The San Diego Brewers Guild launched the eighth annual San Diego Beer Week on the Broadway Pier with its two-day Guildfest beer festival. Guildfest exemplified a rebirth of the true microbrewery. The resurgence of the little guys further galvanizes San Diego's claim as the "Capital of Craft." The future of the local industry is still bright despite nervousness over consolidation and encroachment from faux-craft brands. It is the ability of these smaller breweries to move and react to fickle changes in consumer demands that will keep them one step ahead of the big guys, and keep the customers coming back.
Member breweries usually bring their A-game to Guildfest and this year they did not disappoint. Some standout beers, in no particular order, are discussed below, and are my favorite beers from the festival:
Little Miss Brewing (7949 Stromesa Court)
Hoperation Overlord. This oatmeal IPA from one of San Diego's newest breweries was an unexpected surprise. The beer poured more of a copper color than the pale straw of many San Diego IPAs but was not overly malty or bitter. It delivered a silky mouthfeel, full-hop flavor and suggests there may be more surprises in store from the upstart Miramar brewery.
Mikkeller Brewing (9368 Cabot Drive)
Descendents Feel This Coffee IPA. I am thoroughly over the rock-band-brewery-collaboration beer trend. Bands like Bayside (ugh) and Deftones (who knew they were still a thing?) have not lent much to craft beer other than the stench of opportunistic marketers and desperation. But team up one of San Diego's most exciting new breweries and the best punk band of all time (fight me) and Feel This Coffee IPA is what you get. The beer is more coffee than IPA but in just the right way.
Abnormal Beer Co. (16990 Via Tazon)
All Of The Lights Imperial Milk Stout. Probably the most talked about beer of the festival was this yuuuuge Nutella flavored stout. Abnormal has made a splash with its sweet adjunct-heavy stouts and this one delivered. Hazelnut, cacao nibs and lactose work in harmony in this unforgettable beer. There are purists who dislike adding adjuncts to imperial stouts, for what I assume are religious reasons, but they are wrong. Head brewer Derek Gallanosa said All Of The Lights would be available in limited amounts at select taprooms before an online bottle sale sometime after Christmas.
Pure Project (9030 Kenamar Drive #308) and Half Door Brewing (903 Island Ave.)
Keep Amurka Dank IPA. Keep Amurka Dank is the latest entry in the ever-expanding, ever-improving San Diego Northeast IPA movement. This hazy, fruity beer is loaded with hop flavor and was another darling of the Guildfest crowds.
Northeast IPA. It's been interesting to see the ever-evolving beers coming out of this East Village brewery. Half Door Brewingís Daniel Drayne continues his exploration and improvement with his latest brew, the cleverly named "Northeast IPA."