By Justin O’Connell
Our so-called “Craft Beer Capital of America” is home to more than 100 breweries, becoming a tourist attraction with big economic impact in the process. Much of the local beer movement in the 90s was led by homebrewing hobbyists with help from Home Brew Mart, which opened in 1992. 20+ years on, even some of the newer breweries undoubtedly trace their roots to Linda Vista’s ‘Mart.
On Saturday, those breweries less than two years old have a place to shine: The New Kids Brewery & Distillery Welcoming Party at SILO in Makers Quarter from 1-5 p.m this Saturday.
“Every other beer event in San Diego invites all the big breweries: Stone, Green Flash, AleSmith, and so on,” New Kids co-organizer Robert Esparza told West Coaster. “It’s very easy for the new up and coming brewery and distillery to get lost in the sea of big breweries.”
Participants will include breweries Bay Bridge, South Park, Novo Brazil, URBN St., Half Door, Fall, 32 North, Council, Second Chance, Abnormal, Division 23, Duck Foot and Thr3e Punk Ales. Esparza even gave us a few leads: “Needle In The Hey! from Thr3e Punk Ales and Mazagran from URBN St. Brewing” were counted as favorites.
“The San Diego beer scene is one that is ever-evolving and growing,” Steve Garcia, co-founder and head of business development for Thr3e Punk Ales, told us. “Since we were just approved by the Alcohol Tax & Trade Bureau in late November and are now recognized as a functionally operational brewery, we are stoked to finally have an opportunity to showcase our brews,” Garcia said of their festival debut at New Kids. “You’re only new once.”
Alongside craft breweries, the festival will include some of the distilleries cropping up here in Southern California, which Esparza sees as taking a similar path as craft breweries. “Although, I don’t expect the rapid growth to be on the same level simply based on demand,” he said.
Distilleries include Kalifornia Distilleries (Temecula), Bella Mar Spirits (Carson), as well as SD County natives Old Harbor, Malahat, Twisted Manzanita, California Spirits, Kill Devil, Liberty Call, and Turquoise Barn Cider.
There are simple reasons why San Diegans should care about such an event as The New Kids: “Because San Diegans should support local business, and craft breweries and craft distilleries are an integral part of our city’s growth,” Esparza opined. The event also benefits a local charity: It’s All About the Kids.
As far as what the future holds for new San Diego-based breweries and distilleries, Esparza envisages a bright future: “A lot of people will say there are too many breweries in San Diego,” he said. “Well take a look at Napa Valley or Sonoma County. They have hundreds of wineries. People are visiting San Diego now solely for the beer and not for Shamu. This trend will naturally increase as the popularity of San Diego breweries increases.”
For Steve Garcia, the goal is clear: “To be a cornerstone of the SD brewery community in the future would be an epic achievement.”