Since 2009, for 10 days a year, the country's most notorious beer culture gets an even bigger dedicated spotlight, with every single craft beer–loving establishment in the area hosting something, from basic tap takeovers to beer-pairing dinners. This year, more than 20,000 people from across North America are expected to descend upon San Diego to experience all that the region's rich beer culture has to offer. And with Los Angeles' own beer personality still in its infancy, this week was built for a mini road trip to a land more commonly known as the Holy Grail of Beer Cities.
But where to even begin with a festival this monstrous? If you thought the Los Angeles Beer Week events this year was an overwhelming slough of opportunities to try local beer, try sifting through San Diego Beer Week's list of an estimated 600-plus craft beer events. After pouring over the massive calendar of happenings from North County to North Park, we found five special events that will make the two-hour drive worth every minute.
5. Beer U: Craft Beer in San Diego, Tuesday, Nov. 5
Need a primer on the San Diego beer scene? Or just want an update on what's going on down there? This is the event for you. Ken Wright -- Stone's so-called Minister of Evangelism and Indoctrination -- will host a night of education about the region's major players and up-and-comers. Stalwarts such as Ballast Point, Port Brewing and Alesmith will be discussed alongside newcomers Rip Current, Monkey Paw and Mike Hess Brewing. Samples from each will be provided, giving attendees a palate full of local flavor. Beer U: Craft Beer in San Diego, $32, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens at Liberty Station, 2816 Historic Decatur Road, San Diego.
4. California Love: SoCal vs. NorCal IPA Battle Royale, Wednesday, Nov. 6
Hopheads unite! This one's for you. West Coast IPA is a mega hop-forward variation on the style now synonymous with California brewers, but the state is a pretty big place and on this night, beers from palate-wrecking San Diego will go head to head with those from balance-driven NorCal. Urge Gastropub will put 12 of these bad boys on for the night and dole out two taster flights, which will be served blind. Vote on your favorite and at the end of the night, see who the real IPA kings are. This is a great warm-up to Mohawk Bend's inaugural Los Angeles IPA Festival, which starts Nov. 17. 5-11:45 p.m., Urge Gastropub, 16761 Bernardo Center Drive, San Diego.