The 3rd Annual San Diego International Beer Festival was held at the San Diego County Fair on June 26th and 27th. Formerly known as the Craft Brewers Festival, the festival offered over 300 beer entries from 17 countries and 20 states. Some of the countries represented were Denmark, Japan, Scotland, Belgium, Austria, Netherlands, Brazil, Australia, Canada, Germany, England, and the United States.
Held in the Chevrolet Del Mar Arena, the two-day celebration of craft beer did not disappoint. Right away you could see some major changes to the event. To start, in years past the festival had been conducted in a “ticket” format. “Ticket” meaning your entrance fee bought you a set amount of tickets that you could redeem for a sample of beer. This year the tickets were gone and guests were treated to unlimited 1-ounce pours of all the beers in attendance. Other changes included an organized beer and food pairing section where guests could purchase food and have a craft beer expertly paired and served, and a “Meet the Brewer” booth where local craft brewers spent time talking to the public.
While some changes were made, some elements happily remained constant. The California Strongest Man competition is held in conjunction with the beer festival and provides live entertainment while you taste world-class beers. Also, demonstrations are run throughout the festival covering topics such as how to make sushi, homebrewing, and beer and cheese pairing.
Standing in the Del Mar Arena, looking out at the hundreds of beers to taste can be overwhelming to some. Where do I start? What is a Kolsch? I don’t know much about craft beer… However, the great part about the craft beer renaissance in America is the complete approachability of the subject. The best way to get started is to start sampling the beers! Taste the beer and talk about it with your friends, there are no right or wrong answers. Some will have one reaction, and others will not. Not a problem at all. One of the great things about craft beer is that there is something for everyone.
Another great way to experience a festival like this is to talk to the brewers who make the beer. Not too often will you have the chance to attend an event where there are so many local brewers in attendance. Feel free to chat them up and ask them about what they do, and how they do it. Most brewers consider the brewing process a form of art. The process is creative, and engaging of the senses and that’s why they love it!
The San Diego International Beer Festival is just that… international. Not too many festival held locally can boast the lineup of international participants as can this one. Most people probably wouldn’t even be able to pronounce the names of some of the breweries in attendance, never mind recognize them. Scheldebrouwerij, Drie Fonteinen, and Ise Kadaya are just some of the worldly entrants. Having never tried these beers before should make for an exciting experience. I know it does for me.
Ultimately, we are just talking about a beer festival here. We are not curing cancer or building a clean energy technology. The influence of an event like this is small in the grand scheme of things, as an event. As a personal experience, the San Diego International Beer Festival ranks up there as some of the most fun I’ve had this summer. If you’ve never been, pencil it in for next year as this festival is only just coming into its own and will only get better with time. Cheers!
To see a complete list of current and past award winners, please visit: