California Beer Fests

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Beer Fest Review: San Diego Brewers Guild Festival

Brewerrs Guild Beer Fest San Diego 2012

Taken from the food trucks with iPhone panorama.

Epic is the only word to describe the 2012 San Diego Brewers Guild Festival. The beautiful location, selection of beers and great food combined to make this a memorable beer festival.

This year the event was right on the pier, with an amazing view of the water. Entry was a little slow. I don’t know why beer festival organizers cannot get it together in this regard, but the wait time here was far better than most.  Upon entry, you walked through a row of vendors and into a large building that held all the beer vendors. If you spent the few extra dollars for the VIP ticket (something I always recommend), you could go up some stairs to a room filled to the gills with beer and food vendors.

At this event, VIP really meant something. Usually, VIP just gets you early admission, and perhaps a tent where you can escape the sun. Here, it got you a special selection of beers and some amazing food, not available to the unwashed masses. In fact, once upstairs most were content to stay there, and the organizers sent people around to announce, “you know, there are other breweries downstairs.”

At that point I was already impressed by this beer fest, but when I finally did go downstairs, I was awed. The room was HUGE, and held dozens more booths with other breweries. There were also a number of vendors selling beer gear. If you walked the full length of that exhibit hall and outside onto the end of the pier, there was a small assortment of food trucks, allowing you to take a break with some food while enjoying the view of the bay. I imagine, however, that the food trucks did not get much business from the VIP attendees, because we were already stuffed with pizza and sliders and meatloaf and tacos and various desserts.

I have railed before against beer fests that use beer sample tickets, not because I want to drink mass quantities, but because it prevents me from tasting more beers than the number of tickets will allow. In other words, the VIP admission came with 20 tickets, but what if I prefer 30 2-ounce samples instead of 20 3-ounce samples? Same amount of beer, but I get to enjoy a greater selection, and that’s what a beer fest is all about. I was told by a number of sources that the City of San Diego had required the ticket system this year because things had gotten a little out of control the prior year. So, while the San Diego Brewers Guild Festival did use the ticket system (actually little tabs on your wristband), it all worked out. Most of the people serving up the beer understood the difference between a sample and a SAMPLE, so for the most part the 20 tab limit did not keep me from sampling whatever I wanted.

The San Diego Brewers Guild Festival now holds a position on my “must attend” list (a list that is getting longer and longer), and should be on yours as well.

— Aaron Morris

San Diego Brewers Guild Festival 2012

VIP Room

VIP Room

Main Hall at San Diego Brewers Guild Festival

San Diego Brewers Guild Festival — November 3, 2012

California Beer Festivals -- San Diego Beer WeekWe previously reported on the Beer Garden event at the end of the San Diego Beer Week, but now we have the details for the San Diego Brewers Guild Festival that kicks off San Diego Beer Week. This is one you don’t want to miss, given the outstanding craft beers produced by San Diego breweries. We recommend spending the few extra bucks for the VIP pass on this one.

The San Diego Brewers Guild Festival will be comprised of over 500 individual special events staged throughout San Diego County as part of this celebration in the heart of the craft beer movement.

Showcasing virtually all of San Diego’s breweries and award-winning local beers that have contributed to San Diego becoming known as the leader of the craft beer excitement throughout the United States, the San Diego Brewers Guild Festival will also feature an extraordinary food line up with specialty beer pairings, music and more craft beer related activities.

Featuring:

  • Over 100 of the finest beer offerings from San Diego Craft Breweries.
  • Excellent food from Allied Guild Member Restaurants and Brewpubs.
  • Live music and entertainment throughout the Festival.

Location: Embarcadero area Harbor Drive, Downtown San Diego, California

General Session (2pm – 5pm) ($35 now, $45 at the gate)

  • Commemorative event acrylic tasting glass and 10 tasting tabs.
  • Food available for purchase.

VIP Session (1pm – 5pm) ($55 now, $70 at the gate)

  • Entry into event one hour before the general session opens.
  • Meet and greet with some of your favorite San Diego local brewers.
  • Special 4 ounce commemorative tasting glass and 15 tasting tabs.
  • All access pass to special VIP area featuring complimentary food pairings provided by Allied Guild Members.
  • Admission to the general admission session area where additional food will be available for purchase.

San Diego Beer Week — Pencil it In

California Beer Fests - San Diego Beer Week

Not to be critical (okay, exactly to be critical), but the folks at the San Diego Brewers Guild really need to spend a few minutes updating the website. True, San Diego Beer Week doesn’t start until November 3, 2012, but much of the information on the site is for the 2010 Beer Week. The headline proclaims, “Save the Date — November 3, 2012” but the calendar immediately below it shows the festival starting on November 4.

So, we’re a little thin on specifics, but we can tell you two things. First, the San Diego Beer Week is an impressive “week” (ten days actually) of events, and second that it will culminate on Sunday, November 11, 2012 with a beer garden, admission to which will bring you unlimited tasters of the best of San Diego craft beer, as well as food from local restaurants.

So, for now, with ink write down November 11, 2012 in your calendar so you don’t miss what will certainly be a highlight event in beer drinkerdom (really, that’s not a word?), and pencil in the prior eight days until the San Diego Brewers Guild gets around to telling us exactly what is in store. Rumor has it that there will also be a beer fest on Saturday, November 3, but details are proving elusive.