The man needs a large Father’s Day gift. He’s been pouring his energy into his work, fixing our bathroom, gardening, playing kickball with the kids, and performing lots of loving acts of service for his tired wife Eve. I’m thinking of sending Pat off on a brewery tour with some other well-deserving dads.
Brew Hop specializes in custom and private brewery tours throughout San Diego (858-361-8457). “We run tours for groups as small as 2 people, up to 40 people,” explained cofounder Summer Nixon. “We work directly with all of our guests with exactly where they want to visit or recommend solutions based on their favorite styles of beer. All of our vehicles are luxury limousine-style vehicles, usually six-foot-plus ceilings, iPod hookups, and they have all been permitted so you can enjoy adult beverages on the road.”
This was sounding like Pat’s kind of party already.
“We have some of the top breweries in the country here right now, if not in the world,” Nixon continued. “Stone Brewing Company is world-renowned. Ballast Point just took home a huge award at the World Beer Cup; they won champion small brewery in April. AleSmith is also world renowned, as is Lost Abbey. Men’s Journal ranked us the number-one beer city in the country last October. Beer tourism is up.”
Brew Hop will pick up clients in San Diego County, though they have picked up as far away as Temecula. “Most parties will pick one location to meet at. You don’t want to be wasting your tour time traveling around picking people up....
“A lot of people like our ‘Beer Tasters’ tour, which is a two-and-a-half-hour tour, visiting one or two breweries; that one is $95 per person, and it’s all-inclusive. So, it’s transportation down to gratuities for your bar staff, all your beer, and your tours arranged for each location. A slightly better value is our five-hour tour, which comes in at $139 per person. So, for just a little more, you get twice the time and you can easily visit three to four breweries.”
Military, active or retired, get a 10 percent discount for their whole group.
“Our most popular breweries tend to be the world-renowned ones...but with every group, every palate is different. So, every person gets to have that ‘aha’ moment of ‘I love this. I can’t believe this is here. I drive by this on the way to work.’ ”
When pressed to name an interesting but lesser-known local beer, Nixon suggested Speedway Stout. “It’s pretty special. No one really expects amazing stouts out of San Diego, and it is this wonderful coffee-infused stout out of AleSmith. And that usually surprises people. It is 12 percent alcohol, so share it with a friend. Because of the caffeine, you will be wide awake and ready to roll....
“I would say one of my favorites is a beer called Nelson, from Alpine Brewing,” replied John McDermott, co-owner of Brewery Tours of San Diego (619-961-7999). “It’s a rye India pale ale.”
Two people touring three breweries in five hours with Brewery Tours runs “about $150 a person,” McDermott says. “If it was up to 20 people, it would be about $75 a person. We also have packages that include just two breweries and don’t include food, and if you had a group of 20 people, it is around $40 per person....
“We give you one formal tour, show you what all the equipment does, show you where they make the beer, then there are plenty of samples for your tasting at each brewery. I go over some different history for the brewery.”
Brewery Tours of San Diego uses 20-passenger buses or a 9-passenger van.
“Mainly we pick up from downtown, Mission Valley, and beaches. If you are out of this area, give us a call and we will see if it works, or we can set something up to make it work for you.”
Brewery Tours offers tours on Monday through Friday to Ballast Point, Stone Brewing, and San Diego Brewing Company (where lunch is served) for $85 a person. On Saturday, their public tour brings you to Green Flash, Backstreet Brewery, and Lost Abbey for $85 a person. Lunch is served at Lost Abbey. On Sundays, the tour goes to Stone, Lost Abbey, and San Marcos Brewery (lunch) for $85. These tours, McDermott says, may not necessarily be private.