Comic-Con gets a lot of attention as the biggest week in San Diego, but locals know that San Diego Beer Week is the best time to be a San Diegan. With more than 150 breweries operating in San Diego County, there’s no shortage of quality suds to sustain events all over the county, and it has even become a destination for beer tourism. While you can check out the entire list of events here, I did a little bit of work to pick some of the most interesting at varying price points. Here’s a choice for every day, and a backup plan in case things get to crowded at your first choice. Also, keep an eye out for Capital of Craft IPA, which is a collaboration brew created by the original members of the San Diego Brewer’s Guild to honor the organization’s 20 years of advocating for craft beer in San Diego.
Saturday, November 4
Day two of the San Diego Brewers Guild’s kickoff for beer week brings the action outside to Broadway pier. Your $50 ticket gets you unlimited samples from some of the county’s best breweries. Just be sure to wear some sunscreen.
Backup plan: Nomad Donuts and Beer Pairing at Thorn Brewing. $25 gets your three donuts, one bagel and four 5-oz tasters of beer.
Sunday, November 5
Coffee and Cannoli Brunch
Pizza Port – Ocean Beach
Cost: a la carte
As a proud Italian, I fully endorse the consumption of cannoli at any time of day, so how do I NOT pick Pizza Port’s Coffee & Cannoli Brunch as a must-attend event? They’ll have 6 different Pizza Port coffee beers on tap and cannoli from Poma’s Deli all for a la carte purchase. You can even get a slice of steak and eggs breakfast pizza if you need a savory respite from sweet town.
Backup plan: Stone DRK Festival. For $49, you get 15 tasters of rare dark craft beer from all over the country.
Monday, November 6
AleSmith Brewing Co.
People like to sing when they get drunk, so why not make it official? Beer Choir takes over the new mezzanine at AleSmith’s Miramar tasting room for a night of suds and song. For $12, you get your first beer as well as the official Beer Choir hymnal. No professional singing experience necessary!
Backup plan: Brews, Views and Chews at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse. Your admission gets you unlimited food and beer pairings at this bayside eatery.
Tuesday, November 7
North Park Beer Co.
Beer and ice cream go well together, so it stands to reason that great craft beer and great ice cream are a match made in heaven. North Park Beer Co. is partnering up with cross-street neighbor Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream to create beer floats.
Wednesday, November 8
Speedway Grand Prix – Day 1
AleSmith Brewing Co.
AleSmith is one of the O-Gs of the San Diego craft beer scene, and their Speedway Stout is one of their best year-round offerings. During Beer Week, they throw out extreme variants of the popular dark libation for their three-day Speedway Grand Prix. For $11 ($17 for the VIP batches), you can take a “lap” with four two-ounce pours with flavors like Julian pie, rocky road and Canadian Speedw-eh?, which I’m assuming includes maple syrup.
Backup plan: Second Chance Beer and Cutwater Spirits beer, spirits and food dinner. The price tag is hefty ($85 plus tax and tip), but you get a four-course meal with a cocktail and beer paired with each course.
Thursday, November 9
4th Annual Barrel-Aged Beer and Whiskey Pairing
Cost: $10 per pairing
When Seven Grand purchases single-barrel bourbons and ryes from Kentucky distilleries, they occasionally get the freshly-dumped barrels, which they send to local breweries to use for aging beers. At this annual celebration, they offer each of these aged beers paired with whiskey for $10 per pairing.
Backup plan: Rare Beer Night at Abnormal Beer Company This popular Rancho Bernardo brewery will dip into some of their archives and offer bottles of rarities such as All of the Lights available for on-site consumption.
Friday, November 10
Tyson’s Big-Ass Barrel-Aged Beer Night
This party is always one of my favorite events during San Diego Beer Week, as those lucky enough to snag a seat get to choose from a wide selection of some amazing barrel-aged brews, assembled by O’Brien’s Pub General Manager Tyson Blake. Standout brews for the lineup include AleSmith Double Barrel Speedway Stout and 2013 Lost Abbey Deliverance.
Backup plan: Green Flash 15th Anniversary Bash. Join the folks from Green Flash at their Mira Mesa tasting room as they tap special beers throughout the day. You can even enjoy birthday cake as well as a commemorative pint glass if you’re one of the first 200 people to drink the anniversary beer.
Saturday, November 11
Pinups for Pitbulls Calendar Release Party
ChuckAlek Biergarten – North Park
Shelters are full of great dogs who find themselves waiting for adoption for whatever reason, and some are harder sells than others. Thanks to homeowner’s insurance provisions and landlord restrictions, pit bulls have an uphill climb to get adopted, which is why rescue groups are so important. Pinups for Pitbulls is an advocacy organization that raises awareness and advocates against breed-specific legislation. ChuckAlek will be hosting a release party for their 2018 calendar, donating a portion of every beer sold to PFBF, and you can even get autographs from a few of the models.
Backup plan: White Labs for Labs. Saturday is a day for the dogs, as White Labs is going to be hosting a fundraiser for Labrador Rescuers, a group dedicated to finding homes for Labradors throughout Southern California.
Sunday, November 12
The Beer Garden The Lodge at Torrey Pines
The perfect end to San Diego Beer Week is The Beer Garden on the Arroyo Terrace at the Lodge at Torrey Pines. With the lush greens of the golf course as a backdrop, 28 breweries team up with 14 chefs for an amazing food and craft beer pairing experience. For $85, you get unlimited tastes of bites and brews throughout the event.
Backup plan: Lost Abbey Beer Dinner with Tomme Arthur. O’Brien’s Pub always ends San Diego Beer Week with a Lost Abbey dinner, and founder Tomme Arthur will be on hand to guide attendees through each brew. It’s pricey at $100, but you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.