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San Diego Beer Week Caps Year Of Shakeups For Local Breweries

San Diego Beer Week Caps Year Of Shakeups For Local Breweries


Jill Davidson, president, San Diego Brewers Guild


Craft beer is big business in San Diego and this year it's gone through some big changes.

Constellation Brands, which makes Corona and Modelo beers, bought local company Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits last November for $1 billion. Greg Koch, co-founder of San Diego beer giant Stone Brewing, stepped down as CEO in August and last month the company announced it was laying off about 5 percent of its workforce.

But smaller breweries are still opening at a rapid clip: 20 opened in the past year with another 25 on track to open next year, according to Jill Davidson, president of the San Diego Brewers Guild. There are 130 craft breweries in San Diego County, she said. Seventy of them will be on hand this weekend at Guild Fest, the kickoff event for San Diego Beer Week.

"If you’re opening in a neighborhood and just want a small batch for your bar, there is a lot of potential," said Davidson, who is also western regional sales manager for Pizza Port Brewing Company. "But as you build your production capacity or distribution, that’s where it’s starting to get a little crowded."

San Diego Beer Week

Nov. 4-13

Guild Fest, the week's marquee event, runs Nov. 4-5 at the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier

Typically, craft beers faced off against "Big Beer" on parallel tracks, according to Davidson. Did drinkers want a Budweiser or a local IPA? But with Constellation, Anheuser-Busch and other international companies adding smaller breweries to their portfolios, it's more of a head-to-head competition.

"It’s becoming an increasingly difficult marketplace," she said.

Davidson joins KPBS Midday Edition Thursday with more on Beer Week events and how this year could be a turning point for the San Diego beer industry.

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