Military-themed Honor Brewing’s San Diego tour of duty

Pity the new, independent out-of-town brewery trying to break into San Diego’s crowded beer market. Without Big Beer’s clout or local brewpubs’ cachet, these invaders need world-class beers and/or a smart strategy to gain a toehold.

Which brings us to Honor Brewing, a Virginia-based company whose patriotic beers are made in Colorado. This month, Military Appreciation Month, Honor’s beers will be on tap at Leroy’s in Coronado, Bottlecraft in Liberty Station, Poseidon Project in Bay Park and O’Brien’s Pub in Kearny Mesa.

“It’s been a great reception,” said Susie Baggs, whose Brown Bag Beverage distributes Honor beers. “People are excited.”

Co-founded by an Army veteran and the son of an Army helicopter pilot who was killed in action, Honor donates a portion of its revenue to military-related charities. Its tap handles are imprinted with the names of men and women who have died on active duty, including five from Southern California.

Sgt. Clinton K. Ruiz, for instance, was a Poway native who was killed by a Taliban fighter posing as an Afghan police officer on Oct. 25, 2012.

These stories are compelling, deserving of our attention. These beers?

Baggs suggests that locals skip Warrior IPA — it’s not up to San Diego standards — and order Line of Sight Lager. “It’s exactly what a craft beer guy wants from a lager,” she said.