfect Produce (which annually collects and utilizes more than 100,000 pounds of food that does not meet cosmetic standards) will be at Modern Times’ Lomaland Fermentorium (3725 Greenwood Street, Midway District) to launch its collaboration beers made with “ugly” lemons and pears. (The brewing team made two variations of Yellow Saison, one with Imperfect lemons and vanilla and another with Imperfect Asian and Bartlett pears). Guests can enjoy an “ugly” produce sampling and enter a raffle to win a month’s worth of Imperfect Produce delivery. Runs from 5 to 8 p.m. RSVP to the free event here.

November 7–9: AleSmith’s sixth annual three-day Speedway Grand Prix event revs up! Featuring 16 different specialty Speedway Stout variations, these tastings are broken into four separate flights—aka “laps”—including a VIP lap featuring barrel-aged versions. Speedway is not only one of San Diego’s most iconic beers, it’s also one of its most delicious. If you’re a dark beer fan, here’s your opportunity to taste great stouts that simply aren’t available during the rest of the year. Regular laps are $11 each, and the VIP lap is $17. All lap tickets must be purchased on Eventbrite or in the AleSmith tasting room. Laps can only be redeemed at the brewery on the day of the event for which you purchased your tickets.

November 9: Pizza Port’s eight annual Sour & Rare Beer Night gets underway, including their own offerings and a selection from their other favorite local breweries. Beer releases will include:

  • Kettle Sour (Pizza Port Ocean Beach)
  • Solana Tart (Pizza Port Solana Beach)
  • Lost Abbey Red Poppy
  • Lost Abbey Framboise
  • Beachwood Blendery Strawberry Provence
  • Beachwood Blendery Dia De Los Mangos
  • Russian River Sanctification
  • Bruery Terreux The Bramble
  • And more
  • Event is at the Ocean Beach location from 5 p.m. to midnight

A special shout-out this year goes to Lyft, which is the official coproducing sponsor for SDBW. In order to provide safe and reliable rides for attendees to and from locations, Lyft is offering a 20 percent discount on up to two trips during Beer Week. The discount code is ‘SDBW2018’ and can be claimed here.

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Get Ready For Beer Week!

Get your glasses ready! San Diego Beer Week starts tomorrow! | Photo by Bruce Glassman

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