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Since the San Diego Reader’s annual food issue hit the streets, I’ve received queries asking about my list of great local craft beer spots. Mostly, they’re from folks in the know wondering how somewhat surprising venues got selected over some of their favorite places. Their concerns are valid. A list missing spots like Blind Lady Ale House, Urge Gastropub and Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens is one I, as a San Diego beer geek, would have serious questions about were I to come across it as a reader. Such concerns deserve to be addressed. So, I’d like to explain what wasn’t explained in this year’s edition.

When we, the writers who contributed our picks, were given this assignment, we were provided nine distinct regions (e.g. The Mesas, Mid-City, etc.). Each region was comprised of several neighborhoods, with the North County region taking up the most acreage and including everything north of Kearny Mesa on the inland side and Solana Beach on the coast. That’s a lot of real estate in an area that boasts a number of quality craft beer establishments. Among those are Stone, Pizza Port Carlsbad, Urge Gastropub, Encinitas Ale House and a slew of others who can now pile on over being left out not once, but twice. In the end, I went with Churchill’s Pub, a deserving spot that’s been doing right by the craft brewing industry for a long time. I don’t apologize for that selection, but feel it’s important people who, like me, care deeply about the subject of craft beer understand I’m aware that many of those who had to be left out based strictly on geography actually rank higher in the County suds scene than some who made the final list.

The most challenging region encompassed North Park, South Park, Golden Hill, Normal Heights and University Heights. Choosing between Blind Lady Ale House, Toronado, Small Bar, Eleven and eventual winner, Hamilton’s Tavern, was very Sophie’s Choice. They all have a ton going for them and can beat the tap handles off some of the winners, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the places on our list this year all won the crown based on the regions we were assigned. They deserve a tip of the stein, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the incredible also-rans who missed out based on a technicality.

In the end, we as San Diegans are damn fortunate to live in a county with such a vibrant, high quality craft beer scene that there simply aren’t enough kudos to go around. Talk about a great problem to have.

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