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Arts & Culture

San Diego Beer Business Is Brewing

Stone Brewing Co.’s main hall and production facilities in Escondido.
Aaron Watanabe
Stone Brewing Co.’s main hall and production facilities in Escondido.

As Oktoberfest celebrations continue this weekend around San Diego, the best of local craft breweries take center stage. San Diego has been described as one of the best beer cities in America with over 30+ local breweries around the county.

Several of these local brands have won numerous awards at national competitions such as the Great American Beer Festival and the prestigious World Beer Cup.

Local stars such as Stone Brewing Co., Pizza Port, Karl Strauss, and Ballast Point have all become major players in micro brews.


Over the years beer has come a long way as peoples’ tastes have become more sophisticated. No longer satisfied with just the mass produced “yellow fizzy beers,” beer drinkers have sought out more complex and flavorful brews.

And when they couldn’t find them, many started making their own. Chocolate, coffee, and sour beers have been on the rise as well as the popular IPA (India Pale Ale). IPAs have grown so much that there is now a distinctive West Coast IPA flavor.

As beers have evolved, so have beer drinkers. No longer is it just “Joe Six Pack” enjoying a cold one and watching the game. More women have joined the ranks of beer enthusiasts as the appeal of craft beer has broadened. Originally, Miller High Life branded itself as the “Champagne of Beers,” but now there are numerous beers suitable for festive occasions beyond the backyard BBQ.

Beer pairing events have become increasingly popular and educate the public on how beer goes well with more than just hot dogs and pizza (although Pizza Port is doing a great job of just that). Recently Stone Brewing hosted a “Beer and Chocolate” event and continues to expertly pair fine beer with fine cuisine on a regular basis.

All of this excitement over craft brews hasn’t gone unnoticed by the big beer brands. Beer giants like Anheuser-Busch and SAB Miller continue to dominate the beer market representing the majority of brands in your store cooler, but even they feel the impact of craft brewing. While the popularity of your corner craft brew may seem insignificant compared to the multi-billion dollar global beer market, all of the microbreweries together have continued to gain market share each year.


Local craft beers have increased distribution around the country and around the world. In fact, craft brews represent the best of the American-owned beer industry. With the sale of Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser) to Belgium-based InBev in 2008, Boston’s Sam Adams became the largest American beer label.

Major beer brands are trying to keep up with the big flavor of small breweries. Several mass produced beers have come out with their own bolder flavors or add lime, but it’s difficult to capture the authentic taste local beer enthusiasts have come to enjoy.

For a chance to try some of San Diego’s finest local beers, check out these events or contact your local brewery:

October 2010

Ballast Point 14th Anniversary Festival Oct. 16

“Beer for Boobs” Breast Cancer Fundraiser at Pizza Port Oct. 19

November 2010

San Diego Beer Week 5th -14th

For more information on local beer culture, check out these sites:

San Diego Beer Blog

San Diego Brewers Guild

Blind Lady Ale House blog

UPDATE: Listen to our These Days show on craft beers!

Also in the comments section for that show, a woman posted about a beer blog hosted by San Diego women who love craft beer. It's called the Brew Babes Beer Blog.