Last weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the San Diego Winter Brew Fest at the San Diego Hall of Champions in Balboa Park. There were more than 40 breweries along with several vendors and live music throughout the night. It was such an awesome time!
In case you’re unfamiliar with how beer festivals work, you usually pay a set fee (usually $40 or so per ticket) and receive unlimited 2 oz. samples of beers from numerous breweries. It makes it easy to taste a wide range of beers without paying for full pints, and it’s fun to get to interact with other beer nerds. At times, I get a little star struck when I see the owners or top brewers at these events.
The San Diego Winter Brew Fest was interesting in that it was a two-day event. If you wanted to attend both days, you just had to buy two tickets. Most of the beer festivals that I’ve been to have been one-day occurrences.
I attended on Friday night and then volunteered on Saturday night. I’ll be writing more about my volunteering experience in my next post, but Friday night was definitely less crowded. There was a VIP hour from 6-7pm with a special beer and cheese pairing, but we opted for the general admission time from 7-10pm and felt like we had plenty of time to enjoy everything.
The venue really set this beer fest apart — imagine strolling through Hall of Fame awards and sports memorabilia while enjoying some of your favorite beers. There were three levels: downstairs where breweries like Stone and Pizza Port were, the main floor where there was live music, vendors like Craft Beerd, and breweries like Green Flash and Drake’s, and then upstairs where there was a nice patio and breweries like Hess Brewing and Ninkasi. It was nice to see a range of San Diego, Bay Area, and Pacific Northwest breweries present!
While it’s probably wise that I keep the number of beers I sampled to myself, some of my favorites were Firestone’s Velvet Merlin oatmeal stout, Ninkasi’s Dawn of the Red India red ale, and Ballast Point’s Grapefruit Sculpin IPA. (If you can’t already tell from my picture, I’m a huge Ballast Point fan!)
The Winter Brew Fest definitely made me excited for the rest of the beer festivals happening this year. It honestly seems like there is at least one major beer event a month in San Diego… Gotta love it.