Porters and lagers and ales, oh my! From June 15–17, brew-lovers can sample some of the best suds the world has to offer at the popular San Diego International Beer Festival within the San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. This year, ticket-holders can choose from more than 400 beers for tasting, including a tangerine pale ale from San Diego’s own Mike Hess Brewing specially brewed for the occasion.
California brewers such as San Leandro’s 21st Amendment Brewery, San Luis Obispo’s SLO Brew, and Paso Robles’ Firestone Walker Brewing Company will be pouring, as well as a smattering of international brewers from Italy, Germany, South Korea, and beyond. (You can see the list of liquid attendees here.) Festival goers will receive a commemorative glass for tastings, and can also expect a series of educational and entertaining hands-on seminars from famous brewers on the Beer Stage.
You can purchase tickets to the festival online here. Prices range from $60 for general admission and $110 for VIP, which gets you early access to the beer samplings, a larger commemorative glass and access to a VIP lounge and food stations. All tickets include admittance to the San Diego County Fair.
Each year, festival organizers run a rather prestigious competition. Gold, silver, and bronze medals are awarded in 57 categories and an overall Champion Brewery and Champion Meadery/Cidery is named. The judging takes place before the festival and the winners have already been announced, including Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach, which earned top honors in the Brewery category. You can see a full list of the winners here, and taste them during one of the festival sessions.
But it’s not all about the beer (even though it kind of is). It’s also about showcasing your beer-related talents too. You can be a winner—if you choose to enter a series of contests held throughout the festival. Test your strength in the stein-holding competition (no dripping!), or show off your knack for designing creative pretzel necklaces. There’s also a contest for best “BEERd” (a.k.a. beer-inspired whiskers). And the crown jewel of these contests? Best Beer Belly. Check out the full schedule and lineup here.
Like California brews? Learn more about California’s Craft Beer Boom.