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Last week, I wrote about my visit to the new San Diego Brew Project, a venue serving beers from nearly every San Diego County brewing company. I tasted my way through ten beers. All the while, co-founder Beau Schmitt kept asking me my thoughts on those brews. I’d purposely chosen beers I’d never had from smaller operations and, to be honest, there were several I wasn't a fan of. Me being me, I was unable to BS Schmitt and shared my honest opinions, but I did so by being specific about precisely what I thought was off or unpalatable about each beer—too viscous, poorly attenuated and sugary, smoky like an ashtray.

Life’s easier when you tell people what they want to hear, and most writers placate people—until they get behind their computer—but being a critic means (or at least should mean) being honest all the time, even when it’s uncomfortable. In the end, that forthrightness is appreciated from businesspeople like Schmitt, who thanked me for my honesty as he actually wanted my opinion versus ego-stroking.

Come Cinco de Mayo, my judgmental nature will be put to good use when LOUNGEsix (616 J Street, 4th Floor, Downtown) holds its second annual Best of the West IPA Fest. Hotel Solamar’s rooftop bar will be the setting for this competition where six local breweries bring on their hoppiest creations for consideration by event attendees as well as a panel of judges affiliated with the San Diego craft brewing industry. I’ll be on the judging panel, and look forward to seeing how my opinions stack up with both my fellow judges and the field of patrons, which figures to be a varied bunch.

Breweries participating in the Fest include Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, Green Flash Brewing Company, Lightning Brewery, Manzanita Brewing Company and Port Brewing. The event will take place from 3 to 6 p.m. on May 5. Tickets are $20 and will include pours from each of the breweries along with “pint-sized” sandwiches from Hotel Solamar executive chef (and homebrewer) Christian Graves. Tickets are available online or by calling (619) 531-8744. Show up and deposit your two cents. You can be certain I will!

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