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