San Diego Beer, Local & Independent!

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The Battle for the Soul of San Diego Indie Beer

At the end of 2015 big beer made a barrage of acquisitions in an effort to expand its portfolio of “craft” Brewers. The moves were significant, and showed that corporate beer is not planning to sit back and let its share of the market be reduced any longer.

On the local front San Diego felt the sting of losing two of its own local breweries as Saint Archer was purchased by Miller/Coors, and more devastatingly, Ballast Point selling for 1 Billion dollars to Constellation Brands i.e. Corona. 

Now with the news that 10 Barrel Brewing, a property of InBev that masquerades as still being a local, independent brewery based out of Bend, Oregon, will be opening a location in downtown San Diego’s East Village neighborhood it has become clear that big beer is no longer content to simply buy the competition. They want to bury it. 

10 Barrel sold to InBev in November of 2014. Since then big beer has made a concerted effort to aquire at least one indie Brewer in every major market of the western United States. They purchased Elysian in Seattle, Golden Road in Los Angeles, Saint Archer and Ballast Point here in San Diego, Four Peaks in Phoenix and Breckenridge Brewing in Colorado. 

By placing a brewpub in San Diego, InBev has shown that it will continue to rely on deception and outright lies to attempt to create a ruse to confuse and trick customers. It is shameful. This is an effort to severely damage the indie beer culture of San Diego and we cannot sit back and take it.

One of the many rewarding aspects of loving the local, independent beer scene of San Diego is the knowledge that your money is staying in San Diego and supporting small business. Your money is helping your neighbors, and not lineing the pockets of rich people who do not give a damn about the community of San Diego. They see our city as dollars signs. They know their product does not stand a chance when lined up against the world class beers brewed by many of our local, indie Brewers. Deception is the new strategy.

Recently on a trip to Portland, Oregon I spent a Saturday night hopping from brewpub to brewpub in the downtown area. After a few hours I stumbled upon the 10 Barrel location; it was packed. I was shocked. Portlanders are known for their being savvy when it comes to supporting local business over corporate greed. It opened my eyes to a few truths that I still wrestle with but two of those truths are that not only are InBev’s deceptions working, they are working very well even in a indie beer town like Portland.

The most dangerous weapon we possess in the revolution against big beer is a knowledgable consumer. It is now more important than ever that we, as consumers, take the time to learn who owns who and where our hard earned money is going. Big beer is betting that we are too lazy to bother with seeking out the truth. It is time to teach how wrong they are. 

One of the most interesting details of the proposed location for the corporate beer sell out is the proposed location; just a block away from local favorite and Great American Beer Festival gold medal winning Monkey Paw Brewing and Pub. While I do not know their reactions to the news, I do know this: Monkey Paw Owner Scot Blair and Head Brewer Cosimo Sorrentino are two of the best the San Diego independent beer community could hope to have on the front lines for this battle. These are two people that I will always have the backs of and the San Diego indie beer community will be right there with me. 

InBev just brought a knife to a gunfight.

Cheers and remember to keep your money local,


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A Comic-Con Survival Guide or How to drink your way through Comic-Con Weekend.

So Comic-Con has come and gone for 2012 and while it is always great fun it’s also can be quite exhausting.

This year, my approach to the show would more closely resemble my approach to life – how can I incorporate my love of craft beer into this?

What follows is my attempt to make a 5 day beer drinking adventure set around the pure insanity of Comic-Con International, and while I may not have had the chance to rub elbows with Robert Downey Jr., I don’t think I did too bad overall. Let me know if you agree.

Wednesday – Preview night for the convention. My main priority on this night is to pick-up my badge and that is it. Years ago, preview night was great for walking the floor to get a better look at all the massive displays on the show floor before the regular crowds come in to play for the rest of the weekend. It’s not like that anymore. So after getting my badge around 4:30pm, a friend and I decided that a nice stroll over to Mission Brewery was in order. So we lined up tasters of everything on tap while taking in the excellent atmosphere at the brewery. I really enjoy this place, the space is just fantastic and they play awesome music. It’s very hard to go wrong with the gang down here. I have a full write up of my trip here planned for later in the week, consider this your taster.

Thursday – The first full day of the con, well, for everyone but me. I had to go to work for the first half of the day. Once I do make it down in the early afternoon, about 2pm, I make my way into the show to check in with a few friends and see what up. So I walk the floor, chat up some of the nice folks around and snap a few photos before a buddy calls to let me know he’s writing an article for the website he works for and asks me to join him for a drink. Twist my arm why don’t you? I meet him at the Marriott next to the convention center at the patio bar around 6pm. I quickly find my friend and berate the man for drinking a Bud Lite and I place my order for a refreshing pint of Stone’s Arrogant Bastard. We all know this beer is pretty much a staple for any craft beer enthusiast who is worth a damn. Complex, rich, malty with a nice hops profile. In other words fantastic and if you don’t like it, you probably won’t be invited to my wedding.
Here’s were things get interesting, as we are wrapping up, in walks a group of pretty large guys. One of those guys just happens the be LaDanian Tomlinson, the recently retired San Diego Charger running back. Normally, I don’t get excited by celebrities but in this case I was bursting. Luckily, I think I manged to do a decent job of getting composed and approaching him calmly. After shaking his hand and having a short conversation with him, my night was pretty much set and wasn’t bound to get any better. Or was it?
Not really. What can top that? But the night was still really fun.
So I meet up with another buddy who is in the ‘industry’ and he gets me invited to a rooftop party at the Hotel Andaz, where they have a decent selection of craft beers by the bottle. I have a couple Green Flash IPA’s and a couple of Stone IPA’s while I run into a few friends from New York who I had lost touch with. Then low and behold as the party is coming to a close, I bump into Israel Idonije, of the Chicago Bears. Talking to him is considerably easier than LT. After this, we move on to another party, which is fun, but the beer selection borders on travesty so I won’t talk much about it here…except the Grant Hotel needs to figure it out.

Friday – Really should have been a pretty epic day…except I had to go to work again. By the time I made it downtown it was 6:30pm and I didn’t see the point in going to the convention center. But it was far too early to for my dinner plans at 8:30pm, so what is one to do? Well, I headed back over to Mission Brewing because it was close and very tasty. Had two pints of IPA and chatted with two guys from New Zealand while watching the Padres cling to a 1-run lead which they would eventually blow. Sadly this would turn into the end of my beer drinking for the night. Dinner at El Vitral was fantastic but margaritas are the specialty there so…when in Rome…

Saturday – This would be my full day downtown and what better way to get it it started than a great breakfast at Cafe 222 with friends. No beer to start the day as I knew that drinking water now was the best way to prep for what I had in mind for later. So I hit show and see the sights and run into a gaggle of friends along the way before I decide, around 2pm, it’s time to take a break and go get some food/beer in my belly for the next part of the day. Monkey Paw Brewing has been in the back of my mind for the past several days so I decide today is the day and I make the long walk over there. It was worth it, not only were the beers great, but the food in that place is really solid as well! Again, I plan to have a full write up posted soon and will save the tasty details for that. While getting my beer fix, two very close friends from here in San Diego join me at Monkey Paw as we make plans for them to come and check out the convention with me. So we make our way back to the show and take them on a tour of what happens at a typical San Diego Comic Con, I’m pretty sure they were impressed. Maybe in a good way. Maybe not.
After they have seen enough, we check out the Bat-mobiles parked at the Hilton Bay-front and then make our way north up to Market St. It’s about 6pm, time to get more beers, this time from Knotty Barrel. First up we all grabbed the Lagunitas rotation draft selection which was the Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale. The consensus was that it’s a good beer, but a little on the sweet side for us. Next up was Ballast Point’s Sculpin, also from draft. If you’ve not heard me rave about Sculpin IPA before, I’m not sure what else to call it but liquid perfection. It’s an absolute masterpiece IPA.
At about 9pm, my friends decided to head back home and I had to find my buddy who was staying over at my place. On the way, I stopped at a new pizza place downtown, Berkley Pizza, and grabbed two slices of the Chicago style pizza they make there. Not only was the pizza really good, they also have a small but solid selection of handles to choose from while snacking. They are also open late into the night which I’m sure the crowd coming out of Stingaree appreciates. This was basically the end of my night of drinking, as I knew I needed to drive home later and rolling those dice is never a good idea.

Sunday – Sunday didn’t go as I had planned. Due to extenuating family circumstances I had to cancel my plans to head back to the show. Because, if one thing is more important than beer and comics, it’s family.

Otherwise, this was a great way to spend the convention. I’m pretty sure this will be the blueprint for any comic-cons in the years to come. I didn’t get to several spots I was hoping to check out, but I’m sure I’ll be back in downtown San Diego at some point no matter how hard I try to avoid it sometimes.

How was your weekend? Did you avoid downtown or maybe go get a little people watching done?

Whatever you did I hope it was a blast.


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