The New Year brings a new president to the San Diego Brewers Guild: Paul Sangster, co-owner of San Marcos’ Rip Current Brewing.
Before he takes the reins, PACIFIC sat down with him to get the inside scoop on what's to come in 2018 for the San Diego craft beer world.
PACIFIC: As we enter 2018, what’s the state of San Diego’s beer union?
PAUL SANGSTER: It is amazing to see how many new breweries have joined the fold during 2017 and are adding to our culture, bringing excitement and engaging new customers. It’s hard to believe we’ll soon have 160 breweries. When Rip Current Brewing opened in late 2012, there were only 70 breweries.
What’s the state of the San Diego Brewers Guild?
The Brewers Guild is stronger than ever. We plan to host a number of amazing beer events showcasing the best beers from our members. We are also launching programs to help consumers identify products from small and independent breweries.
We believe they have the right to know (where their beer comes from), so they can decide where their hard-earned dollars are going — Belgium, South America or right down the street in San Diego. Today, this is challenging with so many brands served around town.
Compared to 2017, will 2018 see more or fewer breweries open across the county? Why?
We expect to see continued expansion — at least a dozen new breweries or satellite tasting rooms are already in progress.
It is hard to predict whether 2018 will eclipse the roughly 29 new independent breweries that opened in San Diego County in 2017. If I had to guess, I would say the number will be closer to 2016’s total, 20.
What’s the biggest challenge facing local independent breweries this year? How should they meet that challenge?
With so many breweries and beer brands in the San Diego marketplace, it’s difficult to stand out in the crowd. San Diego brewers need to find a way to distinguish their products, to establish brand loyalty with customers. We hope our ever-increasing focus on beer quality and community outreach will be part of this strategy.
Local restaurants and markets carry a broad range of beers, both domestic and foreign. Given all these choices, why should consumers make an effort to buy beer made by Guild members?
Many craft beer drinkers want their dollars to support neighbors and friends in their own communities, rather than stockholders abroad.
Independent San Diego breweries make the best beer around. We want to give the buyer every chance to identify it on the shelf and revel in being part of the Capital of Craft’s amazing beer community.
Let’s Go to the Hops
January beer events in San Diego
San Diego Brew Festival
1.13, 1-4 p.m.
Another year, another — why not? — beer fest. Head to Liberty Station, where 70 breweries will pour 150 beers. Enjoy classics from veterans like Anchor and New English, but don’t overlook newcomers like Carlsbad’s Rouleur and La Mesa’s Helix. Admission starts at $45.
Ingram Plaza at Liberty Station, 2455 Cushing Rd., Liberty Station,
Karl Strauss Changing of the Barrels
1.27, 5-8 p.m.
The $55 admission includes food (salads, sliders and sausages from Mastiff), drink (more than 25 specialty brews from Karl), live music, souvenir glass and — wait, there’s more! — a 22-ounce bottle of the brewery’s 29th anniversary beer.
Karl Strauss Tasting Room, 5985 Santa Fe St., Pacific Beach, karlstrauss.com/events/changing-of-the-barrels