Thursday, November 17, 2011

San Diego Beer Week 2011: Top Brewers Book Signing

The San Diego's Top Brewers Book Signing event was my first event for this year's San Diego Beer Week. The event was conveniently located only a few blocks from my house at Mission Brewery. This brewery is a great venue, it is by far the largest tasting room and open space I have ever seen for a brewery. It is so large that for some events they can drive in food trucks. This time the space was taken up with tables for the 18 top brewers to sit, talk and sign your copy of the book.

The event really was a beer geek's dream. I was able to meet the owners and head brewers of all the breweries that I respect in San Diego. And do this all in one night. I have read countless articles and watched a lot of video interviews with these guys, so it was nice to meet them face to face.

But to be honest, what do you say to them when you have a few minutes at a book signing?

I asked a few questions, but didn't want to get too technical since this was more of a social event. Here are some of the highlights:

Jim Crute @ Lightning Brewery: I was able to introduce myself and ask him about tasting some of my homebrew. I have been meaning to do this for a while since the brewery is literally a block from my work. So now I feel confident to walk in there and ask him for some comments (which I will post here).

Tomme Arther @ Lost Abbey: I was curious how he treats his sour beers because they are honestly making some of the best in the world. One thing I have been a proponent for in the homebrew world, is to taste the beer every 3 months or so and add or change something if needed. I was curious if he did the same. He told me that they don't touch the barrel for at least 9 months and usually a year. At that point he will decide if it should be aged longer or is ready to be blended. He will only add fruit to the beer if they were given a bunch of fresh fruit. And he is a big advocate for blending and I agree, but this part can be harder for the homebrewer.

Jeff Bagby @ Pizza Port: I didn't really know what to ask. I was curious why he thought they have done so well in competition. After asking the question, I realized that the answer was a much larger than can be explained at a book signing. As expected he basically told me it comes through experience, meaning being critical with your process and ingredients and keep striving for that flavor you want. By having 4 restaurants and brew systems they have the ability to make a lot of batches of beer and with input from  the different brewers of each location.

As for the book, I'm not great at reviews. So here is a short synopsis:
- Great history on the San Diego beer scene
- Complete descriptions of breweries, which is nice to hear the stories behind each
- Food recipes - are a little involved for the at home chef with most recipes having 10+ ingredients

In Summary, a nice 2 hr read and coffee table book. But the reason I bought it was to speak with the brewers. And my favorite part of the book is not even in print - they send you to their website with videos from each brewer tasting their own beer.

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