2016 has been something a weird year for me in the world of craft beer. I have never had to defend my own personal opinions from other beer drinkers in the way that I have had to do since January when the usage of the term “indie beer” got exposure on a quasi-national level. It marked something of a turning point for me as I realized that the craft beer world was not quite not the shiny, happy place that I had turned it into in my mind. In short my love affair was under something of a strain.
So leave it to Societe Brewing to host an event that not only delivers the goods on every level but helps to rekindle the fires of my passion for this elixir that I love so much.
Societe Brewing has been one of my favorite breweries since they opened their doors four years ago. Honestly, Societe is probably my personal favorite but the thought of trying to rank breweries in San Diego is not only daunting but counterproductive to the harmony and unity between breweries in the area. Those ideas of harmony and a collaborative spirit between breweries was proudly on display at Societe’s fourth anniversary party this past Saturday, known simply as Societe IV.
Part of the fun with anniversary parties at Societe has been that every year is something new and they are continually raising the bar. This year will be a hard one to beat. Incorporating an Olympics theme, complete with a torch and a parade of the “Ale-thletes” to start the event, Societe invited nearly two dozen breweries (and one-man team Nate Soroko) from all over San Diego and one from Northern California to compete in a variety of brewers games, including a washer toss tournament, grain stacking challenge, tri-clamp challenge, Beer Chugging, Stein Holding and even an impressive barrel throwing event, which for those who are not sure, a barrel weighs right around 90 pounds and is not the easiest thing to throw for distance, but was a sight to behold. The spirit of camaraderie and friendship were on display for all to see and take part in and the fun that these folks were having was simply infectious as it was impossible to find someone not having a great time.
As fun as all the games were to watch and enjoy rooting for your favorite local brewers, we also came for the beers. I found several new treats to savor while enjoying all the festivities the day had to offer. New variations of The Bachelor, their single hop IPA series, included Nugget, Calypso and Idaho 7 while The Bachelorette, their single hop lager, introduced the Sterling varietal. To round out the new beers was the first Societe witbier, The Filly. Suffice to say everything was incredibly enjoyable and of the highest quality.
What came as perhaps the biggest surprise of the entire day, and announced only a few hours before the event, was the opportunity to purchase their very first bottled beer, a feral ale called The Swindler. As someone who was lucky enough to have this beer during the Societe 3 event last year, I can attest to its absolute incredibleness.
At four years in Societe is continuing to showcase not only their excellence at brewing but at displaying the strong sense of community between an incredible number of local San Diego breweries. In a lot of ways I was filled with a great deal of pride, even if my connection to the brewing industry is tangential at best, the event left me invigorated and rejuvenated. So cheers to Societe and all the Ale-thletes, I hope this one becomes a tradition, but even if it doesn’t, I will still be there to give all the support I can.