If you want proof that San Diego Beer Week gets bigger every year, look no further than the expansion of the official kick-off event. For the first time ever, the Brewer’s Guild Festival stretched over two days, starting with the VIP Brewer Takeover. Hundreds of craft beer fans filled the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier on Friday Night to enjoy rare beer offerings from San Diego’s best brewers paired with gourmet food from some great local restaurants.
Booths from 47 different San Diego breweries lined the main hall of Port Pavilion with the west end of the venue dedicated to restaurant booths. To help set the atmosphere, eclectic musical duo Jimmy and Enrique played a seemingly non-stop medley of music while sending runners out to fill their taster glasses. Every so often, the staccato crash of a wayward taster glass hitting the ground punctured through the blend of music and crowd noise. What else would you expect when people have access to unlimited samples of great beer?
While there are too many beers to list here –you can view the whole tap list here—there were quite a few beers worth mentioning. As it’s getting towards the winter months, barrel-aged beers seemed to be the popular thing to bring to the Guild Festival. Darker barrel-aged offerings included versions of Coronado’s Stupid Stout, Alesmith’s Speedway Stout and Ballast Point’s Victory at Sea coffee vanilla porter. Aside from stouts, there was a bourbon barrel-aged version of 2010 Stone Double Bastard, and Green Flash brought Little Freak, a red wine barrel-aged saison with brettanomyces.
On the food side of things, every restaurant offered small plates, some of them made with beer. La Jolla’s Bella Vista Social Club served jambalaya made with Green Flash’s Imperial IPA. University Heights’ Small Bar brought crostini with macaroni and cheese topped with their hop sausage. Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido, no strangers to pairing food with great beer, brought fried risotto balls and a vanilla mousse and tropical cream cake. For those craving beef and bacon, Slater’s 50/50 brought their signature burger made with a blend of the two meats.
Keep in mind that this epicurean bonanza was only the beginning of San Diego Beer week. Venues all over the county have scheduled events to help you expand your craft beer horizons during this, the holiest of weeks in San Diego. Do yourself a favor and get out there to try something new. After all, it’s San Diego Beer Week!