The Official San Diego Beer Week 2011 Survival Guide

San Diego Beer Week 2011

San Diego Beer Week is officially under way and anyone who has attended before knows that drinking craft beer for 10 days is no easy feet. That’s why, we decided to ask three SDBW veterans, Kevin Spindt, Paul Estrada, and Abby Vacula for their best advice on making it through the week unscathed.

1. With over 400 events to choose from, how do you go about deciding which ones to attend?

Kevin: I honestly just go to the SDBW.org website and try to pick events that are close to one another so I can hit as many as possible.

Paul: I normally go through the events page and look at what beers are being offered at different places. I would rather go to an event that is offering 2-3 beers that I have never had before and will have a hard time ever seeing again versus a huge event that has dozens and dozens of beers that are more common.

Abby: Being that this is my third beer week, I find myself trying to attend the events at the newer establishments around town, or the ones that I haven’t been to yet. I’m really excited to check out both Tiger! Tiger! and Monkey Paw since I have yet to visit either establishment since they opened.

2. As many events as possible for a short amount of time each or fewer full events?

Kevin: I love the BIG events but I also like to hit some of the breweries with tasting rooms before each event. If there is a drink-about, I like to stop by a place like Ballast Point in Linda Vista and taste all of the specialty beers.

Paul: I like seeing lots of events jammed together and seeing which places really step up their game and have some really unique events.

Abby: For me, having to balance both industry events (working at AleSmith) and personal interests, I’ve learned that Beer Week is an endurance test, it’s not about attending the most events. It’s about drinking a lot of water and planning out the best week possible that satisfies what I’m looking to get out of Beer Week. Beer Week is great because every person can tailor their week to their own individual beer/event wish lists. I really enjoy attending as many AleSmith events as possible because it’s a great way to connect with a lot of our fans that don’t get a chance to make it into our tasting room.

3. How will you approach this beer week differently than previous years?

Kevin: Two words: Pretzel Necklace.

Paul: This year is going to be quality over quantity. Last year I decided to drink a barrel aged beer that I had never had before… every day of beer week. It was do-able but it meant I was going to an event everyday and normally it didn’t involve just the one beer. About half way through I wanted beer week to be over. This year I am going to go to less events and really try to stick to the truly unique offerings.

Abby: This year I’ll probably try to view Beer Week from a more tourist like approach since we’ll have friends in town from Boston that have never experienced anything that San Diego has to offer. I probably wouldn’t be inclined to attend some of the more crowded events, but will because of our east coast visitors and their desire to experience Beer Week to it’s fullest.

4. Which event are you most anticipating this year?

Kevin: I can’t wait for Friday night for the beer pairing dinner and the Handlery. My wife and I did that last year and I still brag to others about how amazing the food was and all the beer pairings from Mission Brewery. The beer festival in Liberty Station was amazing last year too. Tons of good beer and Pub Cakes cupcakes- yes please!

Paul: I am excited for speedway night at O’Brians. It is always an insane evening of fantastic beer and a great crowd. Toronado also always has great events and a great crowd.

Abby: The events that I’m most excited about during Beer Week are some of the most obvious, but it doesn’t diminish their luster (in my eyes). The Brewer’s Guild Festival, Night of Million Zillion Speedway’s, Chef Celebration, Silva Stout release, Ska Brewing night at Blind Lady Ale House (fell in love with Ska while out in Denver for GABF) and the MIHO Gastrotruck pairing at AleSmith for the Top Brewer’s Book release (had to mention it).

Speaking of the newest beer book in town, I’m also extremely excited about any event involving the new San Diego Top Brewer’s Book. The book is going to thrust an already unbelievable beer scene into an even brighter spotlight! It’s great to see so many breweries hold celebrations and book signing’s to coincide with the book’s release.

5. Any other survival secrets that you’d like to share with this years attendees?

Kevin: Eat lots of bread. Get lots of sleep. and take lots of taxis. Rumor has it that this beer stuff will get you drunk!

Paul: Drink lots of water. Make sure to eat and make sure to have friends that you look after and that will look after you. Don’t be afraid to take someones keys away from them or their wallet for that matter so they are stuck with you if they are getting a little to loose. As well, don’t stress out at events, they will be packed and more crowded then you really want them to be but just ease back and enjoy the time and the great beer that comes along with it!

Abby: My survival secrets aren’t anything new, but they’ve always worked for me. Drink lots of water and be nice to the person in line in front of or behind you, because you may need a spot at their table at another event. Use the “week” to make new friends and try new things and when you miss an event you really wanted to attend, try to remember that every week is Beer Week when you live in city like San Diego.

If you have any other tips of your own, feel free to share them in the comments. Have a safe and happy beer week, Cheers!

– Philippe

This was originally written for and posted on the Tap Hunter Blog

Philippe Gagnon is the founder and writer for Craft Beer Culture. Currently residing in Orange County, California, you can find him at the local brewery drinking craft beer or online through FacebookTwitter, and .

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