April 11, 2016

What does it mean to be the craft beer capital of the world?

Ok, I get that Denver and Portland don’t like it when San Diego proclaims itself as the epicenter of craft beer.  Shoot, I think even Asheville probably tries to stake their claim.  The funny thing about people in San Diego is that they don’t feel the need to stand up and shout from the rafters about their beer scene.  

To folks not in the beer industry, they don’t know San Diego as leading the craft beer charge.  They know it for the zoo, the beaches — and Ron Burgundy.  When I tell my San Diego friends this, they scoff.  They think that because Stone is a well known brand among beer drinkers, that means that everyone knows San Diego for being a beer pioneer.

And its just not the case.  I have traveled the world extensively.  And I would rave about San Diego beer, our scene, our innovation and our leadership when it comes to beer.  And I got the same thing in Sydney that I got in Bangkok – blank stares.  Sure, craft beer in general hasn’t caught on everywhere in the world (yet).  And that could be an argument.

But the same thing happened when I ventured in other parts of the United States.  People think of the Pacific Northwest housing the beer scene.

Don’t get me wrong.  I realize any self respecting beer drinker or anyone in the industry recognizes San Diego for what it is. This probably includes you if you’re on this website so maybe you’re not even the best judge.

I was standing next to a guy in Vons last month at the beer section.  He wanted to try something local because he was from out of town.  I was excited to share my enthusiasm for what lay in front of us in just a normal grocery store – a ton of interesting local options that I could talk about for days.  The guy was a beer drinker.  A craft beer drinker.  He was not looking at price (he didn’t hesitate to grab a Sculpin six pack when I explain it to him).  But when I told him about San Diego and its beer scene, he gave me that same blank look.  This tourist had never heard of the San Diego beer scene.  I couldn’t tell if he believed me or not — or just thought I was a proud local who would shown the same enthusiasm about buying local taffy.

I believe part of innovation and leadership has to do with sharing in the open source way.  Sure, San Diego can lead the way among the small(ish) demographic in our country who has a real awareness of the craft beer market. But I also think its important that our local industry kings (i.e. Greg Koch, Tomme Arthur or Jack White) lead the way in promoting San Diego as a mecca for craft beer (and not just their own brand).  Because lets face it — the industry wants to sell more.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons