The Statements of San Diego Craft – 2015 – #3

SDCraftgraphicFinalIf you haven’t read my article, The State of San Diego Craft – 2015, you should. This will be a series of posts where I share the complete and full statements from 20+ amazing individuals that contributed to my work. I’m going to start with those that I used in the article and then release the rest in alphabetical order. We have two juggernauts of the San Diego craft beer world for you today.

As a side note, I want to say publicly that I was blown away by the people that took it upon themselves to contribute to my article. I did not expect and was pleasantly surprised by the caliber of those that chimed in. This entire process has been a gigantic reminder of how special the San Diego craft beer industry/community really is.

Up first is the one and only Pat McIlhenney. I really identified with his reminder that none of this new. There are no new beer ideas; there are people that are new to beer. Beer has been around the entire history of mankind, patiently waiting for you to drink it. I also agree with his prediction of more “beer flavored beer” coming soon in a reaction to the fruit phase we’re in currently.


The local beer industry grew and changed in about the same time frame as most all like businesses that are this age. Financing dictates a return on an investment within a certain time frame and we are seeing a consolidation which is common and should be expected.

Many of the new breweries are owned by people young enough to have missed the last “great fruit beer phase.” Many weren’t around or don’t remember how fruit beers came and went and appear to be on a 20 to 25 year cycle. A reminder to do your research. If it isn’t already popular then it really isn’t that good. Look for more “beer flavored beer” in the coming months.

New breweries came on board as part of the wave that comes from successful operations proving the popularity of craft beer. However, the obvious lack of experience in operating a business will raise its ugly head and the cream will surely rise. Those that spent time perfecting recipes and those with their finger on the pulse of the public will be more successful.

2016 should see more consolidations and some closures. Public demand for quality will help show who is doing a good job thus keeping them in business. Slick marketing only goes so far, quality always sells.

Pat McIlhenney, Alpine Beer Co.

Following Pat today we have Mike V. Sardina, the President of the San Diego Brewers Guild and Ruler of the Underworld at Societe Brewing. I completely agree with his call for quality beer, this is the most important aspect of the industry to keep at the highest levels if we are going to continue as the Capital of Craft. We should not support breweries making anything less than amazing beer. This is where we as consumers have the most power to shape the future of San Diego craft, support the breweries making the best products!


The state of beer in San Diego for 2015 was very much reflective of the scene across the United States — we saw acquisitions, partnerships, mergers, and consolidation.  We saw hyperbolic reactions and heard divisive responses to buy-outs and the deals.  We saw an explosive amount of growth, both in the number of breweries producing beer and the sheer volume of beer that is being brewed.  We saw consumers start to get it.  People are drinking better beer. San Diego, with its brewing history and vibrant brewing community, saw all of this on a greater scale, an amplified hyper-charged world of dynamism.  With the pure density of beer and breweries in this county, this community all felt the collective strain that maturity and growth yielded.

All of this may seem unsettling in 2016 and beyond, leading to unanswered questions and an unpredictable future about the state of beer in San Diego.  Will the buyouts affect the other breweries operating here in San Diego?  Will brewers fall short on hop contracts?  Will breweries be denied access-to-market?  Will pay-to-play maneuvers become more prevalent, more damaging to this industry?  Will the community stick together or will it faction?  
My outlook is optimistic.  We have the richest sense of beer culture in the United States in San Diego.  We have the best beer drinkers here.  We have brewers here who are brewing the best, cleanest, most high-quality ales and lagers in the world.  We have the best beer bars and best beer restaurants.  San Diego beer is something special, and it couldn’t be a better time to be a beer drinker than right now, right here in San Diego.  

This optimism does not go unchecked, however.  There are many breweries here in San Diego that are brewing mediocre, if not outright low-quality beer.  There is no place for low-quality beer in San Diego.  The public and the community here needs to recognize that having the most breweries doesn’t make us the best beer city in the world, it is having the best breweries that will make us the best beer city in the world.  Support the best breweries who are brewing quality beers — whether that’s AleSmith or Pizza Port or Ballast Point or Saint Archer. Do not support breweries making low-quality beer.  

Be passionate about beer and continue to educate yourself about what is quality beer and what is not.  Attention to beer quality, as well as being vigilant about pay-to-play and unfair market practices, will be vital in 2016 and into the future in order to keep San Diego as the best beer city in the world and to maintain a healthy state of San Diego beer.

Mike Sardina, President of the San Diego Brewers Guild
Thank you Pat and Mike, I truly appreciate your thoughts, predictions, and insight into a industry/community that I cherish.

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