Let's Go to the Hops

By Brandon Hernández

When the San Diego Brewers Guild tapped its first San Diego Beer Week (SDBW) in 2009, it looked to similar fetes in major cities on both coasts for inspiration. Today, the city's annual 10-day celebration of ales and lagers is the model for brew blowouts nationwide.

Comprised of roughly 500 events hosted by the county's breweries, brewpubs and restaurants, SDBW (running November 4 to 13) rockets sponsors and enthusiasts alike into the craft beer-isphere.

"Having all the local breweries, as well as the Guild's Allied Pub members, come together for Beer Week shows the camaraderie and love for the craft for which San Diego has become known," says Marty Mendiola, Brewers Guild president and director of brewing for Rock Bottom of La Jolla. "It celebrates our dominance of America's craft beer scene.

That dominance includes Rock Bottom's own gold medal win in the Robust Porter category at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), in Denver, Colorado (the country's premier beer contest)-one of 20 awards nabbed by San Diego-area breweries.

A whopping 15 were scored by the Pizza Port chain alone.

In addition to hometown pride, SDBW also means big revenue for the city.

"A lot of bars, restaurants and breweries saw their sales spike during [SDBW]," says Melody Daversa, marketing and PR manager for Karl Strauss Brewing Company and a charter member of the SDBW steering committee. "Blind Lady Ale House, Hamilton's Tavern and Phil's BBQ all reported that their sales were up."

Tomme Arthur, director of brewery operations for The Lost Abbey in San Marcos, whose Framboise de Amorosa won a silver medal in GABF's American-style Sour Ale category, is excited for SDBW to begin again.

"Is there anything better than 10 days of celebrating the craft brewers of San Diego?" he says. "Well, I suppose if it lasted a month...."

Even a month wouldn't be enough time to see and taste all that SDBW has to offer (San Diego Beer Year, anyone?), so we've distilled the list of events down to a more manageable size for your drinking pleasure. Cheers!

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