Here’s how to experience it like a local.

By Michelle Gross
November 06, 2015
Credit: Courtesy of San Diego Brewers Guild

San Diego: where the beer flows like water. Perhaps better known for its beautiful beaches, deliciously ubiquitous Mexican food, and pristine year-round weather, San Diego County nonetheless has 115 breweries and is one of America’s best cities for beer lovers. Beer has become an integral part of the region’s culture over the years and there’s no better time to get out there and experience it all than San Diego Beer Week (SDBW).

“Every event is awesome,” San Diego Brewers Guild President Kevin Hopkins told Travel + Leisure. “Beer week brings in tens of thousands of people from all over the country and continues to get bigger each and every year.” In fact, the beer business is booming in San Diego to the tune of $600 million in economic impact. “Beer’s bigger than Comic Con,” Mr. Hopkins said. With around 500 events to choose from, all varying in price, location and experience, here’s a look at T+L’s top ten picks. In the immortalized words of this town’s most lauded news anchor “San Diego—Drink it in.”

Beer Geek Tour

While there’s certainly nothing “geeky” about beer culture, the Beer Geek Tour is perfect for those interested in understanding the brewing process. Stop at White Labs, a yeast and fermentation plant, before heading to Stone Farms, where you’ll see the organic farming approaches and hop-harvesting methods used by one of the top breweries in the nation. Lunch will be provided at Brothers Provisions, an artisanal cheese-shop and restaurant, before a visit to Societe Brewing Company for lots of beer-tasting and craft beer education.

Beer Train Trolley Tour

For those who want to soak in the city’s beautiful scenery with a beer in tow, The Beer Train Trolley Tour may be more your speed. This half-day tour celebrates the beauty of San Diego while enjoying the best breweries the city has to offer. Highlights include VIP tastings at four local breweries, a flight at each stop (that's 16 different beers), and a light lunch with beer tastings all while learning about San Diego’s rich history and a behind-the-scenes look into the brewing process.

Ki’s Taco Monday

At $9 a pop, an array of gluten-free beers from Duck Foot Brewing, including the Chocolate Hazelnut Porter, Red Ale, West Coast-style IPA, and Cali Honey Ale, will be available to pair with Ki’s Gluten-free taco bar. Can you say choco-taco anyone?

Pizza Port Tap Takeover

If you’re in the mood for pizza, head about five minutes south down the coast to Solana Beach, where the perennially popular Pizza Port will have all 40 taps on pour, including Barrel Aged, Sour, and IPA, for a special SDBW Tap Takeover night.

Beer Dinner with Green Flash Brewing Co.

Stella Public House's main event will be an intimate, five-course beer-pairing dinner in collaboration with San Diego born and bred Green Flash Brewing Co. Chef Giovanni Novella has prepared a unique dinner that blends old world Italian and new American cuisine using rustic wood-fired cooking. Manager Jesse Smith will guide diners through a beer pairing with each course featuring new, classic, and specialty beers, including Green Flash Blanc Tarte, Soul Style IPA, Barleywine, Flanders Drive, and Silva Stout.

Green Flash has also teamed up with San Diego based Knockaround Sunglasses and will be releasing a limited run of custom sunglasses and beer. These super sweet shades will be released nationally on the Knockaround website Thursday October 12 as well as locally starting at noon on Friday at Green Flash Brewery.

Brewmaster Dinner Series

Truffles and lardons and crème fraiche, oh my! This dinner and beer pairing featuring Fall Brewing specials will include dishes like roasted and pickled baby beets with blood orange frisée, smoked almonds, and Green Hat IPA-Goddess Crème Fraiche, blackened prawn and goat cheese polenta fritter with beer blanc sauce and bacon lardons, and truffled cauliflower puree.

Trivia Night with Stone Brewing Co.

Stone Brewing Company will be co-hosting Trivia Night at the Stella Public House, where teams of up to six people can compete for bragging rights and prizes while drinking Stone Sour Brown Ale with cherries, Double Bastard Ale, 24 Carrot Belgian Golden Ale, and 50th Anniversary Imperial Irish Stout.

Chocolate & Beer Pairing

The only thing better than beer is chocolate, which is why this chocolate and beer pairing is sure to be delectable. Expect flights of Lost Abbey beers, including Angel's Share and Framboise de Amorosa, along with hand-dipped fine chocolates by "The Chocolate Lady" herself Johna Nilson.

San Diego Cheese & Beer Festival

Attendees can select up to 12 cheese and beer pairings at this year’s cheese and beer festival. This non-profit event will also feature live music, beer and cheese-themed games, and attendees will take home their commemorative sampler glass. All proceeds will go towards the East County Transitional Living Center.

Beer Garden at The Lodge at Torrey Pines

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. But when that day comes, there’s no better place to celebrate in style than The Lodge at Torrey Pines. With 24 breweries and 12 chefs, this year’s event will bring together the best of San Diego’s breweries and local chefs to celebrate the craft beer movement. Admission includes unlimited tasters of beer and food.