“We’ll need it by the end of the month,” said my publisher in regards to the first critical guide to brewery-owned properties in San Diego County. Even to non-writers, a month to complete a thorough and complete guide seems daunting. Consider the fact the month was nearly halfway over already and the fact I was able to pen the San Diego Beer News Complete Guide to San Diego Breweries is damn near miraculous. Thankfully, I had the knowledgeable assistance of some beer and hospitality industry professionals as well as my own deep entrenchment in the local beer industry to make that Herculean task achievable. This year, an updated edition of the guide will be released near San Diego Beer Week (November 7–16) and, thanks to the gift of time and the generous input of even more local beer experts, it will be even better than the inaugural version.
So, what’s different? Lots! First off, it will be an actual, printed book. Last year, we experimented with the ebook format, which proved very handy as an on-the-go informational resource, but many requested something tangible. As a big fan of the feel of paper between my fingers, I’m thrilled to have a guide readers can dog-ear and mark-up with their own comments about each brewery. That is what will be presented to people who buy the guide, as each brewery entry will include a notes section for them to enter their own commentary. Of course, those who appreciate the convenience of having an electronic edition of the guide will also be able to purchase the ebook, so everybody wins.
Also different from last year is the brewery count. Last year’s guide included 92 brewery-owned facilities, while this year’s will provide complete details and ratings for a whopping 135 breweries, brewpubs, tasting rooms, bars, retail outlets, and more. Good thing I had way more time to work on it. Also more voluminous is the number of industry insiders and experts consulted when amassing ratings in the categories of beer quality, service, and setting. Nearly 50 members of the brewing community, bar owners, beer buyers, beer journalists, certified Cicerones (the beer industry equivalent of sommeliers), and nth-level brewery touring craft beer fans (the kind who spend nearly every weekend hitting as many tasting rooms as possible and usually even beat me out to the new locations) contributed their scores and commentary, which will make this the definitive, reliable guide to San Diego’s sudscape.
Even though the 2013 edition of San Diego Beer News Complete Guide to San Diego Breweries was a success, there were plenty of lessons to be learned. Instead of breaking San Diego County into regions, all of the breweries will simply be listed in alphabetical order for ease of navigation. Rather than provide two extra points for each value-added a location provides (guided tours, in-house food options, special events, etc.), one point will be awarded for each. Additionally, scores from last year’s guide will be provided along with 2014 ratings so readers can see if businesses are on an upswing or decline. I look forward to providing this labor of love come San Diego Beer Week and thank everyone who follows San Diego Beer News for showing the need for this guide and making it possible for me to provide a resource on my favorite subject — San Diego craft beer.