Summer in San Diego is a festive time. As the County Fair ends, Downtown gears up for an influx of more than 130,000 convention goers. San Diego Comic-Con turns the Gaslamp Quarter into a four-day costume party. And when they're not in hours-long lines for panels or shuffling among the hundreds of exhibitors, our heroes and heroines are looking to quench their thirst with the world-class beer for which San Diego is famous.
Kicking off con-related beer events is Stone Brewing Company's third annual Hop-Con, a star-studded party celebrating the release of Wootstout 3.0, a barrel-aged stout packing a whopping 13.5 percent ABV. This year's collaboration again features Stone founder Greg Koch, actor Wil Wheaton and Fark.com founder/ Kentucky gubernatorial candidate Drew Curtis. Interestingly, Stone aged last year's Wootstout 2.0 in bourbon barrels and blended it into this year's batch. Archer's Aisha Tyler and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creator Kevin Eastman will also be on hand with their own collaborative brews. Hop-Con kicks off Comic-Con festivities at Stone Liberty Station (2816 Historic Decatur Rd.) on Wednesday, July 8.
Another Liberty Station beer festival, Heroes Brew Fest, is on Saturday, July 11, with proceeds benefiting The Warrior Foundation-Freedom Station. With 46 breweries on hand, this costumed event will have everything a thirsty crime-fighter could want after a few days fighting the notorious SDCC crowd. Unlike Stone's Hop-Con, Heroes Brew Fest is an unlimited-pour event, so plan accordingly.
Apart from the festivals, there are a number of options in the Gaslamp Quarter. Here's where Comic-Con's best people-watching takes place, but these venues tend to be crowded, and not all are equal when it comes to good craft beer. At Stone Brewing's tap room (795 J St.) you will find many of the beers that helped put San Diego on the craft beer map. Half Door Brewing (903 Island Ave.) offers plenty of outdoor seating and a full menu. Mission Brewery (1441 L St.) is located in an old Wonder Bread factory, steps from the convention center. It will have retro video game art on display throughout Comic Con, and will host its 2nd annual Super Video Game Land party on Friday, July 10.
A long walk (or short Uber ride) north, in Little Italy, is Ballast Point's excellent tasting room and restaurant (2215 India St.). Stop in at Bottlecraft (2252 India St.) across from Ballast Point for a pint off its rotating tap list or to pick up some bottles to go. Alternatively, just south of the convention center in Barrio Logan, you will find one of the newest fixtures in the San Diego brewing community, Border X brewing (2181 Logan Ave.).
This is only a small sampling of the great beer to be found in San Diego. Between panels of your favorite shows, navigating the congested convention center floor, and snapping selfies with dedicated cosplayers, be sure to make time for some of the finest craft beer in the country.