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San Diego Beer Week is back! Here’s what you need to know about the 2021 event

2021 Capital of Craft, an annual collaboration featuring eight breweries, is available in four-packs of 16-ounce cans.
(Ballast Point Brewing Company )

Hosted by the San Diego Brewers Guild, the 13th annual SDBW celebration celebrates San Diego County brewing community

Many cities claim to be the Capital of Craft — but with more than 150 breweries in the region, paired with a rich brewing history, we all know San Diego takes the crown. And for the 10 days, residents can celebrate that title with San Diego Beer Week (SDBW), happening Nov. 5 through 14.

Hosted by the San Diego Brewers Guild, this 13th annual celebration honors the county’s brewing community.

Last year, SDBW went completely virtual, going so far as canceling the annual Guild Festival — an event that typically draws 3,000 guests. While many hoped it would return in 2021,it will stay dark another year due to the Delta variant.

However there will still be a small celebration — a kick-off event from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday at Thorn Brewing in Barrio Logan. There will be beer from places like Fall Brewing, Second Chance Beer Company, North Park Beer Co. and Thorn Brewing, along with You & Yours Distillery spirits and Kové Hard Yerba Mate. Plus, food vendors will be on-site to soak up all that alcohol.

“It’s going to be like a mini Guild Fest event, if you will,” said Virginia Morrison, president of San Diego Brewers Guild president and CEO/co-owner of Second Chance Beer Company.

San Diegans are also encouraged to participate in Friday night’s Virtual Kick-Off Toast at 7 p.m.

But just because the toast is virtual doesn’t mean you have to stay home. Local breweries all over the region invite you to grab a beer in person at their tasting rooms and share celebration photos online with the hashtags #SDBEER and #SDBW21.

During the 10 days of SDBW, breweries will also be hosting their own smaller events. A few on the calendar include the Pints for Pints Blood Drive at Eppig Brewing, a yoga class with Pure Project and Sojourn Healing Collective, and the Tabula Rasa Fest at Second Chance Beer Company. (Find more events at web.sdbeer.com/events.)

Some of the cans featured in the SD Beer Tasting Experience
Some of the cans featured in the SD Beer Tasting Experience include Pure Project’s Subconscious Mind Murky IPA, AleSmith Brewing Company’s Speedway Stout and Harland Beer Co.'s Japanese Lager.
(San Diego Brewers Guild)

New this year is the SD Beer Tasting Experience, in which participants were able to buy curated 12-packs of local beer that were mailed directly to their homes. There were two options available, each featuring 16-ounce beer cans from San Diego breweries. And while sales already ended, all beers are listed online and many will be available on tap during SDBW.

The only beer that went in both packages is a must-try brew: Capital of Craft IPA, the annual SDBW beer that serves as a collaboration between eight breweries. This year’s host brewery is Societe Brewing Company, with Ballast Point Brewing Company, Booze Bros. Brewing Co., Craft Coast, Eppig Brewing Co., Latchkey Brewing Company, Puesto Cervecería, and Rouleur Brewing Co. rounding out the list.

“The way that they get selected is by the prior year’s breweries voting on them, so it’s also like a nod from one colleague to another about the quality of their beer,” Morrison said.

The IPA was brewed at Societe and canned by one of the event’s sponsors, Mobile West Canning Group. In fact, the beer is only made possible with the help of sponsors who provide the brew’s ingredients: barley from Country Malt Group, yeast from White Labs Inc. and hops from Yakima Chief Hops, plus can artwork by Mother Sponge.

A behind-the-scenes look at brewing the 2021 Captial of Craft IPA.
(Ballast Point Brewing Company )

“I would say that (collaboration) is one of the most unique aspects of craft beer as an industry,” Morrison said, adding that brewers often borrow ingredients from one another, and that collaborations — such as Chula Vista Brewery and Second Chance Beer Company’s Black is Beautiful barrel-aged beer for Black History Month — happen all year long.

“It goes way beyond San Diego Beer Week — but these 10 days give us an opportunity to showcase just how big the collaborations can get by bringing eight breweries together to brew a beer.”

According to Morrison, the bitterness of the West Coast IPA — with is brewed with five different hops — will be balanced by fruit-forward flavors like lemon, peach and tropical fruits. This limited-release will be served on tap and in 16-ounce four-packs throughout San Diego County, including Societe Brewing. (An important note for those hoping for a taste: double check the beer’s availability at sdbeer.com/capitalofcraft.html, as not all of the breweries involved in the collab will be legally allowed to pour it.)

A look at the canning process for 2021 Capital of Craft IPA, which took place at Societe Brewing Company.
(Ballast Point Brewing Company)

While SDBW celebrates the success and strength of the San Diego brewing community, many of the participating breweries are still overcoming hardships from the COVID-19 shutdown — making participation in this year’s event more important than ever.

“I would really encourage fans to come out and support their breweries,” Morrison said. “A lot of the state and local aid has dried up, but we’re all still no where near back to the levels of people visiting our tasting rooms that we had prior to the pandemic, and that is our most profitable area as a business.”

And it doesn’t just benefit the breweries. After months of quarantine and self-isolation, coming out for SDBW also offers San Diegans a chance to come together again over a pint.

“One of the things about this industry is that we provide these beautiful gathering places where people can connect and just relax from all of the stresses from everyday life,” she said.

San Diego Beer Week

When: Nov. 5 through 14
Where: Happening at San Diego breweries throughout the county
Online: sdbeer.com


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