Candice

What’s New in Craft Brew: San Diego Takes the Gold

Craft Brew Judging - Great American Beer Festival

San Diego may have an Olympic training center, but the region’s newest gold medalists won’t be found there. Thanks to an outstanding slate of local breweries, San Diego has been racking up the craft brew awards at beer festivals across the world.

Craft Brew Gold Medal Winners at the Great American Beer Festival

Craft Brew Judging - Great American Beer Festival

San Diego breweries won big at the Great American Beer festival this fall.

Held in Denver in October, the annual Great American Beer Festival saw more than 4,000 entries by 666 breweries from around the nation, and San Diego brewers earned a total of 15 medals. The Lost Abbey and Pizza Port breweries took home the most collective medals of the San Diego based breweries, with Pizza Port claiming gold in Session Beer, Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout and Oatmeal Stout and a bronze medal in Imperial Red Ale. The Lost Abbey received gold in Belgian and French-Style Ale, silver in American-Style Sour Ale, bronze in Experimental Beer and Indigenous Beer. Green Flash Brewing Co. received top honors in American-Belgo-Style Ale and Belgian-Style Abbey Ale and a silver medal in Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout.

San Diego’s craft beer winning continued across the pond as well. In November 2012, San Diego-based Ballast Point Brewing took home two awards from Europe’s beer community. The brewery’s signature Calico Amber Ale was awarded a bronze medal at the inaugural Brussels Beer Challenge. The Calico also won a gold medal in the “English-style bitter” category at the ninth annual European Beer Star competition in Munich.

New San Diego Craft Breweries

Helms Brewing Company in San Diego

Helm’s is one of San Diego’s newest craft breweries.

Looking to get out and try something new? The number of San Diego craft breweries continues to grow, too!

  • Offbeat Brewing Co. opened in Escondido in San Diego’s inland North County. Showcasing local artists in their brewing space, Offbeat brews up creative varieties of hoppy ales and sessionable brews.
  • Fezziwig’s Brewing Company opened in Carlsbad in San Diego’s coastal North County. In addition to brewing porters, winter wheats, barrel-aged and other styles of beer, Fezziwig’s facility is inspired by a steampunk aesthetic.
  • Helm’s Brewing Company opened in the Kearny Mesa area of San Diego. Designed to appeal as much to the average consumer as the beer connoisseur, the Helm’s tasting room includes two 46” televisions to watch sports and features full view the brewery facility. The addition of Helm’s Brewing Company brings the total number of breweries in San Diego County to 60!

Where will you sample a San Diego beer this weekend?

Brent Bernasconi

San Diego Beer Week Returns – November 2-11, 2012

Cheers during San Diego Beer Week
Cheers during San Diego Beer Week

Say Cheers to another exciting San Diego Beer Week!

San Diego Beer Week is a countywide celebration of the amazing local craft beer culture. Over the course of 10 days, SDBW offers craft beer lovers the chance to sample award winning regional beers (San Diego breweries took home 15 medals from the 2012 Great American Beer Festival!) at more than 250 different events including festivals, tap takeovers, beer brunches, brewery tours, pint nights, beer releases, cask nights, beer dinners, brewer meet and greets, education sessions and more.

You can find a full list of events at www.sdbw.org/events.

While picking an event to attend each day and/or night can be a difficult decision, here are two events you don’t want to miss:

San Diego Beer Week Brewers Guild Festival

Mayor Sanders Tapping the first keg - San Diego Beer Week Brewers Guild Festival

San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders taps the first keg during the 2011 San Diego Beer Week Brewers Guild Festival.

The Brewers Guild Festival is SDBW’s signature event and features more than 100 different beers from San Diego craft breweries, food from local brew pubs, and live music and entertainment throughout the festival. Entry into the festival includes a commemorative 4 ounce tasting glasses, ten tasting tickets and the chance to talk to the brewers as they pour you a cold one.

> Watch highlights from last years festival here

Location: Port Pavilion Pier – 1000 North Harbor Drive (map)
Date: Saturday, November 3, 2012
Time: 2:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: $10-$45
> Find out more about the San Diego Beer Week Brewers Guild Festival

Tip: Save yourself the hassle and use an alternative mode of transportation to get to the festival. Take any of the multiple buses, Blue or Orange Trolley Lines, or Coaster that stop at the Santa Fe Depot, and it’s just a short two block walk to the pier. Find public transportation schedules at www.sdcommute.com. You can also easily take a taxi or Uber it. Remember to enjoy yourself and stay safe.

The Beer Garden at the Lodge at Torrey Pines

Beer Garden attendees talking to a brewer during San Diego Beer Week Beer Garden

Meet the Brewers during San Diego Beer Week Beer Garden at the Lodge at Torrey Pines.

To close out SDBW, The Lodge at Torrey Pines is hosting the Beer Garden, a relaxing Sunday afternoon that includes unlimited beer tastings from 20 local breweries, food pairings from 10 of San Diego’s finest chefs and a beautiful view of Torrey Pines Golf Course and the Pacific Ocean. Take advantage of one of the Signature Room ($349) or Palisade Room ($429) packages offered by the Lodge that include a one night stay and two tickets to the festival.

Location: The Lodge at Torrey Pines – 11480 North Torrey Pines Road (map)
Date: Sunday, November 11, 2012
Time: 12:00 to 3:00 PM
Cost: $75
> Find out more about the Beer Garden at the Lodge at Torrey Pines

Which San Diego Beer Week event are you most looking forward to this year?

Suzzanne

Top Things to Do in San Diego: August 16-19

bodysurfing

From Beer Festivals to Body Surfing to Tiki Spies, there is plenty to do this weekend in San Diego. What will you be doing?

1. 36th Annual World Bodysurfing Championships

bodysurfing

Are You the Next Body Surfing Champion?

Approximately 350-400 bodysurfers, equipped with swim fins only will ride and compete on ocean waves this weekend at Oceanside Pier. The contest starts Saturday and Sunday morning at 6:30 AM. Winners announced Sunday afternoon.

2. 16th Anniversary Celebration & Invitational Beer Festival

Stone’s 16th Anniversary Celebration and Invitational Beer Festival

Stone Brewing Company will be celebrating its Sweet 16 at its 16th Anniversary Celebration and International Beer Festival, August 17 and 18 on the campus of California State University San Marcos. One hundred percent of the profits from the festival will be donated to local charities. The Festival will feature more than 40 breweries and 100 beers, as well as the infamous Arrogant Bastard Ale onion rings, complimentary homebrewed sodas, and samples of Mike’s Beer cheese.

3. Tiki Oasis 2012

 

From August 16-19, the 2012 Tiki Oasis will be occupied by a den of spies, secret agents, and villains, all out to reach the same goal: to have fun for four continuous days while enjoying tropical music, shopping for the newest in Tiki fashion and imbibing the world’s greatest cocktails!

4. TwainFest in Old Town

TwainFest Old Town

TwainFest is a free and family-friendly festival celebrating the writing of Mark Twain and his contemporaries. TwainFest bursts into action on Saturday, Aug. 18, in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. This will be TwainFest’s third annual celebration of mid-19th century American arts and culture. The fun starts 11:00 AM and runs until 5:00 PM. Admission is free and open to all.

5. Beer Fest at the Del Mar Racetrack

Opening Day at the Del Mar Racetrack

Great Craft Beer and Exciting Races Await in Del Mar

As if you need another reason to head to Del Mar for race season…but here is one anyway. On Saturday, August 18, check out the Beer Fest and sample over 70 different flavors of cold brews during the Del Mar Beer Fest. After 1:00 PM, visitors can sample some San Diego favorites such as Ballast Point, Green Flash, Stone and much more.

Brent Bernasconi

Trains, Grains and No Automobiles – A Green Beer Tour of San Diego

La Jolla Wine Tour Beer Train Tour Collage - Coaster Ride

I love beer (IPAs to be exact) and it helps that I live in San Diego with over 40 amazing breweries to its name. The hard part is getting a chance to sample all of the different local brews.

There is a new way in town to do just that through La Jolla Wine Tours (LJWT) who are now offering a Beer Train Tour. LJWT’s goal is to showcase great San Diego breweries, wineries and restaurants while making sure everyone has a fun and safe time. They offer beer and wine tours on foot, by car, and now, by train that take visitors all over the county. All I heard was beer, food, train, frivolity and sunshine and I was sold.

On a gorgeous Friday afternoon, my little brother (now 21, which is scary), myself, and a few other beer fans met up with beer and wine sommelier, Stephen, and tour guide/tour creator, Patricia, from LJWT to embark on The Beer Train Tour.

Once aboard The Beer Train Tour, our group made three stops along the coast of San Diego starting in the Downtown area and ending in the seaside village of Carlsbad. Here is a sample of what you might expect to experience on this fun and green tour:

La Jolla Wine Tour Beer Train Tour Collage - The Beer Co.

Station 1: Downtown’s The Beer Co.

We all met at our first stop, The Beer Company, in San Diego’s Downtown. After the meet and greet, Stephen got down to business and led us through the complexities and flavors of a few samples from the Beer Co.’s wide selection and styles of in-house beers. As a bonus, we were lucky enough to meet one of the brewers while he poured us a pitcher straight from the tanks! To keep things fun, Patricia threw out a couple trivia questions that resulted in a few prizes for me (I admit it- I am a beer nerd) and the ability to select a growler fill for the train ride.

La Jolla Wine Tour Beer Train Tour Collage - Coaster Ride

Once good and giddy, our group took a short walk to the Santa Fe Train Station to hop on the train. As it pulled out of the station, we all relaxed in our comfy chairs while enjoying a growler fill of The Beer Co.’s Trippel (a Belgian style Tripel) as the views of the waterfront chugged by. Next stop, the sleepy surfer town of Encinitas.

La Jolla Wine Tour Beer Train Tour Collage - Encinitas and Union Kitchen

Station 2: Encinitas’ Union Kitchen and Tap

Moving away from the hustle and bustle of downtown, we disembarked from the train into the sun-kissed, laid back surfer town of Encinitas. We strolled down the South Coast Highway 101 enjoying the warm ocean breeze and picking up a few fun facts from Stephen as we made the short walk to the Union Kitchen and Tap. Stephen perused the local beers on tap and made sure to order samples based on everyone’s preferences. Magically, both food and beer samples made their way to our table and before we knew it, it was time to ride on to our next destination.

Note to self: Head back to Encinitas and the Union for a quintessential San Diego afternoon of sunshine, surf and great beer.

La Jolla Wine Tour Beer Train Tour Collage - Carlsbad and Coaster

Station 3: Carlsbad’s The Compass

Now even happier and chattier than before, everyone unloaded from the train into the coastal village of Carlsbad. As we walked to our final stop, Stephen gave us a quick history of Carlsbad and its special liquid resource, mineral water. After waving hello to a LJWT wine tour group at the Witch Creek Winery, our lively group of new friends sat down at The Compass for a few more samples, mac and cheese (that my brother loved), and good conversation before heading back south on the train to San Diego and the weekend.

As I reflect back on the fun I had, I especially appreciated how Stephen and Patricia made sure everyone received the chance to both sample a beer style they loved and one they had never tried. As a local, the tour also introduced me to new local restaurants (my brother has decided to return to The Compass for his birthday in May) with a large selection of taps allowing San Diegans and visitors the chance to sample many local beers in one place.

Whether you are in the mood for beer or wine, LJWT has you covered with even more great tours:
– Wine Train Tour
– San Diego County Wine Tours
– Beer and Wine Walking Tours
– Special Holiday Tours

So what are you waiting for? Call LJWT, get on the train and enjoy all that San Diego has to offer.

Tell me in the comments below: Where is your favorite place to grab a drink while in San Diego?

PS. Stop by Bine and Vine in San Diego’s Normal Heights Neighborhood for a great selection of bottled beers and wines. Ask for Stephen and tell him Brent sent you!

Suzzanne

5 Reasons San Diego is Tops for Spring Break

USA Today recently revealed its Top Destinations for Spring Break and San Diego (of course!) was among them. Here are 5 reasons why we think San Diego is a top pick for Spring Break:

1. Beaches

From surfing and paddleboarding to just strolling along the beach, San Diego’s 70 miles of beaches has something for everyone.

2. Nightlife

San Diego’s nightlife scene has never been hotter. Visitors can celebrate all year long in the Gaslamp Quarter with over 100 restaurants and clubs, it is the place to be any time of year. Visitors can also relax under the stars at the beach, go upscale in La Jolla or try something a little different in the Uptown neighborhood, North Park.

3. Attractions

The San Diego Zoo, LEGOLAND, SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego Zoo Safari Park…need we say more? Be sure to check out LEGOLAND’s expanded Star Wars exhibit in miniland.

4. Craft Brew

San Diego is home to the nation’s best brew pubs including Pizza Port which just recently won Small Brewpub of the Year at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival. In the next few months, you will have even more options when five more breweries open throughout the county.

5. The Great Outdoors

San Diego’s temperate weather allows for outdoor activities all year round. Go hiking along the water in Torrey Pines State Reserve or mountain biking through the natural landscapes of Mission Trails Regional Park. Here are a few more ideas to get outdoors. There is no reason you should stay inside while in San Diego!

To make your spring break even better, you can save up to 35 percent with these hotel deals and packages.

Tell us in the comments below, what is your favorite thing to do during spring break in San Diego?

Suzzanne

5 to Try in San Diego: Valentine’s Day Edition

No matter how long you’ve been with your valentine (or looking for one!) here’s our 5 to Try for Valentine’s Day celebrations throughout San Diego.

1. Valentine’s Beer Tasting Dinner

Spoil your man with a Beer Tasting Dinner brought to you by La Jolla Wine Tours. Dinner includes four-course dinner with dessert, each course paired with a local San Diego craft brew. Includes a behind the scenes tour of a brewery.

2. San Diego Symphony: A Valentine’s Romance with Broadway’s Best

Love is in the air. He’s Hugh Panaro, Broadway’s Phantom. She’s Jennifer Holliday, star of the original Dreamgirls. As Cupid takes aim, sparks will fly when two of our favorite performers return to San Diego. Performances are February 10th and 11th at 8:00 pm.

3. Magic 92.5 Valentine’s Hook Up Singles Cruise

Don’t miss your chance to mix and mingle with other San Diego singles as you cruise on your own private yacht around San Diego Bay. This annual Valentine’s Hook Up Singles Cruise could be the most unique and romantic place to meet that special someone!

4. The Dinner Detective Murder Mystery Dinner Show

Add a little mystery to your Valentine’s Day with this interactive dinner. The show takes place throughout the entire room, and performers may actually be seated at your table, so part of the fun from the beginning is trying to figure out who’s involved in the crime and who’s not. Throughout the night, murders and mayhem will occur, hidden clues will come forth and our Detectives will help everyone try to solve the crime.

5. Love is in the Air: A Valentine’s Day Tribute to Sinatra

Snuggle up to your sweetie at Anthology for the most romantic show of the year. Singer, John Vincent, brings his signature Sinatra tribute show to San Diego just in time for Valentine’s Day. Vincent’s show is so spot on, you’ll think you’re being serenaded by Old Blue Eyes himself.

Candice

Brew News: ‘Tis the Season for Special Releases

In San Diego, nothing pairs better with a holiday meal than a local craft beer. Whether you enjoy one while taking in the view from your hotel balcony or pick up a few to take home as a souvenir, visitors can find a little taste of San Diego in the special seasonal releases from the regions celebrated local craft brewers.

Stone Brewing Co.‘s Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale is a Belgian-influenced bottle-conditioned ale. The verticals are offered every year, and this year’s recipe starts with a base beer akin to a Belgian amber, and is tweaked with the addition of mild but flavorful Anaheim chilies from New Mexico’s Hatch Valley and cracked cinnamon sticks.

Karl Strauss Brewing Company adds a new offering to their 12 Days of Christmas special releases: Two Tortugas is the 2nd addition to their less than literal “Twelve Days” series of holiday ales. The Belgian-inspired quadruple ale has a delicate union of toffee, dark fruits, and warming spices that will continue to develop with age. You can raise a glass to 2011 or even save a bottle for 2012. And at 11 percent alcohol-by-volume, this turtle packs a punch!

Green Flash Brewing Co. recently debuted their breakthrough new Belgian pale ale, Rayon Vert. A bottle-conditioned ale with wild-yeast, Rayon Vert is inspired by the pre-WWII Belgian brewing style and is distinctly aromatic, effervescent and light in body.  It is dry, crisp and refreshing with notes that are fruity without being sweet and has a delicious toasty quality.

You can try these special brews at each brewery’s tasting rooms, so grab a pint and raise your glass to Fall in San Diego!

Suzzanne

5 to Try This Weekend

1. Gourmet Food Truck Festival: Pack your appetite Saturday, August 20 as Del Mar Horse Races hosts the largest Food Truck Festival. Guests will have the opportunity to sample a treasure trove of delicious and eclectic foods from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm served by Southern California”s top food truck chefs. The festival will take place in the concert area and is free with track admission.

Photo courtesy of UT

  1. 35th Annual World Body Surfing Championships: International and U.S. body surfers compete at the Oceanside Pier and Beach August 20 and 21 starting at 6:30 am. Over 300 body surfers will compete and will be judged in how well they perform in their 15 minute heats. There will also be booths from sponsors such as Bud Light, Muscle Milk, and Rockstar.

3. Stone Brewing Anniversary Party: Help Stone Brewing celebrate its 15th Anniversary with fresh kegs, online casino 10 tastings and over 40 guest breweries. Thousands of people are expected to attend and will be held on the California State University, San Marcos campus on August 20.

4. San Diego Polo Club Match: Experience Polo in a whole new way by tailgating. Pack up your car with food, snacks, chairs and sit back and enjoy a polo match. First match starts at 1:00 pm with the featured match starting at 3:00 pm. Don”t forget to partake in the divot stomp at 3:45 pm. This Sunday”s match is the Fernando Gutierrez Memorial Cup Final.

5. San Diego Padres: Ok so we”re not in the penant race, but a Padres game is always fun and this Saturday, following the game Dierks Bently will be performing and Sunday kids will receive Padres backpacks…just in time for school!

Suzzanne

5 to Try for the Weekend

1. Pro Junior Surf Contest: Oceanside, CA will host the only 6-star pro junior surf contest in North America on Saturday, August 13. Sixteen of the best 20-year-old-and-under female surfers in the world will be competing for first place and one of the industry’s largest prize purses. The contest starts at 11:15 am at the Oceanside Pier and will feature a series of head-to-head heats with the finals scheduled for 2:15 pm. Admission is free.

BrewFest Encinitas

2. BrewFest Encinitas: Stone Brewing Co., Ballast Point, Pizza Port and others will gather at Mira Costa College’s San Elijo Campus August 13th from 4 – 7:00 pm for BrewFest Encinitas. The event will also feature gourmet food trucks and music entertainment will be on hand for this unique evening.

3. Hillcrest CityFest : The neighborhood celebration includes roughly 250 arts and crafts vendors, live music, games, a beer garden and more. The event attracts more than 150,000 revelers from noon to 9:00 pm Sunday, August 14.

Ferragosto

4. Ferragosto: Ferragosto, a night when everyone is Italian, returns to San Diego’s Little Italy. On August 13th, for one night only, experience the thrill and extravagance of the Venetian Masquerade! Held in Amici Park, the evening event includes dining from San Diego’s premier restaurants, dancing under the stars, a costume contest, and other fun and entertainment.


5. SummerFest 2011: La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest is a nationally-recognized chamber music festival featuring over 70 world-class artists and ensembles performing concerts from August 3 – 26, 2011. The festival also offers a number of free Community Engagement Activities, including Coaching Workshops, Open Rehearsals and Encounters. Take advantage of these free activities and expand your appreciation for classical music!

Suzzanne

Dining in North County Coastal San Diego

Discover San Diego’s neighborhoods with our Summer Sweepstakes. Join us every week as we showcase the best in what to do, where to eat, and where to stay in some of San Diego’s unique neighborhoods. Be sure to check back for exciting insider tips, giveaways, and more! This week’s spotlight is on North County Coastal.

From pizza and brew to San Diego’s only 5-star restaurant, there is something for everyone in North County. Here’s our top 5 spots in the North County Coastal.

1. Pizza Port: A true pizza joint located a few blocks from the beach is Pizza Port. Visitors will find homemade pizza and home-brewed ale. With two locations in North County, Solana Beach and Carlsbad, it’s the perfect place to take the kids after a long day hanging on the beach.

2. Wine Steals-Cardiff: With over 40 rotating by-the-glass wines and more than 250 bottles, this is a great place to sip some wine and enjoy the ocean breeze. The stone and wine barrel bar is the centerpiece while stone arches and dark weathered wood add the old world charm reminiscent of Tuscany. There are ample leather couches and coffee tables to add to the comfort and with $5 tastings on Wednesdays, you can comfortably enjoy your wine into the night.


3. Addison: Inside the Grand Del Mar, you will find San Diego’s only 5-star restaurant. The Grand Del Mar’s signature restaurant features Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef William Bradley’s artisanal approach to cooking, combining local ingredients with contemporary French influences. A seasonal menu offers an inspired evening of culinary expertise.

4. Fidels Little Mexico: With some of the best chips and salsa in San Diego, this is a great spot to try authentic Mexican food. The restaurant and cocktail lounge features a taco bar, strolling Mariachis (Thurs-Sunday only) and two heated outdoor patios.

5. Solace and the Moonlight Lounge: Okay, so this hasn’t opened yet, but will be shortly. If you’ve been to Urban Solace in North Park, then you’ll understand why it’s already on the list. The original location features new american comfort food and a fantastic selection of West Coast wines and handcrafted beer.

Discover North County Coastal for yourself with our “Enjoy the Grand Life in San Diego’s North County” sweepstakes. Unwind during a two-night stay at The Grand Del Mar, one of San Diego’s most exclusive luxury resorts. Discover the dramatic North County coastline by air on “The Unforgettable” scenic helicopter ride for two from Corporate Helicopters of San Diego.