My quick guide to San Diego Beer Week 2014


For those of my friends in any of my circles – the law, food, philanthropy, neighborhood work, or craft beer – it’s pretty obvious how I feel about great craft beer.  Especially the top-notch San Diego region breweries.  I can make any conversation connect to the great work being done in brewing and economic development around craft beer.  But with San Diego Beer Week almost here, I thought it appropriate to give a quick list of my favorite food and beer fun that begins on November 7th.  We’ll call it the “what to do in addition to the World’s Biggest Bottle Share on 30th” list. Here goes…

This post follows a pattern.  I tried to keep it short and bold the events so they stand out.  I only did one or two each day because the SDBW site already has a comprehensive list of options.  By the way, nobody paid me to do this. Some of these folks give a lot to the community, which makes it easy for me to support them, or they do a good job with their staff and their food/beer.  But none of the companies asked me to write this or gave me anything of value. Now on to the list

Speedway Grand Prix

This event appears sold out, so I’d say take to Reddit or Twitter or Facebook and start begging friends to give up their tickets.  Here’s the link anyway. Alesmith is one of my favorite breweries and much of their beer is available on the shelf as well, so don’t be afraid to get it that way.

Friday, November 7th – Guildfest VIP Brewer Takeover (link) – 6PM

Taken by Stahl Photographics - from Guildfest 2013

Taken by Stahl Photographics – from Guildfest 2013

Do this because the Beer is awesome and all the brewers show off with some really good stuff.  It’s a bit less crowded – at least at first, than your typical festival.  And the people who go are friendly and like great beer.

 Saturday November 8th – Brews by the Bay Mike Hess Brewing Beer Pairing Dinner (link)

Chef Amy DiBiase preparing something delicious - she's the chef behind the food at this dinner

Chef Amy DiBiase preparing something delicious – she’s the chef behind the food at this dinner

Honestly, Hess makes some of my favorite beer and it’s not just one style.  Go to this dinner because between Grazias, Secundus  and Ex Umbris, Hess brews very good stuff – and let’s face it, between Chef Amy DiBiase and the view at the water it’ll really just be a great Saturday night. The photo is technically the chef, not the beer, but for the foodies I’d say this’ll be a good one.

Sunday November 9th – World’s Biggest Bottle Share on 30th Street – Link

The glass tasters you'll get to fill with shared beer!

The glass tasters you’ll get to fill with shared beer!

Eight of the businesses along 30th Street have coordinated to be part of a roving, multi-location bottle share and signature tasting event! The details are on the link, as well as the purchase information.  It’ll be a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon and for those who register early, there’ll be signature tastes at three locations of very special beer.

Read an interview about the event in WestCoasterSD – San Diego’s best source for all things craft beer – HERE

Sunday November 9th – Smokeout at Carnitas’ Snack Shack – details

Green Flash, Carnitas' Snack Shack, pork. Need I say more?

Green Flash, Carnitas’ Snack Shack, pork. Need I say more?

My love of what owners Sara and Hanis have created in their porky bit of heaven is well-documented. The steak sandwich and the basic carnitas taco are worth the trip on any day ending in “y.” But the Smokeout is just extra silly.  Combine former North Park resident and brewmaster Chuck Silva and well, let’s just say you want to start here.  My advice is to get there about 11AM (it opens at noon), get a hearty meal, then walk up the street and hop on the Bottle Share Shuttle and join in the sharing fun!

 SD Tap Room – almost all week (link)

Taken from their website, the list of events is really impressive

Taken from their website, the list of events is really impressive

This might be the best line up of any place I could find.  Honestly, I’ve never set foot inside this place.  Pacific Beach is far, generally requires a car, and, well, I guess I have a PB bias.  But the list of stuff at this place may actually change my view.  It’s pretty unlikely to be upset about anyone on their list, but the 12th – 15th looks like you could just move in every night after work and be pretty happy.  If I weren’t flying out, I’d be first in line for the Societe Brewing Dinner. If I weren’t organizing an 8-location, transportation-infused massive bottle share and eating pig on the 9th, I’d have taxi’d out there for the Ballast Point line up. Actually, the line-up is so impressive I’ve copied it here.

sdbw_2014 sd taproom

Monday November 10, 2014 – Brews, Views & Chews – link

brews views

This one my friend Vince first alerted me to. Tom Ham’s is one of those old school political hangouts in San Diego, but it got a makeover recently and the line-up for this event on the 10th is just a bit ridiculous.  It’s a school night unless you have Veteran’s Day off, but something tells me it will be well worth it.

11/10 Back-up plan – Craft Fusion 101 with Mother Earth Brew Co (link)

This is another one if I wasn’t already going to Tom Ham’s, this is where I’d be.  Eureka is pretty far north if you live down in mid-city (it’s in UTC), but I’ve been up there a few times and have had decent food, a phenomenal craft beer selection and the whiskey collection is nothing to sneeze at.  Get a designated driver, because it doesn’t seem to be close to anything but a parking lot, but Mother Earth has been doing some very solid work and so I think these pairings will be worth the wait.  I enjoy Sin Tax, Kismet, and Bookoo, and my wife likes Cali Creamin’. If you for some reason can’t make it, take a trip out to downtown Vista some time, the tasting room they opened up is an anchor out there and makes for a nice element of a day trip.

Wednesday, November 12th – Sours, Barrel-aged and Rare Beer night at Public House in La Jolla (link)

public house

I haven’t been here since a couple sessions with journalists Will Carless (formerly of Voice of San Diego) and Dorian Hargrove (San Diego Reader), but I remember it being a proper place for a beverage.  And this line-up seems to be well worth the trek. I saw special selections from Lost Abbey, The Bruery, and Stone Brewing.  Not bad company.  I do have a job, so probably can’t make it.  But if you are taking time off work or deciding that Wednesday is your night to go hard, this might be the place.

Thursday, November 13th – Pirate’s Breakfast Ice Cream floats at Council Brewing (link)

Council Brewing

This brewer is new to professional brewing and already kind of a bad ass.  I was going to say just go to Council for the hell of it whenever you can, but then I saw this event.  This could be low-key, just like having a regular beer, except with ice cream.  Pirate’s Breakfast is an Imperial Oatmeal Stout, so maybe something to share with a friend.  This version apparently has coffee and vanilla.  My first beer float experience was courtesy of Ritual Kitchen & Beer Garden in North Park and Alesmith’s Speedway Stout.  I’m not calling Pirate’s Breakfast Speedway Stout, but it is very good, in my opinion.

Thursday, November 13th – Craft Beer & Bites (link)

Around the corner from Monkey Paw - this lot gets transformed into an outdoor beer garden and fun place

Around the corner from Monkey Paw – this lot gets transformed into an outdoor beer garden and fun place

How the hell do you turn a vacant dirt lot into something very cool and worth driving to? Put my buddy Ron Troyano in the driver’s seat and get out of the way, that’s how.  Downtown San Diego get’s a bad rap from many a local, but when you get away from the Gaslamp, there’s a lot of good stuff percolating down there.  Craft Beer & Bites is like a big, open beer garden with food and cornhole and music and bowties (what? I like bowties, sue me).

Honorable mention for this night goes to “No Borders” at Tacos Perla in North Park with Cervezeria Insurgente (link).  I live close to Perla and would put the quesadilla and the apparently refined version of the carne up against many tacos.  Plus, now that there is typically less than a 15 minute wait to cross the border, my love of Tijuana and Baja can properly be expressed. If you are from here (I am), you probably know people who are over 40 who will bad-mouth TJ. They are wrong. Trust me on this. It is a massive part of our regional economy and now the food and beer scene makes it a delightful alternative.

Saturday, November 15th – Stone Brewing Master Pairings & Chocolate (link)

I won’t be around starting on Friday, so it’s hard to get motivated to finish out what I think will be worth doing.  That I’m leaving early is part of the reason I skipped writing about Friday. No sense in reminding myself of the goodness I won’t be here to enjoy.  But the men and women at Stone know what the heck they are doing, so I’m pretty sure this will be delicious.

Sunday, November 16th – Get to the Garden (link)


Every year something keeps me away from this signature close-out to Beer Week, and this year is no exception.  That said, if you are here, do this last thing.  The setting at the Lodge is beautiful.  But for this afternoon, the combination of chefs, brewers, and others who shape our artisanal landscape in San Diego County will be so intense that you’ll feel like you are getting away with something just being there.

That’s a wrap.  Enjoy yourselves and be safe.

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