Yeasteryear

By Brandon Hernández / Photos courtesy of San Diego History Center

Picture knocking back fine, local craft beer in the middle of a museum. Kinda bucks the stuffy-anthropological-center stereotype.

Now open your eyes... and your palates.

On April 5, this sudsy scenario will become a heady reality, as Balboa Park's San Diego History Center (SDHC) unveils Bottled & Kegged: San Diego's Craft Brew Culture, an exhibition tapping the timeline of our county's beery evolution.

Presented as the centerpiece of SDHC's "Year in Craft Beer," Bottled & Kegged will be open to the public through January 2014 and will include several History Happy Hours during which local brewers will bring their ales and tales to share with visitors thirsty for knowledge and high-quality brews. An old saloon facade, an ornate retro bar and items plucked from old breweries - including artwork from San Diego's first-ever tasting room in the original Aztec Brewing Company (the brand was revived by SDSU alums in 2010) and the massive 500-gallon brewing system from Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits' original Home Brew Mart location - will give the throwing-back of the beers a real throw-back experience.

Matthew Schiff, SDHC marketing director and such a devout fan of local liquid gold that he volunteered to curate this first-of-its-kind exhibition as soon as space opened up, has (not surprisingly) done his research and believes this is the largest exhibit devoted to brewing ever to exist.

In putting the exhibition together, Schiff endeavored to answer the big question of why San Diego has grown to become the country's - and one of the world's - foremost craft brewing superpowers.

"It's a lot of things," Schiff says. "The rise of the homebrew movement through high-profile, award-winning clubs like QUAFF [Quality Ale Fermentation Fraternity]; local innovators like Chris White of Miramar yeast-production company White Labs; and the generally and genuinely collaborative culture among members of San Diego's brewing community."

All of those factors are highlighted within the exhibition, an L-shaped space designed to be as welcoming and comfy a place to spend time as the bars in which craft beers are typically imbibed. Visitors will learn everything from how beer is made to the hundreds of different styles and which breweries make them. There will also be interactive exhibits and spotlight pieces on some of San Diego's earliest and most influential brewery operations, including Karl Strauss, San Diego Brewing Company, Pizza Port and Stone Brewing Company.

In short, it's all about beer... from here. Here, here!

Brandon Hernández is a long-time PacificSD contributor and works as a communications specialist for Stone Brewing Company.

4/5-1/2/14: Bottled & Kegged: San Diego's Craft Crew Culture
San Diego History Center, Balboa Park
sandiegohistory.org/beer

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