By Ron Donoho
"PacificSD was actually the first to let me write about beer, back in 2007," he says. "At the time, everybody was saying, 'Why should we be writing about just beer?'"
Back then, Hernández wrote a story about 20 brewhouses for PacificSD, thereby documenting most of the county's offerings at the time. Today, his new e-book covers 70-plus breweries, brewpubs and tasting venues.
Arriving in time for San Diego Beer Week (November 1 to 10), Hernandez' San Diego Beer News Complete Guide to San Diego Breweries is akin to a Zagat restaurant guide - but for brewhouses - providing ratings for quality, service and setting.
The spot that earned the e-book's highest mark for quality (scoring a 49 out of 50) is AleSmith Brewing Company. That, in light of Hernández' being employed as a communications specialist for Stone Brewing Co., lends credibility to the book's assertions about the local craft beer scene.
"With help from a panel of industry experts, this book is based on my experience over the years," Hernández says.
Since writing that first story for PacificSD way back when, this beer-lover has made serious headway, rising to the top of his class... and glass. Check out his new e-book on Amazon.com and read his guide to San Diego Beer Week.
Excerpts from Brandon Hernández' new e-book
Karl Strauss Brewing Company
This year, San Diego's longest-running brewing company post-Prohibition redesigned its Pacific Beach production brewery to include a tasting bar outfitted in reclaimed brewery materials like palate and barrel wood, joining nearly every one of its local contemporaries. With simple yet stylish décor plus seating indoors and on outdoor picnic tables, it's a relaxed and good-looking place to get a taste of the company's wide range of ales and lagers.
Belching Beaver Brewery
In less than a year, this operation has made a great deal of headway behind head brewer and Coronado Brewing Company transfer Troy Smith. The beers, which run the gamut from a honey ale and saison to several India pale ales and stouts, have been of better quality than most start-ups, enough that the company was able to open a second facility-a tasting room in San Diego's foodie and craft beverage hub, North Park. There are plans for packaging beer in the near future.
Port Brewing / The Lost Abbey
Named the Best Small Brewing Company in the world at the World Beer Cup when it opened in 2006, this dual-personality operation has continued to excel, especially the avant-garde, Belgian-inspired The Lost Abbey component. Acclaimed master of barrel-aging Tomme Arthur crafts sour, Brettanomyces-spiked, and liquor-laced beers of mindboggling diversity. On the Port side, brilliantly hopped West Coast-style single and double IPAs rule the day. Both lines are available at a humble but lovely tasting bar with barrels for seats and canvas paintings of its bottle art on the walls.