Because nearly every beer style imaginable is produced in San Diego County, it would seem to the casual onlooker that the interest level in all ales and lagers is the same, but keeping a close eye on the scene and the brews company’s offer — or don’t — there are definite trends happening both on a national and regional level. The following are beers that are coming on strong, followed by those that are going out with nary a whimper.
Berliner Weisse: An effervescent, light-bodied, low-alcohol wheat beer marketed primarily to women and the younger crowd in Germany, this style usually gets a hefty addition of fruit-flavored syrup table-side in its homeland. Some local brewers offer that, as well, though the majority of tasting rooms serve theirs straight up.
Gose: It wasn’t until 2011 that I had my first taste of this style of wheat beer, which is brewed with salt to mirror the profile of the water used to brew this beer in the German city of Goslar where this beer, typically brewed with coriander, originated. Goses reign supreme among all styles to seemingly rise to popularity against all odds.
Session IPA: It’s hard to tell if low-alcohol India pale ales exhibiting as much over-the-top hop fruitiness and bitterness as bigger IPAs are really in demand or something breweries are hoping is a bona fide trend, but considering they cost a great deal to produce and most major companies have introduced one in the past year, it seems legit.
Rye Beers: Rye lends a biting spice to existing styles of beer and local brewers are finding ways to mash it into everything from saisons to brown ales, Kölsch ales and IPAs. It would appear to be the type of malt bill additive that, once a brewer develops a taste for it, they can’t help but at least want to add a little to everything they make.
Brett Beers: A popular online article pokes fun at fans of beers made using Brettanomyces, saying fans of this wild yeast talk about it so often and so passionately, you’d swear their best friend is named Brett. Some go as far as brewing beers fermented exclusively using Brett, which adds spice and funk while drying out a beer’s finish.
Amber Ale: What was once the most widely produced style of beer in San Diego is now far too pedestrian to merit the attention of the county’s brewers or beer drinkers, but it served its purpose and helped craft beer secure its initial footing.
Pale Ale: Another style that was big back in the ‘90s is having trouble remaining relevant in a world awash with single, double and triple IPAs that rely on most of the same ingredients and flavors that make this retreating style what it is.
Belgian IPA: Ironically, given what I just wrote about pale ales, the Belgian IPA, an India pale ale fermented using Belgian yeast, appears to be falling out of favor, yet the Belgian pale ale seems to be sticking around to some degree.
Black IPA: It was a fun experiment, going big and jet black with one’s malt bill while hopping to high hell to combine coffee and chocolate with pine and citrus, but this oddity has slowly gone from a tolerable fad to waste of beer board space.
Barley Wine: Most beer fans proudly or secretly adore high-alcohol beers…just not this one, the highest ABV of them all. The main reason is its reliance on malts for a thick, sweet brew that simply doesn’t pair with sunny San Diego weather.